These are things that I have run into over the last few years. This is not an all inclusive list of mistakes as I am sure I will continue to see new things the more I track.
The most common mistake is that hunters walk down the middle of the blood trail. Then when they get to were the blood runs out they start walking all over the place. This transfers blood from their boots to places the deer did not go. When the dog gets there to track and gets to this point on the trail they have to spend a lot of time unraveling this false blood trail that is now laid out. There is not a good solution other than to try to be careful and walk to the side of the trail were possibly.
Mistake number 2 is that the hunter does not visually or physically mark where the deer was standing when they shot. This point can be very important to a tracker in that a lot of information can be gained by looking at the color of hair at the hit site along with any bone that might be there.
Mistake 3 is that they do not know who their neighbors are or how to get in contact with them in case the deer travels across property lines. In many states it is illegal to cross property lines without permission even to track a wounded deer. A solution is to go ahead and make arrangements with your neighbors ahead of time just in case. This will help when late at night you come to a property line and you are trying to find out who owns the property. You will be very disappointed when the tracker and his dog call it quits, so get permission ahead of time.
Mistake 4 is not being prepared for tracking at night. A pen light works fine for walking into the woods but when you need to see the minutest sign you need a very good bright light. Bring several good lights just in case your batteries die or a bulb blows.
Mistake 5, not marking their progress along the track to the point of loss. Marking the trail helps the tracker to see that their dog is following the right blood trail to the point of loss. If the blood trail is very light the handler may not see any blood as they will be watching their dog’s reaction. By marking the last spot of blood the handler will know that at that point there might be a lot of false trails, see mistake #1.
Mistake 6 pushing the deer. If the deer travels out of site after the shot give it 30 to 45 minutes. As soon as you start tracking and see that the animal may travel a great distance or that it is a poor shot back out and give it at least 4 hrs if the temperature will allow and you are not worried about coyotes. If there are signs of a gut shot wait 6 to 8 hrs before begging to track again. Most mortally wounded deer will try to lie down within 200-300 yards. But if pushed out of the bed can travel great distance before expiring.
A few misconceptions about tracking dogs.
It has been raining so a dog will not be useful; actually a light rain helps to hold the scent. Some dogs are even able to track after heavy rains it is always better to call as soon as possible but if you can not get a tracking dog until it has been over 12 hrs then do not worry. A lot of people think that a dog is only good if the track is under a few hours old. Actually a well trained dog will be able to follow a scent trail 20 even 40 hrs old. The meat may not be any good if the weather is hot and the yotes might have got to it, but if you want to recover your trophy do not be afraid to call in a quality tracking dog. Another misconception is that a tracking dog will always find your animal. A tracking dog greatly increases your chances of finding a wounded animal but it is by no means a guarantee. Dogs have bad days just like people do.