Friday, April 1, 2011

Introduction To Rough Game??

What Age Would You Let Him Tangle With A Coon?
« Thread Started Today at 9:38am »

This piece was written by John Henry who runs the "Coyote Gods" forum. John Henry is one of those guys like Henry Johnson that has a way with the written word to get a message across.

For those who do not know the Coyote Gods is a forum that specializes in varmint hunting and especially Coyotes. There are several hunters over on that board that use Airedales as their dog of choice in various ways of taking Coyotes.

I got permission from JH to post this over here because I thought it really hits the nail on the head on this particular subject.

I strongly agree with this article and think anyone who thinking about getting an Airedale to hunt or is actively in the process of training an Airedale for hunting should read this and let it soak in.



The question of what age would a person let his Airedale pup tangle with a Coon?

The Reply by JH

Oh, I dunno:

I don't think that you can put a hard number on it, because dogs are individuals, and some are more precocious than others. Micky was a notoriously slow bloomer, and she wouldn't pay attention to anything except doves for the first year of her life. Athena, on the other hand, was hanging three feet off of the ground from dead cottontails when she was four months old, trying to tear loose a chunk, so it's hard to make any definitive statement without knowing the individual dog.

Probably the best thing to do is to start them with an older made dog; pups learn by imitation in the first place, and if you put an older dog on the ground and it starts to smell around and line out a drag trap the pup will just naturally do the same thing, and when they find that coyote and the adult dog starts to bay-bark it the pup will imitate that too (if it's ready) and if it does get too close and that coyote latches onto it the other dog can always dive in there and get the pup loose.

About the only thing that you don't want to do is let a pup get roughed up badly when it's too young; the old ADC trappers used to say that kind of treatment could make a dog "hate" coyotes, and hunt them hard as a result, but I think that it can also turn them off on whatever knocks hell out of them, at least for a while.

The thing to keep in mind is that an Airedale Terrier is imbued with natural prey drive and aggression on game, and you don't have to work terribly hard to "develop" that because it's already there, even if it's latent in a young dog. What makes the Airedale special (to me, anyhow) is that, unlike many of the other terrier breeds, a properly bred and balanced Airedale doesn't exhibit BLIND aggression on game; if they're correctly exposed to furred game they'll learn to respect the fact that the animals that they're confronting on a bay can deal it out as well as take it, and they become selectively aggressive; they'll pull hair and bite hard, but they'll guard themselves in the process instead of going right into the jaws and ending up dead.

The fundamental maxim in boxing is "Protect yourself at all times," and that's what I want to see in my dogs when they're on game, particularly big game like bear, lion, or hogs (among other things) that can kill or cripple them if they don't care for themselves. I've said this many times before, but it bears repeating; the advent of the firearm resulted in a change in philosophy concerning hunting dogs, and the Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds and Old English Mastiffs gave way to smaller lighter faster dogs that could hold bay until the hunter came up with the firearm to do the actual killing, because it was no longer necessary for the dog to have the jaw strength and raw power to kill in it's own right.

Some trappers, particularly bobcat trappers, would just as soon that their trail-up dog never touches fur with it's mouth, because they don't have to worry about repairing any damage that a dog might inflict, and even though it's difficult to find an Airedale that is content to face-bark an animal without succumbing to the temptation to lunge in there and try to bite you don't really have to worry that your dog won't be aggressive enough; Airedales are some of the roughest dogs on game that the world has ever seen, and they'll hold plenty of pressure on anything that you're hunting once they understand their jobs and what you expect from them.

As a general rule of thumb a working/hunting dog spends the first three years of it's life (at least) learning the ropes, then the next five years or so at the peak of it's performance, and then several more years (at least) in a slow physical decline, and then the last few years collecting the treats and the naps in the sun and the favored position by the stove that it's earned for itself.

So there's no tearing hurry in my mind; it seems the modern fashion to advertise dogs that are treeing at 4 months and winning field trials at one year of age, but most Airedales are slow to bloom in the first place, and it's hard to tell when that switch may trip in their pointed heads and turn on the lights for them.

Just give them plenty of opportunity, and they'll tell you when they're ready.


Photo of John Henry with his pack of big game dogs, assorted Hounds and Redline Airedales.


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