Welcome

It's cutting them loose and having the pack run the rabbit until it gives up and goes in a hole or gets caught. And although the dogs usually don't catch it, they run like they want to. Just me and my pack of hounds, in any condition, on any day, in the roughest places I can find . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Journey of Chip

Chip ran great tonight. He was slamming, grabbing checks everywhere, turning behind the pack on overruns, and screaming on the line. He ran absolutely the best that he has run for at least two years. Chris Hopkins, Jeff Allen, and I had some great running tonight. A lot of dogs contributed, but Chip owned the night.

Two months ago I was ready to give Chip away. For the last two years he hasn't run well. In all honesty, I was just sick and tired of him. He had little or no hunt, never ran the front, and rarely got a check. 

A little over two years ago, Chip got Ehrlichia. This tick born disease has really been a problem in our area the last few years. The biggest symptoms are weakness, lethargy, and/or depression. Dogs don't hunt like normal and have little or no stamina. The disease is treated with 100 mg. of Doxycycline/day

When Chip first showed signs I treated him for 30 days. He quickly responded and although he wasn't back to normal, he showed significant improvement. Unfortunately he never regained his pre-infection form and after several months began to regress. During this time, he ran well enough to earn his title as an ARHA Grand Champion, but he never really ran to the best of his ability. 

Twice during the last two years I treated Chip for a period of 2 - 4 weeks. Each time he improved physically and his performance in the field greatly improved. This would last for a time, but would eventually slip away.

I decided this time to put Chip on Doxy and keep him on it. After seven weeks I am thrilled with the response. I am going to continue treatment for at least 12 weeks. This time I am not going to stop treating him just because he starts to act and run better.

I am not sure if Chip can continue to run like he did tonight, but if so it would be a significant improvement for him and for my pack. Most of all though, it's just great to see him running like he means it. Tonight was like a flashback to the power and authority that he showed when has was a young dog. I am not sure where the journey will end, but tonight it stopped by paradise.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Bobcat in Ohio

Bobcat Track in the Snow
Cole opened down in the clearcut. I was on top the ridge, standing at the intersection of two logging roads. I started watching for the rabbit. Cole was headed up the hill so I knew the rabbit was going to cross. I saw a blur coming towards the opening. I knew it was the rabbit.

As the blur came into the open, I couldn't believe it. A bobcat crossed the logging road, I blinked a couple of times and he was gone. At first I thought that I was just seeing things. In all the hours I have spent running dogs in the roughest spots in southeastern Ohio I have never seen a bobcat. That changed today though in the blink of an eye.

I am sure for some people, in some areas, seeing a bobcat is no big deal. But in southeast Ohio, they are few and far between. Plus, as shy as they are, people rarely see them. When I saw it, I grabbed my controls, thinking Cole couldn't resist. He turned down the hill though, and I didn't have a cat chase.

This was pretty much the highlight of my day. Rabbits were hard to find and didn't stay up long. A couple of inches of new snow combined with temperatures that fell steadily throughout the day and a strong wind didn't help matters. I enjoyed being out, but it sure wasn't a brag day of running.

I ran Chip, Butcher, Dennis, Cole, Gypsy, and David. It was 24° with a 10+ mph wind.

If I Was a Real Hunter

I was doing a little reading recently and when I read this part of the book, Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper, I couldn't help but think about how times have changed. If I could only . . .

I have often thought I would like to relate some of my experiences in the woods while deer hunting. Many a time while following a herd of deer or a wounded one over ridge after ridge, has the sun set and the stars come out and I found myself many miles from my cabin or any habitation. Then I would find a large fallen tree, that laid close to the ground, gather a pile of dry limbs and bark, scrape away the snow from the log, often the snow being a foot deep, build a fire where I scraped the snow away. 

When the ground became thoroughly warm, I would rake the coals and brands down against the log, put on more wood, and then I would place hemlock boughs on the ground, where I had previously had the fire. Soon they would begin to steam and after frizzling some venison (if I chanced to have it) before the fire I would take off my coat, lie down on my stomach, pull the coat over my head and shoulders and sleep for hours before waking. Sometimes I would have the skin of a bear to put over me, and for doing these things my friends would scold me, but the reader will know, if he has the blood of a hunter in him, that I enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Running Dogs is So Easy

I turned the dogs loose. In just a couple minutes Jeff Allen showed up and unloaded his. A few minutes later we thought we heard dogs running. We walked up the road a little ways over a hill. Sure enough, they were running.

When all the dogs went in there was a little confusion at first and the rest of the chase was choppy. After a bit though, Chip jumped a rabbit way down in the clearcut and the race was on. The pack got together and ran.

For the next 3+ hours, Jeff and I stood by the trucks and just listened to good running. It was a beautiful winter night with temperatures in the 30's. The air was damp and scenting conditions were way above average. Tonight was a perfect night for running beagles.

As I drove home, my attempt at running last night just seemed like a bad dream. I couldn't believe the difference. Really, tonight proved that running dogs is just so easy.

I ran Chip, David, Dennis, Butcher, and Gypsy. Jeff Allen ran Flame, Meg, Jed, and Dixie.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trapped

I had a little work to do before I could run tonight. I moved the horses' water tank and had to reattach a board. I was putting screws in with my cordless drill, not paying much attention when I slipped and my finger got trapped between the drill's screw driver and the board. I said, "ouch" (but it didn't sound like ouch). Within a couple minutes, with a Sponge Bob band-aid and a little duct tape I was good to go.

I loaded the dogs and headed for a favorite clearcut. Within a couple of minutes of turning loose, Butcher busted out with a rabbit. It crossed the road by me with Butcher and Chip right behind it. All the sudden I heard Gypsy scream out behind me. My first thought was, wow two rabbits at once. I quickly realized though that Gypsy wasn't moving but continued to squall like mad.

I hustled over to her, and saw her hung up in a trap. She was thrashing around and biting at her leg. I said "crap" (but it didn't sound like crap). Then, I thought about how I was going to get her out, but decided to just let her loose. I grabbed both sides of the trap and popped it open. She took off towards the other dogs who were still running. I yelled and then grabbed her and as soon as the other dogs paused started toning them so I could get out of there.

I headed for another clearcut about 10 minutes away. As my Ford Ranger climbed the hill to the clearcut I started to get nervous. The red clay was wet and sticky. I got within 15 feet of the top when my truck bogged down and wouldn't go any farther. I said "shoot" (but it didn't sound like shoot). I got out and looked around and started to get real nervous. I couldn't help but think about this truck-eating, red clay trap. I backed down the hill to a sort of flat place and went back and forth until I turned around facing down the hill. I got out of that trap while I still could.

I headed for another spot about 10 minutes away. I really wanted to run and knew this spot was always good for a couple of chases. I cut the dogs loose and headed them up the old logging road into the cover. All the sudden David started screaming. I rushed up to see him lunging around biting at the trap in the picture above. I said, "darn" (although it didn't sound like darn). Then, I reached down to let him go and quickly reconsidered when he swung around with fangs like Cujo.

I pulled off my fleece and pulled it over David. He was biting and jerking, obviously in a lot of pain. As I covered his head, he bit clear through the fleece. Once I had him bundled up, I reached down and released the trap. He walked down the lane towards the truck acting fine. At this point, I loaded the dogs into the truck and headed for home, having had enough traps for one day.

I tried to run Butcher, Chip, Dennis, David, and Gypsy.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Gone Hunting

It was 2:30 in the afternoon with a high sky, lots of sun, no clouds and no wind with a January heat wave temperature of 45°. The dogs had been running real well for the last 4 1/2 hours. Then, the rabbits just dried up. There wasn't a single bark for the next 20 minutes.

Usually this makes me crazy. I can't stand to be out running and not have a chase. I start to hate--my dogs, my truck, the weather, the place I am running, my dogs . . .

Today was a little different though. The Old Man was out running for the first time since his shoulder surgery. He had his arm in a sling but that didn't seem to matter much. He didn't fire me from running his dogs. He saw that I hadn't completely ruined them yet.

What made the spell with no running bearable though was how the dogs hunted. Six dogs were six different directions. None were chasing, none were running around like a bird dog, and all were actively searching for a rabbit. At least if the dogs weren't running a rabbit, they were acting like they really wanted to.

Eventually Village Girl jumped a rabbit way down in the clearcut and the chase was on. The dogs ran until they holed and the pack sounded good. It was a good day--sunshine and warm with some good chases. Life doesn't get much better.

I ran Tony, Dennis, Chip, Butcher, Village Girl, and Gypsy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Conversation with Dennis After His First Hunt

Logan Elm Dennis
Logan Elm Neal X Big Meadows Breezy
The following is a conversation I had with Logan Elm Dennis after he was entered in his first ARHA LP Hunt on Saturday.

Dennis: Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark,bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark. 

Me:  Yes Dennis, I know they were barking. I had to listen to them too. Welcome to field trials and congrats on surviving for an hour. I was very proud of you.

Dennis:  There was a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of barking.

Me: I understand that there was a lot more barking than you are used to. I know some of those dogs needed shocked. Thank you for ignoring them. It made me very proud. You have to understand, some dogs just don't have the brain power and/or training to know to keep their mouth shut on frost. 

Dennis: Frost? You mean the cold, white stuff?

Me: Yeah, the cold, white stuff on everything that is kind of like snow. 

Dennis: Why didn't somebody put those dogs back in the box or put them in the well?

Me: You have to understand, judging when you have a bunch of barking idiots is tough. Who knows where the rabbit really went? Plus, their owners all said, "I've never seen him act like this before."

Dennis: I KNEW WHERE THE RABBIT WENT!

Me: I know that you knew. I know you barked when the rabbit was up and running. You can't totally ignore those barking dogs though.

Dennis: Did you know those dogs barked every time those guys turned them loose. You would have shocked me for acting so stupid.

Me: Yes, I understand that those other dogs barked every single time they turned them loose. What can I say? They were dropped on their head when they were little. By the way, that was really a nice jump and I was proud of the way you drove the rabbit out of those briers. Usually you will get scored for that but there was so much barking that it was hard to know what was going on today. 

Dennis: What was the point of all that mess?

Me: It was a field trial. You should be proud. You were second in the cast and placed seventh.

Dennis: Why would I want to do something stupid like that again?

Me: I am proud of you and I want to show you off.

Dennis: Sooooo. 

Me: The next time will be better, I promise. It will be fun. You are the chosen one. You are the best and brightest. You need to have broad shoulders to carry the weight of my pride. You are the one to carry on what your grandsire, Hobo and your dad, Neal have started. You are destined to carry the torch for Logan Elm Beagles.

Dennis: You know what you can do with your torch.

Me: OK, time for you to get in your box and shut up. 

And so went the first hunt for Dennis. I can't wait for the next one.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Does the First Have to be the Worst?

It seems like with my dogs, the first chase of the day is always the worst. They are cranked up and over-compete. They aren't as patient as they should be. I can't help but wonder though, why is the first chase always the worst chase?

Just once it would be nice if dogs started the day like they finish; if they would begin settled in and work as a pack. Some are always going to compete for the front, but after they settle in a little it usually isn't a problem. On the first race though, it seems like they have to start with a herky-jerky, checking race. Then each race gets a little better for the first hour until they are pounding.

The question of the day:

To have the energy to run for several hours and reach out hunting into the depths of cover in tough, hilly, clearcuts, do dogs have to start with a little extra fire?

Today I ran Butcher, Dennis, Chip, Tony, Village Girl, Silly, and Gypsy. It was 33° with a little rain, some freezing and some not, throughout the day.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lots of Rabbits

Jeff Allen with Meg and Tink and a Rabbit's Foot
Nothing beats a day with a lot of rabbits. Today, I am not sure where all the rabbits came from. Every place we looked had tracks. When the dogs holed a rabbit they had another chase in minutes. For the first three hours the dogs had trouble staying together with many splits. 

I was running with Jeff Allen. Our dogs have run together a lot. Packing up is the rule. They know each other usually stay in one pack. Today however, it seemed like there were so many rabbits that the dogs split over and over. When one pack holed a rabbit, they would join the other one, and then split again.

Jeff and I would both much rather have the dogs run together in a pack. On a day like today though, it was nice to have such an abundance of rabbits and so many chases. There were tracks everywhere and it seemed like a rabbit was just waiting to run at the end of them.

After about 4 and 1/2 hours, the dogs were groovin. They were really running better than the conditions should have allowed. They made a couple of really hard circles and then the rabbit came down a road towards us. The dogs were right behind him when he dropped down into a washed out ditch. We watched but didn't see him leave. The dogs had a check and we walked up to where we last saw the rabbit. About that time, Butcher worked down the ditch and rejumped the rabbit. In the picture above, Jeff is holding the result.

I ran Butcher, Dennis, Chip, Village Girl and Dixie. Jeff ran Wes, Flame, Meg, and Tink. It was 27° with a little snow.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Just Do Something

I was a young guy working in a truck equipment shop mounting dump beds, welding, and doing some body work. It was the summer slump and not much was going on. My boss, Henry had already caught me twice that morning goofing around. The third time he told me, "look, I know we're slow but get busy. Just do something." I looked around, found some things that needed done, and after a couple of days realized how much better it was when I kept busy.

Village Girl jumped the first two rabbits today. She also jumped the last rabbit and at least one other one. I was watching her hunt today and I thought about the story above. She is always doing something. You turn her loose and she gets busy. Other dogs might run a track faster, hunt harder, or bark louder, but she just keeps busy. She is always doing something. And at the end of the day, you just can't help but like her.

I traded Village Girl to the Old Man a year or so ago. Although I had run with her now and then, I just hadn't realized how much progress she had made. When I started running her every day though, it didn't take long to realize what a fine rabbit hound she has become. She is always hunting (and finding), runs a ton of rabbit, and always gets her fair share of checks. And it's really just because she keeps busy.

The running today was a little more choppy than yesterday. It had warmed up 6 degrees to 13° but the 12 - 15 mph winds kept it a bit blustery. I ran the same spot as yesterday in about 3" of snow. I ran about five hours and had a lot of rabbits. The cold didn't seem to bother the rabbits or the dogs.

I ran Village Girl, Butcher, Chip, Tony, Dennis, Gypsy, and Jed.

Tony and Dennis Pounding

My Favorite Place

I was back on top the hill at my favorite spot yesterday. I hadn't been there for a few months due to deer season. I pulled up to the top by the water holes (which were frozen of course). There was about 3 inches of powdery snow. The wind was brisk and the temperature was 7° with wind chills way below zero but it didn't matter. Just being at this running ground made my day.

Within a few minutes of turning loose I heard Tony's crying squeal and the first chase was on. Butcher got the first three checks making me think he was as glad to be back as I was. The first rabbit set the tone for the day. I was shocked at how little time I had between chases and at how long chases lasted. As the day went on I was continually reminded of why this is the best spot to run beagles in Ohio.

I ran seven dogs and six of them jumped a rabbit. Usually one dog or another will have a good day, get on a roll, and have the most jumps. After Butcher's fast start, the checks were pretty evenly divided also. When this many dogs contribute, it seems to me like it is a good even pack. When all the dogs do their part, and you have a great spot to run, it couldn't have been any better if it was 70 and sunny (well, maybe a little better).

I ran Butcher, Chip, Tony, Dixie, Village Girl, Dennis, and Silly.

Logan Elm Black Butcher

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter Running

Chip, Tony, and Dixie lead the pack across the road!
A little chilly? Sure. Too cold to run? Never. With the temperature at 11° and the wind chill at -8 it was just right for the dogs and rabbits. As for the handler, I appreciated warm boots and good outdoor gear.

This morning, I traveled south about an hour to get into a little less snow. I knew we had too much for good chases, but with a little drive time and a good pine thicket, there were rabbits just waiting to be run. The dogs and the rabbits didn't disappoint with several good chases. This actually made the second day in a row at this spot and rabbits were out both days.

I have never understood what it is about pines, but it seems like whenever bad weather hits, the pines are the best spots to run. It doesn't seem to matter how bad the conditions are, the rabbits always run in the pines. Jeff Allen was kind enough to lend me this spot and the dogs did the rest.

The Old Man is taking a couple of months off to recuperate from shoulder replacement so his dogs are spread around. Gregg is training a couple of young females out of Chip and Diamond. Jeff Allen is running a couple of older dogs. I will be putting some hours on Village Girl and Tony, and some young dogs will be getting some running time in the pen. Hopefully we can all keep from ruining them until he gets back to running.

For today though, all was good. Rabbits were out and running. The dogs were feeling good and the chases were exciting. And, the weather was brisk enough to make sure to keep me alert.

I ran Chip, Village Girl, Butcher, Tony, Dennis, Dixie, and Gypsy.