It's legal in New Hampshire to use dogs in tracking deer - wounded or dead deer, that is. I found this out recently while meandering through the New Hampshire woods. Up ahead off the beaten path I saw a man slowly making his way among the trees in a zig-zag pattern. When he saw me coming, he stopped and waited until I caught up to him.
"What brings you out here?" I asked.
"I'm setting up a trail to train my dogs to track deer that have been wounded," he replied. Then he explained that he was dropping deer blood through the woods and he would be bringing his dogs the next day to follow the trail of blood that would lead to a deer hide he had tied to a branch.
His name is Ed Wills of Concord and his dogs are German wirehaired dachshunds. The name of his service is Kearsarge Mountain Teckels, which hunters can call to help find deer they have wounded. I was amazed when I came the next day and watched his dogs follow the scent of deer blood to reach the "wounded deer."
This prompted me to do some research on a New Hampshire law which became effective Jan. 1, 2007, permitting a licensed handler to use leased tracking dogs to assist in the recovery of wounded big game. The tracking may occur day or night with the use of artificial light during open hunting season. Tracking is not hunting but rather the search and recovery of a wounded animal. Dogs have been known to track down wounded bear and moose as well as deer.
I saw Wills's dogs, named Bernie and Viola, follow the trail of blood that was practically invisible to me.
"How do you reward the dogs when they locate the wounded deer?" I asked.
"The dogs seem so exuberant to find the wounded deer that is all the reward they need," Wills said, "but I give them plenty of praise."
German wirehaired dachshunds, known as teckels or dackels in Germany, have an intense enthusiasm for hunting and tracking.
I learned that the tracker can not charge for his services. Wills said, "This is a hobby I love. It gets me out in the woods and I can make a disappointed hunter glad to recover his or her wild game."