By John Balch
Tim Allen of Murfreesboro has been there, done that when it comes to losing a big deer in the woods. He knows what hunters are feeling when the blood trail ends and there is no deer in sight.
With that in mind, Allen started training Zoey, a half labrador retriever and half black and tan hound, about 2.5 years ago.
Zoey, now 3.5 years, has made a name for herself in the area as a top-notch deer tracking dog and hunters from all over the tri-county area of Pike, Howard and Hempstead have called her in to save the day.
Allen, who is the district manager for the area’s Cash Saver grocery store, said he and Zoey will track missing deer for free. “I know the feeling; it’s heartbreaking, especially if it’s a little kid’s first deer or a great big old buck,” he said. “So now, I have this great resource and I want to share her with other people.”
Allen, 47, said he has tracked 50-55 deer in the last two seasons and it’s not uncommon for him to forgo his hunting trip to help someone out. Sometimes, Zoey does come up empty-pawed.
“We don’t find them all,” Allen said.
There are various reasons for that but sometimes the deer were not fatally hit and they heal. “We’ve had deer we’ve tracked during archery season already show back up on game cameras.”
Allen said the biggest question he gets is: “At what point do I call you?”
“After you run out of blood, you need to mark the spot and then give me a call or text and we’ll make a plan.”
Allen also said there is a misconception that there needs to be blood for a successful track. That is not the case. Deer have a stress gland in their hooves that release the scent that Zoey locks onto, Allen said. Even with a group of deer on the scene when the trigger is pulled, Zoey can pick out the injured one based on that gland.
Allen is a member of the Arkansas Blood Trailing Network on Facebook and he said the group is a good resource for hunters. Allen is listed as serving the Pike, Howard and Hempstead area but there are other trackers nearby in case he is busy on another track or he is in the woods hunting.
“I really like this as much as I do hunting,” he said.
There have been some memorable moments on the trails for Allen and his clients. He has found first deers, first bucks and more.
One track stands out this season for Allen. It involved an 8-point buck shot the day before by an elderly hunter near Lake Greeson. The deer traveled more than 800 yards through the rough terrain before settling down to die near the bank.
For some reason, the deer entered the water and died. The overnight wind blew the carcass back into a cove where Zoey found her.
“It was quite the recovery,” Allen said, adding that he and Zoey are getting in great shape on the tracks.
Allen is also the owner and operator of Allen Outdoors and has his own YouTube channel and Facebook page. His contact number for calls or text is (903) 306-9855.