A FEW REMARKS ON HUNTING WITH HOUNDS
By FREDERICK J. CHAPIN
As an admirer of the H-T-T as a magazine that often hits the mark and gets right down among them in the woods, I would like to add a few remarks to the general din about hounds.
In the first place I am sorry to see that so many people go out in the woods for the money that is in it. Would suggest that in these days of high wages much more money can be made elsewhere with the same amount of work and that would leave many more foxes and coons for the man that goes hunting for the sport that is in it. Of course that does not apply to all sections of our country. I mean it for our more settled sections and especially in the south. A man who traps foxes or coons in this part of the country is looked down on and yet it is done at times. Seven tug traps strong enough to hold a bear were removed from a fox den on the property of a friend of mine in Maryland not long ago. Let the farmer's boy trap skunks, minks and muskrats for pin money but leave the foxes and coons alone. They are real game to my way of thinking. Would even say that in most of New England and such country, where a gun is necessary, a man can get just as many foxes with hounds and his gun as he could by trapping, and I have known them to do it and also coons. That is sport, too, and fairer and less cruel to a noble game.
Now as to hounds. Just a few words which I think I can qualify to say since I have hunted with good, bad and indifferent hounds of all kinds for the last twenty years. I should say a good hound depended 25% on his breeding, 25% on his build, 25% on his natural field qualities and brain and 25% on the man that hunts with him. Really almost 75% depends on the man that hunts him sometimes.
I have seen A-l hounds ruined by their owners and I have seen poor types of hounds as to everything that makes a hound and, yes, even mongrels and dogs that were not supposed to hunt anything made into good coon or rabbit dogs and even fox hounds. It takes patience, love of dogs and hunting and knowledge of the game you are after to do it.
I hate to talk about myself but I even made my sister's Chinese Chow dog into a fair rabbit dog one summer for lack of something better to do. They trace in a way back to Eskimo dogs and wolves and he had a nose and a big desire to hunt. You should have heard him tongue on a track. If a rabbit got too foxy he was lost, however. A collie and most terriers can be taught to do the same thing but I claim to take a Chinese Chow dog and do that is going some. He would tree squirrels fine, too. It all goes to prove what can 'be done with a good hound that is bred to hunt. Some hounds I admit are almost hopeless for even running rabbits let alone fox or coon but even they can sometimes be brought around by constant hunting with a good dog or two.
Two faults are hard to cure: One they learn how to forget and the other they learn to acquire and those are babbling and cutting, respectively. Such dogs sure can ruin a fox chase. Another grave fault is lack of willingness to hunt. Said hound can often be cured by good feeding, a little close confinement to make him want to go and by letting him get his mouth on the game a few times. The best beagle I ever had did not and would not hunt until he was over a year and a half old. His litter mates and the old dogs were running every day and had almost caught all the rabbits around the place. One day I enticed said dog away from the kiddies and his warm bed beside the house and took him out with the other dogs. They started a big rabbit and ran him hard but Mr. Dog was only mildly interested and undertook to be my bodyguard. I didn't say a word to him but when they caught the rabbit, I stuck it and let him get his mouth on it and some of the blood in his mouth. The next time we saw a rabbit and got the scent of it up his snoot, he stuck and later on that dog developed into a real wonder. I am sure would have won in a field trial as he was the best of the whole pack of good ones and sired by a field-trial winner. I have hunted with many field trial beagles in Maryland and Virginia and know what one is like. Some people would have shot that beagle to see him hanging around day after day with the other dogs running in hearing. It all goes to prove you never know what is in any dog until you bring it out of him.
Now a word about this Redbone hound talk. I wonder how many men actually know a Redbone hound when they see it and if so how they know it? Seems to me like any hound that is a black and tan is called a Redbone these days. My understanding is that the Redbone strain started in Georgia probably from the black and tan hounds imported into Georgia many years ago from Mr. Henry's pack in eastern Virginia. The same old hounds that helped in the foundation of the Birdsong-July strain. Also at that time there were many good black and tans in other parts of the country that came from Ireland and perhaps France. I saw quite a few good-looking black and tan hounds in France during the war. To get back to the Redbone strain — Whatever stock they really came from, they at any rate started in Georgia as I have always heard. They were used mostly for driving deer, hunting coons, etc., and foxes were hunted mostly with the faster July hounds. Am I right?
The difference in a good coon hound and a good fox hound is that a natural coon hound is more careful and painstaking whereas a good fox hound, that is if he runs to catch, must never stop twice where a fox has stopped once, he must keep forging or circling ahead and never let that fox rest. A coon is bound to tree sooner or later if the hound or hounds don't lose him, as a coon isn't really built for running. Another thing as I guess everybody knows is that a coon does not leave much scent and it takes a careful hound with a good nose to follow him. No doubt many Redbones are cracking coon dogs; so are many other black and tans, so are many black, white and tans or any hound or dog that has sense enough and nose enough to push a coon up a tree. In these parts a coon will often run for several miles and then perhaps get away. If they treed within a hundred yards or so as they do where they are not hunted much they would be extinct, as there are almost as many coonhounds as coons, I believe, in Maryland.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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