A bear hunting class
  • A couple weekends ago, Jeff and I attended a bear hunting class produced by the Fish and Wildlife Department. We aren't going to hunt bear, but we live in bear habitat (go Wikipedia "Peru, Vermont" and you'll see it is described as "36 square miles of trees and bears") and I see sign all the time out in the woods with my dogs, and being curious people we thought we'd not turn down a chance to learn more and find out what the hunters know. I never meet actual bears while hiking, even bushwhacking- they are too skittish!

    Speakers included the state bear biologist (who knows my area of the Green Mountain National Forest well due to having conducted the Stratton Mountain Bear Study a few years back), a hunter who we were told was also a local tv personality doing local nature spots (we didnt know this since we dont have TV), a taxidermist, and a houndsman from the Bearhound Association. All good stuff! I'll focus on the hunting bears with dogs stuff, but I must also include some interesting observations about the attendees, the presenters and black bears in general from the day to round things out.

    Some basic VT bear facts:
    - our bears are black bears, and they arent the largest black bears in the country due to a challenging terrain, challenging menu, and it's cold here, so hibernation is long and nutrition resources get used up.
    - black bears are shyer bears than browns and polars- due to being forest bears, not open country bears, they have a stronger flight response and will run at the least suspicious snapped twig. (I am not speaking of 'problem' bears here who have grown accustomed to feeding off people's birdfeeders- btw everyone of us left class with the bumper sticker 'a fed bear is a dead bear!' urging people to take in their bird feeders between April and November)
    -Vermont allows hunting of bears with hounds, but not hunting over bait. Maine allows BOTH- (they have LOTS of bears and so try to make it easy for hunters to get the quota the wildlife dept targets) Most states dont allow either, and most states that allow hunting with hounds are in the southeast.
    - A standard VT hunting license includes a buck tag and a bear tag. In fact about half the bears taken in Vermont are taken by deer hunters in their tree stands during the overlap of the two seasons, who happen to see a bear turn up.
    - The Bearhound Association has just over 100 members, but some of these are only card-carrying members and dont hunt. The Bearhound Association raises money through raffles and game suppers to support a variety of community efforts, including scholarships for kids to attend state Conservation Camp.
    - The population of bears in VT right now (6000+) is higher than the target for health and maintenance (4500-6000), so they are promoting bear hunting- thus the class. Bear season is Sept 1 - Nov 14.
    - we learned about bear sign, foods for diff seasons, tree marking, behavior and size/aging bears that you spot.
    - Many of the attendees who asked any questions at all seemed to ask trophy-related questions like "How many pounds would you say the bear in that slide was?" and whether that was dressed or whole. This was asked a LOT. So, even though the hunters told us that bear meat (and we did cover meat care and field dressing, transport thru the forest back to your truck, cooling and checking the bear at the check station) was very good, comparing to pork, I guess, I think bear hunting is largely a trophy sport. The taxidermist brought skulls and pelts and that's mostly what he was asked too- weight.
    - Actually, furthermore, we talked some about knowing beforehand what you wanted to take- what qualities (size, color, etc) you want to hold out for on your hunt and not just shooting any old bear. Lots of stories were then told, including one about a very eager guy who wanted to shoot a bear until his buddy pointed out the three cubs in the tree above her and said if you kill her, your killing 4 bears! So he took a photo instead! :) So, anyway, while lots of deer make good eats, the culture of bear hunting seems to be largely about the experience & the trophy aspect and less about the meat.

    On to the dogs!
    Our houndsman told us a lot of great stories, but this post is already very long, so I will stick to the hunting, training and dog-keeping aspects. One of the first things he showed us was a tracking collar- he prefers the old-school UHF antenna equipment to today's GPS systems. Its what he is comfortable with and one of the takeaways that anyone must -er- take away, is that Tradition counts for a LOT in hunting. Whether its a favorite gun, going with a favorite relative, or a special location that Dad showed you. Lots of stuff is done for tradition- tradition is why we dont do things efficiently, we do them for the experience of doing them and the Quality of the experience- and I think anyone who chooses to hunt with ancient dog breeds or blackpowder firearms will back that up :)

    So he made a big point to us that This is a Tracking Collar, this doesnt hurt dogs! Then he held up an electronic shock collar- "THIS hurts dogs, and I hate 'em!" he went on to explain the various ways that people misuse the things and fail to teach the dogs anything. That sounded good to me, but then someone asked "well, what do you do to teach dogs not to hunt other species?" because "running trash" is not useful to hunting! and he said "If they do THAT they get something a lot worse than this!" holding up the e-collar again. Further storytelling indicated that there is a zero tolerance policy for pursuing other game- and houndsmen will not support (feed, house) a dog that doesnt hunt bears.

    In fact, he keeps different packs for different game- beagles for hare, and coonhounds/walkers/ticks and mixes thereof for bear. Furthermore, the dogs are specialists and dont DO anything else. There is a training season (June-August I think) in which you can run hounds on bear to train them but you cant carry a firearm. The 'kill season' is in the fall, and of course you can go out with the dogs as much as you like then- the bag limit for bear is 1 animal/person, but you can still take friends out and use your hounds. The rest of the year, the dogs are contained and exercised in a pen. You can NOT just take them out hiking or let them explore all around following whatever they choose in the off season.

    This reminded me of way back when Sage and I were trying agility and in our private lesson the trainer firmly (and repeatedly) told me NOT to let Sage "self-stim!"- dont let him play on the obstacles or choose them on his own- he must do the piece I direct him to do, when I direct him to do it. Doing the A-frame is itself a fun thing, and fun must be brought under control, which is the point of the sport of agility. I also knew a K9 officer long ago - another instance where the dog is strictly managed 24/7/365- a police K9 needs to be under control and earn his toys, and play time. There is a lot of crating and management in place. This may be obvious to some of you, but I continue to grasp the relationship between rigid environmental/lifestyle control and dogs who can do highly specialised things really, really well. I wish a free spirit/lazy bum like me could do amazing things with dogs, but in the big picture I really enjoy watching my dogs jump logs in the forest, swim, fetch, play, or laze around the studio while I work or go somewhere together more than I would enjoy stressing out about them not doing it in order/without two feet on the contact zone/wrong game or having the responsibility of telling someone else what to do whenever they are out of the crate. I admire very much everyone who competes and works, and I increasingly appreciate how much more work you all do (than me!) to get to that level, but as I grow older and realize what I am and am not, I know that working with Sage takes all the upper level management I have in me, and if I was more disciplined he'd probably be better than he is by now, but we can only be who we each are, and I must admit that I probably dont have any more than I am giving.

    So- the procedure for bear hunting goes like this: You put up to the state maximum of 6 dogs in your dog boxes in the back of the truck- their heads stick out the sides- and cruise around rural roads and logging roads till your 'strike dog' barks that she's got the scent. The Strike Dog is the best one- most reliable- so when she barks, you stop and let ONLY her out of the truck, on a leash, and you walk her around the road until you are SURE you have a bear track. When you have a confirmed track, you go get all the other dogs out, release the Strike Dog and then all the others and they hit the trail, barking up a storm.

    At that point, you track them by ear and by the tracking collar, and drive around as best you can to the closest place to the hounds you can, then get off on foot to get to them at the trunk of the tree where they have treed the bear (ideally- they can fail to find the bear and then you have collect all the hounds again). If everything goes perfectly, you leash up the hounds and shoot the bear. But you have to shoot well, because a wounded bear is the worst thing in the world at that point- they will come down the tree and attack. If a bear isn't too worried, they will stay in the tree. If they get too worried they will come down and try to run again, probably attacking the dogs on the way.

    We heard several stories about dogs injured by bears- and many of theses stories were really horrible. REALLY horrible. punctured heads and snouts, disemboweled dogs- and the dogs in the stories who survived the injuries were in no way deterred from hunting again! (Gives one some perspective on aversives, for sure.) "They LIVE for this!" we were told, and he's right- they dont DO anything else and they are completely driven to do this thing- this is when they get out of their box and feel most alive. If they can't overcome the injury and go hunt with gusto, then they are done anyway. It sounds cruel to a pet owner, but it seems to be the fact of keeping packs of hunting dogs. I suppose he doesnt HAVE to hunt to eat, say, but its the reason he has the dogs in the first place, and he's not going to support a dog that doesnt hunt.

    He brought 5 of his bear dogs for us to meet, and we all went out to the truck and he brought them out and let us hold their leashes and pet them. They were wonderful, sweet, brave dogs- some with lots of scars, and some scars were from the stories we heard earlier. The young dogs were kinda hyper, the two 'best' dogs were calm and noble and outgoing, one other was fearful and cowering. I patted the #2 dog. He did not seem one bit worried about his bearhoundin' life, but I wished him good luck and told him I admire him.

    We saw a video from the guy's cell phone of the hounds working- and they are intense, athletic, amazing, brave and energetic. They are glossy and lean and strong. He told us about the action we were seeing- on this hunt, they were running two greener dogs along with the experienced dogs, which is what he said is the best (maybe only effective) way to train a bear dog (though he says it can be difficult to find a houndsman who will let you run green dogs with his pack). When asked about the value of exposing dogs to caged or chained bears, he replied that that was A.) illegal and therefore kinda pointless to discuss, and B.) would only inform him more quickly of which dogs were worth training, anyway. So they found the track, got the dogs on it, and treed a bear, then leashed the dogs and let the bear down and a head start- then let the dogs go again. I think they treed it 3 or 4 times.

    As the dogs were baying at the tree, I thought about the really high level of excitement and the proximity of the dogs at the treetrunk and asked if the dogs ever redirect onto another dog under the circumstances. He said he tolerates NO aggression in his pack, and that That dog would be 'of no use.' So, he would not begin a Click to Calm class or read a book or something I would do with Sage. As much control as he has over these dogs' living and activities, they have to work as dogs on their own and on a hunt he can never be in 'man-to-man coverage' like I must be with Sage on mere walks. I thought about how differently he and I keep dogs- and how he would think I was insane to keep and support a reactive nut-dog like Sage, and I suppose from a purely objective standpoint it really is impractical and a drain on time, emotion and resources (which is probably what my husband kinda thinks, too, but would never SAY because he loves me and he loves Sage, too.) but keeping Sage is within my values and morals and somewhat within my capacity. I dont doubt that he knew I thought some of his dog keeping decisions were way out of line of anything I would choose either.

    There's lots of way that people keep dogs for work, pleasure, companionship, sport, breeding, show etc. and we can get kindof arrogant and judgmental about those different from us. Its true, I think that culling a dog for abandoning a bear track to pursue a raccoon is unreasonable- the punishment doesnt fit the crime! But I also understand that hunting bears is not time to screw around and if I look at it from his perspective I can agree that that dog doesnt make the team, but I;d hope he'd try to rehome the dog. I am kindof shocked that he wouldnt try to train the dog to choose the right scent, but I guess the effort of doing that is not practical to the typical houndsman. He is more likely to start a new dog than to try to undo bad habits, and I know from my own dog how much harder it is to do UNDO training, but I choose to stay in it. I dont know how likely it is that there's enough people that want failed hound dogs for pets out there, but I guess since my neighbors have two hounds from the hunter out on Dump Road that there are some, if a houndsman will put in some effort. Its a different world.

    Now I may take pride in my Kai's awesome powers, and heritage, and that she can climb trees and kill hares & grouse, but at the end of the day, she is absolutely a companion #1. Having learned something now about what it means to have actual bear hunting dogs, I am completely aware that as cool as I think Juno or Reilly is, she is a companion, and I'm proud of that. I respect and admire actual hunting dogs, but I am under no illusions that mine are (Big W) Working. They are Recreating, like me. I could not keep dogs the way the houndsman does, I wouldn't make those decisions, and I wouldn't risk my dogs against bears or the idiot hunters that he sometimes took with him (one chose a crappy shot, enraged the bear and caused the death of one of his best dogs- not a good story). The risk is real and not to be taken casually, and I think this is why his tolerance for 'error' is so unforgiving. He loves bear hunting but it is not time/place to fool around.
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2012-08-29 12:24:51
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 4546
    Thanks for sharing, Chrystal! It sounds like a fun and very educational experience.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    Interesting experience thanks for posting this.

    Sad does he really put down dogs for going after treeing raccoons?

    If I was him I'd work a bit to teach the dog that's not the scent we are looking for.. I'm sure there are bear scents people can use..

    One thing online I looked up supposed to help stop the dog from going for raccoon, skunk or deer scent.. not sure if it worked or not.

    Still interesting though.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    "Running trash" also includes going after owned animals like cattle and such.

    If the hunt had occured on owned land with the landowner's permission, that could lead to the revokal of all hunting on that land for all hunters.
  • Nicole- he was vague about destroying dogs, at one time saying of one dog "That one will probably become someone's pet if she doesnt work out" and at another saying of a different dog in a story "That dog didnt live" so I imagine he tries in some cases. There's a lot of tough talk going around in a group of hunters too, so it is hard to parse, which is why I could not specifically say he kills them, but its implied.

    Ann reminds me that landowner permission is humongous for hunting to happen at all. Where I used to live (Massachsuetts) there are fewer and fewer large tracts of land (period!) open to hunting (and once you factor in not being allowed to discharge a firearm within 100 feet of a paved road or dwelling, it gets small!) I forgot to ask him about land permission, since the dogs dont know where one ends and another begins, but I think since there are lots of people in a hunting party too, that one of them is dispatched to locate the landowner if the dogs tree a bear on adjacent property.

    It is illegal for dogs to harass deer, to for example, and a warden could shoot them- I am sure it is the same for dogs harassing domestic animals. But where you or I would expose our dogs to horses or cows as part of socialization, I am not sure how much socialization these dogs get, or how exciting a cow would be, especially when training is done by joining the experienced dogs in the pack. He was very firm about confirming bear tracks and only setting them on bear. (I imagined an electric train- it only goes on the tracks...)
  • HeidiHeidi
    Posts: 3386
    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing, Chrys.

    Yes, it's a different attitude for a lot of dogs out there. There are a lot of training tools to keep dogs off other game, because I've read about them and seen products sold for that purpose.
    Dogs: Rakka (shikoku), Sosuke (kai), Effie (bc/kelpie)
    Cats: Hester, Batgirl, Stephanie, Harley
  • That's very interesting, Chyrs! I also want to add thanks for your post, and as always, I find your thoughts on this so interesting, and thought provoking. I really appreciate the way you explain both what the hunters do, and then compare it to what you do, and how this is about different values, too. (and different doesn't necessarily mean better/worse).

    I think we hav a similar approach to our pack too, and while this is a digression from bears, it is relevent to the rest of your post. I've been doing agility for fun with Leo and he likes it as much as he can, but he gets overstimulated about 1/2 hour in and we stop. So I've been reading Control Unleashed and it had a similar story about agility people who don't want their dogs to "self-stim" so this person covered up the windows in the room her terrier was in so he couldn't see out and "self reward," and I just thought "that's just crazy and way overcontrolling." Yes, that's judgemental of me, so perhaps I can rephrase it: it's crazy to me. Because I don't want to control my dogs that much (or anything, really). I'm not doing serious agility, nor am I hunting with dogs, so I don't have to. Part of what I love about these breeds is that they are individuals and make decisions on their own, and I like to let them be who they are, and be part of a relationship with them that is more partnership that me controlling every aspect of their lives. I have to a lot--I am their guardian--but I certainly don't want to take away their joy in life.

    So even in our little for fun agility class, I see my values differing with the trainers. I recoiled when she hit her dog in the face (gently but still!) for growling at Leo. And then she told my friend to give her terrier a good "leash pop" for not paying attention, and I thought, so much for the positive training aspect of this class. But we keep going so Leo can have fun, and when he's not having fun, we won't do it anymore. I can tell now we'll never compete: there are rumors of one positive training agility team here, but I have not been able to reach them, and for me, I'm not willing to spend my time with people who really do want to control every aspect of their dog's lives through training methods I'm not comfortable with. it wouldn't be fun for me or my sensitive little Kai boy.

    It's like the hunting. I'm super interested in it, and might even go to a class like the one Chrys attended, but because many of these hunters have different values about their dogs and their methods for management/training, it's not a world I'd be comfortable in. But I'm glad to hear about it.

    And I also hear you about Sage. I have Bel. A lot of people think I'm crazy to keep her. Sometimes I think so too. But we keep going, and I try to keep my other dogs safe from her, and her safe from herself. Again, it's about my values and what I think is important, and there may be a point I can't keep her anymore either, and at that point, I'll have to make a difficult decision (which I've come to again and again and then things smoothed out, and so she's still here).
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • atlasatlas
    Posts: 81
    Thank you for sharing! How interesting.
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2082
    Thanks for sharing this, it was really interesting.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    Great read @WrylyBrindle (even if it took me all day to finish lol). I think a class like this would be very interesting to attend. Maybe I should look into one.

    The houndsman you met sounds very westernized in his methods and thoughts on hunting with dogs.

    I know that in Russia and some other countries it is totally normal to have a dog that will hunt many different types of game. Often they go out with their dog to hunt one thing, but end up coming home different game.

    Also, the idea of running 6 dogs at once would be considered excessive and wasteful (having to care for all those dogs) to many hunters outside the US (IMHO).

    Another thing is that the dogs are considered part of the family and are very valuable to many of the old-world hunters in the east, the dogs may not sleep inside in ever instance, but they are loved and cared for in a similar way that we care for our companion dogs (they go on hikes and run around town with their owners when not out on the hunt and play with the kids - I have been told, by old-timer hunters in the Taiga, this is the best way to raise a Laika).

    Anyway, the western-style houndsmen kinda bother me with their hunting methods and husbandry. The take a real "shotgun approach" to hunting - using cars and 6 dogs for one black bear... Ike has treed a black bear on his own, by himself, with me on foot... No need for 5 other dogs and a car to do that.

  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    I agree with Brada 6 sounds like a lot of dogs to use on black bear those compared to brown are much smaller..

    Maybe it'll change one of these days I dunno which is best.:\

    Still good to read this. I dunno which is best since I've never hunted myself.

    Saya is pretty drivey at times and she does good with listening tonight she went after a rabbit I told her to stop, leave it and come and she stopped and came right to me.

    She also has treed raccoon twice which was cool and she treed a squirrel once.. I don't mind her picking different game though I'm not a hunter so she comes back to me and we head off.

    The dogs that are into raccoons could be sold to people who want to hunt raccoons with dog? I dunno. Either way.

    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • Brad- yeah, I know it's long! It took me two days to write it, edit it and keep it within the max # of characters!

    They'd like to take MORE dogs, and consider the max of 6 to be 'restrictive.' In southern states you can run a bunch more, evidently, but here they restrict it to keep it 'sporting' and I believe the number was arrived at as a compromise judging from the interaction of the biologist and the houndsman. I didnt think to ask why they need so many dogs, esp when our bears tree so readily, AND only two of the hounds go to the tree trunk, the rest hang back a bit and bark, in the video, anyway. These hounds are supposed to put their feet on the tree, he said one of his will actually try to go UP the tree if its at all slanted, unlike the preferred form for laiki, as we have discussed :) I have no idea why in either case.

    I also imagine that if you are hunting for survival, not a trophy, then it doesnt matter what the dog finds as long as you like to eat it, (and its in a legal open season.) I very much think these guys are motivated by the skin and the skull or mount, and only a little bit if at all by eats. Oh, and story rights, I think.

    The taxidermist brought 3 skulls and 3 hides, to show what to do and do not do. I wont gross you all out with skull cleaning stories at this time, but it was interesting and practical. For the trophy-hunting aspect though, proper skull care and mounting must be done if one is not to lose 16ths of an inch in measurement- which is important if you have a possible 'Boone & Crockett' specimen. It's a club that records large specimens of various game animals.

    Of the three skins, one was an excellent fur, with lots of undercoat, from a healthy animal. One was from a spring bear and was all guard hairs and thin. I dont know that this is relevant to my life except that now I understand what everyones talking about when they post pics of their dog and I say "Wow, looking great!" and the owner replies "Pshaw! she's horribly out of coat~!" and I feel like an idiot. :) Taxi also sent us home with a worksheet showing what to measure before skinning, and the right places to cut (leave the 'fingers' in)...

    Lastly, one can;t forget that to hunt large game means you have to get it out of the woods, too! I know that around here there are farmers with draft horses who will help you get your moose to a road, but it seems in general that hunters are aware that they may have to haul a hundreds-of-pounds bear for a ways over rough terrain, and therefore I am told they prefer not to go too far into the backcountry. (That's good, because that's where I roam!)

    I also note a lot of Big Talk around the subject of hunting, which is tiresome to parse. I enjoyed havign new things to think on, and to learn more about the habits of bears here. After the class, I hiked out to a blackberry field I know of deep in the woods (once cut for timber, but now ALL brambles! Its actually the back side of the ridge from where Juno got quilled.) and with new eyes looked for sign and found lots more! I saw game trails, confirmed poop, and noticed the beech trees up on the ridge. This ridgeside is a place where black bears feel fairly secure. I am probably too lazy to get out really early and set up to watch for them.

    The hi-control aspect pops up in lots of places- there are hunters Jeff works with who bring their gundogs to work. One works his dog during lunch and he must not interact with the playing dogs around him. He must stay on that table. Another brings his lab to work "so the kids dont ruin him" with unearned affection and treats. A third guy complains that since his girlfriend moved in and lets the dog on the couch and gives her affection, the spaniel is less focused in the field, but he'll keep the girlfriend anyway. The K-9 officer has a KONG- its his only toy and he only gets it when he earns it, of course he loves that KONG. I cant say the dogs seem uncared for or unhappy, specifically either, which is why its just 'different', if rather strange to me. I imagine it must need to be this way for very high performance, but - like Lisa- Im not shooting for that myself.

    By contrast my own dogs are never crated (wait- I still stick Sage in the studio and crate Juno if i'll be gone all day, it just seems like too good a habit to uninstall...), have a fenced yard complex, take leash walks as well as off leash hikes, can pick one of any number of toys out of the bucket anytime, and they still work for me (they do prefer to play with toys *with* me) but I am not asking them to do the level of things the others are. I have done NILIF with Sage, but I can;t hold up the N over time- some stuff is free and fun. Im a pet owner in a companion relationship. I appreciate that working and performance and breeding homes may be different from mine- different goals, different needs. I kinda feel that I do a great deal more dog management than I ever thought I would- most of that is because of Sage, but even putting Sage aside its also *relative* to how we kept our dog when I was a child, which is all that informed my knowledge of dogkeeping till 10 years ago: Fred went out, we didnt know where. We tried to remember to keep her inside on trash day mornings, or to call her to come in if we were going somewhere in the car but if she didnt, we'd still go. She ate Purina Dog Chow and wore a flea collar that probably expired months ago at any given time. We never ever leash walked her. We only picked up poop if we noticed someone might step in it, and at that we just tossed it in the woods. Classes for dogs? uh...riiiiight. She'd come home with notes on her collar from neighbors, or carrying a jawbone of *something.* So to ME, I feel that I'm already managing my current dogs a LOT but I want to because I love them and want to keep them safe and healthy and reasonably polite and well connected to me and each other.
  • @WrylyBrindle - what did the notes on her collar say? XD
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    I guess you just have to see the American hounds men as a different style of hunting with dogs. If you goto places like turkey, Germany, England, it's very common to see hunters running with well over 15 dogs to hunt boar, fox, or hare. Many of the American hounds men I know care a lot about their dogs and take pride in their dogs that exceed many of the eastern hunting dog culture.

    Hound hunting in the US is a deep rooted culture and the style and tradition carried over from the east. Many of the reasons why hounds men are strict in training their dogs to chase one game is due to laws. Many states have heavy fines if a hound chases a deer or live stock.

    Vehicles are used to travel roads to allow the strike dogs to hit a fresh scent. This method is common both in the east and west. Many wild animals Tavel across roads because of human encroachment so it's only natural and effective to use a vehicle to allow the strike dogs to catch a scent.

    One of the things many people don't see is when a natural resource department sets a take quota for the year, they set up the maximum amount of animals to be taken in order to keep a healthy population for the specific area. So does it really matter if a hunter is able to increase his odds? Not really as long as its a ethical, clean harvest.

    So it would actually be beneficial for the ecology of the given area to have high hunter success in order to maintain a healthy population.

    Just my two cents.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • ttddinhttddinh
    Posts: 1990
    Wow, interesting post @wrylybrindle. That seminar must have been really interesting. Thanks for sharing!
  • Claire- usually something like "Hi, I spent the night at Dave and Jeanne's last night!" once she came home wearing a white teeshirt, a bit of tulle around her collar and with eye shadow or blush or something on her white legs. A quick survey of local little girls indicated that Fred was being dressed as 'a bride.' ( of COURSE!) She was a great dog- but we didnt do much to manage her. at all.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    Please understand, I don't mean any disrespect to western-style hunters (which include Europe), and I do understand the max bag limits and population control - I get that. It just doesn't seem very sporting. It just seems very lazy-style (hunting) to me (when compared to other cultures - including Japanese).

    I mean how many 70 year old hunters in America could do what Kondo-san does with his dogs? You gotta wonder how many hunters there would be in America if they all had to work as hard as he does on a hunt...

    Certainly many of the hunters in the US take better care of their dogs than the majority in, say, central Asia or Africa - maybe even Japan.

    The strictness on game-type due to laws makes a lot of sense.

  • I'd be totally interested in learning about skull care and and cleaning! I'm always finding bones and trying to figure out how to keep them!

    But...overall, I find trophy hunting distasteful. It can be used as a game management tool, I understand, and that's probably good--bear populations need to be managed, too, and not everyone wants to eat them. But for me, I don't like the idea of killing an animal for a trophy. And I grew up in Alaska, and trophy hunters have left a bad taste in my mouth. A lot of them were jerks, usually from out of state, who would shoot anything that moved, on their way to finding the perfect big bear or buffalo or moose. I knew people who were hunting guides and told the most awful stories. I'm fine with people who hunt for the meat, and I have really huge respect for the subsistence hunters I knew in Alaska (I had a student once who wrote about his first seal hunt! Pretty amazing!) But trophy hunting just doesn't sit well with me.

    oh, and I forgot to say, well, I can totally see why people might want to be close to the road in some hunts. Packing out a moose is pretty intense, even if you're nearish to a road! (I remember going to help a friend finish the field dressing and pack out a young moose they got. People were joking that he'd shot "bambi" because the moose only had the small antlers, but my god, that thing was big, and it seemed like it took us forever to get it cut up and packed out, and we were only a little more than a mile or two from the road).
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2012-08-30 00:51:58
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    Your right on the fact that the way Kondo san hunts is seen very rare here. Even though lot of these hound hunters use vehicles to drive roads to strike a scent, once the hunt is on its mostly all on foot after the dos are out (at least here in Cali).

    IMHO I wouldn't consider it lazy, it's pretty tiring and exhausting running over several hills and valleys to catch up to a couple of hounds that has a bear treed several miles from the road.

    On trophy hunters, a person who shoots whatever that moves is not a trophy hunter nor even a ethical hunter. We consider people like that poachers regardless of what license that have. This include anyone who hunts for a rack only and waste meat.

    I guess I would say I'm a trophy hunter because I'm always looking for the biggest, most mature animal when I hunt for any given specie. But even as a trophy hunter i eat pretty much everything I kill to a point. I also hunt coyotes, squirrels, and bobcats. I hunt them because of their overwhelming presence where I hunt and they do a lot of damage to the other animals in the area to the point where it has affected healthy numbers of quail, deer, and turkey.

    I didn't mean to stir up the discussion but I just wanted to throw out some facts one things like hound hunting and trophy hunting. As Brad mentioned, the way Kondo san hunts is a dying tradition and even in Japan I see a majority of the hunters using western methods to hunt because it is much more efficient in culling the number of animals needed to maintain a healthy environment. Hunters in Japan is at a all time low right now and because of that deer and boar are multiplying at a explosive rate.

    There are so many animals that areas like Mount Fuji has lost many of its original vegetation in the foothills. The deer are eating their way to starvation and seriously killing the natural balance of life in many places in Japan. So if using vehicles make it easier to increase hunter success, I'm all for it.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
    Post edited by shishiinu at 2012-08-30 07:54:46
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1905
    I love this discussion! Awesome read @WrylyBrindle and all contributors. I just have to say, I really admire hunters and what they do with their dogs. Styles may vary, but it's impressive to watch and hear about, all the same to me.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • sandrat888sandrat888
    Posts: 225
    This is not related to bear hunting, but since Agility is mentioned a few times in this thread, I would like to put in my 2 cents.

    A lot of dogs like to run around with speed and climb up or jump over on stuff/obstacles, but for the human to enjoy Agility too (not necessarily competing, but really doing the sport as it is designed to be a fun game), there are certain rules just like every game or sports. You need to teach the dogs the basic skills and break things into smaller pieces, so the dogs can be successful and really start to love the game.

    Agility is a sports that you need to train and teach the dog to enjoy, leveraging dogs basic instincts to run and chase and dog's desire to work with its human. It is not like putting a steak in front of a dog, and the dog will just eat it with gusto without you teaching him anything.

    Imagine if you are a coach and teammate to someone new to the sports of basketball. Would you enjoy the game if your team mate just runs around the basketball court anywhere he wants and throws the ball whenever he wants? Agility is a sports and has rules. For dog and human to enjoy the sport together, it is the human's job to teach the dog skills required.

    Finally, I want to point out that most Agility dogs today are loving pets and companion first and foremost. I don't think many people still use a "restrict all fun activities" approach to the dogs they do Agility or any other doggie sports with. It was one of the many methods some people subscribed to many years ago, but to be honest, I do not know any dogs being trained this way.

    The really successful Agility team are usually very fun to watch as you can see the dog just enjoys playing the game with their handler, flying through the course smoothly like a dance.
  • @Gen: your kind of trophy hunting is fine with me. I'm still coming from a place where we're referring to people who fly into Alaska, have a guide take them out, track the animal for them, then point it out to them, so they can shoot the biggest moose, biggest bear, etc, and they take the head or skin and leave the rest and fly back out. I mean, sometimes that works for the guide, who gets a job they need, and gets to have the meat it it's a moose. Of course, the guide is probably the real hunter there anyway. And I like your point about those people who shoot anything that moves as being poachers, not hunters.

    Just for the record, you pretty much sum up my definition of a good, ethical hunter. :)
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    To me using multiple dogs like that seems too much, but I guess one must understand different places have different hunting styles at least more dogs less likely to get too badly hurt. I dunno.

    Either way as long as the dogs have fun and enjoy it.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • HeidiHeidi
    Posts: 3386
    I agree with Gen that there's no value judgement to be made for hunters making things easier for themselves. I mean, most of us (even those who hunt) still "hunt" most of our meat at the grocery store, so who are we to judge? And yes, I agree that the only real moral/ethical consideration in hunting is wildlife and habitat management. All of the rules (official or unofficial) that are intended to keep hunting "sporting" are quite subjective. However hard you make it, someone could come along and argue that it could be harder. No vehicles, you say? How about no high-powered scope on your rifle. How about no firearms at all. How about no compound bow. How about no manufactured shoes that make it easier for you to trek that rough terrain. How about we plop you in the wilderness naked and you wrestle an elk down with your bare hands.

    As for the number of dogs, I don't know this for a fact, but I'm sure a lot of that has simply to do with one's capacity to own that many dogs. For instance, versatile gun dogs are becoming more popular because it's not practical for urban hunters to own a dog for each type of game. People are going more for dogs like the small munsterlander who can hunt upland birds, retrieve from the water, and track furry game as well, whereas they used to have a pointer for one, a lab for the other, and hounds for the furred critters.

    Another factor might be status. Having a big estate with vast kennels and a separate pack of hounds for each game type is good for showing off, and so to a lesser extent, I'm sure people like to be the guy out there with the biggest pack of hounds. And the biggest truck and the fanciest gear, too. Kind of reminds me of a friend of mine who's always showing me pictures of guns. He's all like, "check out this gun, it's such-and-such brand name and blah blah blah" and I'm like... does it shoot? Is it accurate? Yes? Good enough.

    Then it comes down to methods. A huge pack of hounds uses a different strategy than one laika. One is strength in numbers, overwhelming the bear by being all around it, so there's no one place to focus an attack, and laikas (and NK) seem to work more by simply darting around and being "everywhere at once." Sort of a pack of dogs rolled into one dog.

    Or so it seems to me. I'm VERY new to hunting and have no experience hunting with dogs, so I could be full of crap. Kind of an armchair enthusiast at this point, I guess.
    Dogs: Rakka (shikoku), Sosuke (kai), Effie (bc/kelpie)
    Cats: Hester, Batgirl, Stephanie, Harley
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    Well stated! Another thing to take into consideration is that many of these hounds men also have a number of "green" dogs within their pack that they are training. Usually a bear hound pack will have one to three strike dogs (experienced dogs with a good nose and the ability to sort out a track), a couple of bay dogs that follow the strike dogs to the bear, and usually a couple of young dogs that are learning from the experienced dogs. This is just a basic average pack of dogs that I have seen some folks have more or less.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • souggysouggy
    Posts: 247
    Just saw this.


    When I explained our way of hunting to people in Nordic countries, some of them stared at me in disbelief, shaking their heads. To them, it's a waste of gas money and mileage to hunt a pack of dogs. Purchasing a dog is very expensive (600 to 1500 euros per puppy), buying a car is a luxury for most people, gas prices are insanely high compared to other parts of the world and the living costs itself makes it very impractical to hunt with a pack of hounds. They even looked at me a little strange when I explained houndsmen road their dogs to exercise them. In Nordic countries, they ride bicycles with their spitzes.

    When you consider gas prices are low here when compared to countries which don't have an oil reserve, a new car is easy to purchase, food prices are relatively low compared to other countries and other factors-- it is no wonder why houndsmen have the culture they have.

    Although I know because of the recessions and the economic turmoils, some houndsmen who had traditionally used coonhounds are now switching to Plotts since they only need two or three dogs oppose to a pack of six to twenty.

    I don't think the culture has much to do with it, but the economic reality behind it.
    Blog: Prick-Eared - now featuring primitive dogs
    Post edited by souggy at 2013-02-20 05:52:50
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    @souggy - That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I know of one owner in Japan who exercises his dogs using a car... I think that may be popular in Japan but for hunting they don't use cars the way we do here. They drive to a spot and then continue on foot with the dogs.

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