I used the Traditional Working Airedale message board's members to get some idea who are the people that hunt with Airedales. Online since 2004 the Traditional Working Airedale message board makes no bones about who we recruit for members. Our focus for members is a narrow one, you must have an serious interest in hunting with Airedales and you must participate on the board along with an introduction of who you are and where you are from. As this is being written the board has some 300 members. While certainly not the last word it does give a pretty good representation and shows hunting trends of hunters who are actually using Airedales to hunt with.
So after sorting through the information obtained from this group of folks we will try to answer the question, "who are the people that actually hunt with Airedales and what game do they hunt?
We will look at the gender statistics first off, out of that 300 plus membership there are only a half dozen women members that are regulars and only one or two of them would be considered a hard core hunter. Interesting considering that there are probably more women that own and breed Airedales than men but when it comes to numbers we can see that men are far and away the ones that actually seriously hunt Airedales.
The board's new member introduction section tells a lot and it is one of the reasons it is a requirement for new members. Below is a typical introduction and the majority of the intros are pretty much the same.
Hello everyone, my name is Joe and I live in Ohio, I hunted with hounds and trapped lot as a boy but after I got out of school and got a job and started a family, I had to let my dogs go and hunting was set on the back burner.
I am now at the point where things have settled down and have some free time. I would like to get myself a dog and get back into hunting. I not only want a hunting dog but I want the dog to double as a family pet for my wife and kids.
I have done a bunch of research and the Airedale seems to be tailor made for what I am looking for. A great companion and pet for the family and also a dog I can take out on the weekend and do a bit of hunting with.
What we are seeing on the board is typically middle aged to older retired guys (40s through 60s) that were hunters in their youth, got away from it for a little bit but have now come to a time in their lives where they can get back into the swing of things. Not what one would call hard core but for fun and some recreation.
In my opinion a good Airedale makes the perfect hunting dog for these guys and I must admit that the type and frequency of hunting I am involved in these days, as I get older, I am kind of starting to fit into this group myself.
While we have a few young Airedale member-hunters we do not have anywhere near the numbers I would like to see and that is for a couple of reasons. First of all when young most of these guys are hard core, speaking for myself I would hunt just about every day during season and would consider a day I did not limit out a failure.
Most of the really serious hunters I have been around go with a top performer of specialist breed, for Coons it was a Coon hound, for Rabbits it was a Beagle. Personally while I was always serious I was different in that I did bring in an Airedale along most of the time and they certainly always were contributors to the hunt but I was an exception to the rule as most hunters would stick with straight up specialists.
The second big thing is the price of an Airedale, many breeders are asking two to three times higher for what it costs to buy a top bred Hound or Cur and even a Bird dog pup.
It is a pretty hard sell to get somebody with a half a brain to pay three times the going rate for a well bred cur pup to hunt Squirrels with for an Airedale pup that in most cases will not do nearly as well.
We need the young folks, personally I will do my best to get a pup into the hands of a serious young hunter, the youngsters hold the future.
And lastly there are the serious straight up Airedalers, the guys live, eat and sleep hunting with Airedales, our numbers are not huge but these are the guys, hunter-breeders, that work to maintain that Airedale hunting Tradition both in the dog itself and in the field! These guys hunt their Airedales on anything and everything!
What kind of game do hunters use Airedales for? On the board we have three categories of hunting, Small Game, Big Game, and Birds. It is pretty easy to see where the interest is.
Half of all hunting threads and posts are in the Small Game section, by Small Game we are talking Coons, Squirrels, Possum, Fox, Chucks, Rabbits, Rats, Coyotes etc for the most part.
We then can divide what is left of the second half of the posts and threads into thirds, two thirds of which are in the Big Game section. By Big Game we are talking Bear, Lion and Hogs.
The last third are threads about Bird hunting, this may be surprising to some considering the push in recent years to represent the Airedale as a bird dog. Not surprising to me, in all my years with the Airedale breed I have had very few inquiries about using an Airedale for actual bird hunting.
I will say there are some folks involved with bird field trial type events that are training and using Airedales, but as with Hounds, trialing is a lot different than actually going into the field with a gun and hunting wild game.
This Blog's hunting Airedales In Action Photo section is indicative also, those photos show pretty much the member's hunting tendencies and were their interest is. These stats also fall in line with pretty much with everything that has ever been written about hunting with Airedales going back to day one.
Approximate Percentage Wise Breakdown Of Game Hunted Is As Follows
Small Game = 50%
Big Game = 34%
Bird Hunting =16%
So there you have the breakdown and it is what it is, most Airedales are hunted by middle aged to a bit older men who are not the hard hunters they once were but still interested in getting out and having a productive but more a casual day afield. They want a dog that doubles as their family pet but can do a reasonably good job producing a wide variety of game to the gun. For that job there is no better a candidate than a well bred Airedale.