A hunter’s nightmare – a deer that is nowhere to be found. As the thick blood trail starts to run thin, you question your shot and direction of travel. You spin in circles confused and exhausted.

Do I continue, or do I wait for tomorrow morning?

You and your friends gather the next morning to start the search. Running on no sleep, the group and you line up and grid walk the forest for miles. The ground is thick with brush and not easily seen with the human eye. The group continues throughout the day until all efforts are exhausted.


All deer hunters have experienced days like this and do everything in their power to avoid them. The hunting industry has tried to help, creating lights that “enhance and glow” blood trails. They even created thermal cameras for your cellphone that will “heat seek” your wounded or dead deer for you. Some hunters have gotten creative themselves by flying expensive drones through the woods, praying for no crashes.

The reality? No technology will match a dog’s instinct or capabilities, even in the most brutal conditions. Many southern states in the U.S. have used blood tracking dogs for decades and continue to use them today. The success of the dogs is creating a trend that is sweeping across the U.S. Many Iowa hunters are begging the state of Iowa to lift regulations immediately relating to blood tracking dogs. These hunters feel the regulations are contradicting the state’s own conservation goals and are blocking a common-sense approach for retrieving dead or wounded deer.

The Benefits of Blood Tracking Dogs
  • Less game wasted. Many dog breeds were specifically bred by humans for tracking purposes.
  • Wounded deer are found quickly and efficiently.
  • Less grid walking of large groups on public and private lands. Grid walking disturbs hunters, flora, fauna, and archaeological sites.
  • The accuracy of the annual Iowa deer count would increase.
  • Lead poisoning of animals feeding on unfound deer carcasses would lessen, including avian wildlife like bald eagles.
  • Over 189,000 Iowa deer tags were bought by Iowa hunters during the 2016 season. With a large hunting community in Iowa and thousands of dogs left to live out their days in animal shelters, a lift in these regulations could give abandoned dogs new opportunities in life and a new home.
  • Hunters with physical limitations would benefit with a tracking companion.
The Disadvantages of Blood Tracking Dogs
  • “Unleashed” tracking dogs can wander onto private property and disrupt farms.
  • “Unleashed” dogs can disrupt other hunters within the area the dogs are tracking.
  • “Unleashed” and untrained dogs can chase any deer or other animal.
  • “Unleashed” dogs are not controlled, which violates many local, state, and federal laws.
Human Benefits of Blood Tracking Dogs

Blood tracking dogs and dogs in general are great for human health. Benefits include lower blood pressure, fewer feelings of loneliness and a multitude of other physical and mental benefits (Weil, M.D., 2016, p. 1).

Is There a Potential for Common Ground?

Where do you stand on the use of blood tracking dogs in the state of Iowa? Do you support blood tracking dogs if they are LEASHED at all times? We want to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below.

Justin J. Lind

April 2018
White Buffalo Outdoors


Weil, A., M.D. (2016, July 25). Health Benefits of Companion Animals. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/pets-pet-care/health-benefits-of-companion-animals/

2016 license sales recap. (2017, January 17). Retrieved from http://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/DNR-News-Releases/ArticleID/1135/2016-license-sales-recap

Photo of “Dog in Snow” provided by Felber at www.pixabay.com