Questions from a Novice?
  • RathorianRathorian
    Posts: 12
    So in looking up more about the Shikoku Ken and looking at the different breeders, I keep coming back to the idea of wanting to possibly getting into hunting. I live in a town big on hunting (a state big on hunting for that matter). I tried it once when I was younger and the kick of the Rifle was just too much for me at that time (I was six and incredibly small) with a gun meant for my father (a large 40+ year old man weighing about 270lbs if not more). It kind of turned me off of the idea, and now I'm just not sure. I'm not sure I could handle shooting an animal? Like, I have no problem with meat, I'm just not sure I could kill one myself. So, questions. Educate me, please!

    01. How did you start hunting?

    02. Can Shikoku hunt Smaller prey?

    03. When Shikoku's hunt, do they kill the animal themselves, or do you intervene?

    04. How would one go about starting to hunt? What would be the best thing for a novice to begin with?

    05. What sort of animals can a Shikoku hunt?

    06. Should a Shikoku hunt alone, or in a unit?

    07. What measures do you take to ensure a safe return to you or to ensure the dog isn't shot accidentally?

    08. Do you feed the animal you catch, if yes: do you butcher it yourself and everything, or do you take it to a Butcher to have it done?

    09. How did you teach the dog to start hunting?

    10. What is the best age to start working with the dog in hunting?

    A list of the animals that can be hunted in Tennessee.
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 120
    So... I just spoke to Shigeru about hunting with his kishu and is currently training his shikoku to hunt. I too am interested in learning how to hunt with my dogs, I have a male and female shikoku. So I hope I can help answer a few questions. I also recommend contacting shigeru AKA thewalrus If you're really serious about hunting. http://nihonken.blogspot.com/ This is his blog.

    1. I haven't started yet, I have hunted in the past but I hunted without dogs.

    2. My Male shikoku has killed birds and squirrels before. He's also very good at sniffing out rabbits. So yes, Shikoku can hunt smaller prey.

    3. I think most people who hunt with dogs normally do the bay hunting style. Unless the prey is much smaller.

    4. So I learned that If you want to hunt with your dogs, You really have to determine a few things. Firstly The dogs temperment. Shigeru has emphasized the fact that your dog should be intelligent and smart enough to not get themselves hurt. They should not be dog aggressive or human reactive and this is very important. There are known cases where people take their dogs out to hunt only to get distracted and go after someone's dog or run up to people instead of focusing on the hunt. So what's been recommended is slowly introduce them to the idea of hunting. Allowing them a chance to see their hunt and get exposed to the animal slowly. One great training method I saw was they had a boar tied up to something and they let the dogs see the boar. They slowly allow the dog to go up to it naturally and see if they have a natural instinct to hunt. You should also introduce things like boar pelts if you can get your hands on some fresh boar pelt or venison hide that could be beneficial to introducing your pup to the prey. You should also check around to see if you have any places that host dog field training. I should also emphasize that your dog may not neccesarily have strong instincts to hunt so don't really expect your shikoku to be great at it. You really want to find a dog with the proper temperament and again that's intelligent and non human or dog reactive.

    5. I've known shikoku to obviously hunt small prey like rabbits, squirrels, birds, and larger things like boar and deer. Though this practice isn't something that is done anymore.

    6. I've been told shikoku are a pair hunting dog. They should be either by themselves or sometimes 2 but no more than 3. I heard that a large reason why the japanese hunt with western dogs is because it's far more efficient due to western dogs being better at unit hunting vs pair hunting.

    7. Can't answer sorry i don't know enough

    8. I haven't done it yet, but I would feed it and clean the animal myself. I think if you haven't tried hunting yet, You should try it again to see how you feel. You honestly don't need to get a shikoku and feel obliged to hunt with it. Remember that you will have to kill an animal, Field dress the animal if you don't want your meat to go bad. You also need to develop a lot of personal skills. It's a lot of work.

    9. Basically answered at q#4

    10. Introducing your pup to pelts can be done early, a lot of pups show natural instinct when interacting with animal pelts. I'm not to sure about age, But I think as soon as you get them should be a good time. You obviously don't take them on the hunt yet but working with them early on is better.

    Again I'm only interested in hunting with my dogs, I haven't started yet so i'm not the best person to really take my answers into any real consideration. I thought i'd just share my learning experiences.
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2082
    I've only been hunting over a dog for a short time, and am still learning a lot myself. I do not hunt with any Nihon Ken, I use a West Siberian Laika who was bred for treeing game. My Shiba will hunt but he's more interested in shredding things than working as a team. Something to take into consideration is the type of dog you have and the game you want to go after. My Laika is an excellent tree dog but may not be a good bay dog (I have not tried him on anything that doesn't tree). I do not know if Nihon Ken make good tree dogs, my Shiba will tree but he's not really into it like my Laika is. It's also helpful to have a dog that was actively selected for hunting, but that is getting harder to come by with the Nihon Ken.


    01. How did you start hunting?
    I just picked up a shotgun and went out to a pond, stalked around for a bit and shot a couple birds. Thought it was fun, I liked the meat, so I decided to stick with it. I pursued hunting over a dog several years later.

    02. Can Shikoku hunt Smaller prey?
    Sure. If your Shikoku shows interest in small game, encourage them to hunt it.

    03. When Shikoku's hunt, do they kill the animal themselves, or do you intervene?
    Most of the time the hunter is the one who kills the animal. If it's something small the dog may grab it before it can tree/hide and the dog could kill it, but usually with Nihon Ken it's something much larger and to allow the dog to attempt to kill something (say, a boar) would be inhumane to both animals. The dog could take a while to kill the animal, or get ripped up in the process. It's much better for the hunter to shoot the animal as you can be much more precise and kill it quickly.

    04. How would one go about starting to hunt? What would be the best thing for a novice to begin with?
    I started with small game and birds, coot, squirrel, rabbit, grouse, and raccoon. Because my dog is a tree dog and shows more interest in smaller animals than large ones, that is what I go after. Some people start big, others small, it just depends on what you want to go after, what you're comfortable with, and your dog.

    05. What sort of animals can a Shikoku hunt?
    Anything it wants. Legally, that varies from state to state. For example, here in Michigan, you can hunt squirrel, raccoon, bobcat, fox, coyote, most game birds, and bear with dogs, but not deer, marten, elk, otter, beaver, etc. You need to check the specifics on each species you want to hunt in your state to determine if you are allowed to use a dog on it or not. Also find out when the season opens and closes.

    06. Should a Shikoku hunt alone, or in a unit?
    Depends on the dogs and the game. I wouldn't hunt bear with only one dog, but smaller game like squirrel I do. Some dogs don't get along when hunting, that is something else to keep in mind. Mine is usually fine when hunted with another dog.

    07. What measures do you take to ensure a safe return to you or to ensure the dog isn't shot accidentally?
    Orange, orange, orange! My Laika wears not only a 2" thick orange dayglo collar and a GPS tracking collar on a reflective orange strap, but also a orange vest. I will pack up and go home if there are other people in the area. Recall is incredibly important too, I will not hunt over a dog that doesn't come when called. I don't allow my dog to range too far either, I keep him under 250 yards from me. This can be harder with a bay dog since the prey they go after can run for a while before it's bayed up. I won't shoot something I don't have a clear shot on, and if the dog is too close, I won't shoot then either.

    08. Do you feed the animal you catch, if yes: do you butcher it yourself and everything, or do you take it to a Butcher to have it done?
    Yes, I do everything myself and feed what I don't to the dogs. If it's cooked or not depends on the species. You can take larger game to a butcher if you don't want to do it yourself but will have to gut it first or the meat will spoil quickly.

    09. How did you teach the dog to start hunting?
    My dog had really strong natural instincts, all I had to do was get him in the woods and let him see game and encourage him when he did what I want (chase to a tree and bark). Some people use pelts and caged game with young pups or untrained dogs to start them, I did not.

    10. What is the best age to start working with the dog in hunting?
    As soon as possible, the younger the better. I do know of some dogs that were not hunted until they were over a year old and are excellent hunters though. Just depends on the dog, if they were discouraged to chase game when they were younger, and how strong the dog's hunting instincts are.


    Not all firearms are big and kick hard. Something you might want to look into is a small caliber rifle like a .22 if you go after smaller game. They have almost no kick and are very quiet. A versatile one is a 20 gauge shotgun, bigger kick and louder, but you can use several types of shells and can hunt a wide variety of game with one. I commonly use that on squirrel and birds. You will need a larger rifle if you hunt some larger game.
    There are "no waste" laws that you need to be mindful of. If you shoot something or your dog catches and kills it, you are required to salvage the usable meat. Again read the laws for your state, watch videos on skinning/butchering on youtube, and if you can, tag along on a hunt to see how it's done.
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  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3229
    There is a balance between the dog's work and the human's work, and the dog needs to be able to (as said above) stay on task, and communicate with you. Hunting is not about how insane your dog goes when he sees an animal. He must be interested in the prey but not lose his mind and forget you.

    I hunt grouse with my two Kai Ken (one at a time though to maximize our cooperation and eliminate competition for the downed bird). In hunting-magazine terms, they hunt "close" to me. They are flushing dogs and I have had to learn to be very good at reading their body language to pick up the earliest sign that they are detecting the right animal (the grouse) and not dicking around after chipmunks. I have to be ready when they say "bird soon!"and get the safety off and be ready to point and fire when they flush it.

    Hunting is as cooperative a task as any dog sport. It is not something that it is 'easy' because the dog is a hunting breed. You still have to put in a lot of investment in the relationship, training, communicating and acclimating the dog to general woodsmanship, and How We Move Together. A dog that is not cooperative and just wants to be a tazmanian devil in the woods blowing up everything that moves is not a hunting partner.

    A dog needs to track and find the right game. He needs to know what you expect him to do when he finds it, and what you want him to do when you shoot it. This comes with time and training.

    --
    We hunt birds because they are wild here, and won't hurt us, and they are tasty and a real challenge to get! Hunting season is just over 3 months long, but all year we are scouting habitat, coverts, and noticing the habits of our birds. What is blooming, a drumming log in spring, hiding places under the lowest boughs of a balsam fir. Making sure the dogs stay in practice off leash, traveling with me, and heeding my call. Making sure the dogs don't get too interested in animals we are not after- no chasing deer, no playing with porcupines, etc.

    --
    Orange Orange Orange, and bells, and my guys will be wearing a Garmin Astro tracker this fall. Brindle dogs are hard to see, and look 'wild' to people, I definitely do not want another hunter thinking they are coyotes (which can be legally shot in my state any day of the year). My dogs wear an orange vest, a blaze collar and hunting bells.

    --
    We clean and eat our birds- they are small, so I breast them out for us, and let the dogs have the other parts. Feathers, tail fans for me, wings for off season retrieving for them.

    Hunting with the dogs is- for me- a sublime experience of connection with my dogs, the birds and the land, knowing and learning each well. I have only been hunting for two seasons, but i do it because it is here in my own woods, and my dogs showed me they are into it, so taking up the shotgun just sewed together all the pieces of things I enjoy, and they enjoy and that are possible where we live.
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 120
    There is a balance between the dog's work and the human's work, and the dog needs to be able to (as said above) stay on task, and communicate with you. Hunting is not about how insane your dog goes when he sees an animal. He must be interested in the prey but not lose his mind and forget you.

    I hunt grouse with my two Kai Ken (one at a time though to maximize our cooperation and eliminate competition for the downed bird). In hunting-magazine terms, they hunt "close" to me. They are flushing dogs and I have had to learn to be very good at reading their body language to pick up the earliest sign that they are detecting the right animal (the grouse) and not dicking around after chipmunks. I have to be ready when they say "bird soon!"and get the safety off and be ready to point and fire when they flush it.


    You sir are awesome.

  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337


    01. How did you start hunting?

    I have been hunting since I was a kid. I started big game hunting with dogs as a teenager using Kishu lens and hounds. Currently I hunt hogs with three kishus.

    02. Can Shikoku hunt Smaller prey?

    Yes but hunting and chasing is a little different. It's best to work with a Shikoku that preferably comes from working lines.

    03. When Shikoku's hunt, do they kill the animal themselves, or do you intervene?

    That all depends on what you hunt. When I hunt with my kishus. I have a dog that strikes a hog and bay and hold. I also have a hog that will strike a hog and bay only. I intervene when it is safe to harvest the hog.

    04. How would one go about starting to hunt? What would be the best thing for a novice to begin with?

    I would suggest to join your local hound club or any hunting organizations. Tag along with a seasoned hunter so that you can choose for yourself if it's something you want to get into.

    05. What sort of animals can a Shikoku hunt?

    Hogs, bears, deer (if legal), rabbits, raccoons, and Bobcats to name a few. Keep in mind that Shikoku ken were originally a deer and boar dog. The dogs from the hongawa area are notorious for being great deer and boar dogs.

    06. Should a Shikoku hunt alone, or in a unit?

    That all depends on your dog and what you go after. With my kishus i can hunt my male Kishu solo or in a three dog pack. If you're just starting out, start with one dog so that you're not overwhelmed. It's best to concentrate on one dog and develope that dog.

    07. What measures do you take to ensure a safe return to you or to ensure the dog isn't shot accidentally?

    That is a huge thing with hunting with dogs. I would recommend using a blaze orange vest and maybe a bell for your dog. Use good judgement and don't rush in for the shot. Be mindful of your trigger and don't get tunnel vision.

    I keep tabs on my dogs with tracking collars. I use a wildlife radio collar but now that California has made GPS legal, I will be using a Garmin.

    08. Do you feed the animal you catch, if yes: do you butcher it yourself and everything, or do you take it to a Butcher to have it done?

    My dogs will get parts of animals we harvest. Most of the hogs I get, I take to the butcher to be processed for human consumption. Sometimes I get frost burned meat which the dogs will get.

    09. How did you teach the dog to start hunting?

    I started my dogs by training them in a hog pen with a live hog. I spent 15min a day letting my dogs bark at a live hog to train them to bay. Honestly it's all up to the dog and its drive. You're just showing the dog what you're hoping it will go after. This is where getting a pup from good hunting lines come into play. The most important training for a NK and hunting is, obedience and off leash training. Spend as much time in the woods as possible.

    10. What is the best age to start working with the dog in hunting?

    It's always good to start young. The first 6months I concentrate on recall and spending time in the woods. By doing that the new pup is exposed to different terrain, smells, and to understand that it needs to hunt with you. The first year is critical to develope a bond between you and your dog. This will allow you to read your dog and figure out the way it thinks while out hunting. The next 6 months I expose a pup to smells of hog fur and give them a lot of hog hooves as treats to expose it to the taste and smell. And at about 9months old to a year old, I start bay training in a pen.

    An important thing to keep in mind is hunting with dogs require a lot of commitment and expense. I usually hunt my dogs once to three times a week during the season. Hunting with dogs is not a hobby or a neat sport to try out. It's a lifestyle and a passion for most of us. Don't expect your dog to get on game, as a matter of fact expect to just go on long hikes all the time and enjoy watching your dogs do what they were bred to do.

    Shigeru and I have kishus that are just amazing boar dogs (more so Shigeru since Baron is exposed to more hogs :) ) although we were blessed with great hunting dogs, it took us a lot of work to get our dogs to what they are today.

    As for guns, there are many light calibers that can do the job perfectly. Depending on what you're planning on chasing you can use a 30-30 to hunt hogs and bears with dogs. It has manageable recoil and relatively cheap ammo. If you decide to hunt small game, a 20ga shotgun or a .22 mag, .17 HMR is a perfect gun with hardly any recoil (20ga can a have a little if you shoot magnum rounds).

    Hope all this helps, any questions feel free to ask away.

    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 4535


    You sir are awesome.



    Yes, she is absolutely awesome. And her dogs are pretty cool, too. :-P
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.

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