At the crack of the rifle the big buck stumbled and went down hard but within seconds he was up and into the thick timber. My buddy had just shot the largest buck of his life but recovering the deer would put our tracking skills to the test. The year was 2013 and tracking dogs were not legal yet in Wyoming. If they had been we would have recovered the buck in minutes instead of hours. Our story ended well but it could have easily been the opposite.
Wyoming legalized the use of tracking dogs for the recovery of wounded big game animals in 2019 and countless deer and elk have been recovered since then that otherwise would have been lost. This is especially true in areas where thick timber, brush and rugged terrain conceal game easily and hamper recovery efforts.
It took awhile but tracking dogs are now legal in most western states with the exception of Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. United Blood Trackers.org has a comprehensive list of state regulations on tracking dog regulations, follow this link…https://www.unitedbloodtrackers.org/state-regulations/
If you find yourself in need of a blood tracking dog this fall, start by contacting the local game warden as they will most likely have a list of folks willing to render their trailing services. Some people will require a fee but a lot of folks offer their services free of charge as they like to know they are helping hunters and game animals. Just remember, gas money, tips and of course dog treats are always welcome.
I personally view this as no different than utilizing the services of a packer for hauling out meat. If I don’t enlist help in some cases the game animal that I’ve taken may go to waste and place me in violation of wanton waste laws. Swallow your pride and track down a blood tracking dog, most likely your animal will be recovered quickly and instead of going home with a “one that got away” story you’ll be taking home meat and antlers.