February 12, 2016 – by Zip Fendrichs (OOC Supporter)
When I think back about the hound men that I have known, most are independent, love dogs, the great outdoors and respect the wildlife they hunt. The families of generations of hound hunters have dedicated a portion of their life keeping up a line of hounds dedicated to their instincts – hunting.
Training a well-bred hound is a tough, never-ending job. Hunting is actually the smallest part of the sport. Caring for and training your hounds, that takes a lot of the time, it is the biggest job.
When I started I had no mentor, was only in the eighth grade, and had no real way to get around. At that time, I had a small dog that I took with me anytime I was not in school or working in my dad’s shop. Then I saw a movie about coon hunting and that was my start in wanting hounds. The show was about a young man trying to train two hound pups and how it impacted his life.
There was a local rancher that kept hounds for bear hunting and predator control. I went trying to buy a young dog from them but they told me that their dogs were cross-bred and not the type of hound that I was looking for, but I kept after them and finally was able to talk them out of a pup. The pup was black and real hound looking. As far as I knew, a hound was a hound. That is one thing that most people do not understand is the years of breeding behind a well-bred hound.
I found out the hard way that I should have listened to the rancher. I spent two years training and ended up with a dog that had to see the coon, and even then sometimes the dog was not able to track it. He made a better duck retriever. I did not give up but could see that I had to find a better-bred dog and it was going to be hard to admit that my first hound did not have the ability bred in him and that was hard because I was well attached to him by them.
I had walked many miles along the rivers and creeks breaking him off of unwanted game thinking he would finally make it. I had to face reality, when I got to go out with a hunter with a couple black and tan hounds and they tracked a coon for two hours before the track got hot enough that my hound could smell it.
At that time, I realized that there was a big difference in the scenting ability of different breeds of dogs, yet there are some hunters that do not believe that to this day.
Later I was able to buy a young hound dog from the family that had the black and tans. For those who think they can pick up a hound and go tree something, they need to try it.
The hound hunting season is in the middle of winter. Everything you can think of is against you. High water in rivers and creeks. Real danger for man and dogs. The weather has a great effect on this scent, rain and wind will take out a track in a short time even when your hounds are tracking it.
Even with trained hounds and years of experience, knowing where to go and still you can hunt for days without success. There is no exact science to training and hunting hounds. It takes a lot of common sense, just never give up with your hounds. Every time out there is something new. Even if you are lucky to have a mentor to help you, it is still such a commitment that some never are successful.
I wish there was some way to give the experience I have had with my hounds to the public. Some say that hound hunting is a sickness but I say it is more like an incurable disease. It gets in your blood.
Hounds men and their hounds have been used by some branches of government and law enforcement for years. They have saved lives in search and rescue and hunters have donated hundreds of hours working with ODFW on studies on bear, cougar and other predators.
In the long run, we each need to do what we love as that is the American way and then also let the other man do the same. If one’s goal is to restrict what others do, history tells us someone or group will do the same to you.
P.S. I encourage you to attend the OOC’s inaugural fundraising banquet on May 6 at the Linn County Fairgrounds to support their efforts to pro-actively fight the anti-hunting agenda in Oregon politics. Click here to learn more.