By F. W. Howard
OTTER HOUNDS have never been used in this country so far as the writer has been able to learn. It seems as if otter hounds would make ideal 'coon hunters, better adapted for this purpose than any other variety.
The very points that would be essential in otter hunting are what is also needed in 'coon hunting. A dog must be a first-rate water dog, able to work in and around the water eagerly and even recklessly. The dog who dislikes to get his feet wet is no use after 'coon.
He also needs to be of good size and of good courage and strong and ready for" lots of rough work and more important than all of these points, he must have a very keen scent and be a good stayer.
The pure bred otter hound is a very striking looking animal. He is powerfully built, with ideal legs and feet, great depth of rib and fine muscular development. His head is not unlike that of the blood-hound, although his ears do not hang so gracefully. The skull is broader, the shoulders slope well and hocks are well let down.
The coat is a distinguishing feature, being rough and well adopted to resist the wet. Colors may be grizzly or sandy, or sometimes black and tan. The height at shoulder is about twenty-six inches for dogs, somewhat less for bitches. The weight is about eighty to ninety pounds. They have rather large feet; it is supposed to enable them to swim to better advantage. Considering the rough work he has to do, he must be a big, powerful dog and nose of the best.
You must considered he was a cross between the southern hound and the rough terrier, some think he has a trace of the blood-hound. A Mr. Buckley, who had a pack in Wales, used a blood-hound to cross, but was not altogether satisfied with the result, considering the progeny much too tender.
The high prices that 'coon furs command the last few years make them much more sought after than formerly, as they are hunted and trapped more persistently. It would only be a short time before they would be exterminated, but nature has a way of regulating such conditions usually. The survival of the fittest has already in my time and during my experience begun to work changes in the nature and habits of 'coons. They are more wary and have retreated further into the wilder and rougher sections. It takes a good deal better dog these days to make any decent kind of showing. The number of tracks started to the number of 'coons brought to bay has witnessed a big range in proportion. If you have hunted 'coon over a period of say twenty-five or thirty years, think back and see if it hasn't been the case in your experience.
It shows that the wiser and more wary 'coon are the only ones left at breeding time, and happening year after year and from one generation to another, it is gradually producing an animal who, while he wears the same grin on his face and has the same number of rings on his tail, paces along in the same old fashion, is getting harder to fool and outwit. For this reason we need the best of dogs for his pursuit and capture, dogs that are by nature adapted to the work. It is the writer's opinion that otter hounds would come the nearest to natural born 'coon dogs of any breed; they should also make good 'possum, skunk, cat or mink hunters.
If any one who reads this article has hunted with otter hounds or seen them work, the writer at least would be glad to hear of it through Fur News. A number of years ago the writer tried to obtain a pair of these dogs, but was informed that he would have to import them, which was rather too big an undertaking.
Among advertisements of dog for a number of years have noticed 'coon hounds and 'coon hound puppies advertised; am at a loss to know just what is meant by the name, if there is a breed of hounds to be distinguished from other hounds in appearance and characteristics that has been bred and is adapted for 'coon hunting, especially, the writer at least has never seen any of them.
It is perhaps meant that the dogs advertised are trained 'coon hounds and the puppies are bred from such dogs.
Have seen it stated that otter hounds were of a very fierce and quarrelsome disposition. If so, should consider it a bad feature. A dog who is always ready for a fight and looking for trouble can certainly cause plenty of that article for his owner. It is a fault that the ordinary hound is not often guilty of. The writer recalls owning two that liked to fight fully as well as. they liked to hunt. They were the occasion of a good many hard words and ill-feeling among farmers or others with whose dogs they came in contact on the way to and from hunting grounds.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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