Monday, November 12, 2007

First Fall Wyoming Hunt

Here we are in early November. Weather is getting cooler and some snow is beginning to fall in the High Country of the Rocky Mountains. With daytime temperatures in the 40's and 50's it is time to get the hounds out for some sport. The hares that live on the high prairies have begun to don their winter coats of white to brown and white in anticipation of the first snows. We arrived in the BLM lands early on Saturday after a 4 hour drive through the early morning darkness. This is before the time change and so daylight does not appear until well after 7:00 am. We pulled into our hunt area a little before 9:00 and park the truck. We were waiting for another member of our party to arrive and she was about 15 minutes behind us. As we shut the truck off I see a little Black Footed Ferret being busy exploring some ground squirrel holes for breakfast. He sits up and looks at us in a curious manner. Suddenly he startles and ducks into the hole he had just emerged from. His reason for the sudden departure was a Golden Eagle riding the wind currents off the bluff that lay before us overlooking a basin 5 or 6 miles wide. Our friend arrives and she lets her Wolfhounds and one Scottish Deerhound loose to get some of the traveling bladder issues dealt with. Our Staghounds had already taken care of this problem and so off we go. About 5 minutes into the walk, a good sized Jack Rabbit bolts from the sage right in front of Scorch and the chase is on. Now Scorch has become a bit lazy in the last year and although run daily, is not in the fittest condition she has ever been in. The hare makes a large wide turn of about 1/4 mile and Scorch is a bit off the pace taking a hedging position trying to turn the hare. None of the other hounds have seen this hare, so Scorch is on her own. Well after 2-1/2 or 3 minutes, the hare gives Scorch the slip and she comes back huffing and panting. Another 10 minutes of hiking and observing a herd of antelope off in the distance that had seen us coming since we left the truck, we decide to make a turn as we did not want the hounds to course the herd of the fastest running animals in North America. We turn off to the West and not long after, here goes another hare. This time 7 or 8 hounds site this champion runner. Leaping back and forth over the sage, these hounds with each others help get this hare going the distance. We watch with excitement as the hounds put hard pressure on the quarry and force it to make last second turns. The dust and dirt is flying and they force this jack rabbit into a tight circle to evade the pursuing hounds. Then as suddenly as it began, the hare manages to go to ground. One of those many badger settes that provide shelter for all sorts of high prairie animals, that is unless the badger happens to be home and then he is thankful that the lunch meal was delivered on time. Seems like an opportune time for a water break for the hounds and let them catch their breath.

Off 10 minutes later with everyone, including myself breathing normal again. We are bearing off farther West to avoid yet another herd of antelope. We have probably walked 2 miles by now and no doubt the hounds have both walked and run 5 or 6 miles themselves. On occasion a small cottontail rabbit pops into the lead. They are quite the erratic little creatures and have not got the flat out speed of the hares and so they depend on maneuverability to escape the predators. These runs are quite short but keep the hounds attention and minds focused on the task at hand. Now as we approach the end of this large area of sage at the base of the hills on the opposite site of the basin we are working, another hare bolts it's hiding place and in a fairly typical fashion, runs uphill depending on it's superior power to weight ratio to out accelerate the hounds, which it does handily, not that the hounds are aware of this. Up they go, covering great sections of this uphill chase in huge leaps. Over the top they go and what happens from there is a mystery as we are not able to cover the ground nearly as efficiently to witness the course. Back down they come, one at a time. The hounds are starting to look like I feel as we stare back across the basin nearly 3 miles away from the vehicles. We walk along the edge of the hills and yet another hare streaks for the hills. The Wolfhounds look at this like they are saying "you've got to be kidding" The Staghounds without missing a beat are after this one as well. With the midday temps beginning to climb, I am thinking it is time to leash a few of these athletes up for their own good. I manage to give the hunt horn a recall tune and back they come one at a time. We do a head count to make sure the entire pack is accounted for and start the journey back to the vehicle. It has been a good day in the field. On the way back, a few more hares bolt off in the distance as if they were taunting the hounds to give chase. The Staghounds being coupled up and the Wolfhounds being smart enough to know when enough if enough watch them scamper off in the distance. We spot another ferret going about his afternoon business and off in the distance riding the wind currents of the bluff the Golden Eagle we spotted when we arrived was looking for his meal, perhaps hoping the hounds would bolt one his direction. All the hares are safe, no injuries for any of the hounds and it was an exciting morning of watching some good coursing of hound and hare testing each others mettle.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This One Didn't Make The Fence

Was out walking the Staghounds this evening and about a 1/4 mile out my older hound Scorch is off like a shot heading straight East in my pasture. Mace and Strike are close on her heals. I am running like a madman trying to get to high ground to see what is going on. I get to a rise on the hill just in time to see Scorch get some teeth into a coyote. The thing manages to get out of her grip and through a gate to my neighbors house. She goes under the gate after it but it has too big a lead and a short distance of about 200 yards to the next fence line. It gets away. I was excited about the course as it was a good one. I pull out the hunt horn and give it a blast for victory. Sounded a bit like a wounded elephant at this point and I will keep practicing on it. When I blew the horn however, it startled a second coyote that was about 40 or 50 yards away standing in some deep prairie grass. It made the mistake of running straight west toward my house. The Staghounds were all over this one and caught it in about 300 yards right next to the fenced part of my yard. Scorch and Mace had this bugger stretched out. Strike was making a few lunging bites but not a big participant just yet. This predator was not giving up easy and he was laying teeth into anything that got near him. Scorch has a lot of punctures and Mace has a few as well. For a moment, the hounds had this guy up against the fence and one of my terriers, Tory had this guy by the ass end and was trying her darnedest to pull him through the fence butt first. I asked my wife to get me a little pistol to humanely put him down as he was pretty torn up. She brings me a 357 revolver. I asked her if she had anything bigger. Just kidding her. She wondered if it wouldn't work. I said it will do. A quick pull of the trigger and he was in coyote heaven dreaming of the days when he could kill off peoples pets for dinner. This predator won't be doing that any longer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wyoming High Prairie

Went with some friends last Monday to some BLM land in Wyoming. The place is breathtaking as there is just so much unobstructed room in that area of the country. The trip up was pleasant as it is only 4 hours of windshield time. I saw more Golden Eagles on this trip than I have ever before seen in a single day. Think there were 6 different birds. They are so huge that they are truly a sight to behold.
Our pack of free coursing hounds consisted of some Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds and few Saluki's and my 3 Staghounds. Temps to be honest were a little on the warm side for running dogs as it was in the mid 60's and sunny.
With a dozen hounds freecoursing it wasn't long before the first hare was bolted out of the black sage still sporting their brown and white coats at the end of winter. Hounds had a good run but the big challenge with this area are there are SO MANY badger settes that every 30' to 40' you have a perfect escape place for these Jack Rabbits and they seem to know the location of every one of them. It's amazing to see one run to ground while traveling 35 mph. This first hare was no exception and down they went after about 1/4 mile run. Had the hounds panting a bit in spite of the short run. Wasn't long before a second hare was bolted along a short dry water course. Up and over a short hill the pack went and back they came within a few minutes so I am guessing the same escape plan had worked for this one as well. Spent the next hour or so walking different patches of sage brush looking into the endless number of badger digs thinking I should have brought an extra set of digging hands and a good terrier with me. Two of the Wolfhounds were growling and digging at a badger hold so I have no doubt that old Brock was close to the surface thinking he would sink his teeth into the muzzle of one of these large hounds. We pulled them away and the hole was stopped up from the inside about 2' down. They were there alright but no terrier today.
Along toward noon another White Tail bolted and this time it was within about 50 yards of my hound Mace and a Saluki named Hobba which was imported from Iran last year. These two really gave this jack a run for it's money. He tried the same escape plan but these hounds were all over him in half a heartbeat and forced him to overun the settes. The jack turned on the afterburners and so did the hounds. Those two hounds were like pulling the trigger on a pair of Stinger Missiles with a radar lock. They were all over this jack forcing turns back and forth and back and forth. They ran this jack within my sight for a good mile and then went out of site over a hill. I was so disappointed in not getting to see the finish of this fine course. The two hounds came back into view about 10 minutes later both overheated and panting badly. They each had a bit of fur in their teeth but no sign of blood so I am assuming the hare managed to escape to run another day. We found a cool source of water and let the two of them get temps back to normal and had to call it a day. What a great time we all had letting the hounds do what they were truly bred to do, run flat out in open country pursuing a game that has been hunted for hundreds of years. Sorry but I was not able to get the camera out in time to photograph these runs. Will try to get better at it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Skye Photos

Skye is growing like a weed. Took a few more photos this morning for people that wanted to see some current pictures.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This is Skye

This is Skye, formerly Blue a Ben Hardaway breeding Staghound/Lurcher
that was one of eight puppies. There were 3 bitches and 5 dogs in this
litter. All of them were very nice. This girl has exceptionally interesting
markings that I have never seen in a staghound. She is on her way to our friends
Dan and Marlene in Southwest Wisconsin to be a companion to the hunt terriers
of Anglo Terra. When she is full grown, she will be marking settes, coursing
bolted quarry and tumbling a few snowshoe hares as well as being coyote protection
for the terriers. She was whelped December 1, 2006. A very nice hound indeed.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Strike Update

This is Strike at 8 months. He is a typical Staghound pup, just full of himself and wanting to play all the time. He is almost joined at the hip with Mace as they spend most of their day running and playing with each other. He is quite good natured and we spend time in training to some extent almost daily. His recall is great. Working on loading in the truck. Weight wise, he is pushing 65 lbs. I would guess his adult weight to top out somewhere about 90 lbs +/-. In the field, he has shown great promise as he eagerly courses Jack Rabbits when I have had him up in Wyoming. His lack of physical maturity does not give him much hope of running them down at this stage in his life but he is certainly game enough.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Versatile Hunting Partners

Staghounds or Lurchers are great hunting partners. My wife Darlene took Scorch on a hunt trip to Kansas over the Thanksgiving Holiday. She was great at running down and dispatching bolted quarry. Here are a few photos of her getting a raccoon that tried to escape when the terriers bolted it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Haven't Gone Away

Here in the Rockies we occasionally have winter. This year it has been the winter from Hell. 3 Blizzards back to back over a 3 week period. I have never shoveled so much snow in my life and we are preparing for another onslot this weekend when the high temps are hovering around 0 and we are supposed to have snow from Thursday through Sunday. Snow is so deep that the hounds can not run. They are falling into drifts way over their heads. Will start making more posts when the weather cooperates some. Don't give up. Check back and if you have a good hunt story with a photo or two, contact me!