Friday, November 10, 2006

More Hare Coursing

A continuation of my last post. As the hounds came back to our vehicles, the 3rd member of our party arrived with her Deerhounds. Karen has a very keen Deerhound bitch with her that is just under a year of age and the second Karen with her Deerhounds then arrived. With this many hounds on the ground I lost track of who was with who, but I believed we had an additional 4 Deerhounds with us. They too are magnificent hounds, truly built for running and sturdy enough to negotiate the hard ground. They were each adorned with their colored jackets to be able to identify them individually from a good distance away, often more than a mile. We strapped on our daypacks and got moving to a large patch of sage brush. Weather was nearly perfect for coursing as it was in the low 40's. Broken cloud cover and almost no breeze. The population of hares is approaching ridiculous as we were not walking for more than 30 seconds and several hares bolted away from us. In our freecoursing walk, the hounds are all loose and so the whole pack was after them. The Staghounds and Deerhounds were up in the lead with the Wolfhounds close behind. Half the pack went after 1 hare that made hard turns bearing straight down toward the lowland that was sage covered. Once to cover the hounds would become unsited and he would be home safe. The second hare was going for open ground hoping to outrun his pursuers, which he indeed did do. As I had mentioned in a previous post, it is not the taking of the game which is important, but the quality of the course. These hounds were hard driving and did a great job of going after their quarry. They forced numerous hard turns by the hares and were terrific to watch. My next trip, I am going to walk the hounds on a slip lead to prevent them from launching off after these hares that bolt a 1/4 mile in front of us. This uses up huge amount of energy that could be more beneficial to save for hares that bolt nearly between their front feet. After running a dozen different hares during the course of the morning my hounds were spent. All their energy was gone. They were not lacking desire as they wanted to run after more and more hares that we came across on the way back to the vehicles. I needed to leash them up so as not to run them past the point of complete exhaustion.
Weather permitting, I am going to go back out this Sunday. It is supposed to remain cool and maybe have some snow fall.
Here in the States, we are celebrating Veterans Day. Let us all take a moment and give thanks to our military forces that have sacrificed a great deal and in some cases, their lives in order for us to enjoy the lives we have today.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wilds of Wyoming

Had the pleasure of getting up to my favorite place in Wyoming to hunt the Longdogs last Saturday. Went up with several groups of hounds in addition to my Staghounds. First was a pack of Irish Wolfhounds. I hear all the time that these hounds have lost their hunting drive. To those people I say you have never seen or been out with my friend Karen's Wolfhounds. They are the fittest and most prey driven Wolfhounds I have ever been out with. They just go and go like the energizer bunny that we are coursing. The second group of hounds we went with were Scottish Deerhounds. They too still have some strong hunt drive in them. When Karen and I pulled up to our hunt location, she unloaded her Wolfhounds. I was not even able to get my Staghounds unloaded before her hounds bolted the first Jack Rabbit. They are going into their winter coat color which is a mottled white. They were off and running and I was holding my hounds in place until they returned. Within just moments while on their way back to the trucks, the Wolfhounds had bolted a second hare. My Staghounds were going mental wanting to get loose. I was patient and waited. We gathered up most of the Wolfhounds and started off to our north. I would say not more than 30 seconds later, the chase was on. For those of you that have not experienced watching these hounds explode into motion after a quarry, it is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes there is for me. Out in the wide open West, we have views that extend for sometimes 20 to 30 miles. No fences, treelines roads or highways to get in the way. These hounds streaching out to maximum strides and coursing a truly worthy opponent, the White Tailed Jack Rabbit, which is not a rabbit at all, but a hare. This hare was off and running full speed with the hounds in hot pursuit. They were about a half mile out and the hare was nearly grabbed by my Scorch. My young hound, Mace was very close to her and made an attempt to get teeth into this hare. A couple of hard turns in a circle of about 10' and the hare straight lined it out and managed to get into a badger sette. A great run. All of this has taken place in the first 20 minutes or so. More of the story tomorrow

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Here is Strike at 4 months. He is just full of himself. I have had him out on excursions with the adult Staghounds on 2 occasions thus far. He has been cautious about these first outings. When Scorch and Mace coursed a hare a week ago, Strike stood by me and watched in apparent amazment. When they returned, he was very excited and jumped all over the girls and ran around in big circles. Can't wait until he is older. He is going through his teething stage and chews up everything he can get his mouth on.

Arapahoe Hunt - Blessing of the Hounds

I was fortunate enough to have been a guest of the Opening Day of the Arapahoe Hunt. I know what you are thinking, "These are not sight hounds" They are Scent Hounds. Foxhounds are very exciting to watch and they hunt coyotes in this part of the country. Each season starts with an old tradition of Blessing the Hounds by a Priest from the local Parish. He prays for the hounds, the riders and the quarry. This day was quite typical for the Rocky Mountain Region as it was quite cool with a constant mist in the air with overcast weather. I was lucky enough to get a ride with a lovely young woman named Dahlia who happened to be a world class "Bloody Mary creator" She and I along with another equally lovely young woman named Libby did the Hilltopping, watching the riders and hounds at full cry galloping across the countryside. Dahlia asked "Another Bloody Mary?" Who am I to refuse such a request... Of course
The hounds and riders covered a good deal of ground that day. One of the riders that had a hand held GPS said it was 18-1/2 miles. I was exhausted just thinking about it. Quite a nice day overall.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Sport of the Hunt

People often comment or inquire about how many times my Staghounds actually catch game. I tell them that the sport of the actual course is more important than having game in hand everytime the hounds are slipped. It is exhilarating beyond description to watch these magnificent hounds get sighted on target or game and race off in it's pursuit. With fewer and fewer people participating in this ancient sport of kings, I can tell you with absolute certainty that coursing hounds have no affect on either the hares or coyote populations. If I were to do this everyday for the rest of my life, it would have no affect. With hares, either Whitetail or Blacktail Jack Rabbits, depending on the openness of the terrain they are hunting in, the catch ratio seems to be about 1 out of 4. With coyotes, it seems to be slightly higher depending more upon the experience level of the quarry being perused. The younger sub adults are not able to fool the hounds or have the physical stamina to outlast them until they can give them the slip in a heavy brush area where the hounds become unsighted. Again, I would like to emphasize that the sport of the course is the most important part of the hunt and not the retrieval of game. That is a large bonus to a successful hunt but not the endall.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hybrid Vigor

It is interesting that in the past week, I have had 3 phone calls from people involved in 3 separate dog breeds that expressed a serious concern that their breed of dog was likely to be extinct within the next 10 years because of genetic problems. The problem seems to stem from an absolute closed and locktite registry by the Kennel Club organizations that will not under any circumstances allow for an occasional outcross. Over the years I have heard of almost no health problems with Staghounds that were not self inflicted or caused by hunting or quarry confrontations. I feel the need to explain that in spite of a number of people that I have heard of trying to get the Staghound recognized by some of these Kennel Club groups that I am adamantly opposed to this in principle. Staghounds are not a breed at all but a type of hunting sighthound. I would like to emphasize this again. They are a TYPE of hunting sighthound and NOT a breed at all! The inclusion of these hounds into any breed type will surely be the end of them and they will be condemned to the fate of great running dogs like the Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, Great Danes, etc. These large running dogs tend to have an average life span of 6 to 8 years. I have a friend that bred her Staghound when it was 8 years old and had a large healthy litter. This hound is still actively hunted each season and it will likely live to be 14 or 15 years old. If you care anything about your breed of hound, it is time to wake up before the gene pool is so small that it will be impossible to produce a litter of pups that are not destined to die at a ridiculous young age.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Proper Care After Exercising Hounds

One must look after oneself after rigorous exercise in running the hounds. I just got back in and am following my own advice.

Drop Box Hunt

It was 2 seasons ago when I had my first opportunity to hunt with some people that take coyote hunting seriously. A friend that is a wheat farmer was talking to me about a guy that came to his farm to hunt occasionally with the Staghounds. I was all ears. He passed along his name and number and I gave him a call. Suspecting that I might be an anti, he was cautious in our conversation at first. We visited awhile and at the end of the week, he surprised me by calling me to tell me that he was planning a hunt early that Saturday morning. Even better, he asked if I would bring Scorch, my smooth coated bitch along to see how she would do hunting from a drop box on a truck.
At the agreed upon time that Saturday, I was there bright and early. It was a late Fall day and had rained and snowed a bit the night before but not cold enough to freeze the ground. Unfortunately, that made things pretty muddy, which is not what you want as the ground was very slippery. I loaded my girl in the box with 3 of his males and I am sure she though I had lost my mind making her get in the box with all the males. His males were a grizzled pack with scars from a few seasons of hunting evident on their muzzles and faces. We were loaded and in the truck we got. I noticed a big grab bar like you would see in a handicapped bathroom someplace. He said hold on and I was likely to need that bar before long. We set out across a wheat stubble field slipping and sliding in the mud. We were driving toward a shallow draw that ran some 2 miles along side the wheat field we were in. About half way up this draw a coyote just jumped out of the draw and was running flat out across the wheat field. The driver stood on the gas and was after it. To my astonishment, we were not catching this coyote but in fact were loosing some ground in the chase. We were pursuing this amazing canine for about a mile listening to the hounds in the back screaming with excitement as they were watching the coyote running from us and were anxious to get loose when the driver uttered a few choice words and stood on the brakes. When the truck had nearly stopped he pulled a lever at the top of the cab and out came the hounds. They exploded out of that truck like a group of Stinger missiles with a radar lock on a Bogie. To my pleasant surprise, Scorch was right in there with them. They were closing on this coyote at incredible speed. The coyote made some good moves and had the lead hound overrun him twice but then he caught up and rolled the coyote. Within a second the rest of the hounds were on him and he was finished very quickly. All four hounds, including mine had this animal and the whole event which seemed to take place in slow motion was actually over within 45 seconds or so. This was a young dog coyote about 40 lbs in size. None of the hounds took any bites and so they were loaded back in the truck and off we went to find another one. About half an hour later, we flushed another one and the chase was on again. The engine was roaring and the hounds screaming with excitment. This was a much larger male coyote and he had the speed and condition to stay ahead of us in the mud. The race was on as he was heading for a fence and large pasture full of buffalo. Unfortunately, he managed to stay far enough ahead of us to make it thought this fence and he ran out in the middle of this herd and stood there and gave us the paw. A large bull cut his gloating short and ran him out of their territory. We did not want to release the Staghounds into this area where we could not readily go get them because of the buffalo. About an hour later, still sliding in all the mud we manage to get another coyote on the run and the same chase took place. The hounds caught this coyote. One of the males took a good bite in the foot and the owner was unhappy as this could result in a month of no hunting while the injury healed. All in all, it was a very exciting day for my first experience with these amazing running hounds. As Fall draws near, the conditioning of the hounds is high priority as the hunt season is just around the corner. I don't have a picture as the guy I went with did not want photos taken. If anyone has such a photo I would like to publish it here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Strike, The Next Generation of Staghound

This is Strike. He is a keen 9 week old pup from the litter I have been posting here. Out of the 11 pups, he was the smallest male of the 6. Every pup in this litter is excellent and has a long pedigree of coyote hunting ansestors. We have 1 male and 4 females left in this litter. Why did we select Strike over the other pups? No special reason other than he just seems to love to run. Will continue to post photos for people to see. If you have photos of good hunt hounds or hunt pictures, email them to me and maybe I will post the story and photos here.

Never Spoil Your Hunting Hounds

We believe in firm discipline combined with a strict training regiment for young hound pups. Don't spoil them but get them used to the harsh realities of a hunting life

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sportsmen Kill California Coursing Ban

Grassroots action by the U. S. Sportsman's Alliance and California outdoorsmen has blocked a bill that threatened hunting dog competitors and field coursers. Assembly Bill 2110, which sought to outlaw open field coursing competitions, did not move out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 25. The bill's sponsor, Assemblywoman, Loni Hancock, D-El Cerrito, failed to garner enough support among the committee members, which prevented the bill from reaching the Assembly floor. The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) invested thousands of dollars on a series of mailings and e-mail alerts to sportsmen in key legislative districts. The USSA supporters were urged to turn the heat up on assembly members who had not committed to protecting sportsmen's interests by opposing AB 2110. The Masters of Foxhounds Association of America and the United Kennel Club also sent mailings to their California members in specific legislative districts, alerting them to the dangers of AB 2110. They were urged to call lawmakers and describe the bill's impact on sportsmen and it's financial impact on local law enforcement. "Stopping this bill in California shows just what kind of success sportsmen are capable of at the grassroots level, " said Rob Sexton, USSA vice president of government affairs. "Groups like the California Houndsmen for Conservation, North American Coursing Association, Southwest Coursing Club, Brynmair Irish Wolfhounds, San Joaquin Sighthounds, National Open Field Coursing Association, California Hawking Club, as well as the California Waterfowl Association were essential in stopping this dangerous bill." USSA board member Natasha Hunt of Coalinga, California was also critical in raising sportsmen's concerns about the bill among the legislature. She, along with lobbyist Bill Hemby, a former California law enforcement officer, raised awareness about the unnecessary strain enforcing the bill would have placed on the law enforcement community. "Sportsmen can be proud of their efforts in California, " commented Sexton. "Not only have they helped to preserve coursing, but they have helped slam the door on other
anti-hunting legislation that might have been brought up had AB 2110 passed."

Reprinted from the Sporting Dog Defense Coalition Quarterly Report, Summer 2006

Support the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Evening Hunt

It was one of those warm summer evenings when the afternoon thunderstorms are cracking in the distance and it is still 85 degrees out. The Staghounds and Terriers were restless and wanting to go for a walk. My 2 Staghounds, Scorch and Taz along with 3 or 4 terriers started walking out from our inside gate. The terriers are good at ferreting out rabbits and the Stags patiently wait for an anticipated bolt. It wasn't but about 10 minutes and the terriers had one on the run. The hounds were quick to pick it up and the chase was on. To my surprise, the little cottontail ran straight into a small bush and a fox had him. A moment later, the fox realized that this was not a gift and decided he better get out of Dodge. Unfortunately for the fox, Scorch had a lock on him and had the speed momentum advantage. He was in her grip within 30 to 40 yards. A moment later, the terriers caught up and Mr. Fox was hunting rabbits in heaven. This fox had been stealing my neighbor's gamebirds for the past few months and I am sure he was happy to hear the fox was gone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mace Update

I had someone ask for an update on the progress of Mace. She had been kicked by the horse 4 weeks ago this Thursday. She seems to be making remarkable progress. She is still a bit slow in her reactions but is practically normal in every other respect. She has gained most of her normal weight back and is able to run again. She seems to feel good and is back to her happy self, hopefully ready to hunt this fall. I am taking her out for an outing this Saturday to see if she can focus on quarry. Thanks for all the inquires and I'll keep you all posted.

Staghound Pup Update

I am sure this may be boring to a good number of people that are looking for hunt stories and so on but I have a large number of people that just want to see a few
current photos and this is a convenient place to post them. Pups and mother are
all doing well. Puppies have their eyes open and are gaining weight quickly. Most are 2-1/2 to 3 lbs and they are starting to walk.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shirley Basin Hunt

We pulled into Medicine Bow, Wyoming about 9:00 pm, Friday evening. We had driven about 4 hours north of our home outside of Denver, Colorado to this little historic town of 300 full time residents. The Virginian Hotel. Lots of colorful Old West characters came to mind that had stayed in this very place from Buffalo Bill Cody and the likes. Hunters and trappers from over a hundred years of history. The people checking you in were very friendly. Had the restaurant and bar open nearly all night. We were tired and decided to check in and call it a night as we were getting up early the next morning.
5:30 Saturday morning. After listening to the trains coming through every 15 minutes. ( I forgot about the damn trains ), all night long, blasting their airhorns to let people know to get off the tracks, I was a bit groggy. Was up and showered and walked the Staghounds. Gave them some breakfast and then headed to the restaurant to get some coffee poured into my system to get it started. I was meeting several friends for the hunt. Karen, who has a formidable pack of Irish Wolfhounds, and Frank who is more of an acquaintance that runs a fine pack of Salukis. They were both there and I had my very reasonable breakfast of ham and eggs with a couple of hotcakes that were larger than my extra plate. I could barely finish this up but Karen said I better, as I would need the energy before the end of the day. We finished up, loaded the hounds and drove about 20 minutes north of town into the Shirley Basin area.
Early Fall. It was chilly out, probably in the mid to high 30’s. Off on the distant hills, you could see some remains of a recent snow. This land is desolate. You could see for 15 miles in any direction, and not a sign of anything but sagebrush. No fences or ranch houses was what I liked. We unloaded the hounds. Karen’s Wolfhounds were out and very excited. I unloaded one of my Staghounds maybe a bit early as her Wolfhounds promptly rolled him much to his displeasure. Frank had his Salukis out and we were in for a day of free coursing. After every bush within a hundred yards of us had been peed on we were off and walking the sage. Marked our starting point with the GPS, grabbed some water to take, a pair of binoculars and we were going.
About 10 minutes into the hike, Frank screams RABBIT, Tally Ho!
His Salukis, who are quite seasoned hunters were all over this hare. My Staghounds had never seen a Jack Rabbit up to now seemed a bit confused. Scorch spotted this Mach 2 hare and was off to the races after it. She passed the Salukis and forced a turn on the hare. The Salukis knowing what was about to happen hedged this move because of their experience and managed to make a grab on the quarry right off. It was very exciting to watch this take place. My Staghound came back to me panting hard and wondering what had just happened. Karen’s Wolfhounds all came back. We made a head count and were off again. We were walking along the side of a hill and looking for miles up ahead of us. I was amazed at the number of badger holes we walked by. I am sure that these animals have been excavating rodents from the ground there for hundreds of years. The Jack Rabbits probably know the location of every one of them to help escape the coyotes that hunt them most of the time. It was not very long when another hare jumped up in front of one of the Wolfhounds. The same cry of RABBIT! Tally Ho! Was heard. Once again Scorch spotted this hare right away. The athletic ability of these hares is something to behold. This animal kept a 5 meter lead on my Staghound for the full time they were visible.
The Salukis and Wolfhounds were after it as well and they went off over a hilltop some mile and a half in the distance. I stood there watching through the field glasses waiting to see some sign of their return. About 5 minutes later, here they all come. A good loud whistle came in handy and all the hounds returned. Not sure if this one was bagged or not, but it was a very exciting course. That Jack gave my hound a real run for the money and would have been good to keep in the gene pool. For the remainder of the morning, we bolted about 8 of the White Tailed Jack Rabbits. They proved to be a very impressive opponent. We did not see any coyotes on this trip but they were there as we saw their signs everywhere. We got to see a herd of Pronghorn Antelope and I managed to discourage my hounds from giving chase. They would likely have run them for 10 miles only to look over their shoulders to see my Staghounds dropping dead from exhaustion. We hiked along for a few miles following the direction of the GPS. Thank God I remembered to bring it along as once we were over a hill or two, I had no idea of which direction the trucks were. On the walk as I watched a pair of Golden Eagles soaring above a small bluff, I envisioned some of the old famous pioneers trying to avoid the Sioux Indians that were native to this area. This is an area that is still very wild and relatively unspoiled by mankind. The hounds had a good workout. The hares filed a little more experience in their book of escape tactics and I was tired. Needed to stop by the Virginian for some lunch before hitting the road back home. I was already thinking about the next trip up here to watch these remarkable running sight hounds and their extremely capable quarry. We all said our goodbyes and agreed to meet again in a few weeks weather permitting. It was a nice drive home, reminiscing about the days chase.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Staghound Pup Update

This is a picture of one the Stag pups we call Ridge. she has a ridge of hair from the crown of her head, down to her shoulders. This is a female. They are 12 days old today. This little gal had a minor eye irritation that seemed to be getting slightly infected. Cleaned it all off and put some triple antibiotic in it and it seems to be doing fine this morning. She weighs in at 2 lbs. All the pups seem to be doing great. The mother is eating enormous quantities of food. Keeping up with milk production for 11 pups is a job so I feed her as much as she is willing to eat.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mace, A Tough Hound

This is a newer Staghound that I have had for about 8 months now and she will turn a year old next week. On the first of this month, she was kicked in the head by one of our horses. My wife Darlene found her laying in a fenced area behind our kennel. She was unconscious and not breathing. Her tongue was dark blue and she was bleeding profusely from her mouth and nose. When Darlene picked he up, she began breathing with difficulty. With severe head trauma, I was told you go by the 4/3 rule. If they live for the first 3 hours, it is a good thing. Then you give them 3 days and if they make improvement, you give them 3 weeks. If you have noticeable improvement over 3 weeks, then you give them 3 months. After 3 months they will be as good as they will ever get, so hopefully, they will have completely recovered. She could not sit up for the first day. Then she had trouble standing by herself. After the 3 days, she was attempting to walk but was dragging her back left leg. We did Xrays and there was nothing broken. All neurological damage. She would not eat for the first week and looked like she was going to starve to death. She is back to eating and beginning to gain some weight back. Looks to be on the road to a full recovery which is hard to believe considering how badly she was hurt. Hopefully this fall, she will show me that she can perform 100% and be back in match grade condition.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Staghound Pups

All the pups seem to be doing well and are gaining weight. They are only 6 days old but are already beginning to develope their own personalities. Some are much more aggressive eaters and scream like crazy when they know
Mom is close by and can not reach her for nursing. There are 6 males and 5 females.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Great Plains

An interesting story of a man that loved his sighthounds.
Not sure how true this is as I am sure that a good portion
of this has been embellished for the sake of making a good story.

The Great Plains or General Custer getting in trouble with his Staghounds

By Mary Trotter Kion

What Not to do While Riding Your Horse Alone at Top Speed Beside a Raging Buffalo.

After all this Fairy tale and Lie swapping you can see the kind of stress our boy Custer had been under. He is certainly now a candidate for some rest and relaxation as his cavalry cavorts across the plains. Though such wasn't=t in the Plan of the Day it did present itself when Custer spies a lone buffalo out among the sagebrush. And though Custer had never seen one of these huge shaggy beast before he was surly an expert on them.

When our fearless leader spied the bison he had already sprinted his horse across the plains in pursuit of some antelope. With him is only his chief bugler and George's pack of English Greyhounds. Of course these Custer canines set up a long chase of the fleeing antelope, with Custer and the horn blower quickly bringing up the rear.

After running a few miles, which left the bugler's horse played out our bugle boy drops out of the race, leaving the general alone on the vast plains with only his horse and dogs and the pistol he has cocked and ready in his grasp. This is when Custer spies the buffalo.

Understandably, when George sees this lord of the plains he forgets all about hostile Indians that might be lurking around. He forgets about his command that is now several miles to the rear, out of sight and out of shouting distance. This perfect military machine forgets all, except the buffalo he and his faithful dogs are attempting to sneak up on.

That buffalo must have been smarter than it looked or its sense of smell was offended because as soon as it detected the intruders it took off faster than a bullet sliding through butter.

Now Custer wasn't going to let this prize slip between his fingers, including the one on the trigger of his loaded pistol. So off he dashed on his trusty horse with his slavering hounds keeping pace.

Mile after mile hoofs and paws pound the prairie until Custer's horse and the buffalo are running neck and neck. They go so far and run so fast that eventually the Greyhounds call it quits.

The hot prairie sun is beaming down. Dust and sand is flying. And still they rush onward. Custer is now so close to the buffalo that at any time he could reach out his gun and plugged that beast but he is too caught up in the excitement and desires to prolong the episode. But, at last, the buffalo begins to falter. Of course, Custer=s horse is still going at top speed, never giving an inch.

At last old Mr. Buffalo must have figured out that he was a goner if he didn=t do something quick. In defense, he wheels around with the supposed intention of inflicting a serious big horn puncture wound on Custer's horse.

The action was so sudden and startling that Custer felt the need to grasp the horse=s reins with both hands in spite of the fact he still had the loaded and cocked pistol in one of them. But never the less he clamps a tight‑fisted grasp on the reins, no doubt forgetting his finger is on the trigger of his pistol.

When the gun fired it was probably the loudest sound that horse had ever heard. It was definitely the last sound the horse ever heard.

General George Armstrong Custer had sunk a bullet into the brain of his horse while riding it at top speed across the empty hostile plains while an enraged buffalo was calculating an epitaph for man and mount alike.

Custers crumpling horse put a whole new definition on the expression "Dead in its tracks". At the same time Custer demonstrated his gymnastic ability by catapulting him self into the air. It was such an unexpected performance that it must have startled the buffalo, or disgusted him, that he turned and trotted off into the sunset. Well, if it had been a Hollywood movie there would have been a sunset, except in this instance no one kissed the horse.

History indicates that George Custer was eventually reunited with his regiment and continued to make equally superior military decisions.

To read more about General George Custer and the 7th Cavalry on the Internet, please see:

General George Armstrong Custer Net at: this site includes links to General Custer, battlefield photos including Gettysburg and Little Big Horn.

Elizabeth Bacon Custer here is the complete text to ABoots and Saddles.@ This is the memoir Mrs. Custer wrote about her life with the general.

The major sources for this 2‑part article are:

Custer, George Armstrong. My Life on the Plains, published by Leisure Books, New York, N.Y.

Deloria, Vine. Custer Died For Your Sins, published by Avon Books of New York, NY 1970.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Suprise Litter

Picked up a Staghound bitch for a friend of mine June 8th. We had made arrangements for me to whelp the litter since she was pregnant and was due soon. The current owner was just too busy to put up with a litter of pups.
I was guessing she would have them over the weekend of June 10 / 11th. Well the man called me on Wednesday the 8th to say she had the litter that day. How many? I asked. He said 7. I was happy as that is a manageable number. I made the drive down to Pueblo on Thursday the 8th. He in the mean time had left me a voice mail saying that she had one more pup since we talked last. I arrived about 11:00 am, Thursday. He greeted me with a smile saying she had a couple more. Went to his kennel and there were now 12 pups in the litter. They all seemed healthy. 6 males and 6 females. One of the males had some contracted ligaments in his front legs that would not allow him to straighten his feet. My vet said this is common in Greyhounds and sighthounds and we had to put him down. The rest seem to be doing fine. Pouring all the groceries into the mother she is willing to eat so that she can keep up with milk production. 5 nice males and 6 nice females left. Hopefully they will all remain strong and healthy and grow up to be great hunting hounds that will make their owners proud.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

John Higginbottom

John Higginbottom.

The last great lurcherman.

This story was reprinted from Gary Hosker's Website

Part 1.
I drove north the three hundred long miles from my comfortable air-conditioned London office to interview a recluse, a self- styled eccentric, a man above men, a lurcherman. Name, John Higginbottom.
My journey started with a long drive north, then north and north again along the MI for what seemed an age. As the flat lands of the south turned first to gently rolling meadows of Northamptonshire and then to the hills of Derbyshire I drove ever onwards, finally arriving in the windswept dales of Yorkshire; a land where, if it's not raining one instinctively knows it must be snowing.
High limestone and millstone grit fells clad in an ever-present mist seemingly sweep up to the very base of the stratosphere. This North of England that lies on the wrong side of a theoretical line known as the north-south divide; a North of dark satanic cotton mills that belch black smoke out of imposing, discoloured and misshapen chimneys, chimneys reaching almost as high as the fells that surround them, blending with the landscape yet at the same time destroying it. A North of coal mines and colliers, of iron foundries and smelters, where work- hardened men lead lives so arduous their circumstances could best be described as an existence.
Yet, leave this industrial landscape that was once the pulsating heart of a proud British Empire and drive only a few short miles through the bitter driving rain and take a side road (track would be a more accurate description for metalled roads have yet to come to this part of Britain) signposted 'to the edge of the world' and one encounters an altogether unique England.
An England so blissfully isolated from the twentieth century that one feels encapsulated in an age long past.
Sheep hardened by many a long winter shelter behind 'dry' stone walls from the ever present torrent of rain, where men still scrape a meagre living for themselves behind horse and plough, cultivating crops on half an acre of boulder-strewn land, subsistence living that is this England. Yes this can truly be called a place on the edge of the world.
I took this path to find lurcherman John Higginbottom, John, a giant of a man with ruddy complexion, short greying hair, a beard of flaming red, and hands like the proverbial size ten shovel. Hands that were cut, bruised and contorted, he told me, through many a long desperate dig, rescuing his battle-hardened terrier 'Tootsie' from life or death conflicts with rabbit and other subterranean creatures, this reclusive, almost shy man refused to talk about.
John, a youthful forty-seven, a taciturn man who still retains most of his own teeth, was brought up in the Midlands and is a spot welder by trade. I asked him why? Why does any man try and live here, all alone pushing himself to the very limits of endurance in order to eke out a shallow existence in this particularly inhospitable place, with only the bark of his seven lurcher dogs and sound of the occasional crow for company. “Have you ever spot welded?” replied John philosophically. He sat quite still reading Kipling to himself.
Breaking the silence I enquired about the breeding of his battle-hardened terrier, Tootsie. “That,” explained John, ”is a Higginbottom terrier, the culmination of a twenty-five year selective breeding programme based on the Yorkshire terrier with just a dash of King Charles spaniel for temperament.”
Feeling that I had in some small way penetrated his rock-hard exterior and socialized myself with John, I asked, nay begged, to accompany him on one of his famous hunting expeditions - expeditions, on which I was informed, he uses his homogeneous pack of Higginbottom lurchers to hunt all legal quarry. For John truly is the last of the self-confessed great hunters.
John fell silent, gritted his teeth, pursed his lips, and went into deep thought, almost a trance as if he were going through a metamorphosis or having an out-of-body experience.
Then as suddenly as he had entered the trance he snapped back to reality, kicked his dog and snapped: “Yes, the mad are in God's keeping. Tomorrow morning, crack of ten thirty, not a minute later and I hope for your sake you have a high attention span.”
Glancing in my direction before walking into his meagre shanty home, shared with his pack of Higginbottom hounds, John continued “I insist upon complete and utter obedience from both my dogs and those who chose to follow me.” Fixing me with those steely blue eyes, he gave a penetrating stare, a stare that I would come to know as his force 7 stare. I felt as the Apostles must have felt on the banks of sea of Galilee. I was in awe of this demigod.
Next morning we set off across the fields at a quarter-past- eleven precisely. I asked John why he was late. “Time has no relevance here on the edge of the world,” replied he, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
'Ferrets, ferrets I must have ferrets,' he whispered gently. Suddenly he opened a hutch door, and plunged his gigantic hand into a cage of these ferocious little carnivores. Five ferrets bit deep into the flesh of each of his massive digits -- yet did this man flinch? Not he.
With blood trickling down his forearm he throttled each ferret in turn in order to prise them from his fingers. "Aren't you concerned about infection' I asked “No,” said he “The poker's in the fire. I'll cauterize the wounds when we return.” I glanced ominously at the cumulus clouds gathering overhead, said a silent prayer and thought – ‘If we return.’
With a steady stride we set out into the wilderness. At our heels trotted his seven lurchers’ beardie collie lurchers these, some of the best in the world (or so I was told) bred by David Ballcock. As with Tootsie, his Higginbottom terrier, these lurchers too were the result of an intensive twenty - five year breeding programme; a programme so genetically calculated as to make the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses or racing greyhounds pale into insignificance.
“John, why haven't you channeled your scientifically based genetic theories into creating the ultimate Waterloo Cup winning greyhound or a Derby winning race-horse?' Once again he went pale and then into a trance before replying: “Because my theories don't work.”
Suddenly a rabbit ran from under our feet and John turned to his dogs and yelled, 'Mayhem, go!' All seven dogs gave chase opening up in glorious song. 'Yip, yip, yip, yip,' they sang. After a life or death run of five hundred and forty-six yards two feet seven-and-a-half inches, the rabbit struggled into the relative safety of its warren.
Higginbottom astounded me with his ability to judge distance so precisely. My astonishment must have shown on my face, for Higginbottom said modestly: “Oh, I forgot to mention, I’m the best judge of distance in the world.”
Six lurcher dogs stood over the hole 'marking' as John called it, while he explained in some detail the complexities of the chase or 'course' may be a more accurate description for such a distance, telling me how each rabbit must be given sufficient law and how, he had calculated, in a couple of years time he would have the best rabbit match-dog.
One lurcher, however, lay panting on the ground halfway between ourselves and the other Higginbottom lurchers, unable to move or catch breath. “Is this dog suffering from hybrid vigour?” I asked. With a look of total bewilderment Higginbottom turned on me, his steely blue eyes glinting in the midday sun. “I value that dog at ten thousand pound,” said he. “But why,” I queried. “Because that lurcher has the intelligence to know when he's beat, thereby saving valuable energy for the next grueling encounter with the most formidable of all quarry, the rabbit! No longdog in the world has comparable intelligence.” “Looks knackered,' said I, and walked on.
We left 'Myrtle' to recover and approached the six other Higginbottom lurchers that lay panting all about the warren. John pulled a ferret from his 'poacher’s pocket' and secured some electronic device or other around the ferrets neck. (There is story behind the locator, its invention and John Higginbottom, which will appear in later revelations from the diaries of Miss Wilhelmina Wordspinner.) Slowly, hesitantly, the ferret entered the rabbit’s subterranean refuge, but turned and came back to the entrance, all the while peeping in cuckoo clock fashion, in and out, in and out of the hole. John said this ferret had been trained by him to be especially wary of strangers (Higginbottom can train almost any animal to a very high standard).
Then as the ferret's head disappeared into the hole for the twenty-ninth time, John kicked in a clod of earth behind it. We waited five, six, seven minutes but nothing was seen or heard of either rabbit or ferret.
John pulled a small box from one of the numerous pockets in his coat (each pocket filled with hunting essentials -- tape recorder, camera, stopwatch). I was informed this box would locate the ferret, and if the ferret it had managed to find its quarry, the rabbit, we would dig down to the combatants.
As Higginbottom swept the ground in a methodical fashion, the box burst to life, first with a loud crackle then a burst of the BBC's World Service. “Does this mean you have located your relentless little hunter and rabbit deep within the very bowels of the earth?”
John slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, fell to his knees and in a gasping, strained voice said: “Ughhh, the locator's interfering with mi pacemaker.”
After John had made an almost full recovery we walked deeper into the hills, the weather deteriorating with every step of his enormous feet, while he recounted his many and varied hunting stories; stories so unbelievable I said he should write a book. How, thinks I, has one man managed to cram so much hunting into just one short lifetime?
John then started to tell me of his passion for collating data and statistics, and how bullshit baffles brains. I stood listening intently to the great man as he told me how, in his opinion, he was the greatest authority on the lurcher ever to have graced the face of the earth and how many young people regarded him as a latter-day 'Grizzly Adams'.
From nowhere, a crippled sheep sprang. Instantly without a word of command the lurchers gave chase. After a course that lasted thirty-eight point seven five seconds (John always times each gallop with a stopwatch) all seven dogs eventually came to terms with the sheep. John gave a great hysterical cry, begging me not to use my camera, as this would impair the lurchers' hunting ability. Calling each dog by name, then turning to look sheepishly back in my direction, he shouted : “Kill!” and his lurchers delivered the sheep into Abraham's bosom.
“That's the kind of obedience I insist upon,” said a blood-covered John as he fought his way into the mêlée to rescue a leg of mutton from the snapping jaws of his hellhounds.
We turned for home, cold and wet and dejected, my mind at its lowest ebb. John saw my bedraggled state and showing his concern for the weaker sex, he began to sing a hunting song. “Do you ken John Higginbottom at the break of day, do you ken Jon Higginbottom as your hounds view away, do you ken…..”
Back at the cottage that night, refreshed by a hot drink of cocoa made from ewe's milk, we dined as the Saxon kings of old, on the rescued leg of mutton John had so courageously saved. He talked endlessly of his many adventures with both rat and rabbit.
I asked John if he had any burning ambitions left to fulfill. “I'd like the dogs to catch a rabbit,” said he, casually tossing a tidbit to one of the lurchers that lay contented at his feet. After dinner we sat, John reading a book while he puffed at his short clay - pipe, blowing the most enormous blue smoke rings (he loved smoke rings) that seemed to hang in the air indefinitely, or curl round and round the ceiling.
I couldn't quite make out the title of the book John was reading. Without further ado I asked what book could so totally absorb such an articulate, self-confessed intellectual? He tossed the book casually over to me, a wry smile covered his face, as he said: “My bible.”
I opened the book and read the title 'The Big Blue Book of Lurchers' by John Higginbottom.
The hour being ever so late, John, seven very tired Higginbottom lurchers a Higginbottom Terrier and I, lay in front of an open log fire. John, however, could not sleep. His fingers that had been so savagely attacked by his ferrets were giving him jip. Yes, he had conveniently forgot to cauterize his wounds.
Driving home, I felt each long mile the car covered was taking me nearer to reality and civilization. I had left a giant of a man completely alone in his cottage at the edge of the world. Little did I appreciate the power of John's force 7 stare. As my diary entries will reveal, there was intrigue, scandal and mystery surrounding John Higginbottom Esq.

New Blog for Working Longdogs

I started this blog as a way to communicate information on hunting or working sighthounds. I will generally not be discussing Lure Coursing although I think there is a place for this sport in working sighthounds. I will try to post something interesting here on a regular basis