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.