Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Dog Days Of Summer

These three beagle puppies will join their mother in the woods in a few more months. They are being raised to live as she does, outside, no kennel, free as the deer and rabbits all around them.

Nothing makes a beagle happier than to follow the scent of a deer. The deer bound along ahead of the hounds, never to be caught by the short legged dogs and only hunted by the eyes of my riders who have ridden ahead of the hounds in hopes of catching a glimpse of the deer as they slip nearly silently though the woods.

Though I once lived to hunt, I have not hunted in about fifteen years. But I still love the sound of the chase. Even towards my final years of hunting I got much more pleasure out of listening to my hounds run a deer than I got from killing a deer.

Listening hard to the hounds, interpreting the meaning of the various barks, yips and howls, pinning their direction and speed, moving hard to get in front of the hounds close to the spot where the deer is most likely to cross a clearing and then...riding hard to get out in front of the deer again...not to get a shot, but merely to get in as close to the chase as possible---more fun than can be explained or understood.

The deer do not careen through the woods in blind terror. Since the dogs are not penned, they go into the woods at least once a day and follow the scent of the deer. The deer are as accustomed to the sound of the hounds as they are to the smell of the pines. They bounce along in front of the pack, anywhere from fifty yards to a mile ahead of the dogs.

The dogs being dogs and the deer being deer---each just simply doing the job that their genes program them to do. And sometimes you and your horse get to join in on the bloodless chase.

For many of us, the best way to enjoy the wild is to be part of it--even if only a few hours a week.


Karma Farms said...

Used to run cottontail with my greyhounds. With Eastvl Texas brambles and brush, those hounds never caught a single one but the horses and I had some fun sprints to watch those dogs. Pretty sure they knew they'd likely never get one as those sight hounds would NOT hit the brush, but we saw some blazing zig-zagging runs.

Dianne W said...

Some friends of mine used to 'hunt' the same fox just about every week-end when the weather was good. I think he got pretty obliging about not running too far ahead of them.