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Hunting Dogs

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<SPAN name="C01"></SPAN> <h3>CHAPTER I.<br> NIGHT HUNTING.</h3> <p>Night hunting is a favorite form of hunting sport the continent over. Prime factor of the joyous, though strenuous night quest is the 'coon, the court jester and wit of the nocturnal tribe of small fur bearers.</p> <p>Owing to the scarcity of other game and general distribution of raccoon the country over, 'coon hunting is gaining in popular favor, winning over many of the wealthy, city-dwelling red-bloods who formerly were content with more or less pleasant and successful sallies to the fields in the day-time.</p> <p>Consequently there is an increased demand for properly bred and trained dogs to afford the maximum of success and pleasure in this pursuit. With the ownership of dogs go the care, maintenance and proper methods of handling these willing helpers. Surprising is the meagerness of the information available to the average hunter, though night hunting is an institution as old as the settlement of Jamestown.</p> <p>The craft of developing dogs and using them to the best advantage in this connection, has been by precept and example handed down from generation to generation. Much has been lost in this way and not so much accomplished as might have been attained by aid of the printed and pictured methods of today. Most certainly more attention will hereafter be paid to night hunting, and more painstaking records made and kept for the up-growing practical sportsmen, in which direction the present volume is a long and definite step.</p> <SPAN name="pic018"></SPAN> <h5><ANTIMG src="images/018.jpg" alt="The Court Jester of the Nocturnal Tribe."><br>The Court Jester of the Nocturnal Tribe.</h5> <p>Our task is to offer guidance and advice as to the dogs. Yet to do this clearly, the reader must know something of the nature and habits of the animals to be hunted and the effort involved.</p> <p>A southern gentleman of experience and training has the following to say about 'coon hunting:</p> <p>The 'coon is a wily little animal, and his habits are very interesting to note. He is a veritable trickster, compared with which the proverbial cunning fox must take a back seat. One of the 'coon's most common tricks employed to fool the hound is known among hunters as "tapping the tree," and which he accomplishes in this way: When he hears the hound's first note baying on trail, he climbs up a large tree, runs to the furthest extremity of one of the largest branches and doubling himself up into a ball, leaps as far as possible out from the tree. This he repeats several times on different trees, then makes a long run, only to go thru the same performances in another place. Onward comes the hound, till he reaches the first tree the 'coon went up, and if it is a young and inexperienced hound, he will give the "tree bark" until the hunters reach the tree, fell it, and find the game not there.</p> <SPAN name="pic020"></SPAN> <h5><ANTIMG src="images/020.jpg" alt="A Pure and A Cross Bred Coon Dog."><br>A Pure and A Cross Bred Coon Dog.</h5> <p>All this time Mr. 'Coon is quietly fishing and laughing in his sleeve, perhaps a mile away. But not so with the wise old coon hound. The old, experienced cooner, with seemingly human intelligence, no sooner reaches the tree Mr. 'Coon has "tapped" than he begins circling around the tree, never opening his mouth &mdash; circling wider and wider until he strikes the trail again. This he repeats every time the 'coon takes a tree, until finally, when he has to take a tree to keep from being caught on the ground, the hound circles as before and, finding no trail leading away, he goes back to the tree, and with a triumphant cry proclaims the fact that he is victorious. He is not the least bit doubtful. He knows the coon went up the tree and he knows he has never come down so he reasons (?) that the coon is there, and with every breath he calls his master to come and bag his game. When the tree is felled the fun begins. The 'coon is game to death. He dies fighting &mdash; and such a magnificent fight it is! The uninformed might suppose there would not be much of a fight between a 50-pound 'coon hound and a 20-pound 'coon. Well, there is not, if the 'coon hound is experienced and knows his business. Of course, the 'coon will put up a masterly fight, and some time is required to put him out of business; but the old 'coon dog will finally kill any 'coon. But if the fight is between a young or inexperienced dog and a full grown 'coon the chances are that you will suffer the mortification of seeing your dog tuck his tail between his legs and make for home at a very rapid and unbecoming rate of speed.</p> <p>To prove this, get a good 'coon hound and let him tree a 'coon; have along your Bull-dogs, Bull Terriers, Pointers, Setters, Collies, or any other breed you believe can kill a 'coon; tie your 'coon hound, cut the tree, and let your fighters on to the 'coon, one at a time or in a bunch, and see them clay him. You will see the old 'coon slap the faces off your dogs, and the shortest route home will be all too long for them.</p> <p>Killing a 'coon appears to be an art with a dog, and, of course, much more easily acquired by a natural born 'coon hound than by a dog of any other breed. A year-old hound of good breeding and from good 'coon hound parents, can kill a 'coon with less ado about it than half a dozen of any other breed. It is in swimming that the 'coon is most difficult to handle. I have known several hounds to be drowned by 'coons in deep water. The dog goes for the 'coon, and the 'coon gets on top of the dog's head. Down they both go, and, of course, the dog and 'coon both let go their hold on each other. Again the dog grabs the 'coon, and under the water they both go. This is repeated, until the dog becomes exhausted, his lungs fill with water, and old Mr. 'Coon seems to understand the situation exactly and seats himself firmly on top of the dog's head, holding him under the water, till outside assistance is all that will save him from a watery grave.</p> <p>As there is but little chance &mdash; practically none &mdash; to kill a 'coon while he is swimming, the wise old 'cooner, on to his job, will seize the 'coon, strike a bee line to the bank, and kill him on terra firma.</p> <p>I once saw a big old boar 'coon completely outdo and nearly drown a half dozen young hounds in Hatchie River, when an old crippled hound, with not a tooth in his head, arrived on the scene, plunged into the river and brought Mr. 'Coon to the bank, where the young hounds soon killed him.</p> <p>Another of the tricks Mr. 'Coon uses to advantage when closely followed by the hounds, is to follow the meanderings of a stream until he comes to a log reaching across to the other bank; then he runs to the middle of the log and leaps as far as he can out into the water, usually swimming down stream, as if he is not making for a den or a tree in some other direction. This ruse invariably delays even the best of 'coon hounds, as, being at about full speed, they will run on across the log, and if the dogs know their job they will circle out until they again find the trail; but during this momentary bother, the 'coon is not waiting to see what they are going to do about it. He keeps moving and I want to say that a 'coon is a much swifter traveler than many persons suppose. He delays no time, but keeps everlastingly at it, and it takes a speedy hound to force him up a tree.</p> <p>The 'coon may be defined as being a dwarf bear. They have many points in common. The 'coon can lie up in his den for weeks at a time during severely cold weather, without food or water. The only difference between the foot prints of the 'coon and those of the bear is the size. In shape and appearance they are exactly alike. The flesh, when cooked, tastes similar, and not one in a thousand could tell any difference between cooked 'coon and cooked bear, if served in same size pieces.</p> <p>By nature the 'coon is a very selfish individual. He deserts Mrs. 'Coon when his children are a day old and lets her provide for them as best she can. The young 'coons grow rapidly, and at the tender age of from six to eight weeks old they begin to accompany their faithful mother in search of food. Fishes, birds, rabbits, nuts, acorns, berries and green corn are the principal dishes on the 'coon family's bill of fare.</p> <p>At first the little 'coons stay close to their mother's heels, but they grow more venturesome as they grow older, and soon begin to make little journeys on their own account. This often proves their undoing when dogs are about. Any sort of an old dog can tree or catch on the ground a baby 'coon, but this is an advantage no true sportsman will knowingly take.</p> <p>That a mother 'coon will even brave death herself to save her babies is evident to one who has studied the habits of the 'coon. When closely pursued by the hounds and she and her young are all compelled to go up the same tree, as soon as the hounds begin to bark fiercely and the hunters arrive and begin to chop on the tree or to try to shine their eyes, old mother 'coon picks an opening and jumps out of the tree and is usually caught, or run up another tree close by and then caught. But she has again saved her young, as in all likelihood the hunters will not go back to the tree where the little coons are serenely sitting on the leafy boughs, or never think of there being any more coons there.</p> <p>There are many reasons why the 'coon hunt is fast becoming one of the most popular of the manly sports. The 'coon is found in many sections of the United States. Other game is becoming very scarce. The wealthy business man, the man of affairs who is tied to his desk six days out of the week, can own a 'coon hound and in the stilly hours of the night, after the day's turmoil of business, can enjoy a few hours of the most strenuous sport now left to us and witness a battle royal between his faithful hound and the monarch of the forest, the wily 'coon. Nothing that I can contemplate is more exhilarating or more soothing to the nerves than the excitement of the 'coon hunt. From the first long drawn note when the trail is struck until the hound's victorious cry at the tree, it is one round of excitement and anticipation. What or whose hound is leading? What direction will Mr. Coon take? What dog will be first to tree? And then the fight! It is simply great! And then showing the hide to the boys who didn't go, and telling them about it for days to come.</p> <p>The 'coon hunt calls for manhood. Tender weaklings cannot endure the exertions necessary to enjoy this sport. It is too strenuous for the lazy man or the effeminate man to enjoy. They shudder at the thoughts of donning a pair of heavy hip boots and tramping thru swamps and slashes, crossing creeks and barbed wire fences, thru briars and thickets, maybe for several miles, and the probability of getting lost and having to stay all night. But to the man with nerve and backbone this is one of the enjoyable features. It affords great fun to get a tenderfoot to go out for the first time and initiate him into the "'coon hunters' club." The tenderfoot will use every cuss word ever invented and will coin new ones when the supply of old ones becomes worn out and ineffective. He will cuss the briars, cuss the ditches, cuss the creek, cuss the fences, cuss the swamps, cuss the slashes, cuss the man who persuaded him to go, and finally cuss himself for going. But when the excitement of the chase is on and when the fight commences he becomes reconciled; and if good luck is had he is very likely to be the next man to propose another "'coon hunt."</p> <p>A half dozen hunts will make an enthusiastic 'coon hunter of any able bodied man &mdash; and I might suggest that a half a thousand 'coon hunts will make an able bodied man out of any man. It will throw off the waste matter and dead tissues of the body, cause deep breathing, arouse torpid and sluggish livers, promote digestion, and is a general panacea for all human ailments of both mind and body.</p> <p>(The foregoing contains much of value but is overdrawn even tho from the pen of a "Southern Gentleman" who should be well versed in 'coon hunting. Now and then a 'coon will go up a tree and come down or even run out on a limb and jump off or may leap from a log across a stream into the water. Such instances, however, are rarely done to fool the dog. Generally when such happens, the 'coon has been feeding, going up and down trees, etc. When a 'coon does go up a tree, jump to another and similar tricks to fool a dog, that animal has been trailed before and is apt to be an "old timer.")</p> <SPAN name="pic028"></SPAN> <h5><ANTIMG src="images/028.jpg" alt="Veteran Coon Detectives."><br>Veteran Coon Detectives.</h5> <p>Added to this is the promise of other game, if the hunter is desirous of combining sport and profit. The skunk and opossum are common to many sections of this country. They are less resourceful and gritty than the 'coon, and their taking is simply a matter of choice and method, rather than concern for opportunities. A dog trained to hunt 'coon will have no trouble attending to opossum and skunk, if his owner desires it. Very frequently the trainer does not desire that his dog pay attention to anything save 'coon.</p> <p>Still another profitable animal taken by night hunters is the mink. There is not so much sport in this branch, however, as the dogs simply trail or locate them in their dens, and are captured by digging or frightening them out, when they are dispatched by the dogs.</p> <p>A good mink dog will often locate a mink in the den during the day. If the den has more than one entrance, is not very deep in the ground, the animal will often run out by stamping or striking a few licks with a mattock. The mink generally comes out at the entrance nearest the water (quite often under water) when it can be shot, if you are quick enough, or if the dog is an active one, caught.</p> <p>When hunting at night along streams, or places frequented by both mink and 'coon, it is sometimes difficult to tell, at first, which your dog is after. These two animals travel about the same along streams. Some dogs will not run mink unless especially trained while others take naturally to mink hunting. Unless a dog is not afraid of water, he will never make a good mink dog (or 'coon dog either for that matter), as mink go into a great many dens both on the bank and in the water.</p> <p>Where the hunting is done in woods, considerable distance from streams or ponds and mink seldom travel, your dog may "pass them by" but if you should catch one in a trap and let him kill it, the chances are that you will have a mink dog.</p> <p>Again by hunting certain stretches of creek where mink frequent, your dog will soon learn that you wish him to hunt these animals. A mink holed is far from caught, especially after night. If holed in the creek bank, the chances are that the animal will dart out into the water and escape to another den.</p> <p>The most successful mink hunting is done during the day by having your dog along and following the banks of creeks, lakes, ponds, etc. The dog locates the game and the animal is gotten out by methods already described.</p> <SPAN name="pic032"></SPAN> <h5><ANTIMG src="images/032.jpg" alt="Descendants From Jamestown Imported Hounds."><br>Descendants From Jamestown Imported Hounds.</h5> <hr>
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