On a year when there is a good crop of nuts (hard mast), you can find bears wherever the nuts grow. This past year in Maine there were some areas that had them and other areas that didn’t. If there is any kind of natural food source in the woods, you can be guaranteed one thing--the bears will find it. If there is a limited amount of that food, they will go nuts over it.
Hound hunting is a sport that requires a lot of time, effort, and most of all, great hounds to pursue big game. There is a great amount of time that is required to develop a top dog and endless effort from the houndsmen. There will be many hours of work that goes into training your pup, and there will be countless mistakes, too. It’s a sport that requires a lot of patience and time, but the end result is very satisfying.
The term “bear dog” means something different to every houndsman. It seems simple, but the definition isn’t clear-cut. It’s often an issue of preference and style. However, the specific tools needed by a bear dog differ by region. Topography, forest type, hunting pressure, and the population dynamics of bears all effect what skills are the limiting factors to consistently catch bruins. Ultimately, that’s what we’re identifying – the limiting factors of hounds catching a bear in the different regions. Another way to say it is, “If a hound doesn’t have enough of (insert trait here), then it won’t catch bears consistently here.”
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.