It was 1959 and 19-year old Ed Vance was working on an assembly line in Van Nuys, California putting together Chevrolets. Across the line from him was a man who told stories of following hounds through the Okefenokee swamps of Georgia chasing raccoons. With no background in hunting, the tales intrigued Ed to no end. “I was all ears.” Ed recalls. The impact of the stories were significant and would ultimately change the trajectory of his life.
Winter maintenance on hounds begins long before winter drops its first snowflake. Well-conditioned dogs will fare better in the long term than hounds that aren’t.
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.