Thursday, September 2, 2010

Myths vs. Reality

If you are just getting into hog hunting and think you are going to find a good finished dog for a price you can afford, I have one thing to say to you: good luck.

Many people who are new at this operate under gross assumptions, myths and illusions, thinking if they can just find a good dog, they are hunting hogs.

I want to write this post to dispel some of the myths I have uncovered along the way, and maybe help you get your hog hunting going. It appears sometimes myths are passed on from person to person, and other times we assume things based upon logical conclusions that we know nothing about. I know I have suffered personally, on both accounts.

If you are operating under the myth or illusion that there are a lot of good dogs out there for sale, and you are going to buy one and it work first time out. Go here and look: Oh there are a lot of dogs for sale, and I see a lot of top names in there, but based on reports I have gotten from so many people who buy my dogs, there is a lot of trash being advertised on the Internet. Now just because there is one or two of the top names on the papers is no guarantee of hunt. They may have bred a great dog to trash, and big surprise: gotten trash.

The old timers have told me of people bringing trash and paying $500-1,000 stud fee to bred their dog, and then complaining, that the stud didn't produce hunting dogs. Well what do you expect? You bred it to trash!

So here are three myths rolled into one: if the dog is a registered Catahoula, and comes from hunting stock, and it has top names on those papers, it will hunt hogs.

I have customers who have hog dogs that came from me that are so amazed how fine these dogs are compared to what they had before. So I asked if I could list them as a reference, and they are concerned someone may come to their house and steal em. So they have asked me to not mention their name here. One of which I also asked if he would refer his hunting buddies as customers to me, and he said no I can't do that either on account of he don't hunt with the crew he used to hunt with before he got my dogs. Because they want to run a pack of dogs and don't understand what a good dog is because they never had one. And every time he runs with them, they put too many dogs on the ground, and guess whose dogs get cut up? Problem is, if they go hunting hogs without him, they don't catch hogs.

Another guy, advised me that he and his friends in the past bought dogs until they found a good one, and have gone through sometimes 20 and 30 dogs before they got a good one, that was, until he started getting dogs from me.

And because the dogs he bought from me, would start before they were a year old, and hunt as a one dog situation, he doesn't have nearly as many injuries as he did when he ran a pack of dogs with his friends.

Now almost every top breeder I talk to tells me the same thing: they have almost given up on selling their started and finished dogs to the public at large as hog dogs. Why? To quote most of them; "Because hog hunters are morons." And people, I want to tell you, I have heard it again, and again, and again. Years ago, the old timers were telling me they quit breeding because they were fed up with dealing with the public.(meaning the morons) Now I don't want to offend anyone, but if the shoe fits, wear it. And don't get me wrong here, if you are just getting started hunting hogs I don't want to make it sound like it is an automatic indication of a low IQ!

Please bear with me, I have been trying to figure out how to bring up the subject of the moron hog hunters a politely as possible, becaue I hear this from all the top breeders.

Like how they spend hours on the phone screening and trying to educate people about how smart and unique Catahoulas are.

I actually hope to make the situation better by educating people along the way, newbies and old timers alike, but as they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But that is a stereotype. And I am getting on in age and always trying to learn as much as I can, so maybe by opening up discussion about some issues here we can all learn something along the way. Me included!

I have learned from my dogs and I have learned from people a lot wiser and more experienced than me. But interesting to note how I learned from the morons along the way too. Learned what? How not to do it. Not all hog hunters are morons, and to say that they are, is to stereotype, and I hate when people do that.

Now I have a problem with stereotypes, like if you are a white, male, and from the south, you are racist, sexist, and stupid! Or if you are a redneck, you are inbred, uneducated, and immoral, or all Christians are hypocrites, all Muslims are terrorists, all blondes are dumb, and all politicians are crooked. Well maybe the last one fits. ;-)

But the problem here, for someone just getting into hog hunting, is to find someone who has good dogs, who knows what he is doing, and can help the newbie find a good dog, or raise a puppy right, get well started, properly trained and then properly handle that dog in the woods, is damn near impossible. What is a newbie to do? If you are just getting into this, best advise I can give you is: don't get in a hurry.

I have people calling me from all around the world, Europe to Australia, telling me the same thing; they talk to a lot of people and no one is straight up and honest about the harsh realities of breeding, raising, training, and hunting Catahoulas on hogs, like me. I have been very fortunate to have been around great dogs most of my life, and since going to the Uncle Earls in 1996, meeting and befriending a lot of really smart, common sense hog hunters.

C Arrow Patch, NALC registered, and top stud in my yard.

Now some of us have no doubt lucked out, and found good dogs for cheap. It does happen, consider that I bought Patch at the Uncle Earls for a hundred dollars, and he after being a yard and porch hound pet for two years, found hogs the first time we went to the woods, all on his own. Of course, there were hogs there! But he didn't honor Bobs bay, Patch went and found his own hog at the same time Bob was bayed up. Wow! And what was that? That is foundation bred. I have the papers on him to prove it. Generation after generation of proven hunters, on the top and the bottom, and what do you get? A hunting dog who was never trained or started, and the first time he went to the woods at 2 1/2 years old, he found his own hog. And then his children and grandchildren, same thing.

Simon, a grandson of Patch and the legendary Maurice.

I have also brought him hunting to places where we found sign, and found no hogs, and the people I was with who were judging my dogs for sale, thought there was something "wrong" with the dogs, meaning he was "no good" because we didn't find the hogs.

Here is another myth I have seen people operate in again and again: if there is fresh sign, a good dog will find the hogs no matter what. And if the dog didn't find hogs, they reject or get mad at the dog.

There was fresh sign there, like an hour or two old, and I advised him the hogs went the other way, he argued with me, and we continued in the direction he wanted to go, and ran into his neighbor about an hour later, who confirmed my position on the hogs, they had crossed the road in front of his house about three hours earlier. He then challenged my judgement once again, claimed that if the dog was any good he would have followed the hogs and not us.

I believe this guy does not understand a long range vs. a short range dog. And a short range dog will usually follow the hunter and not the hogs, if the scent is weak, and thus the hogs are not close or short ranged. A long range dog on the other hand, will follow scent several hours old and hang with it for hours to find the hog. There is a catch here, you better have a tracking collar on that dog.

He then drove several hours to Texas, bought long ranged dogs and soon after, lost them for lack of a tracking system. Not too smart!

So what I am getting at here is that there are great dogs out there and for someone just getting into it, it is damn near impossible to luck out and find a good finished dog, at a price you can afford, and then know how to handle that dog. And from talking to people who have responded to my advertising, about 95% of the people shopping for a hog dog, want a finished long range dog. Problem with that, is most people fail to grasp that the dog hunts not only because of genetics, but a relationship with the hunter. A finished dog no matter how good, may need a warm up period of a month or several months before really getting out and hunting for a new owner.

Worse than that, is assuming that papers on a dog, will make it a good dog. Period!

Here is another myth, papered dogs are good purebred bloodlines, that will find hogs.

Let me let you in on a secret; them papers don't mean nothing, unless you have the right names on it. And if you are just getting started, it may take you years to figure out who is who. And some of these dogs on the papers sold for 10, 15, and 20 thousand dollars ten years ago, but got bred to trash along the way. Now if the person doing the breeding is diluting instead of building on a strong foundation, and always looking for better dogs, time after time, this may not be good dogs in spite of having a few of the right names there.

Here is another big myth:

OK papers or not, if it comes from parents that hunt, it must be a good chance that the cross will work, so buy one of those puppies, so the puppy you invest years, and hundreds of dollars in, will most likely hunt. Often those investments don't work for one of two reasons, either it is not a good foundation bred cross, or the hunter is expecting too much, too soon.

Which brings me to the last myth we'll get into in this post:

If it is going to be a good dog, it should be baying a hog in a pen, early on.

I have a puppy that was well bred, raised right, and in spite of being around about 50 other pups and big dogs baying in a pen, she never, ever, bayed in the pen. But before she was a year old, I took her to the woods, and she hunted her ass off. Where is this coming from? How about she is a granddaughter of Bobalou and Ruby, on the mothers side, and great grand daughter, of Two Diamonds Cutter crossed with Camp-a-While's Abbey on the daddy's side. Who cares if she bays a hog in a pen? She hunts!

The pen has a lot of myths associated with it, but we won't get into them here, but let me say this:

The pen really does help with some dogs, but if a dog doesn't bay in the pen, don't write em off until you hunt em. Because you may be expecting too much, too soon, and in the wrong place. The pen is a good place to start a pup, train them to survive in the woods, and evaluate progress, but never assume you are training a dog to "hunt" in the pen.

I have had people call me to train their dog because it wouldn't hunt. They wanted me to get the dog started. So I asked about the breeding, and when he told me, I said; "Wow, this dog comes from the best out there." Then we discussed, what the dog was doing and not doing. Come to find out, because the dog never bayed a hog in the pen, so he never took it to the woods to see if it would hunt!

Guess what happened when he took the dog to the woods, it hunted. Considering it was two years old, I thought perfect timing.

So look if you are just getting into this, try to find someone who hunts regularly, and also try to hunt with as many people as possible because there is no one set way to this, and basically, every hunt is different. The more people you hunt with, the more chance you have of discovering what is right for you. Because of terrain variations, climate, and every hog, like every dog has its own peculiarities, all these combinations work out to make hog hunting, the fastest growing and most interesting sport in America today.

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