Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Traditions and Myth

Traditions are damn near impossible to overcome. Myths may be worse. Either way, they get in the way of things changing for the better most of the time. Combine a tradition and a myth in one problem and it gets very complicated and even down right messy if you are hunting hogs with dogs.

Now I am not down on tradition per se, for instance of fathers taking sons hunting and fishing to satisfy that age old practice of providing meat for the family. It is great.

And the tradition of running the hounds, and hey the more dogs the better. I love to hear a yowl echoing through the woods, day or night. And it is even a lot of fun to identify specific dogs by voice alone.

Where do myths come from? Is it some opinion by someone who doesn't really know anything about what they are talking about, but it sounds good and a lot of people jump on it?

Of course we have a tradition of running hounds(plural). And when hunting hogs a few people seem to want to chase hogs so they can enjoy the thrill of the chase. But I am hearing a lot of frustration about not being able to stop a hog. Looks to me like this is one of two worse case scenarios, in that the hog tires out and then when the dogs stop him, there are too many dogs and the result is a lot of injuries to the hog or dogs, or the dogs tire out and lose the hog.

The bad part of chasing hogs with a pack of hounds is the hog almost always runs like crazy. In essennce running too many dogs, and especially open mouth ones causes running hogs.

And when the dogs do stop him often times the dogs are well burnt out, and the hog stops where he can use the environment to his advantage of causing harm to the dogs because the man is a long ways away, which gives the hog an opportunity to also start killing dogs.

This is very likely because a pack of dogs think they have enough help to take him. And quite possibly, they will overwhelm and kill the hog sometimes before you get there. But if it is a smart, tough, old killer hog who ain't got old for being stupid, he will kill or seriously injure one dog at a time, for several reasons. 1. There are so many dogs, that they can't get out of each others way in a bay, and when a dog is in the hogs face and being charged, if he runs into another dog and is blocked from escape, the hog can catch him. 2. If there are a lot of dogs at the bay the best or lead dogs get too confident and believe they have enough help and get too close or worse they catch something that has great skill and ability to kill.

The first time, I watched Maurice get cut, the hog knocked him down, stood over him and cut his belly right between the ribs and his belly button. When I looked at the injury later, it looked like a surgeon had worked on him with a scapel. Luckily the tusk had been chipped or dubbed, and didn't cut too well.

The myth here is that we are hunting a really big dangerous animal and thus need a lot of dogs to overwhelm the hog. The reality is if we have the right dog, we only need one dog to stop, and keep the hog bayed, until we get there. And I know it does not seem logical, but one dog has a higher survival rate, by his self. And ideally when we run a good dog we should have some young 'uns along for training purposes. And by young I mean 1-1&1/2 or something that hasn't fired off yet and can hunt on their own. What most people call a help dog, or started dog.

Problem with this reality is most people operate in the tradition and myth of a pack of dogs and have never tried to hunt one dog at a time. Hell, I still want to turn 'em all out! I like it! And give me a couple of beers and I want to drive home and get the rest of the dogs and turn them out to. Yah we bad!

But here is what happens when hunting with only one dog on the ground: If the dog is close to the hog, there is not much sound or scent of dog around and the hog is a lot less likely to break and run as fast. So it becomes a lot easier for one dog to stop a hog, if it is the right dog.

If it is the right dog, it will be silent on the track, fast, and gritty, and have a good nose. Ideally it will be a silent on the track dog and not drive the hog with his voice. Typically Catahoulas are silent, like a wolf. Gritty like a bull dog, and thus no fear when it comes to stopping a running hog. And as fast as a Greyhound. But not only fast to overcome the hog in a chase, but also fast and agile to dodge a charge from the hog once bayed.

I don't think we should call 'em hounds because a Catahoula is technically a cur. I also don't like calling them Leopard dogs either, because they don't all have spots, and as far as I know, we don't hunt Leopards with 'em!

Now what I am getting at here is; call 'em what they are and handle them the way they are bred to hunt.

TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT THE DOG TO CONFORM TO THEIR WAY OF DOING THINGS. BUT WHAT IF THE DOG HAS A BETTER WAY? Has it ever occurred to you that your dog knows more about hunting than you will ever learn, and maybe you should try learning from him?

AND WHAT IF THE DOG IS SMARTER THAN YOU? Can you swallow your pride and consider that if you take your puppy to the woods enough, and give him enough time, he will learn to hunt without you teaching him?

A couple of weeks ago I had some boys drive down from north Louisiana who had some well bred dogs that were right at a year old and wanted to get some dogs from me because they were ready to give up on their dogs or maybe hoped my dogs could help get their dogs out and get 'em started.

When I asked if they were willing to give the dogs a year or more to fire off, they replied: "Most people from where we come from, git rid of a dog if it don't hunt by the time it is a year old".

Where are they getting this stuff?

I don't expect anything from my dogs before two years old. Especially if they are gung ho baying in the pen by three or four months and they get out with the older dogs when we ride out behind my property, I like to keep them out of harms way until a year and a half or two. If they are bred to hunt, you don't need to train them.

But for some reason there is this great myth that hog dogs need to be trained to be a hog dog. In my opinion if they are not born a hog dog they will never be one.

In fact when it comes to my dogs, I like to keep them away from hogs from about 8-10 months to about a year and a half. Let them be bored! when they get to the woods they learn real quick to find a hog if they want to bay one.

WHAT I AM GETTING AT HERE IS THAT THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF CONFUSION REGARDING CATAHOULAS! And unless you can get into this dogs mind and learn from them, you will be very lucky, or most likely will never be satisfied with owning or hunting one.

Do you want the greatest dog ever bred for hog hunting to hunt for you? Then consider that the tradition of running a pack of hounds does not apply here, because they aren't hounds. And the myth of needing more than one dog, that doesn't apply either because if you have the right dog, they not only do just fine by themselves, they do better than they do with a pack.

And what I am hearing from all the people I know who are in the know is that they have given up trying to teach people how to hunt with a Catahoula, because either it is a waste of time trying to teach someone who wants to learn, because people ask for help over the phone, and there is only so much that can be learned by just talking. Or worse, the person is an upstart who just got into it six months ago and has to learn the hard way because they think they know it all, already!

Now one of the old timers who hunt regularly with one of the dogs he bought from me and raised as a pup that was finding its own hog before it was a year old, confesses he struggles with wanting to turn out too many at a time, just like I do. Hell it is fun to see a pack of 4 or 5 young dogs running with the old dog, but boy that can be dangerous if you run into the wrong hog.

So if you have a really jammed up great Catahoula and you don't believe you should hunt only one or two at a time I feel your pain. I been there and done that.

In fact I can remember the first time I was told to run Maurice by his self "because he was a one dog situation". I refused to try it. That didn't make no sense!

It wasn't until my dogs showed me again and again, they could do it alone.

There are great advantages to running one or two dogs, if you have the right dogs, unfortunately, most people never try it.


Unknown said...

I always drop my two strike dogs by theirselves and I have no problems baying hogs!

Unknown said...

I agree with you I always only drop two dogs and never have problems baying hogs