Date: 14 July 2019. Running the Hounds.
Guest author Captain Sid Tracy.
This walk down Memory Lane is for
The Writer's Block.
It is response to request I made. In the vignette
I told how hunting is no longer stalking through the
woods ala Daniel Boone. I asked for remembrances from my readers.
Today Captain Sid tells about the world of dogs "back in the day"
and currently as well. I was fascinated and hope you enjoy his
Hi Janice, Here are a few thoughts
about a man and a woman’s best friend in response to your query:
I read your entry
about hunting dogs some time ago and thought maybe I could respond
with some bits and pieces that I have read and experienced over my
81 years. Since it is a rainy day here in the Northwest, it is a
good day to get this out of my system. These are not all my original
thoughts but gleaned from other folk’s writings and some from my
First, I have read many times that
all dogs, from the small, like yours, to the large are still 98%
wolf. In the remaining 2% of their genes men and women have
experimented, bred, developed and tweaked the characteristics to
develop animals that suit our selfish purposes. In spite of what
some preach, we have developed special breeds for herding, pulling
sleds and pursuing wild game. Some learn to guard, to rescue, or to
assist those in physical need, while others just provide us with
loving comfort. Still, all dogs are 98% wolf.
There seems to be some confusion on whether the wolf came to man
first or if man went to the wolves first for hunting assistance.
Whatever, whoever, made the first advance into our unique
partnership is moot. Wolves/dogs are our oldest domesticated
friends. They are older friends than the bovine, the horse, the
turkey and especially the cat. The cat has not given up many of its
European grey wolf ↑ at the
The hunting breeds are often
referred to as hounds, except for bird dogs. Trailing hounds pursue
other animals by their scent and are used for everything from
squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, fox, even boar and lions. Sight hounds
pursue the animals by sight such as cats, stag, running birds and
sadly sometimes their own ancestor the wolf. Hounds do not bark.
The Best of James Herriot:
A Labrador Retriever
is a trailing hound.
Greyhound ↓ hunts via sight.
Compiled by Reader's Digest,
The Best of James Herriot is a
selection of the very best vignettes that Dr. Herriot published
in his many books over the years. It provides a wonderful
overview of the country veterinarian's life.
This is one of my
favorite books. My duo gifted it to me one Christmas decades
ago. Quite frankly, I prefer this gem to the "real" books.
That is because of the additional information provided in the
The Best of James Herriot.
photographs and even a few recipes add to my enjoyment of the
stories contained within the nearly 500 pages of this gem. It
explained the characteristics of various animals, and provided
line drawings. Blips about plants, flowers and more made this
particular book a Keeper. J.
There are many “voices,” of
different hounds. There may be a rapid chop, a bawl mouth--long
and mournful, or a high squall. Sometimes hounds will even run
silently. Their human partners have learned and can identify the
difference between their hound’s voices/tongues. If the hound is
on a cold scent, a running hot scent or when the quarry has
climbed a tree or gone to earth they will act and bay accordingly.
Heather's dog Shelly enjoys water. She'll be a great
boat dog one day.
Bird dogs may trail and flush or
be used only to retrieve. My favorites are those who trail and then
point. The point is a method of stalking and the dogs are trained to
find, go on point and by intimidation hold the bird in one place
until I can catch up. I then flush and hopefully shoot the bird. My
partner then retrieves, hands me the bird and we both rejoice.
Pheasant under glass and a fine glass of wine will follow for me. Of
course my partner gets a reward also.
Those men and boys of whom you
speak in your article
have probably joined together just to listen to the hounds with
their boisterous and raucous voices, and to experience the thrill of the chase.
They love to listen to the
voices of “Ol’ Blue, or maybe Sounder, Beck, Bell, Guy Crow, maybe
even Blizzard.” These were some of the names of my father’s hounds.
The cry of the pack will raise the hair on the back of your neck and
takes us back to our earliest roots and the pursuit of wild game. It
is known as a blood sport.
Hobo and Dog ↑ painting by Norman
Rockwell, circa 1924.
I was raised in Iowa. My father
raised, hunted and competed in field trials with his Walker Fox
Hounds. There is nothing like hearing a pack of hounds with their
variety of voices on a cold snowy winter morning to put a rush in
your heart. A time or two his or a neighbor’s hound would start
For what reason
we would never know. But Yankee ingenuity led to putting a bell on
those particular hounds. From then on deep ringing tones added to
In my 40’s I was living in
Colorado and started “riding to hounds,” with the Arapahoe hunt. On
fleet horses we went out on the Phipps Ranch (now known as “the
Highlands,” a housing development) with a pack of English Fox
Hounds. There were two packs of hounds, a female, “bitch” pack and a
male “dog” pack. Each comprised of 20-30 hounds. We did not hunt the
two together. We did the “Tally Ho” bit and chased coyotes.
We had many a good rousing race
around the ranch. There in the high desert the undesirables
pursued the inedibles.
From the Reader's Digest book
Nature, a pair of coyotes:
In the wintertime, some friends
and I would go to Ireland and England where we hunted fox and
stag. Riding hired horses, wearing top hats, red coats, and with
the mandatory morning stirrup cup of brandy, we were off and well
over the stone fences and hedges that still cover and separate the
fields of Ireland and England. It was the whole nine yards of
From the Reader's Digest book
Nature, a picture of a fox kit:
Ah, what I would
give to be young again and to ride with the hounds once more, to
hear and see 30-50 well-bred hounds doing what they did so well and
to hear the sound of the huntsman’s horn. We rarely caught a fox or
stag but the fun was in the chase and listening to those hounds!
Best of James Herriot chapter Dales and Moors.
What began as a hunt for wild
game, a natural food source, has changed drastically over time. But
the bonds between us and our dogs have grown stronger. Due to
private lands and barbed wire fences in the South, most hunting
there is now done with short wave radios and pickup trucks.
Of course the
hounds are there too and the fun is still in the chase. For most,
it is far more profitable to hunt in the halls of Safeway. But in
some the instinct to hunt burns as strong as ever, for both man
I hope this is as entertaining and
enlightening for you to read as it was for me to remember and write.
I hope I have introduced some new thoughts and helped in you to
understand hound lore. Due to my poor health I am now limited to
some fall bird hunting. My hunting companion is a Wire Haired
Pointer. He is a rescue dog, probably the most intelligent dog I
have ever known. He is totally tuned to my every thought and wish.
My memories help me get through the days and nights. And of course
my best friend is always by my side.
Tracy aka as
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