Hunting, an activity that awakens intense emotions in its followers, offers thrilling moments when encountering big game such as deer, bear or moose. Between the excitement, stress and adrenaline that accompany every moment, hunters often find themselves faced with unforeseen scenarios. Rapid observation, identification of game, calculation of shooting angle and distance are all crucial factors that culminate in precision shooting. However, despite these moments of strong emotion, hunting can also be marked by disappointment when the game does not fall immediately and sometimes remains untraceable after the shot.
In this context, the recovery of game becomes a crucial issue, highlighting the ethics of the hunter and his commitment to wildlife and the environment. Let's find out how to maximize this recovery while respecting the ethical principles of hunting.
An original text by Valérie Gauthier, hunter and Sportchief ambassador
The impact and reaction
The hunter must observe the effect of the shot and the reaction of the game and judge whether the shot appears to have been fatal or not and observe whether the animal fell on the spot or fled. If so, take a landmark to make the search easier.
I emphasize that it is very important to observe the reaction of the game at the time of shooting, as this can help evaluate the affected area.
The hunter who goes to the shooting site to find the game and discovers it often experiences beautiful emotions, joy, pride and gratitude. But the situation is different when the game has fled. Doubt sets in... disappointment and fear of not finding the long-awaited beast.
My vision of the hunter
At this moment, the word ethics takes on its full meaning for me.
Ethics: Hunter ethics are the set of principles and values that guide the behavior of the hunter while respecting wildlife and its environment. The greatest responsibility at this time is to do everything to find your game: game that is shot is game that you want to eat! We do not go hunting for the pleasure of killing an animal; we do it according to the rules and respect with the aim of consuming it. Therefore, every hunter must do everything possible to recover the game he has killed. Sometimes the clues are thin and even absent. Should we give up and stop there? No way!
What are the crucial steps after a shot?
Wait strategically to maximize the effect of the hemorrhage and avoid scaring the animal away. Learn how to conduct an effective search, alone or with a companion, using appropriate tools such as a backpack, tape, GPS, compass and water. Avoid common mistakes, such as going in a large group, which could compromise the search by confusing the clues. Follow our advice to cover the trail methodically and increase your chances of successfully finding your game.
Game not found? The solution: call on the blood dog handlers of Quebec.
You cannot find your game, now is the time to call an ACCSQ driver and leave it dead until they arrive.
Before the existence of blood dog handlers, hunters had to rely on their own means to find wounded game. They had to carefully observe the clues left by the animal, such as blood, hair, traces or broken vegetation. They also had to assess the direction and distance of the escape, as well as the type of severity of the injury. They had to show patience, perseverance and respect towards the animal. It was not uncommon for the hunter to ask other friends for help to go hunting. However, this method was not always effective and could lead to the loss and waste of many game animals.
This is why the use of blood dogs was introduced in Quebec in 2008, in order to improve the recovery rate of injured animals and reduce their suffering.
I had the chance last October to accompany a handler from the ACCSQ of Quebec and to see the incredible work done with his dog. Dogs specially trained to find injured game. A bloodhound can follow the scent trail left by the injured animal even if it is not visible to the naked eye. I had proof of this during this research.
A memorable search
My hunting season in my area was closed, and I was at home having dinner when a call from my friend informed me that he had shot a female moose that morning. Knowing that I regularly use Yves Martineau's "Moose Tracker" application to obtain crucial information in such situations, he asks me for details on the color and signs of blood found on the ground.
After consulting the app, the clues seemed bleak, suggesting flesh shooting. Although reluctant to discourage him, I shared my observations with him. He then asked me to contact a driver, finding no more clues, knowing that I had some contacts and that my list was always at hand, which proved very useful.
So, I contact a driver and we go with my partner to the location indicated by my friend. When we arrive, the driver collects a story from the hunter to get an idea of the situation. Starting from the initial point of the shooting, the evidence included some blood and pieces of flesh.
The dog follows the same trail as the hunters before the driver arrives. As we progressed, the driver became more and more convinced of a paw injury, based on the evidence on the ground. We travel about 2 kilometers to a huge beaver dam where clues were scarce and hunters had abandoned their search.
Despite the numerous tracks left by the hunters, the dog follows these tracks, always returning to the dam and peering on the other side. With confidence in his dog's keen sense of smell and the wind working in our favor, the driver lets him follow the GPS mode. Going around the dam, the dog headed in a direction where the clues seemed unclear, consisting mainly of traces difficult to distinguish among the many present. However, the dog's obvious motivation encourages us to trust him.
After walking without any apparent clue, we are stunned to see new signs appear: a clot and blood. The further we advance, the more the quantity of blood increases. We are impressed and reassured, because now we can easily follow the trail left by the game.
About a mile from the dam, the dog suddenly stops and points to something. It was indeed the female, confirming the driver's hypothesis regarding her shoulder injury. In front of us, it collapsed into the watercourse, and the driver had to put an end to its suffering, thus offering the hunter the opportunity to leave with his game. An immense relief for all the protagonists of this hunt.
I am more than impressed with the work accomplished by the drivers of L’ACCSQ du Québec. It's really unbelievable! Without having used their services, this harvest would have been impossible.
I am really happy for my friend to have been able to get his hands on his game, but above all, I congratulate him for his ethics as a hunter. Because any game shot deserves to be found or, at least, to do everything possible to achieve this and that is what he did.
This day will remain engraved in my memory. Observing the work carried out by the team of handler and his dog, as well as contemplating their satisfaction and the feeling of accomplishment in their eyes, as well as the happiness of the hunter, was a memorable experience. It was as rewarding as if I had personally harvested my game. I would like to thank Mr. Charles Moise for giving me this opportunity and for living this experience.
One last little piece of advice: don’t hesitate to call on the blood dog handlers of Quebec.
Here is the list if necessary: (ACCSQ driver list)