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.
By Kelly IrwinThe 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.
The initial report of the lever action .30-30 was deafening, the second shot even more so as it was fired from just a few yards behind me and some ten feet over my head. But the sound that followed next – emanating from the impact of 100 pounds of tawny-furred fury landing just an arms reach away from where I was crouched at the base of a large pinion tree – was louder still. I could scarcely see through the flurry of snow and pine bows that were showering down all around me but I knew exactly what had just happened. Frantically I reached for Hannah’s collar, not wanting her to give chase to a wounded mountain lion but despite my efforts she was already in fast pursuit, bawling down the canyon towards her still very much-alive (and very much offended) quarry. Deciding that it was better for Hannah to not face this danger alone I untethered my other hound Crank, a young bluetick who was then just a year old, and released him to join the baying in the bottom of the canyon, a job which he was all too eager to do. Fortunately, this story ends well with one final, well-placed shot just moments later, undoubtedly saving me a trip to the vet and securing a beautiful tom lion for my otherwise trigger-happy friend.