When You Call
When you call the dispatch number, you will be leaving a message on our answering service. Speak slowly and clearly and leave the following information:
»Your name and phone number.
» Your location (Town) and the day and time of the hit.
» A good description of where you think you hit the deer or bear.
Our available trackers will call in during the day and listen to all the messages. If they hear a call within their range, they will call the hunter back. ( Note: Some days we will have several trackers available and some days we may only have one. Please keep in mind that we are all volunteers who track in our spare time.)
You may receive a call back anytime within 24 hours after leaving your message. Do not expect a call back immediately. Available trackers will call you back when they are available. Please be patient. Even if no one is available to help you, we vow to call everyone back within a few days to discuss your situation and possibly offer some guidance on the fate of your deer or bear.
When a tracker is available, they will call you directly to discuss your situation and possibly arrange to meet with you to track your deer or bear.
We can't agree to take every call for help. (We get over 500 calls a year !) In many cases, during our conversation with you, we will be able to ascertain if the deer or bear is mortally wounded. In cases of marginal hits, where the animals survival is very likely, (high back hits etc.) we may decide that a search is not warranted.
Because of our limited supply of dogs and handlers, we track only mortally wounded game. Our dogs are not machines. They need time to recover (as do some of our more “well aged” human trackers !!)
If we agree to take your request, we will ask you the following information:
»Your name, home address and hunting location.
»Your back tag number and the land owners name where you were hunting.
»Do you have permission to be on that land and neighboring land?
»We’ll ask you about the shot and the deer or bear that you hit and arrange a
time and place to meet with you.
**It is required by law, that the hunter who shot the deer or bear, accompany us on the search; unless he/she is physically incapable. In those cases, we need a note from the hunter.
After We Arrive
At the hunt location, we will have you sign our tracking report which contains the information you provided to us. Your signature acknowledges that we have permission to track at your hunt location.
** You are responsible for making sure we do not end up on posted land without permission of the land owner!
Before the track begins, we are required to call the DEC to tell them who we are tracking for and where we will be tracking.
If you shot the deer or bear with a bow, we’ll ask to see the arrow (if you recovered it) and then have you lead us to the hit site, which you hopefully marked.
To give us the best chance to recover your game, we like to limit the number of people that accompany us on the trail. The hunter and no more than 1 other person is preferred. A small child, who cannot keep up on their own, should never be brought along when we track.
During legal hunting hours we expect the hunter to bring their bow or gun along with them on the trail. If the deer or bear is alive when we find it, the hunter has the option to dispatch it or we can dispatch the animal if the hunter prefers.
If we catch up with the deer or bear after legal hunting hours we (the trackers) are authorized to dispatch it using a firearm.
While tracking, the leashed dog will lead us down the trail. Everyone must remain behind the dog and handler while they work the trail.
Initially, we’ll inspect the hit site for any useful evidence ( hair, food particles, blood etc.) We’ll then begin down the start of the trail, where you have likely already tracked. Hopefully you marked this part of the trail and did not walk in the blood. It’s good for our dogs to get hooked onto this early/easy trail so that they get a good scent of the particular deer or bear they are tracking.
The initial goal is to get down this part of the trail and then have the dog carry the trail beyond the point where you stopped tracking or searching. You need to tell us all the areas where you and your friends trailed or searched. These areas may be confusing for the dog especially if you carried the wounded animal's scent on your boots. Hopefully, the dog will get beyond these areas and end up on the undisturbed trail of the wounded animal.
Based on the hit description, evidence at the hit site or along the trail (beds) and our dogs “enthusiasm” during the track, we will decide how long to continue the search. Typically we will track for several hours if signs point to a deer or bear that can be recovered. We may even do a general area search in an attempt to “air scent “ the animal if we lose the trail but think it is down nearby.
If signs point to an animal that is not mortally wounded or one that will be on the run for several days, we will call off the search. Many times in these cases, the evidence we uncover may at least give us a better idea about the deer or bears' chance for survival.
If the deer or bear is recovered, as required by law, we will ask you to immediately fill out your back tag. Then we’ll want some celebratory photos for our records !
Whether your deer or bear is recovered or not, we’ll have you do a final sign off on our tracking form and if you choose to make a voluntary donation to us, have you write in the donation amount on that form.
All donations are appreciated! These donations are turned into Deer Search and help to cover our operating expenses. Trackers are reimbursed from Deer Search at the end of the year, to cover their gas expenses.