Deer hunting with dogs is an adventurous sport that I discovered three years ago; ever since I have had better luck shooting deer. Things used to be quite boring when I stood in one spot until a deer headed my way because it could take a while before one shows up.
On the other hand, hunting with a dog is fun. I just have to follow the trail my dog picks until I am in a shooting position. Sometimes I just let my hound run the deer past my stand and take the shot. You really need a hound that is up to the task for this to work, though.
Training Your Deer Hunting Dog
You have to use real dog training techniques in order to get real results. An ideal hound that you can to train is a specialized deer indicating dog.
This type of dog will take you to deer either by tracking a wind scent or a ground scent. The dog has to be trained to walk slowly and silently in front of you. It should be able to stop when it finds the deer so you can take a shot.
You have to ensure that your dog sits up nice and close in front. The dog has to be able to monitor and stay on track without you having to repetitively give it commands. The starting point of your training is to coach your dog to walk comfortably and slowly ahead of you. Avoid heelwork at this time. This way, the dog will not feel pressurized and it will do what is expected of it instead of dropping back and heel.
It is advisable to start the training with a puppy when it is about 10 weeks old. A puppy will adapt walking in front of you much easier. You should use your go command to keep it walking in front when it stops. Attempt to walk in one direction with your dog and pull it back on track every time it walks too far away. Set up a range that your dog will stay inside and start monitoring itself.
The training is much easier if you leash your dog. The next thing you have to teach your dog is “range”. This is very important because your dog has to know when to stop. You can achieve this by leashing it with a long line or using a shock collar. Then allow it to move far ahead before you pull the string to make it stop. This trick helps the dog learn how to pace itself and monitor its own range.
Any time your dog is pulling too far away from you and heading in one direction it is because that is where it wants to go. So you have to tell the dog to go to your intended direction by pulling the string or shocking it through the collar. You should do this for a while before you take your dog off leash. The aforementioned techniques will help your dog be attentive and stay in range when on a trail.
Make sure your dog is in good health for deer hunting by feeding it a nourishing diet. Decide on what kind of deer your dog is supposed to track; either a running or a wounded deer. Introduce your dog to deer hide if you want it to track a running deer, and deer blood if you want it to trail a wounded deer. Dot deer blood or drag deer hide across the training field and out of sight and then release your dog to trail the scent of the blood or hide. Successful training of a deer hunting dog requires you to use a puppy of around 10 to 12 weeks of age.
Top 5 Breeds for Deer Hunting Dogs
1. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthair pointer originated from Germany. The antiquity of this breed begins with the dogs that were used for hunting feathered game. It is considered a breed of balanced and noble appearance. These traits guarantee speed, endurance, and strength. The dog is known to be a versatile hunter adept of high performance both on land and in water. The coat color may vary from solid liver to a mixture of white and liver.
The breed is boisterous exhibiting the following traits: trainable, bold, cooperative, intelligent, and affectionate. The dog’s high energy is useful during training. The animal likes learning new things; though, repetition and consistency are necessary. The breed is extraordinarily athletic and requires a lot of exercise. The German shorthair pointer is one of the few hunting dogs that can actually execute all roles of a gundog.
2. The American Foxhound
The American foxhound originates from the United States. It is smaller with a keener sense of smell. The dog was originally used for hunting fox, but it has been trained to hunt other animals including deer. The breed has a rough coat that safeguards it from branches and sticks during a hunt. Its hair comes in different colors. The most common combination is tan, white, and black.
The American Foxhound is bold, aggressive, stubborn and independent. Training can be quite challenging because of the dog’s strong desire to hunt. Therefore, you have to start training yours while it is still young. Although, the breed is regarded loving and sociable, it has not been used very much as a house pet. This dog requires around one to two hours of training and exercise daily. The breed sheds very little; so, only random brushing is required.
3. The Bloodhound
The Bloodhound breed originates from Belgium and the United Kingdom. This is a large dog with the ability of trailing a scent for several days over large distances. The dog’s formidability is due to its ability to track a scent in the air as opposed to a scent on the ground. The breed’s remarkable sense of smell has seen them used in many activities apart from hunting, including finding people.
The dog is mild-mannered, noble, patient and gentle. This dog is well-known to be determinant and independent. It has a tendency of making its own decisions, especially when it picks a trail of a very interesting scent. In fact, the dog tends to be single-minded and determinant to follow a new trail. You may need to learn professional skills on how to train this particular breed. Generally, the bloodhound is a very effective deer hunting dog.
The Weimaraner originates from Germany. This is a medium to large breed dog that is also lean and muscular. This breed is very skilled at hunting a variety of animals including deer, but it can also make a good family pet. The dog is good-looking with its silver-gray coat. It is highly intelligent and it does not do well when left alone for a long time. The intelligence it displays promises success during hunting.
This breed is very athletic with a lot of liveliness. This is a demanding dog that is in need of a lot of exercise and strong leadership. It is highly versatile since you can use it to track as well as retrieve game. The dog will certainly chase any moving object. So, it has to be on a leash always. The breed is a bit problematic to train because it is mischievous and stubborn. It is known to walk away when it does like a given activity.
5. The Basset Hound
The dog originates from both Great Britain and France. This is a short-legged hunting dog. It has a keen sense smell just like the Bloodhound. It can trail scent effectively without any problems. The dog can become overly obsessed to the extent that it ignores commands to heel. It was specifically developed to pick scents. It has droopy long ears that almost touch the ground and it is known to produce mournful vocalizations.
The dog is inconsistency as far as personality is concerned. The sad-eyed charm it displays sometimes makes it hard to tell if it can be independent and stubborn. It can be the best hunter, but it needs discipline and consistent training. Generally, it is good natured, easy going and more loveable when compared to other breeds. The dog’s hounding instinct makes training a bit challenging, but they can detect deer from some distance because of their incredible sense of smell.
Tips When Hunting Deer with Your Dog
The partnership you have with a well-trained dog is unlike anything you experience anywhere else. Of course you will spend a great deal of time training your dog, but the results are always remarkable. Deer love thickets, but when they spread for acres, you will be at a huge disadvantage without a properly trained dog.
Deer hunting with dogs is exciting, but it is not legal to hunt with hounds in every state. You might end up paying a hefty fine, if you get caught hunting in states where dog hunting is illegal. Avoid any legal hitches by checking up with the necessary authorities within your area.
Deer hunting with hounds is simply a sport. You should always remember that. Therefore, do not punish or dislike your dog in any way if you fail to shoot any deer. Instead, you should enjoy yourself in the field as you enjoy the company of your friend.
Success when hunting deer with a dog depends on its sense of smell. Therefore, it will be wise of you if you train a hound with an acute sense of smell for the hunt. The best scent hound can be difficult to train because it tends to follow its nose instead of heeling, but it is your best choice to a successful deer hunt.
Silence is important even when a dog is involved in the hunt. So, you should consider using an electric collar to remind your dogs of the commands in case it fails to follow them in the field. The tracking collar helps you catch up with your dog if it gets too far ahead of you.
Deer hunting with dogs is more practical in some geographical situations when compared to others. If you have never hunted in thickets and wait for deer to show up for hours, then you probably can’t appreciate the benefits of having dogs do the trailing and running through thickets. It is not usually possible for you to track the scent of a deer, whether it is wounded or not. Therefore, a deer hunting dog is necessary for a successful deer hunting adventure.