Updated: Mar 22
A form of hunting I never thought I would be a fan of is hound hunting.
Growing up watching poor little Tod stop playing with his best friend Copper because he is expected to hunt by his lunatic handler was mean. Then old Chief gets mauled by an over-dramatized black bear..it was just enough to warp my way of thinking hound hunting was done. To me, it was unethical and I felt sorry for the dogs and the game they were chasing.
I married into the wrong family to have this outlook on hound hunting/handling.
Like anything in life I try to keep an open mind, so I started to observe some of the practices and listen to their argument as to why this way of hunting was so important. I started to come around to the idea that my opinions of hound hunting may have been a bit preconceived. It is hard for me to admit that I am wrong, but I can assure you eating crow is a lot easier when you have a kennel full of puppies to be cuddled, loved, and trained.
In the winter of 2017, I was introduced to a newly born litter of hound puppies! These were the first hound puppies I had ever been around. I quickly became attached to every single one of those energetic, lovable little creatures. Watching their plump bodies clumsily run around with their noses to the ground, their big paws tripping over their long ears, letting out those rusty howls, I realized that at 6 weeks old these puppies already knew they were born to do a job, and that job is all they want to do!
I have now had 4 years to observe hounds from the time they are puppies to fully trained adults. The sight of a hunting rig, the beep of a Garmin collar, even the jingle of their lead straps will send each and every hound into a frenzy of excitement and celebration knowing they will soon be leading (or following) on a chase they are destined to be a part of.
Being married to a hound handler made me understand that hounds-men are not forcing their dogs to hunt. They do not throw them into dangerous situations, coincidentally it is quite the opposite. I have heard more stories, and have also witnessed handlers (my husband) selflessly risking their own lives to make sure they have a truck full of unharmed hounds at the end of the day. It becomes second nature to throw themselves into life threatening situations to save their dogs because they know that their hounds would do the same in return. The trust and the respect from both handler and hound is an incredible bond to witness.
As the hounds run through the mountains or wooded areas with a sense of freedom, the handler is simply trying to keep up. He watches and listens to his team, deciphering the course they choose. Both hound and handler trusting each other to carry out and complete the task at hand. This form of hunting is nothing short of a team sport. As the entire team meets at the tree, it is a celebration of a perfectly executed chase.
I ask everyone to show their support for HB468 to bring hound hunting for bears to Montana.
If you do not support this bill I ask that you, at the very least, educate yourself on the benefits using hounds statistically brings to the conservation of bears.
As always we are open to conversation with anyone that has questions, concerns, or would like insight into our love for hunting. Whether you agree or disagree your opinions are always welcome to discuss.
If you have never experienced Hound Hunting before we will do everything we can to introduce you to this eye-opening experience.
Whether HB468 passes or not I will be writing a couple more blogs on this subject from Josh's (my husband) point of view as a third generation hound hunter. Hunting bears with hounds in Maine and West Virginia, hunting Mountain Lions in Montana, training puppies, deciding on a rig, and what it takes to plan a hound hunting experience.
If you have a specific topic you would like to see addressed send us an email.