Monday, July 19, 2010

Long-range versus Short-Range

Today I received a call from a customer shopping a short-range dog. I have gotten a lot of calls recently from people who, having read my blog articles, were realizing long-range dogs did not fit the way they preferred to hunt. This guy up in Coffeeville, Alabama, was interested in a short range dog because he has already got a great long-range Plott hound that will get on a hog and he will stay on that hog all day if that is what it takes to stop him.

In the meantime, he has on several occasions, come behind the long-range dog and caught hogs with younger, short range dogs. This caused him to realize that he could be more effective with both short range and long range dogs simultanously.

As much as I agree with him, I hope he has a lot of help when he hunts, because that can get complicated in a hurry.

Apparently, his long-range dog can move through numerous hogs when his focus is on one hog and it becomes 'his hog' and he will pass through anything and everything to get that hog. My customer realized that he could hunt a long-range dog with a tracking collar and if he got on a running hog that turned into a chase that went on for hours, he could then turn out a short range dog at the same time and be much more effective in the time and the 'space' that he has to work with.

For me, I have always caught more hogs with short-range dogs, but that is how I hunt for the most part and I like to hunt with other people who often have long range dogs. Because I work closely with new dogs and older dogs teaching the young, thats what I have, for the most part, always done when hunting.

And what is really interesting is how my friends get longer range out of the same bloodline because that is what they want from the dogs they have purchased from me.

Although genetically the dogs are predisposed to a certain style or range, there is also an adaptability to the team factor in that dogs will try to figuire out what you want and don't want.

I prefer to be slower and more thorough because I have, from experience, learned it is very easy to move too fast in the woods and leave hogs behind. For instance, the first time I realized that some hogs run and some don't, was after the long range dogs were on a big boar and we set up with the tracking unit to see where this chase was going.

About fifteen minutes into it, we realized this boar was coving a lot of ground, and we would need a boat to follow the dogs and so we sent someone back home to get one. As we waited for the man with the boat, we tracked the progress of the chase with the tracking unit and Maurice began to make circles around the area where we were set up on the tailgate of the truck. It was at least 1/2 hour after we jumped the boar, and Maurice started baying about 50 yards away. The land owner claimed that it must be trash because he couldn't believe a hog would lay down and not move with several men in such close procsimity.

Wasn't long after that, I advised him that I thought the barking sounded like a hog. The land owner refused to follow me in and when I got close enough the hog broke and Maurice caught. Hard to believe, but we caught a 150 pounder there and a couple more broke out and ran out from nearby as we were tying the sow.

These were hogs that balled up in a briar patch, or thick reeds, and would not move until we got almost close enough to step on them. They knew that movement would give away their position a lot more than the scent, so even with us so close they could hear our every word they held position. Well without moving, nonetheless given time Maurice did his thing and we were tying a hog before the man with the boat arrived.

A lot of people today who are just getting into hog hunting, may have hunted with other hunters using only long-range dogs. Because they observed and 'learned' how to hunt using long-range dogs, they assume or believe that is the only way to do it. Truth be told, there are many ways and many styles and even many different hogs, dogs, and environments, which makes it very interesting to hunt wild hogs, because no two hog hunts are ever the same. It's different in different seasons, different climates, and different hunters have their own style. And every dog is different and unique in his own right.

A really good dog with years of experience who has been hauled across many states will be very adaptable. But if a dog has only hunted in one place and it knows that place really, really well, it will range out further than when it just gets into a new place. So when buying a well started or finished dog, the effect is, it is a much bigger adjustment for the dog to go into a new place and learn the terrain and even more difficult for that dog to hunt for someone else.

It may take months for you to get the same level of performance out of a well started or finished dog that the man who raised him, and trained him got.

Dogs are neuvophobic and what that means is they are scared of anything or anyone new. So someone strange takes the dog to someplace he has never been to and it is a double whammy. He isn't at all interested in hunting because he is not comfortable to loosen up and do his thing.

Hence, the importance between the relationship of you and your dog. That is one big difference between long range and short range dogs. A short range dog usually will not hunt for someone they don't know very well. And a long range dog, will quite often hunt for anybody most of the time.

Different breeds maybe more or less sensitive in this way.

Now, most of us want the dog to hunt the way we want them to hunt. But what if the dog has his own style of hunting, and it's better than what you think he should be doing. Would you consider adjusting and adapting your method of hunting, to the dog's own special style? What I am getting at here is, that hunting hogs with dogs is a partnership that requires cooperation betwenn man and dog. Although we may want the dog to hunt the way we want, we may have a very special dog that hunts different than the way we have always hunted. And if we're willing to give the dog a chance, we may learn there is a better way than what we are thinking.

I, personally, have come to realize the importance of always trying to analyze what the dog is thinking based upon what they are doing. I do this quite a bit because I know the dog understands English, but cannot speak to me in any other languages except his body language. If you are tuned into a two way communication with your dog you know that 95% of what they "say" is through your and their body language.

When a short-range dog makes a loop and comes back and hangs around your feet, what he is saying is it is time for you to move up because there is nothing there. Most people seem to think the dog should be out hunting no matter what.

If he is hanging around our feet, there is a reason, and you may assume it's because he is "no good". Actually, he's waiting for us to make the move. Because he hunts short-range and he has very much covered the entire area in close proximity to us it is our job to move the dog up even if we are only moving up fifty to one hundred yards at a time. But when we move up, we should stop and let the dog make a loop or two and always encourage them to get up or get out when they loop back.

If you work with your dogs enough, and you speak to them in English, you also need to communicate through body language. I learned this with Bob; I could point to the left, and he went there; when he looped back, I could point to the right and he went in that direction. I could also tell him to go all around, and I'd make a circle with my hand over my head, often speaking in English and with my body language at the same time. Bob came to be a very effective hunter because he trusted that if I told him to go somewhere, maybe I had already seen the hog move in that direction, and he needed to go there. Me being higher off the ground than him, he trusted my direction.

How you move through the woods to keep up with your dog might determine whether you use a long-range or short-range dog. By working with a short-range dog, one of the benefits is generally a short range dog is quick, or should I say, quicker to stop a running hog than is a long-range dog. Another drawback of the long range versus short range, is long range dogs are often very mouthy and in effect, drive the hog a lot further and faster than a silent short-range dog.

There is no set formula for hunting hogs, but using a long-range dog and turning them out first and then coming behind them with a short-range dog can make your time in the woods much more effective. You might also learn you will catch more hogs with short-range dogs than long-range. Both, however, I believe, are equally important in the big picture of teamwork and being open minded to their being no set formula.

One of the most significatnt, critical aspects of hunting with a short-range dog is the development of relationship; you must, by the sheer nature of the dog checking back periodically, interact a great deal more with a short-range than you will with a long-range dog. Short range dogs are, for most people, harder to handle, but if you know how to handle them, and you're open to learning new ways to hunt, a short-range dog may be much more effective at the end of the day in tallying up more hogs caught. A short-range dog can often, by themself, be what we call a one dog wonder. Find 'em, stop 'em, bay 'em, and when you get there with or without the bulldog, help to catch.

Because they do not expend as much energy as a long-range dog, a short-range dog can be much more thorough and effective when it comes to catching hogs because they are a lot fresher, having preserved their energy in short range activity.

I've been wanting to write a post with this title for some time. The customer who called me today and shared his story about finding hogs, several hogs that were balled up and hiding after the long range dog had already run through the area in pursuit of a running hog, inspired me to write this post.

1 comment:

Peter Larson III said...

Very good post. I have only been hog hunting with dogs for a little over 10 years. Until about a year ago I had a red cur that I bought when he was a little over a year, I bought him sick, full of worms, and abused but saw him bay a hog in a 5 acre pen , and even with his condition he still was amazing to watch. After about 2 months of taking care of him and getting him back to 100%, I took him hunting and he would go out 75-100 yards and come back to me and as I moved around the property he would do that over and over again. Needless to say he caught a small 70lb sow and a 240lb boar hog by himself that night . As I gained access to bigger properties I felt he was just to short ranged so I sold him , what a mistake that was. With my 10 years experience (not much) he is still the best hog dog ive hunted behind . He flat out would produce the pork , where the longer ranged dogs it just seems like we did a lot of chasing. You never realize how good to got something till you loose .