Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pretenders in the World of Hunting Dogs

The world of dogs is full of pretenders and fantasists, as I have noted in the past, and these folks always bubble to the surface whenever the issue of hunting and working dogs is raised.

The first squawk is from the lady who says of course her Kennel Club dogs work.

By "work" she means over-large terriers participating in go-to-ground trials, or greyhounds chasing plastic bags tied to a string, or perhaps a Corgi chasing sheep in a half acre pen, or perhaps it's a golf cart pulled by dogs who come to the "meet" in the back of an air-conditioned GMC Yukon truck.

To be clear, I am all for folks having fun with the dogs, and there is no doubt some of this "work" explodes the code within the dog and gives it exercise, and is entertaining and instructive for the owner.  All good there.  But let's not confuse Boot Camp with real war, or dancing the Nutcracker in elementary school with what Tchaikovsky and Petipa had in mind!

The second type is the one who says of course she would work her dogs, but the Humane Society of the U.S. has "almost banned hunting with hounds" in the U.S., don't-cha-know


The Humane Society of the U.S. has almost banned hunting with hounds? 


Wow.  That's going to be news to the Master of Foxhounds Association just up the road from me

It's going to be astounding information to all the mounted fox and coyote hunts that will saddle up this weekend all over the U.S.


It's going to be a shock to the three national television shows that feature pig hunting with dogs every week.

My friends who hunt bear in North Carolina and West Virginia, and those who hunt lion in Idaho and Arizona, say they had no idea!

Those of us who dig on terriers every weekend are ASTOUNDED to learn of this development. 

Likewise the folks who hunt rabbit, fox, and coyote from California to Virginia.

The raccoon hunters are going to shit a brick, I can tell you that!  

The folks who run beagles, and those who hunt pheasant, duck, quail, and squirrel are going to freak out!

Of course, it's a complete nonsense. Pretenders gotta pretend, parrots gotta squawk.  

And it's not hard to see the motivation for the lie.

There HAS to be a ban on hunting with dogs for these people, otherwise there is no excuse for the fact that they have no pictures of their "working" dogs in the field.

And far be it from me to point out that they also have no Garmin, Innotek, or Deben locator collars. 

They have no whistles, crooks, harnesses, or long guns. 

They have no veterinary box, no stories, no hunting buddies, and no boots.

You want to know the truth about hunting with dogs in the U.S.?

Here it is, plain and simple: It’s legal in every state and always will be.

Is it legal for every critter, all the time, anywhere?


As the Bible puts it, there is a season to every thing, and so there is a hunting season for most animals.

Laws and limits also change from state to state, and within states too.

If you want to shoot deer in Virginia or Maryland, for example, you better pay attention to the map, as well as the calendar.  You also better know what kind of gun you can use where, what you should be wearing in the field, what kind of loads you have in your gun, and where roads and houses are located.

You want to fish in Maryland or Virginia? Great, but we don't allow gill netting in our rivers, the dynamiting of our lakes, or the use of electro-shock or poisons. For some fish there are size restrictions, and even seasons. Some types of fish you cannot take at all.

Hunting with dogs also comes with limits and rules. While hunting with dogs is allowed in every state, it is not allowed everywhere on every critter.

For example in Maryland, fox and raccoon hunting with dogs is perfectly legal, in season, but you better read up on fox hunting as the rules change from County to County, same as it does for deer, and there is no bear hunting with dogs at all. 

You want to hunt raccoon, grey fox, pig, or rabbits with dogs in California?

No problem.

All that is legal, but again check season and local ordinances and set-asides, same as in Maryland, and every other state.

Do state and local game laws change from time to time?

Oh sure.  

We manage our game in the United States, and part of that management is making sure hunters do not put too much pressure on wild game, and that a sensible nod is given to civility, safety, and sportsmanship. All four factors enter into the equation of deciding what gets hunted, where, and how.  Nothing is set in stone.

For example, if a group of ribbon-chasers shows up to course rabbits and drags a vegan television producer along for the ride, there might be a backlash that results in that particular County banning the coursing of Jack Rabbits, despite the fact that it is legal everywhere else in the state.  Yep, that happened once in California. But whose fault was that? Coursing rabbits with dogs is still legal in California except where the "expert" ribbon-chasers showed up and made a mockery of hunting because they actually were not hunting, they were ribbon-chasing.

But can you still course rabbits with dogs in California?  Yep.  You can also chase pig, raccoon, coyote, gray fox, and squirrel with dogs in that state. 

Every state has different rules when it comes to hunting. That's how it's always been, and every true hunter knows it. What is considered the right gun or the right way in Idaho, has never been how they do it in Maryland. Virginia and West Virginia are right next to each other (and they used to be one state!), but they have different rules when it comes to hunting bears with dogs.  No problem, and no whining about it.

By the same token, states that have gone to the trouble to import and restock certain kinds of wildlife may turn around, after a period of time, and allow the hunting of that wildlife and may even allow the use of dogs in that hunt.

An example, as fresh as this morning's orange juice, can be found in Wisconsin where the fish and game folks have just green-lit the use of up to six dogs at a time to hunt wolves.  Do I favor this law?  I do not. Not only does it put too much pressure on the wolves, but it's also going to be very maladaptive for a certain number of dogs. You see, wolves are not like Mountain Lions, which are solitary hunters and which will tree if chased by two baying beagles and a Jack Russell. Wolves are pack animals, and even a very small pack of wolves is likely to turn, at some point. What happens next may not be fun and games. We already have lion hunters whining when their dogs are eaten by wolves. Now we are sure to see more of that, and a predictable backlash as a result.

But hey, if you have Borzois and you are one of those AKC folks who sniffs that their dogs were meant to course WOLVES, not coyotes, please go right ahead. 

This should be a laugh riot!


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