Any great Professional Hunter has his tracking dog. Not only is a good tracking dog a necessity he is your companion when you are away on a hunt. Today I want to highlight the importance of a tracking dog and how I trained my dog.
When selecting a Breed you need to take into consideration what your mainstream business would be and in what areas you would be hunting, wether it be Plains Game or Dangerous Game, mountainous terrain, Bush-veld or Savannah.
I opted for a Breed that I have been introduced too as a young boy hunting in the Bubey Valley of Zimbabwe on my Uncles Farm. Tokkie had 2 English sort heard Fox-terriers. These dogs had a attitude and the heart of a lion. I never really saw any of the south african PH’s with an English fox terrier mostly all SA Ph’s opt for Jack Russell’s or GSP’s if they do a bit of bird hunting.
I hunted in KZN and a friend of mine had this Breed I haven’t seen in at least 10 years apart from Tokkies’s hunting dog’s. Her name was Nala a short hear English Fox-terrier. Once on a blood track you would have to run to stay with her.
She had pups and I was fortunate enough to make the first pick of the litter. I started Jock on clicker training at a very young age where i threw a rope or ball and he had to retrieve and on the clicker drop the rope and sit for a treat.
We progressively moved from the clicker to a piece of “Boerewors” on twine. I lock him in a room and drag the juicy wors around the house. This trained him to use his nose. Once he knew to follow his nose things progressed at a lightning pace.
I exposed him to a lot of animals and blood at a young age and made it a game of hide and seek.
Jock is now at an advance stage where you literally put him on any scent and he will follow it. The only thing I could not train him to do is to Bark as soon as he found the animal. This I suppose is the nature of the specific dog.
To this day jock saved me a lot of time on wounded plains game. His forte is a gut or stomach shot. You as a hunter struggle to pick up any sign of stomach content but that smell for a dog is like a highway.
When you decide to get a dog for tracking purposes, train him from a young age, spend time with him he is your best ally and your best friend in the bush. Train him regularly and give hims some tracking time when you can. They need to understand that this is still a game and that they can win every time.
PH, Bernard de Lange