TURBO!

Chase the tail. Chase the tail. Chase the tail. What? Can’t you see I’m

busy here? Interview? No one told me about an interview. Yes, I can

spare a few minutes. What do you want to know? Yes, I am Turbo the

tracking dog. Oh, I don’t look like a tracking dog to you? Well, you don’t

look like a writer to me. How would you know what a tracking dog

looks like? Don’t be rude.


You are forgiven… mostly. A little history? Ok. Sure. Well, I’m a

Wire Haired Dachshund, also called a Teckel. Originally from Germany,

my family goes back 600 years. We are hounds (hunde) bred to hunt

badgers (dachs). Yes, that’s why we have “little chicken drumstick legs”-

to go in holes. You are really pushing it. Where are you from?

Downstater. That figures. It’s alright though you remind me of a Vizsla I

know.


Technically, I’m a ground scent tracking dog- some say blood

tracking. Ground scenting is much more reliable than air scenting. It’s

hard to trick me. And the beasts do try to trick me. Running in circles,

crossing streams and roads, taking me through all kinds of nonsense.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m so good at what I do- I’m short- which

you already noted. I go under stuff. Paul puts a long orange rubber lead

on me, so when it gets thick, he let’s go of it, and picks it up on the other

side. Paul House? He’s my assistant and BFF. I let him handle

transportation, paperwork, room and board, etc. Yes, he is also Director

of House in the Woods. We take military veterans hunting and fishing.

Our big event is the bear hunt. Vets are the best. Yes, Paul is a member

of United Blood Trackers. You call him if you have any wounded game

you need retrieved, and I’ll find it. Why so much about him? I thought

you were interviewing me?


No, we don’t always find the animal. Sometimes shot placement is

poor, so the beast lives. Paul can usually tell that over the phone by

questioning the hunter, and then we don’t go. But let’s talk about me.

How about my beard? Manscaping has become a big thing. Takes a lot

of work to look this good.


The bear hunt? We do two weeks, the first two of bear season.

Veterans come in for a week at a time. Usually we have around 17

hunters each week with at least a half a dozen Registered Maine Guides.

Oh, they’re good, and they put in a lot of work too. Yes, lots of

volunteers to make it all come together. You should smell the food.


Wow. Sometimes the vets will sneak some under the table. Way better

than I get from my assistant. 4 stars.


Oh, you’d like to hear some tracking stories. Alright, here’s a good

one. We got a call last year from a deer hunter. 300 yard field shot with

a .243. There were chunks of bone, but the blood ran out. Off I went

through the woods. First we came to a swale in a swamp, then another.

I went back to the first to make sure I was on the right trail, back to the

second, and then there was a third. Paul asked the hunter if there was

water ahead. Yes. We came to a steep bank with a snowmobile trail

following the stream. Paul told the hunter to look up and down the

stream. Sure enough the hunter saw the deer and was able to get a shot

off but missed. We went down to the sighting point and around a bend.

Deer in the stream! Another shot. This time he got a piece of buckshot

in him.


We are paralleling the stream, and I’m pulling Paul right to the

water, and the deer is right there on the far bank. Paul shoots with his

9mm, the deer moves to the middle of the stream, then both he and the

hunter fire, and the deer is down. The original shot was a high leg hit. It

was dangling. That’s how we could get close enough to see the beast.

You see I got Paul when I was 8 weeks old and have been training him

ever since. Don’t let him leave my side. We’re going to be 6 next August.

At a year old I racked up 2 bear, 3 moose, and 9 deer. Pretty impressive,

but I was just getting started. I’ll tell you one about a bear.


It was my first year, during our annual bear hunt for the vets. We got

to the bait site and the vet showed us his arrow- only a little blood. I did

2 or 3 loops trying to pick up the correct scent. You see there were lots

of bear coming into this site, and I wanted to be sure. There wasn’t

blood, but I don’t need it. I can smell adrenaline. When I was positive I

bolted. I ran out 50 to 100 yards. Paul later said he wasn’t sure I was on

the right trail since I was just a newbie. When he comes up the bear is

right there on the ground. I was yelling that the entire time. Now he

listens.


How about a moose story? This year we got a call from a couple of

hunters with two moose down in the County. They couldn’t find either

one. At the first moose there were some small drops of blood then it ran

out. I found where the moose had bedded down but had gotten up and

was moving. I started pulling and yelling “the moose is close”, so Paul

told the hunter to go out 100 yards and be ready to shoot. There was an

open spot. The hunter got a bead. Moose down. Turbo 1, moose 0.


The second moose was shot in a field. I went right to the blood, but

there were only a couple of drops there too. I went round and round.

Those hunters had tracked it all up. Makes it much harder, but I figured

it out. The blood dried up though. Don’t need it. If you could smell

what I can smell… well, you’d probably be grossed out. The hunters

didn’t think the moose went the way I was headed. What do they know?

I ran 300 yards right to it. Showed them. Turbo 2, moose 0.


I’m bred to track. It’s in my blood, in my DNA. I can find a beast in

the rain, or down a lane, in the snow, or when it blows, without blood, or

in a flood. I could track down the Lorax- if he existed.


You want to know how I got started? Well, that’s a good question. It

all started when I was very young. I told Paul to go out on the lawn and

put some treats under a can to see if I could find them. He sprayed some

dried blood to help lead me to it. Good idea. No problem. Found it. So I

said, “go out further.” Found it. “Alright, zigzag this time.” Found it.

Too easy. “Paul get some liver, drag it on a string, zigzag, offset, hop it.

Come on, man, make it a challenge.” He tried. His trickery was no match

for my keen intellect and nose. In fact I tricked him. The whole point

was so I could eat some liver. Ha.

The phone call? Right. When you call me Paul usually answers. He

will want to know certain things that allows us to decide whether your

beast is worth looking for. Here’s a few. What did you shoot it with? If

rifle, what caliber? From a tree stand or ground? How did the beast

react when shot? Is there sign of blood, bone, flesh, or hair? Time it was

shot? Did you see where it went? How far did you track it? Did you

mark last blood? How many people are with you? Did they foul the

track? That’s the big one for me. The more people that leave scent on

the ground, the harder it makes my job.


Card? You’re not very bright. I don’t have an opposable thumb or

pocket. Just go to unitedbloodtrackers.org/find-a-tracker, and you’ll

find all the trackers you can call in the US. Well, write it down. Look if

you don’t mind, I’ve got to get back to it.

Chase the tail. Chase the tail. Chase the tail.



Mal Stephens lives in Wells, Maine, interviews dogs, and guides

for House in the Woods







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Just twelve days until the halls of House in the Woods will once again be filled with the sound of veterans filling the halls and rooms. This is the sound that Paul and Dee House yearn for all year ro