Deer 911

This buck won’t make Boone & Crockett, but it made a once-in-a-lifetime memory for this young hunter, thanks to Gary and Scout’s trailing skills.

Gary Cobb and Scout always answer the call from deer hunters

Inevitably, if you deer hunt long enough, at some point you have to call for help. Whether it was a poor shot, lack of blood trail, or the deer ran into an impenetrable thicket, you may be forced to make that dreaded call.

The call to bring in the hounds.

If you hunt in North Louisiana, there is a very good chance that the call will be answered by Gary Cobb. He is well known in the northern section of the state. Some may call him famous, but Cobb, being a humble man, is the first to admit that he doesn’t deserve the credit. It all goes to his dogs.

Cobb’s start in tracking deer began by accident 28 years ago. Growing up, his dad had Black Mouth curs for hog hunting. One evening, Cobb’s father-in-law shot a deer on their club, and he could not find it. He called his dad who suggested taking Queen, one of his curs, as she might be able to find it. Cobb went to his dad’s house and loaded Queen into his truck. A short while later, she found the deer and that’s where the obsession began.

Knowing he had a special dog who had the “want” to find a deer, he began training her with mock trails using deer hide and deer legs. Each and every time, Queen was at the end of the trail with her nose on the hide. Soon, word began to spread that Cobb had a deer tracking dog and that’s when his phone began to light up. That first season, Queen found 20 or so deer.

Happy young hunters who Gary and Scout find deer for make all the work and expense worth it, especially when it is a hunter’s first deer.

Fast forward to present day, and thousands of deer recoveries later, Cobb has a team of black mouth curs. None are more famous than his best friend, Scout. Scout is his superstar cur that comes from the same bloodline as his original dog, Queen. Scout has found hundreds of deer and she isn’t stopping anytime soon.

The quest for 100

Cobb will be the first to admit he isn’t concerned with accolades or numbers; he just enjoys helping people. There is no greater joy to him than successfully recovering someone’s deer, especially if it’s a child or someone’s first. Last year, with one week of the season remaining, he had 97 recoveries. It was then that it struck him that reaching the century mark could be an attainable goal. He and Scout tried their hardest, but at the end of season they were sitting at 99. This year, Cobb and Scout have their sights set on achieving their goal.

What breeds make the best tracking dogs?

Of course, the Black Mouth Cur is Cobb’s favorite breed, but there are many other dogs that make great deer trackers. Some of the other proven breeds he listed are Labradors, Blue Heelers, Australian Shepherds, Bavarian Mountain Hound, Wired Hair dachshunds, and Feists. He also believes rescue dogs make some of the best dogs/trackers. Whether you rescue a dog from a shelter or a dumpster.

“Dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for,” he said. “These dogs are extra appreciative of getting to join a family and will do everything in their power to satisfy their owners.”

Dangers of tracking

Deer shot late in the afternoon are especially tough to trail, even with good blood sign, so Cobb and Scout often work well into the night finding them for grateful hunters.

Over his 28-year span, Cobb has pretty much seen it all. His dogs have been kicked and hooked by deer. Wounded deer have charged at him. He has even had wild hogs attack them, but one event really sticks out in his mind.

Cobb and his former cur, Sage, went out to Spearsville to track a nice buck for a fellow hunter. Sage quickly took to the trail and found the buck. Unfortunately, the buck was still alive and turned on Sage. Using his antlers for defense, the buck swiped at the dog and Cobb saw one of the tines bury into his dog’s neck. Once Cobb was able to get to his pup, he realized she had blood on her neck. He thought for sure she was a goner. Cobb was sick and got down on his knees and asked God to please let her survive. His prayers were answered because upon further inspection, the blood was from the deer and the tine had gotten caught between her collar and her neck.

Most memorable story

Cobb got a call one night to go track a six-year-old kid’s first deer at Sadie Hunting Club. He had already committed to two other tracks that night, so he did not arrive until midnight. The little boy was wide awake.

“You could not wipe the smile off his face!” Cobb said. The boy began telling the story of shooting his first deer, but his father began getting antsy, saying they needed to go track the deer. Cobb assured him it was fine, and he wanted to hear every word of that excited boy’s story. After the tale concluded, Cobb  whispered to Scout, “If we never find another deer, we have to find this one.”

Scout took to the trail in one of the thickest cutovers they have ever been in. Three hundred yards later, Scout found the little boy’s trophy — a nice 6-point. You would have thought it was a world record buck with the way the boy and his family were celebrating… but that’s not the end of it.

A couple of years later, Cobb was in town doing some shopping. As he walked into the store, a man stopped him and said, “Are you Gary Cobb?”

Cobb looked down and there was this little boy grinning ear to ear, and he immediately recognized him. The father said his son spotted him walking across the parking lot and exclaimed, “we can’t leave until I shake Mr. Gary’s hand and thank him for finding my deer!”

It’s stories like this that give Cobb the motivation to keep helping others. That little boy will never forget him or Scout, or his first deer.

Advice for hunters

As the old cliché says, “When in doubt, back out.”

If you have any reservations about your shot placement, do not go in after the deer, Cobb said. You will be spreading scent and that will hurt the chances of the dog finding the deer. It isn’t just human scent that may confuse a dog, as a deer emits a scent from its interdigital scent gland when it’s wounded. Even if there is no blood, when you walk through and across the trail, you are unintentionally spreading all of that deer’s scent with your footsteps.

Also, if you go in after a wounded deer, you run the risk of jumping it from its bed. A mortally wounded deer typically does not go far from the initial shot. Cobb knows better than most and said, “If you jump a wounded deer, it might run 200 yards or two miles. Just be patient and wait for the tracker to come to you.”

Where to find a tracking dog?

Wounded deer that head into thickets like the one behind Scout and Gary are often impossible for hunters to find without trailing help.

If you do not personally know someone with a tracking dog, the most convenient way is to go to the Mississippi Blood Trailing Network on Facebook. There you will see a list of handlers/dogs. There are upwards of 200 people listed, with multiple people available in each county. You can contact them directly with the phone number listed, or make a post on the page giving the area you are in and include as many details regarding the post shot signs you found.

In your preparations for deer hunting, it would be wise to already know a name and number or two just in case you need them.

Why does Cobb do it?

“I’m a Christian man and like to touch people in a positive way,” Cobb said. “I get the same thrill from tracking another hunter’s deer as I would if I killed a big buck myself. I get to re-live that excitement with every recovery that we make. Hunters are blessed to be able to hunt these animals, and we are lucky to live in a country where we can do this. God gave us these animals, so we need to do everything possible to find them if we are going to take their lives.”

Cobb has gotten to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people throughout his journey and that’s one of the best parts of the job. He loves going to new hunting camps, meeting new people, and seeing the smiles on their face when his dog successfully recovers their deer. He has become lifelong friends with strangers he has met at the end of a blood trail.

In closing, Cobb said, “You have to have a passion to do this. I burn a lot of gas and have put countless miles on my truck, but I love it. Enjoy each track job like it’s your last because tomorrow is not promised. I have that mindset each time I drop the tailgate and let my dogs go to work.”

And hundreds of hunters are glad he does.

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