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
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
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
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