Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hunting Airedales In Action 2

 A few more additional photos of "VERSATILE" hunting Airedales from the Traditional Working Airedale message board. Being successfully used for hunting pretty much all of North American game.


Bobby Harper's Hog hunting pack W/young Airedale "Donnie" with a boar in a water hole.

Tigger retrieving a Pheasant

Audwin MagGee's Scout Hogging

Ruby recovers a nice Buck

Rock Creek Pack with Hog

Scott Cain & Airedale = Successful Hog Hunt

Wayne Hill's Katie with treed Bear

Richard McCorkle & Grizz with nice Hog

Rick Underwood's Max with a nice water retrieve

Rock Creek Airedales with nice Hog

Todd Kennedy's Cur & Airedale "Scout"

Kent Cowell's lion pack With Airedale "Hammer"

Another Deer recovery by Richard McCorkle's "Grizz"

Jack Harris's MaGee & Pearl

Rick Underwood's "Max" W/Coon he tracked and Treed on his own.

A Nice Mixed Bag

Bobby Harper and his Airedale "Donnie" High On The Hogs

Lion Hunt Short Video Clip, click on box below, the video is still there.

Post by Airedale From NY on 23 hours ago

Post by Airedale From NY on 9 hours ago

Sports Afield

Post by Airedale From NY on 6 minutes ago

Al Kranbuhl's young female Harleigh

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reflections On A Rainy Day

Below is another little piece from the Traditional Working Airedale forum written by Pete Bassani about his Redline Airedale "Joe Boy". Pete is the writer of the Traditional Working Airedale "Full Cry" magazine column and a dyed in the wool hunting dog man having a lifetime of experience with Coonhounds, Curs, little Terriers and in recent years with Airedales. This is a good write up because it is a representation that explains and shows a bit of insight on how a hunting Airedale for the most part operates in the field on various game animals.


Raining here this morning ...supposed to rain all day, so my hunting buddy Gordy Eastwood and I cancelled our groundhog hunt. Ol' Joe Boy would have been along as  a draw dog today.I was out back talking to and petting Joe Boy yesterday afternoon and couldn't believe how much white is mixed with the red in his muzzle now. Makes one realize he is getting older even though I consider the white in his muzzle a little premature as he is just 7 years old. That said...in genuine Airedale fashion, he still loves to play like a pup whenever the opportunity is there. I got Joe Boy almost as a throw in deal while at Al Kranbuhl's buying a pup. I must admit I pestered Al to let me get Joe Boy too who was a little over a year old at the time....and he gave in....something I owe him for bigtime.

Getting older myself...he probably hasn't been hunted as hard as many of the dogs in my past. Still....he has been a good one, and has done some things, the memories of which will never be forgotten. He has been on two fox over the years. One I released and gave a good head start, the second one was bolted by my JRTs. Exactly how he did it I don't know....but he managed to track (by air scent with head up), eventually catching up to and catching the fox in both cases. The story of the fox we bolted and he ran down is on the board somewhere. Then there was the day we had him out with the little terriers and they had a coon cornered in a huge debris pile. While they were baying the coon Joe Boy was baying into the pile 20 to 25 feet away. I remember saying I wished he would shut up. We were working our way with a bar and shovel down to the terriers when all of a sudden I heard that Airedale roar right under my feet and a coon squalling bloody murder as Joe Boy was squeezing the life out of him. He traveled in the vicinity of 25 feet thru that pile, just like the den terriers do to get to that coon. We dug down and broke through to Joe Boy with his jaws around the neck of a very dead approx. 20 lb. boar coon. I couldn't have been more proud of him.

He has been on many coon hunts, and although he isn't a real tree dog, he goes along on every chase and is always at the tree. Of course, he loves to kill coons and specializes in it. In fact, every time I shoot a coon out of a tree it always lands a foot or two in front of Joe Boy and he is immediately on it. Can't say as I know how he always manages to be where the coon is going to hit the ground...just know that is the way is happens every time.

Although not a real tree dog I also always figured it was good to have him along at night for coyote protection for my cur dog Frostie. It was just something I said....but then one night we did have coyotes come in on Frostie who was tonguing on a coon track....Those SOBs got the surprise of their lives when the silent Joe Boy cut loose with his roar in amongst them and ended up chasing them over the hill...before hightailing it back to get in on the kill at the tree where Frostie has since treed the coon. I am sure it would not have been a pleasant experience for the 30 lb. Frostie, if Joe Boy had not been there when those coyotes arrived on the scene. 

He has flushed Turkeys, pheasants, and woodcock, and jumped rabbits as well. He has spent many a night in the woods on coon hunts and there was only one time that he wasn't at the tree when we got there. It was so out of character for Frostie to be treed and him not be with her, that I was really worried that something may have happened to him. While standing near the tree wee heard a muffled whining about ten feet away in some briars. Went over there to see Joe Boy backing out of a groundhog hole he had enlarged with a big old buck Possum in his teeth. LOL. I guess he was at the tree then got a whiff of possum scent coming out of the nearby hole.

When used as a drawdog he has always excelled. He has pulled and killed countless goundhogs...ans plenty of possums, and some coons too. He can dig with the best of them and more than a few times has dug and worked his own way in to the groundhogs...where he immediately eliminated them. Those groundhogs that chose to bolt always found out in short order what a big mistake they had made....because Joe Boy would catch them quick....and that would be that!!

I have many, many more good memories of Joe Boy hunts. I will never forget the night I saw something super bright white coming running straight toward me along the edge of a cornfield. Needless to say I was saying what the heck is this? As it got closer it turned out to be Joe Boy with one of those white plastic hanging plant baskets around his neck with the pot part "almost" in perfect position to look like he was wearing a helmet. Got many a laugh over that scene.

I was happy just to have a good, loyal, hunting dog and companion. Then it turned out that he was a good producer as well...and has many pups out there that are doing the job from small fry, right on up to treeing lion and bear. Yes...he has been a good one.

 He worships the ground I walk on, as I'm sure you all have experienced with your own Airedales. How can you not love a dog that so obviously loves you? The white in his muzzle reminds me that he is getting older. Hate to see them start getting old. Old Joe Boy will have a home here until the day he dies....he has certainly earned that. I can only hope that he takes after his daddy, Al's Texas Sandhill Pete, who lived to the ripe old age of 16. If I sounded like I was bragging on him....I didn't mean to....as I said at the beginning....just reflecting on a good dog on a lousy rainy day.


Joe Boy

Friday, April 12, 2013

Airedale Hunting Style

This is from the Traditional Working Airedale board recently authored By Henry Johnson, a good article to put up here on the blog and share.

Al Kranbuhl

In my experience the Airedale hunts like a combination sighthound/bird dog/terrier/catch dog.  Their first love is a sight chase.  They will occasionally yip a time or two during the chase.  They run to catch and catch to kill.  If you are around sighthound people doing lure chasing, see if they will let your Airedale run.  If they do, he will likely be a strong competitor and put on a show.  Better hope the lure keeps moving.  If the Airedale catches up with it he's likely to rip it up pretty bad.

Second best way an Airedale likes to hunt is on airborne scent.  Like a wide-ranging bird dog.  Big circles out to a quarter mile or more on wild hogs, coon, bear, lion, looking for hot airborne scent he can follow to the source.  Will normally come back in to check on you every 15 or 20 minutes if he doesn't strike something.  "If they're not back in 20 minutes, best tighten up your boots and go looking for them because they'll be treed" said Max Searls, a British Columbia bear/lion hunting guide.  If they catch quarry on the ground you are likely to hear a roar from them.  "What was that?  Do we have any lions around here?" a new-to-Airedales Texas hunter said upon hearing an Airedale strike on wild hogs for the first time.

Because of his love of airborne scent the Airedale makes a good shooting dog on Upland Game.  Hunted as a flushing dog, the biggest problem I had with them was keeping them working within gun range.  They think if you can see the bird you ought to be able to hit it.  But by whoaing them down and growling at them you can eventually get them to hunt to the gun and stay within range.  I never tried to get them to point but about one in twenty will point naturally and you can get them to do it if you keep whoaing them down when you see them start to make game.

Can the Airedale follow a track on the ground, does he have enough nose?  Yes, he can follow a track on the ground, if he wants to.  If it's hot enough to interest him.  Coming down from the Otterhound, who was down from the Bloodhound, the Airedale has plenty of nose.  But the terrier blood in him wants action.  He can likely smell a cold trail but is not interested in it.  He thinks, "Ok, I know that critter has been here but that trail is old and cold and he may be in the next county by now.  Let's swing out wide and circle for hot airborne scent."

When hunted with hounds the Airedale may pay little attention to them if they are cold trailing.  But he will go to them if they pick up the tempo and he knows they are on hot scent.  He is likely to run the track faster than the hounds when he does get in the race and he will run silently and hope to catch the quarry on the ground while it still thinks the hounds are far away.

An example of the Airedale's scenting ability.  David Short and I were working terriers in a rugged region of Middle Tennessee.  Limestone country.  Karst topography with many small sinkholes and occasional bigger ones up to 30 feet across.  A region that had been devastated by an ice storm a year or two earlier.  No agriculture there, just a tangled mess of down timber and rock ledges and a few tall trees still standing.  Very  hot and dry that day.  Poor scenting conditions for the dogs.  Four or five small terriers scrambling through the down timber and going into the sinkholes and finding nothing.  My Airedale following along with the terriers, ready to take part if they found something.  Then I noticed the Airedale leave the terriers and walk slowly away for two hundred feet or so and stop at the base of a single standing tree and look up.  No indication of following any track on the ground and no indication of any such track by the terriers, who also have good noses but are strongly ground oriented.  I moved slowly to follow the Airedale and began searching the tree from the base toward the top.  Looked to be a dead tree.  No vegetation.  Maybe 75 or 80 feet tall. Just bare trunk and bare limbs.  Saw nothing at first but the dog would not leave the tree.  Kept looking and finally saw a coon on a limb a few feet from the top of the tree and right against the trunk.  Still as a lump, no movement, no eyes showing.  Left that coon up that tree and leashed up my Airedale and took him back to follow the terriers, who never knew anything about the coon.  Am sure there was no track on the ground that brought the Airedale to the tree.  Just airborne scent I am sure.

As draw and catch dogs with the terriers the Airedales quickly learned their part in the "terrier task force."  We never allowed more than one terrier working to ground at a time.  The Airedale would look for bolts and frequently run down and catch a groundhog who was trying to get out the back door.  And they saved a lot of wear and tear on terriers when sent in to draw the quarry at the end of a dig.  And sometimes when we were talking instead of watching the terriers we would lose track of one and not know if it had gone to ground somewhere.  But the Airedale would always know where the terriers were and would lead us to the site if one had gone to ground.  A very versatile and useful dog, the Airedale, in my experience.  And always a great companion in field, forest, or at home.  /hsj, fults cove, tennessee.

Henry and one of his favorite Airedales "Rowdy"


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Duke

Actor John Wayne as a youngster had a big Airedale dog and they were inseparable. They wandered the streets of Glendale California together so much that the firemen gave them a nickname. Wayne was called "Big Duke," and the Airedale was called "Little Duke." That was how he got the name. Years later, after becoming an accomplished actor, John Wayne related the story.

"There's been a lot of stories about how I got to be called 'Duke.' One was that I played the part of a duke in a school play, which I never did. Sometimes they even said I was descended from royalty! It was all a lot of rubbish. Hell, the truth is that I was named after an Airedale dog!"



Thursday, March 28, 2013

TJ's Big Adventure

 This is a piece I did a few years ago for "Terrier Man" Pete Bassani to help him kick off his own new "Big Adventure" of taking on the writing of his Traditional Working Airedale column in "Full Cry Magazine"

A hunt some years ago with my young at the time male Airedale
"California Tee Jay Mack"

Al Kranbuhl

                         TJ's Big Adventure

     I have been pretty busy the past few months and have not had a lot of time for writing. Most of my older dogs have passed on and I am left with a bunch of half trained youngsters. So this past fall has been one of the busiest years ever, too many dogs and not enough time. I've been working the dogs mostly on squirrels, coon, and some grouse and there comes a time when you have to put some game in their mouths. I started looking at some new areas as close to home as possible where I could do some hunting and put something down for the dogs. I decided to check out a state co-op that can only be hunted by permit. I usually stay away from such places to avoid crowds, but I wanted to at least check it out as I knew there were pheasants there. So I signed up and got my permit and maps and took my young male Airedale, TJ with me  to scout this area and see if it was worth messing with.

     TJ is a 70 pound male that is one of my yard dogs, and far from any kind of finished dog, I have messed with him some on squirrels, coon, and some retrieving work. I would say TJ's biggest turn on is birds. He is crazy about them. This turned out to be one of my best days hunting with a dog ever and I call it
"TJ's Big Adventure".

     I opened the gate to this area and pulled down the dirt road and went about half a mile. We came to a parking area and mine was the only vehicle there. I let T J out to stretch while I signed the 'sign in' board. I got my gear out of the truck and my .20 gauge double along with the maps and sat down at a picnic table to plot some strategy.

     I was not sitting there but for a couple of minutes when I heard TJ bark once and I saw him tearing through the woods. I grabbed my gun and went over to see him run a gray squirrel up an oak. As I approached the tree I saw the squirrel timber over to a big evergreen and disappear into the top. I wanted to put the squirrel down to reward TJ and bring home, as he was treeing pretty good, but I could not find the squirrel to get a shot. I was not too happy about missing an opportunity right off the bat, but I petted TJ up well and decided to move out on a trail that cut through a huge swamp and see what we could find.

     I had not walked too far when I could see TJ was again working scent. I got up close to him and all of a sudden two woodcock flushed. I shot twice and never touched a feather. I reloaded quickly and walked into T J and he flushed another woodcock and I shot and missed again. To say I was not happy was an understatement. I do not claim to be an expert shot, but I was not this pathetic either. TJ was doing his part but I am zero for four on game in the first half hour of hunting.

     So on we go. I was in an area of old growth trees that one doesn't see much around here as we come up to a ridge. I saw TJ getting gamey and as I got close up to him I heard a grouse flush but I had no shot. About the time I am thinking what else could go wrong, another  grouse flushed straight up and landed on a branch looking down on TJ. Not being proud, I immediately dumped him, as they say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and we were finally on the scorecard.

     About a mile up the trail I heard TJ bark and I could see that he was working around a big pile of brush, looking to get in it. I got over there  and looked around and saw nothing, so I climbed up on the pile and jumped up and down a couple of times and out shoots a cottontail rabbit which I bagged. Now I am feeling a little better, as things are now starting to go our way.

     On we go heading for an old railroad bed that cuts through a huge swamp. I hear TJ bark and whine a couple of times working scent along the edge of the swamp. He was having a hard time moving it out so I figured it must be some kind of feed track. I just followed behind him and let him work and after a bit I moved out some. I had no clue what he was doing but I was ready. He started checking trees for scent and I started looking around myself. The one big oak that he was especially interested in I looked over well and there sat a good sized layup coon. He kept getting up on the tree and whining so he knew the coon was there but lacked the confidence to tree hard. I encouraged him and he started to bark treed well. Now this was the situation I wanted for TJ. My problem was I had the shotgun and didn't want to ruin the hide so I took careful aim at the head and touched one off. It looked like I shot low and just splattered the coon with bark, but out he came. He was full of fight but was no match for TJ as things were settled in short order. I was real happy with his job on this coon and it looked like we were now on a roll.

     We found this railroad bed and started through the swamp to an open area where the pheasants were supposed to be. I got my map out and took a trail towards some open fields. We then went about a half a mile and came up over a small knoll and there stood two cock pheasants on the trail about 30 yards away. I could have probably gotten both with one shot, but I put TJ on them. One flushed and went to my left and I shot. I could see him go into the woods with T J in hot pursuit a long way and I assumed I missed clean. The other bird ducked into a field of goldenrod to the right. I called TJ back to me and was just about to see if we could flush the other bird when a couple of other hunters appeared and said they saw the whole thing and were positive I had hit the other bird good and said they saw it go down I should be able to find it. So I took a good look at my map and saw that where the pheasant had gone was a several hundred acre patch of woods, and was surrounded by a trail, oval in nature and kind of looked on the map like a giant NASCAR race track. I got TJ in there where I thought the pheasant  flew and he started quartering back and forth. I could see that TJ had scent and was working it so I started following him, staying as close to him as possible. After several hundred yards, I started to think we were not on a pheasant, but definitely on something.

     Finally, we came out on the other side of the woods to the trail surrounding these woods and there was that huge swamp full of water facing us, I began mumbling about those two guys being full of it about me dinging that pheasant. I was just about to call TJ in as he was heading towards the swamp when up flushes the pheasant and he lands in a tree looking down at TJ  just like the grouse had done earlier. Needless to say the way I had been shooting, I flattened him right where he sat. I must say that TJ put on quite an exhibition of tracking on this pheasant.

     I forgot to say this was getting to be a fairly hot day. It was now 3 PM and we had been going since 8AM and I was beat. I found a resting place and sat down to eat one of those power bars. While sitting there I got out my new varmint call. It is produced by a local outfit called a Black Creek and it is a three in one call: squirrel, rabbit squeal, and coyote howler.

I tooted on the squealer a few times and was just sitting there when I saw TJ coming to attention. Looking in the direction he was staring I see a red fox coming in on the run. We were busted immediately but I got off two quick shots with three inch number fours. TJ got on the trail and went only about 50 or 60 yards and he found the fox.

   Well by this time my old bones had enough for the day and it was a long way back to the truck so we started out. I can't remember when my feet hurt more but I also can't remember  having a better day afield. A pleasant Fall day with your Airedale, in the woods that contains a good population of game animals, man life don't get much better than that.

 I'm not trying to kid anyone, TJ was still pretty green and could stand a lot of improvement in order to be a number one hunting dog, more experience and some polish. That being said for the actual amount of hunting he has had, he sure made me proud. The thing I was most interested in seeing was that real natural ability and drive geared toward hunting multiple types of game animals. If I would have done my part, we would have bagged seven different species of game this day which in my opinion is a pretty good feat in any hunter's book! In traditional Airedale fashion, he showed he is a versatile meat dog and game for anything that walks, crawls or flies, I am sure the breed founders would have been happy with him.....a pretty good hunting Airedale.

TJ and our catch


Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Dogs Had What It Takes.

Well known outdoor writer, author and hunter Elliot Barker describes his hunting dogs. Barker's dogs of choice happened to be Airedales. This article gives an idea of what kind of hunting dogs Airedales once were and how they gained their well deserved reputation.

I would like to add that the kind of hunting that Mr Barker put his dogs through and the kind of hunting on various game animals found on this blog done by other hunters is what needs to be done to evaluate hunting Airedales to find out if they have what it takes.

In my opinion it is the very best way to judge breeding stock, only when they can show that they do have what it takes on game are they then are allowed to reproduce! Speculating that they have what it takes does not cut it with me!

One more thing, Barker's Airedales were far from being pretty looking but as game producers they were outstanding and while I appreciate beauty as much as anyone, from my hunter's perspective being an accomplished game producing hunting dog is what counts to me as it should be to any other serious hunting dog breeder. When breeding for performance don't be worrying too much about what your dogs look like, concentrate on how they perform in the field.

Al Kranbuhl

Pup, Puse, and Queenie were the best trained dogs I ever had. They were trained to hunt, to work and fight, and they loved to do just that. I had taught them absolute obedience in essential matters. They were entirely loyal to me and tried at all times to accomplish what I indicated I wanted them to do. They worked together admirably, yet they differed greatly. Each had their own personality and own way of doing things.

Queenie was a little perfectly marked, straight haired Airedale. She has a stubborn streak in her, but was very smart and calculating to an extant that her actions were indicative of advanced planning. For instance a neighbor's hogs got into my field a quarter of a mile from the house. Pup and Puse went after them at top speed, but Queenie would not go. Instead she leisurely trotted down to the side of the road where the  hogs had come in, and then lay down in the grass and waited. In a few minutes the hogs came by on the run, with Pup and Puse right after them. Timing her actions perfectly Queenie caught a sow by the ear, and held her right there until I went down and made her turn loose. She thought I wanted a hog and planned it so she could catch me one with the least effort.

Queenie would not follow me when I rode away from the house unless I had a gun. Show her the six shooter or rifle and you could not make her stay back. She liked to hunt and she knew perfectly well I wasn't going hunting unless I had a gun. She was an excellent trap dog and would work persistently for a Coyote when he got away with a trap.

Queenie was thirteen years old when I was at Vermejo Park, and slowed down so much by age and the bearing of pups that she was of little use except to help me follow the other dogs, for she barked on a trail some while the others ran silently until the track became quite fresh.

She was a prolific breeder, a large litter of pups twice a year if permitted. Once she gave birth to an even dozen. In almost every litter  sired by an Airedale, there would be one natural bobtailed pup. Students of genetics are agreed that acquired characteristics can not be transmitted to the offspring. Yet Queenie did it many times, although perhaps she did not mean to.

Pup was a fairly large, huskily built Airedale, with light brown back and sides and nearly white below. He had medium short hair and and a very short bobbed tail. His eyes were inquisitive and intelligent, his ears alert. He was two and a half years old when I picked him up as a stray, and in gratitude for the home I gave him he became the most devoted dog I have ever owned. Through all the years I had him he would follow me everywhere I went if permitted to do so.

He was loyal to me and my family and would fight for any of us if he thought we were in trouble. He was deliberate in his actions and sure in his decisions. He was afraid of nothing, accepted any challenge, and welcomed a fight with dog or wild animal no matter what the odds were against him. I never saw him fail to acquit himself with credit in a fight, although the odds were to great to overcome and sometimes he had to be carried off the battlefield. He was just a little too determined and self confident for his own good.

When I was at Vermejo Park he was thirteen years old, but though battle scarred, he was as active as a dog half that age. At eighteen, he was still able to tree a Lion. When he died at the advanced canine age of twenty one his hair had turned perfectly white. He was a great dog.

Puse was Queenie's son, but Pup was not his sire. Instead his sire was a highly bred Airedale with a pedigree as long as your arm. Puse was a medium sized and a typical Airedale in shape and color but excelled the average in intelligence, speed and endurance. He was very smart, quick and impulsive. Never did a man and a dog get along better than he and I, but he did not show the wonderful devotion that Pup did. Puse took the attitude that we were partners, Pup that I was his master.

Always alert, Puse had great initiative, was sure of himself but acted on impulse rather than deliberation. He specialized in taking shortcuts to unravel a trail, and was so fast that he would get up on a cat or Lion before they knew they were being chased. He was fearless, and the going never got too bad for him to follow his quarry.

He could come nearer telling me by his actions just what he wanted to than any dog I ever worked with. The different ways he would cock his head, first on one side then the other, prick up or lower his ears, wriggle his stubby tail, bark, whine and jump around, all had their meaning which I learned to know as well as he learned to understand what I said to him.

There were mighty few chases he was ever on, no matter whose dogs he was with or what the competition, that he was not the first one to the tree. I fear there will never be another Puse.

I found that in training a hunting dog, it is essential above all else to teach him his name. Teach it to him so that he recognizes it when spoken under any circumstances. It is therefore important to give him a short name easily understood and susceptible of great emphasis. No two dogs in the same pack should have names that sound alike.

Puse was originally named Pusillanimous by my then young son but it was soon shortened to Puse. Pusillanimous may have fit him as a small pup but it surely did not fit him at all when he grew up.

Often when riding through game county, I found it desirable to have the dogs stay behind. I could accomplish that  merely by speaking the name of each dog and then saying get back or get behind. The three would then follow back close at the horse's heels. Then if I saw predator sign that I wanted to know more about, I would stop and look back at the dogs, say Puse!, here, see what it is, and Puse would come around in front and test the sign, telling me by his actions, not only what had been there, but about how fresh it was. Or if it was Pup or Queenie that I wanted, they would come while the other two stayed back until I would tell them to go on or go get him.

They loved a Lion trail, and if it turned out to be a fresh Lion track that one dog was testing, the other would quickly recognize that fact by his intense interest and tense actions, and would sometimes have to be told again to stay back. There was an entirely different reaction to a coyote track than to a Bobcat or Lion. It would always cause the hair to raise on the back of their necks, and sometimes they would act resentful that a Coyote had been there, and sometimes half growl or snort as they tested the track. It was plain that they did not like it. But when they could catch a Coyote they loved to fight him and kill him.

They were pleased when they found either a Lion or a Bobcat track. They show that they wanted to go and showed no ill temper at all, but all interest and anxiety to find him. The difference between a Lion and a Bobcat was in the degree of the same reaction rather than a different reaction. Intensity of interest, eagerness and an all absorbing anxiety, born of anticipation for what they knew they would find at the end of the trail, were characteristic of their actions upon finding fresh Lion sign. As they were silent trailers except when the track was very hot, one had to watch their actions rather than listen to their tone of voice, as one does with a hound.

But they were as good Bobcat dogs as you would find anywhere. I recall one day in late November at the Park soon after a 16 inch snowfall, we went out in the turkey winter range country to try and cut down the Bobcat population. Ordinarily I have found Bobcat harder to tree than a Mountain Lion. Of course they don't travel as far as a Lion and many more of them are caught each year, because there are so many more of them. But the individual cat can pull more tricks and get away from the dogs after being jumped oftener by far than a Lion.

But when there is a fresh deep snow on the ground, they are greatly handicapped, and the finding of a fresh track usually results in a quick catch. So it was that I wished to take advantage of this snow and pick up a few Bobcats. The snow was soft and had blown off the trees pretty much and had melted down to six or eight inches on the steep south slopes.

Old Kate was not in condition to hunt and Queenie was slowing up so much with age that I left them both at home. I knew that Pup and Puse would get the job done anyway, and with snow on I could always be sure of following them up if they did make a long fast run.

After riding three miles or so over into Gachupin Canyon, we struck a track of a very large Bobcat and followed on the trail for a couple of miles before we jumped him. He had been hunting and had killed one rabbit and a Tasseled eared squirrel, and then with a full belly had taken to some sunny cliffs to lay up for the day.

The dogs were trailing silently and were right close on to him before he knew it, and they saw him as he left his bed in the rocks and bounded off down the hill. Both dogs followed in hot pursuit, barking at every jump and forced him to take a tree within a quarter mile. I shot him and and quickly skinned him, tied the skin on the back of the saddle and started on hoping to have another track soon.

In a short while, on a ridge top we struck the track of not one but three Bobcats. One was fairly large and the others much smaller. I surmised it to be an old mother cat with two half grown kittens and that is what it had proved to be.

We trailed the three to some big rocks on a sunny slope and jumped them out. They ran along the sunny south slope for quite a distance, giving the dogs a little trouble on account of the great number of deer tracks where a sizable herd of deer had been feeding and bounded away as we approached.

Finally one of the half grown kittens took to a small yellow pine and I just luckily saw it as I approached, because the dogs had gone on after the others. I shot and skinned the kitten as quickly as I could and hurried on after the dogs. I kept watch for the other kitten as I rode along, for I was sure it would be next to tree.

While a Bobcat (or a Lion for that matter) will not stop and fight the dogs to protect it's young, it will run on and on, leading the dogs away from the trees in which the young had taken refuge. It is my belief that they do this deliberately, just as some birds will flutter along the ground, feigning a broken wing to lure one away from their nest or young.

I expected this old Bobcat to run quite a distance after the second kitten treed. Soon I heard the dogs barking treed, I rode on to the tree and as expected, found the other young one. I shot it out and when the dogs had wooled it a moment, I made them stop and sent them on after the mother cat, but I was entirely wrong.

She had crossed the ridge into a deeper canyon with a very steep southern exposure, where there was not very much snow left, and what there was now was pretty wet, causing little scent to be left. In this type of country, the tracks showed that she had circled and dodged and run for some time, keeping ahead of the dogs. I lost some time trying to make out where they had gone and in getting through some pretty rough areas where she had led. I could not quite make out why the dogs had not crowded her enough to make her take a tree, for I could not hear them at all.

At last I came to where she had made a long open run with the dogs evidently right behind her. Of a sudden I rounded a bend, and there, stretched out on the snow, lay the big spotted, bedraggled Bobcat, stone dead, while both Pup and Puse were wallowing in the snow rubbing their heads and shoulders in it to clean the blood off. From the blood on the snow it looked as if they were cut up pretty badly.

What had happened was that the Bobcat, a large female had taken refuge in a hole in the rocks, thinking she could defend herself rather than take a tree. To get her out required stamina and intestinal fortitude, and I would have given anything to see it done.

The hole was about seven feet deep in solid rock of breccia formation and sloped down very slightly. It was almost round and less than thirty inches in diameter at it's mouth, and tapering to about a foot at the back end. I crawled partly in to figure out what had happened.

From the blood and hair at the back of the hole, it was evident that the Bobcat had gone to the end and had turned around to fight off the dogs. One of the dogs had gone in  and faced teeth and razor sharp claws to bring her out. There was not enough room  for both dogs to work side by side. Pup had a habit, in a fight of any kind boring in and taking all his opponent could give, for the sake of a throat hold. That is just what he had done here.

He had faced teeth and claws in a direct frontal attack, where not strategy or maneuvering tactics could be employed.
He had gone in head on into all the cat had to give, which was plenty, for the sake of getting a neck hold, and when he had got it, he held it and dragged the Bobcat out where Puse helped him kill it. The fact that that the cat was dead right outside the miniature cave, showed Pup had never released his hold.

That act, I believe, took more nerve than anything I ever saw a dog do!!

Pup was pretty badly cut up around the head and was bleeding profusely, but was not seriously injured. In his lifetime Pup had to be carried home three times, and sewed up a half dozen times, from cuts received in fights with bears and Lions.
But this time, he was able to walk in and needed stitches in only two places around his eyes.

Puse was not badly scratched but just enough to show he had been in a fight. I have no doubt that Puse would have finally gone in and got that cat, but he was younger and not quite do deliberate and determined in a fight as Pup, and the older dog seized the opportunity to do so first.

The cat's skin was badly torn, but I took it anyway, and rode home with the skins of the whole family tied back of the saddle.
One of the classic works of hounds & hunting. The author recounts the year he spent on the Vermejo Park ranch in northern New Mexico, 1929, hunting mountain lion, bobcat and bear with hounds and Airedales.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Airedales & Docked Tails

These days it is common to see discussions on whether dog breeds with traditionally docked tails need to have this procedure done any more in this day and age. Most of the breeds that have been traditionally docked are sporting-hunting dogs along with a smattering of other working breeds.

In many countries in Europe they now ban the docking of tails even though it is part of many breed standards. It is also plain to see that this banning business has coincided with the banning of hunting with dogs in many of the same countries, what hunting there is being done with dogs is very limited.

Here in the US as hunting with dogs declines we will more than likely see more and more clamoring for docking bans. Those doing most of the squawking for the most part do nothing activity wise with their dog for which it was originally developed and bred, as in hunting their hunting dog! What cracks me up is the stop the tail docking zealots will scream and yell that snipping the tail of a pup is cruel and painful yet they will have no problem pushing for major surgery as in Spaying and Neutering!!

Personally I am against any government decreed bans "period", on top of which there are very legitimate reasons to have the tails docked on hunting-working breeds.'

If one prefers having an undocked tail "fine" but as a hunter who uses his dogs in the field and has experienced tail tip injuries to my own dogs from working heavy cover leave me the option! I can tell you there is nothing harder to get healed up than a tip of the tail injury.

 Also on a personal note, from an aesthetic point there is nothing more ugly to my eye than an undocked Airedale!

Owners of dogs who are "couch taters" just do not realize the beating a tail tip of a hunting dog can be subjected to while working heavy cover, here are couple of photos showing tail tips injured on hunting dogs and it is more common than the unknowing would think! A couple of years ago I had a female Coon hound of mine get her tail injured as pictured and it took most of the summer to get that tail tip healed.!
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