I have been around dogs for most of my life. My dad had beagle dogs when I was young, and I owned a few coon dogs. Hounds, as a breed of dogs, have been around since ancient times depending on what type of dog you are talking about, whether they are hunting or racing dogs, or flair dogs, also known as hunting dogs. sled. Hunting dogs like the Greyhound or the Saluki may have a longer history than scent dogs like the Bloodhound or Foxhound.

The ancestors of our modern hunting dogs were probably developed by the English and Scots several hundred years ago. These men developed the English, then American foxhound, which were later transformed into coonhound breeds. An exception was Plott’s dog which is derived from dogs brought to North Carolina in 1750 by a certain Johannes Plott. He took five dogs resembling German hunting dogs with him on the transatlantic journey with his brother Enoch. Enoch did not survive the trip, but Johannes (later changed to George) and the dogs did. These dogs became the basis of the modern Plott hunting dog and are widely used today by bear and wild boar hunters.

Hunting bears with hounds is a very traditional way of hunting in the Appalachians and has been for 100 years. In order for the uninitiated to begin to understand this type of hunting, you need to realize how much area it takes to chase bears. When bear dogs run into a bear trail, the chase can stretch for miles through some of the most rugged terrain imaginable. In addition to some very steep hills to negotiate, the bear hunter will usually come across very thick brush, rocks, downed logs, and other obstacles that seem to make your path impassable.

The first courageous hunters and settlers who came west from the Alleghenies found a wealth of game in the mountains, including bears. Black bears were abundant and were an important food source and trade item for early mountain settlers. Bear meat was in high demand and even more important was the use of melted bear fat, which could be used for cooking, protecting leather goods, burning in oil lamps and everything from skin care. lubrication of metal hinges. Bear skins were bought, sold and bartered for use for leather and other items.

These early hunters knew that one of the best ways to successfully capture bears in the mountains was to use dogs, usually hounds. The early bear hunters quickly began to develop a bear dog that not only had a good nose for hanging out, as most dogs do, but they also had to have great stamina to make long runs in the mountains. , and they must have something else, courage. Bear hunters will often use the term “gritty” for the trait in dogs that gives them the courage to stick with a bear when dogs get close to a bruin. Without a dog’s desire to fight a bear, dogs could never make the bear climb a tree until the hunters arrived, or “bark” the animal if it refused to climb a tree. . The bear that stays on the ground and refuses to climb a tree (often a large bear) can be a problem and will often injure some of the dogs, sometimes killing them.

For most dedicated bear hunters, it’s all about the dog and the hunt. Many people are surprised to learn that hardened bear hunters, those who own the dogs, can rarely kill a bear during the season. It is common for a young hunter or an adult to accompany you and be available to shoot if the hunting dogs form a bear. For the novice bear hunter and especially for a young one, it will be a hunter’s memory that they will keep forever. Often times a group of dog hunters are more than happy to welcome someone who wants to take a bear, they love to hunt it.

This type of hunting, running bears with hounds, is not so much a style of hunting as it is a way of life. Keeping a pack of bear dogs, feeding, training, conditioning, and caring for multiple dogs is almost a full-time job. These hunters lead their dogs most of the year, any dog ​​kept in the pen most of the time and only released during the season will be severely limited in capacity.

In truth, there are sometimes problems with hunting bears with dogs in the modern world. A hunt with hounds is easier and better served when it takes place on large areas of the National Forest and large hunting leases reserved for this purpose. No one really knows where a bear hunt will end when it begins, as they sometimes go for miles. Dogs don’t know when they are entering private property, and that can sometimes be a problem. It will be up to our hunting dogs today to diplomatically resolve the issues with landowners and hope they will.

I hope I never see a time when devoted dog-lovers are absent from these awful and beautiful Appalachian Mountains.

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