Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

A new Minnesota law this year allow hunters to use a dog to retrieve a wounded deer or bear.
Avid hunter Ben Thomas of Ely used his dog Tilli to locate a 10-point buck on Oct. 28.
Bow hunting at the end of the day from a tree stand, Thomas watched the buck come in from 90 yards away, rubbing and scraping his way along the ridge.
“I didn’t even climb down for 15 minutes after I shot and when I walked over to the spot 20 yards away I found some blood.”
But there wasn’t a lot of blood and it was starting to get dark on a cloudy afternoon so Thomas decided not to track the deer.
He talked to a friend in Wisconsin who had used a dog to track deer and bear. The advice was simple, use your dog to find the deer.
Thomas reviewed the new regulations, which includes making sure your dog is on a leash that is up to 30 feet long, and decided to give his German short hair Tilli a try.
“There was some blood when I came back in the morning but there was also an inch and a half of snow,” said Thomas.
He knew Tilli had a good nose, but would she know to track a deer when in the past that was on the no-no list?
“All I’ve ever done is zap her if she even thinks about chasing deer,” said Thomas.
Arriving back at the spot where he shot the deer, Tilli went to work.
“She got all excited like she was birdy. She pulled me right to it. That deer had jumped over some blowdown and the dog goes under it with the leash attached to her so I’m crawling as fast as I can.
“I didn’t want her to lose interest and forget about what we were doing. Literally she drug me straight to the deer.”
Checking his GPS, Thomas found the deer was 170 yards from where he shot it. Far enough in thick woods to have become a deer never found.
“It happens, deer don’t always bleed like they’re supposed to,” he said.
Thomas has hunted wild game for many years and has ended up going home without a deer he shot at either with a bow or a rifle. This time he used a new Minnesota hunting rule to keep from going home empty handed.
Cooking in the crock pot at the Thomas household Thursday was fresh venison for dinner. You can bet Tilli will get a gesture of thanks.