27 November 2011

An Overview of German Blood Tracking Tests

Tracking, both of game scent and blood, is a critical element in the philosophy of ethical hunting followed by the "Verband" and the clubs following its rules. No game ought to suffer or to be lost unnecessarily.

There are the Blood Tracking Test (VSwP) and the more recent Trackshoe Test (Verbandsfährtenschuhprüfung – VFSP). Each of these tests can be run in both the 20-hour and the 40-hour version. The track has either been laid 20 hours or 40 hours before the dog and handler attempt to follow it.

The VSwP is similar to the VGP blood track except that it is done over a longer distance (1,000 m as opposed to 400 m), the track has been aged longer (20 hours or 40 hours as opposed to 2-5 hours), and the same amount of blood (250 ml) is used despite the difference in distance.

The distinguishing feature of the VFSP is that only 100 ml of blood is used over 1,000 m, with much of the track being laid by fresh deer hooves that have been attached to the feet of the person laying the track.
According to the test regulations, VSwP and VFSP are to be held in a large forest with good populations of big game to ensure that the difficulties of diversion tracks are available for every dog. The beginning of the track may lead up to 100 m across an open field, meadow, etc., before entering the forest. Once in the forest it may lead through forest openings, clear cuts and thickets, all with varying vegetation cover. The direction should be slightly variable with three acute angles inserted.

Next to the starting point for the track fresh branches are positioned to
indicate the direction the shot was fired, some blood and hair are placed there as well.

The blood track for the VSwP can be laid using either the dabbing method or the drip method, but all tracks in a particular test must be made by the same method.

Over the 1,000 m of the track there must be two wound beds, i.e. spots where the soil is compacted and extra blood and bits of hair and lung or heart are placed, as if the wounded game had rested there.

The method for laying a track for the VFSP track is different. The person laying the track wears a specially designed pair of boots to which fresh deer hooves are attached. Only 100 ml of blood is used in this test and a significant portion of that is dripped in the first 100 m of the track. The person wearing the boots walks in the dripped blood at the beginning of the track and then proceeds down the track. Two wound beds are prepared over the 1,000 m of the track, with the hooves attached to the trackshoe again being stepped into the blood before continuing down the track. No other blood is dropped in between these wound beds with the exception of a few small peaces of lung or heart dropped at each Verweiserpunkt.

The regular 400 m VGP blood track has only one wound bed in it. For "Verweiser" dogs, a second wound bed is made at the end of the 400 m where the deer carcass would normally be. Then an additional 200 m of blood is laid and the deer carcass is placed at the end of that. The "Verweiser" is released from the leash at the second wound bed and allowed to search freely from there for the deer. The dog has been trained to flip a "Bringsel" (usually a piece of wood or thick leather) up into his mouth when he finds the game and with which he has to immediately return to the handler, indicating that he has found the game. The handler removes the Bringsel from the dog’s mouth, sends the dog back to the deer and follows him as far as possible. When the dog reaches the deer the second time it again flips the Bringsel into its mouth and heads back to the handler. This routine is repeated until the handler and judges have been guided all the way to the deer.

Additional points are awarded to dogs that successfully complete the "Verweisen"

Hat tip: Gary and Sandy Hodson!