Hound hunting is a sport that requires a lot of time, effort and most of all great hounds to pursue the animal of your choice. There is a great amount of time that is required to achieve a top dog and endless effort from the houndsmen. There will be many hours of training that goes into training your pup and countless mistakes. It’s a sport that requires a lot of patience and time.
I was without a doubt a houndsman – not for skill or any accomplishment – but rather because I had, in that moment, irreparably “gone to the dogs.” Hounding was in my blood. That first tree still stands out in my life as one of the few truly transformative events I’ve experienced. My passion for hounds and bears irrupted; the baying of tree dogs became a sort of siren song in my life, and the pursuit of our quarry together took on an almost sacramental value. My awareness of, fascination for, and infatuation with bears and bear conservation was also born that day.
The sport of running hounds has grown in the past few years. Almost everyone that gets into hound hunting got started going with someone else and their hounds, and instantly had that burning feeling of needing their own dog. Some, not many, are content just going along and helping, but the majority of people get hooked, and there is no better feeling than having your own dog in the mix. This may or may not affect the original houndsman’s future.
This book is about Ed Vance’s 25-plus years of hunting with hounds in California, Nevada, Utah and Montana for both bear and mountain lion. As a young man who knew nothing about hound hunting, Vance pursued knowledge of the sport with tenacity and eventually became an expert outfitter.
Sometimes we get lucky and our hounds will hunt right up until their final day, and other times the onset of old age suddenly brings with it the certainty that retirement is the only reasonable option.