Source: Sherman Publications

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Tracking game: Noses that know

by David Fleet

September 29, 2010

Rob Schroeder is in the business of finding what others have been hunting.

For the past 11 years Schroeder, an Atlas Township resident, has assisted deer hunters statewide to find their harvest with his trained-to-track German shepherd.

"I find about 70 percent of the deer that we set out to recover," said Schroeder. "It does not have to be the buck of a lifetime. The outcome of the hunt is the meat, our success is to get the meat on the hunters table. We do our best and try to recover the animal. Sometimes we have tracked a deer a great distance. In the end we always leave it up to the hunter to call it off."

"The key to success in tracking is the sooner I'm called to get the dogs on the track the stronger the scent. If we wait overnight the track gets a lot tougher," he said.

"We start the dog out on the last sign of blood," he said. "The dog has to be tethered and we follow the regulations of the Michigan DNR. We can be on the trail from as little as 15 minutes to three hours. The distance goes from a few yards to a mile or two. There is a big problem with no trespassing signs—not being allowed on private land we ask for permission before we enter the land."

Schroeder said that what often happens is hunters call in a few buddies to help find a deer that has been shot. The group often wander all over the woods and some of the blood gets on their shoes which is tracked all over the area."

"The dog also smells the scent off the hoof glands. If it goes in all directions it really confuses the dog," he said. "I receive a lot of calls from Brown's Do-It Center in Goodrich—many times hunters come in there."

Rob Schroeder of K-9 Deer Retrieval, 24-hour contact: 810-444-8462