Hounds don’t just wake up one morning and decide to follow a track until a lion ends up in a tree. It takes an owner who is dedicated to training them from the time they are young.
From simple things like house training or making them come to you to waiting patiently for food instead of pushing your hand out of the way to get to it takes time and patience.
Sure, almost any dog can see a raccoon or even a lion and put one in a tree with the right circumstances and I ‘ve heard people say as much. But when a hound runs good he (or she) can do it multiple times in a season and do things like freshen up a track after it leads from fresh snow through an acre sized dry patch on a ridge top. When the snow melts and goes away so does the scent that was in it.
As a brand new hounds-man I asked questions like “how do I train my hounds to be the best they can be?” The answers I received varied so much I almost wished I hadn’t asked.
So what have I learned? Some hounds just don’t have the desire needed to trail and tree and others do. The ones that do must be nurtured and trained as pups to keep their interest. Simple things like pulling scent drags across the yard every week and then making the drags longer and longer over time will help. But nothing can be better for your hounds than hunting them. Those legendary hounds we’ve heard about that can track and trial for miles and never give up were probably born with the necessary instincts but also had an owner who hunted them a lot.
I’ve also learned that there are a lot of people who want to shoot a mountain lion. So many that just having hounds in your pickup truck will make the phone ring from friends you never knew you had. But, the people who want to hunt mountain lions are few and far between. Hunting and shooting are two very different things.
Hunting with hounds is about hunting. It isn’t about shooting a lion or any other animal. It’s about watching pups learn and work. It’s about cold nights in fresh snow and long days in the sunshine trudging through snow and over mountains. Hounds become an extension of the hunter in a way that can’t be appreciated – not fully anyway- until you’ve watched it happen.
When your hound follows a track and ends up at a tree and you’re so excited that you find yourself standing at the tree barking louder than the hounds, or when you can’t contain your excitement any more than the four-leggeds jumping all around you – it’s then – that it happens.
When hounds run good.