Coon hunting with hounds

LCK's Coon Dog Training Project

Follow CoonDawgs Pro Staffer LCK (Wally) as he begins a training regiment with two bluetick hounds. LCK will chronicle the hounds progress during the training. You can learn more about the project by Clicking Here.

Let's get Started - 22 Oct 2006

Well lets get started. A little history on these two is in order. They were purchased as 8 week old puppy's in Oklahoma. The first owner is a dry ground lion and cat hunter who used to live in Texas. They lived most of their first year in Texas. The previous owner hunts off of horseback. He would take these pups for journeys through the woods in the daytime and started teachng them to handle. This means they were not allowed to wonder off and explore much at all. They were kept close to the horse and handler. They were introduced to crossing water and working through thick brush and being around other hounds etc. They are used to ridding in the dog box and generally being handled. They are big, strong OVERWEIGHT, seemingly healthy pups with correct confirmation etc.The previous owner moved to Wyoming where he is continuing with his lion and cat hunting from horseback. I traded him one, one year old female of the same breeding for these two pups because he is going to an all female pack for his hunting needs. He prefers all females due to not having to lay one up if in heat. They have never been exposed to any game at all other than a few rabbit chases that were brought to a stop by the previous owner.

I have had these pups for about one month now. I have exercised them and got some of the baby fat off of them. I have let them settle in to their new surroundings. I have taken them with me to the woods at night a totall of 4 times. They just pretty much wonderd arround and had a good ole time. They WILL not get far from me. They are learning to get through fences pretty good. Here are some pics of our project dogs.

PR Andersons Last Chance Clyde

Clyde: Clyde is probably the friendliest of the two. He has that I ain't never met a stranger countenance about him. If he see's or hears you coming he is at the end of his chain, barking and jumping around like a fool. As soon as you are in reach, he is all over you. When you pet him he explodes with joy. Clyde is a happy fellow.

PR Andersons Last Chance Smoke

Smoke: Smoke is more reserved and stand offish. It took me about 7 days to get him to greet me instead of me going to him. He is very quiet on the chain. Very seldom do you hear him barking or cutting up. When a stranger walks up to him he is not shy towards them but very reserved and not reall tickled about the whole deal. You will often catch Smoke staring at things as if he is studying carefully. He has growled at strange dogs on occasion.

They both seem equal when in the woods as far as curiosity and use of nose. Clyde readily and eagerly loads in the truck and Smoke needs some nudging.

UPDATE - 29 Oct 2006

Well, Smoke has been meeting a lot of new dogs this past week and has learned real fast he is to mind his manners. Ive been loading him up for a lot of rides around town and whenever I get a chance. I have been feeding him in the box and it seems to have helped his hesitance to load. He is very responsive to my voice warning if I see him stiffen up around other males. He has actually been getting along pretty good with them. I would have him on lead and walk him around the other dogs, they of course would smell each other then the leg stiffening and hackling up would start. The INSTANT I saw this start he would get a GOOD swat with the quirt and a sharp GET BACK command. This has resulted in him wanting to avoid other dogs as much as possible which is an improvement over him initially going to them with challenging body language. The next step with him will be introducing him to other dogs while wearing an e-collar and no people around. It's one thing to have them mind their manners in my company and another to do it while alone with other dogs. I suspect he will revert back to his old behavior, I actually hope he does so he can get a few good corrections.

Clyde has learned not to jump up as bad when we aproach him. I started out with the food pan. When he would jump up he got a slap with the quirt until he would sit down calmly. If he did I would give him a handfull of food and walk off. I would wait til he ate it and then aproach again, he would of course jump on me and get a swat with the OFF command. He would sit and earn another handfull of kibble. On the third aproach, he saw me comming and just sat without any command or threat of a swat. He got the rest of his meal. I have been going through this little session every day at feeding time. He has replaced his jumping up crazy acting behavior with sitting and barking. Now he is going to learn the SHUT UP command. Same thing, he has to sit quietly to earn a handfull of kibble. He seems fairly smart so I think he will catch on pretty quick. I will have some pics up this afternoon.

UPDATE - 03 Nov 2006

Well I think ole Smoke is getting the idea. He has been loaded and hauled with a ton of different dogs this week. Males and females. I haven't seen or heard him act growly. Seems to me like he is figuring out the rules of conduct.

Took Clyde out the night before last. I saw him twice, once when I cut him loose and once when I caught him at the tree with the other dogs. I even heard him open a couple of times.

I have not been able to catch a coon yet so we will just keep handling them in the woods until we do. So far so good with these two pups.

UPDATE - 06 Nov 2006

Well, it has been about a week sense Clyde has botherd jumping up and mauling me when I am around him. He is standing still and acting like a gentleman. The only problem now is he only behaves around me and if anyone else comes up to him while on the chain he blows up and explodes on them. So I guess it is now time to get some volenteers to step in and get jumped on so he can learn not to jump up period. He definately knows the OFF command, now he just nees to hear it and have it enforced by others.

Smoke is just about over wanting to be growly. Haven't seen a raised hackle or heard a grumble from him for some time. Ole Smoke got off his chain the other day and spent all night and half the day down on the river bottom. I finally found him by listening for him. He had something in a hole. It wasn't a skunk but did have sharp teeth judging from the holes in his snout and lips.

Both dogs have made great progress handling on lead and are collar conditioned to come when called now. I think it is time to go to the woods a lot and put them in situations where they can really have a chance at some trash.

UPDATE - 09 Nov 2006

Smoke, Took Smoke along with three other dogs the night before last. He grumbled a little when I loaded the strange dog but shut right up when I scolded him. Did not have another growl all night. The dogs caught a coon in a thick cattail slough. Smoke got too em and got in on the fight. He stuck with it until the job was done. We pulled the coon out on to dry ground and held him back while the other dogs wooled it good. He went nuts. Pulled all of them off wanting more and recast them. Smoke seemed to turn on a little more. Hunted out longer and "wanted" to be with the other dogs. We did not get another run. Coupled him to the other male and brought em home. Progress is slow and steady but promising.

UPDATE - 11 Nov 2006

Took Clyde and Smoke out today for some handling and freecasting for Lion or bear or trashbreaking, whatever came first LOL. They did pretty good. Did not pay attention to several fresh deer tracks but did make a good effort to run and old lion track. Had a few grumbles in the box throughout the day but they settled right down with a couple of beep tones on the collars.

UPDATE - 17 Nov 2006

Not much to report this week. Clyde and Smoke have been takin it easy due to work etc. I don't mind layin them up for a while as it seems to help sometimes more than it hurts. I hope to get them out Sunday for a cat hunt.

UPDATE - 24 Nov 2006

I have mentioned earlier how Smoke has had issues with being growly around other dogs. I have worked extensively with this dog in order to get him to stop this behavior. Initially, there was some progress. After laying him up for just over a week it was time to get on with his training. Now this aggressive behavior is something I am extremely sensative to and to be honest not very optomistic about in the first place. I know from several past experiences some dogs like this just are never trustworthy around other dogs. To make a long story short, all of the previous training done with Smoke in this area did not work. In fact after the lay up he was worse than before. Smoke is no longer in this training program.

UPDATE - 25 Nov 2006

Clyde, unlike his littermate Smoke is doing well. He has never even offerd to show the slightest interest in being tough around other dogs and is responding to training with a good deal of enthusiasm. He is a friendly fellow to say the least. He is improving in the field. His time spent lingering around my feet has reduced a great deal whle his interest in hunting out and staying out is increasing. Clyde managed to strike and open on a few tracks last night and worked very hard to get them moving. It is encouraging to see him turn on each trip out. We treed 4 coon last night and he managed to tree a little with some encouragement and helped pull a little hair. Clydes progress is slow but hopefull. He has not done a drag or ever seen a caged coon. Everything to date has been learned in the field. At this point I think it is time to perhaps do a few drags for him and end them with him wanting more. If he shows well it will be his turn to go out alone and work on some tracks.

UPDATE - 28 Nov 2006

Did a little drag with Clyde yesterday. I used a fresh coon. I first hid it in some brush about 50 yards off the roadway and turned him loose down the road. The first pass he flew right past it. On the return trip, he hooked into it and air scented all the way in. He showed mild interest but soon took off searching the ground for some kind of trail. I leashed him up and tied him off about 25 yards away where he could not see where the coon was. I then dragged it about 200 yards in a fairly easy line into some tree's where I rubbed it up one side of the tree real good and then hoisted it up and out of sight and tied it off with a long rope. Clyde was barking and causing a pretty good fuss while I walked out of sight (using a chain leash is a good idea so the pups won't chew them in half and come in before your ready) I walked out and back to Clyde a different way than I walked in and took my time. When I got to Clyde he was amped up and ready to be cut loose. I turned him loose and he ran right back to where the coon had been. He ran around like a wild man for about 30 seconds and then came back to me. This is fairly normal. I just ignored him and let him get bored with me. In a few moments he went back to looking for a trail. He finally got on the drag scent and took off with it. He ran it directly in to the tree's and of course made a loss. He would run the back trail a little and follow it back to the tree's, this went on for a few minutes.

His interest did not seem to lessen so I let him work on it. He did finally slow down and work the trail right to the tree. I watched as he slowly smelled up and down the tree and then run the trail back a ways then back to the tree. To me this is a critical time in training with drags. If the pup loses interest and gives up you have lost a good opportunity. I had the rope tied off in such a way that I could sneak in behnd him and lower or raise the coon without him realizing I was even there. As he was smelling up the tree I SLOWLY lowerd the coon down to him. He bumped into it with his nose and it startled him just a little. I immediatey hoisted it back up and out of sight. This turned his crank pretty good. He got on the tree and did everything he could to get up the tree trunk as high as he could ( I think it is very important to use a tree that cannot be climbed for this kind of training because most young dogs will try to climb at this point if able) I watched as his frustration grew. He would start to come off the tree so I would lower the coon just enough to tease him back on the tree. He started to whine just a little at this point. Every time he would vocalize I would lower the coon to just being out of his reach. When he got quiet and started to want to climb I would hoist it up and out of sight. This happens fast and pretty soon he started barking out of frustration. Once he started barking good I lowerd the coon so he could just get his teeth on it and then I would pull it back up the tree. He seemed to learn pretty quick that barking gave him the coon, as soon as it started going up and away he would bark and quit trying to climb or come off the tree. As soon as this happend I dropped the coon out to him. He grabbed hold and was really taking his frustration out on it. I loved him up real good and played a little tug with him. This only lasted about 15 seconds and I pulled him off and started walking out with him. He pulled and barked and threw a pretty good fit while being pulled away from his tree and coon. This is a good thing.

Now is not the time for any obediance commands or correction. I let him fight me all the way back to the truck and put him in the box where I fed him a can of dog food. Clyde will be laid up for about three days with very little interaction or training

UPDATE - 30 Nov 2006

Well every once in a while opportunity knocks! I took the dogs for a cat hunting trip and had a pretty good day of getting some exercise and doing some good trash breaking work. I loaded Clyde along with some other pups. Didn't get any cats going but it was a good day anyways. On the way out of the canyon a young coon crossed in front of me about 100 yards up. I just couldn't resist. I put Clyde and a young Leapard Cur out and let em run down the road. They both had a pretty good head of steam up by the time they ran through where the coon had crossed. Ole Clyde about did a back flip when he ran through the scent. By the time he got turned around he was in full cry and hot on the snow track. The Cur was right behind him. I was just getting my leash over my shoulder when I heard Clyde catch the coon on the ground. By the time I got to them they had it bayed up right on the river bank.

Now this turned real dangerous real fast as the river was just barely frozen over and certainly would not hold a dogs weight. The fight was getting pretty heated and the coon was right at the rivers edge. I could actually hear the ice cracking under his weight. I was able to get the pups leashed up and held em back long enough to get a couple of pics. I could tell the coon did not want to cross the ice any more than I wanted the dogs to try. I was in a bind because now I had two very fired up pups pulling for all they are worth, I am on a very steep river bank on fresh slick snow and had a coon about 4 inches in front of the dogs with nowhere to go! I couldn't for the life of me crawl back up the bank! It was getting dark and I was pretty much stuck with my hands plenty full! I just decided to love em up the best I could and catch my breath. Fortunately about this time the coon decided he had got to know us about as good as he wanted to and ventured out on the ice. He crossed ok and headed for parts unknown.

Now things really got crazy. Clyde is a big ole brute at about 45 to 50 pounds and did not agree with me holding him back as his first wild coon he had caught fare and square ran off across the river! Bitty the Cur was doing her fare share of helping Clyde pull me into the river. After about 20 minutes of this I finally got them settled down enough to get them back up the bank. I had to pull them kicking and screaming back to the truck and finally got em put up. Ole Clyde bellowed and booo hoood all the way back to town LOL. I have always maintaned it is best to pull a young dog off wanting more and I guess this qualified.

Here's a few pics, sorry they are not real centered but I kind of had my hands full!

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UPDATE - 07 Dec 2006

A little trash breaking: I took Clyde and a couple of his young cousins out for a little Deer and Elk hunting today. I was not dissapointed, we found several. I have been roading these pups quit a bit lately and getting them used to running or trotting along ahead of the vehicle. Periodically I will ease way off and let them get a good distance ahead of me and then call or whistle for them to come back. The e-collar is used to help them do it now rather than later. Roading is also a very good way to keep the dogs in running shape. It has taken about 5 outings for them to get the hang of it and things have been going pretty good.

Now that the dogs have gotten used to roading they have realized that they can use this semi free time to do a little hunting along the way. This is also a very good thing. I have been intentionally NOT roading them in area's where they would be very exposed to too many temptations because the goal, up until now, has not been exposure to game. It has been how to road. Well I figured now is the time to take it up a notch, and took these little Blue dogs, Clyde included, to Deer and Elk heaven. During the winter months the Deer and Elk congregate in certain low narrow canyons and can number in the hundreds in any given herd. The tracks completely cover the ground from canyon wall to canyon wall. Sure enough, just around the second bend there they were. Scrambling out of the roadway in every direction. At least 75 head of cow elk. Yep, they took the bait and headed out in full cry after them.

The e-collar was deployed from behind the steering wheel while still driving and after going through several levels very quickly, Ole Clyde decided this was not something he really wanted to do and came back, along with the other two yearling pups. They hung pretty close to the vehicle for about ten minutes and then started roading out in front again. I watched closely and before long I could see Clydes head go up as he started winding something on up the canyon a ways. Just around the corner was another herd of Elk. Instead of out and out sight chasing them this time, he decided to put his nose to the ground and run the tracks they had left on the road. I let him get good and committed and as he was building up a pretty good head of steam I started up through the levels on the e-collar. It did not take long at all and he was back on the road and peacefully trotting down the middle of the road like he has been doing for the past few outings. Seeing him quit the game this time I stopped and called him in and loved him up pretty good along with the other two, who had pretty much acted the same.

We took a break from running the road and just kind of hung out and messed around for a few minutes. I then loaded them up and headed to another canyon. This gave them a good 30 minute break to think about the mornings activity. In the next canyon, we very calmly traveld through one more good sized elk herd and a herd of wintering cattle. So far so good. I will continue this little program for the next few weeks with Clyde and company.

UPDATE - 16 Dec 2006

I took Clyde and two other young dogs out for a little coon hunting last night. We were walk hunting down the river and pretty soon I heard Clyde and the other pups open. Pretty soon they both shut up and the little females came back but no Clyde? I went on and finished the mile long hunt without another chirp from the dogs. I still had not seen nor heard Clyde anywhere. I got back to the rig and tried him on the box, nothing.

I loaded the other dogs and started driving around trying to find him. Still nothing. After about two hours I finally started getting a signal back where we had started. I found him milling around right where I had dropped him off earlier. He was wet so he must have crossed the river and headed up stream as I was looking down stream. So, my question is this. What was he doing? One of my biggest concerns with Clyde is getting him to GO out and hunt. Well he sure went tonight. I suspect the pups bumped a deer. The deer crossed the river and the two females quit and Clyde did not. I wonder?

At any rate I am treating this as a positive thing. #1, Clyde went on his own for over two hours. #2, He came back to where he was dropped. I have no idea what he was doing but he was at least doing and doing by himself! Progress is how you look at it I suspect. Any thoughts on this hunt and Clydes progress so far?

UPDATE - 26 Dec 2006

I haven't had Clyde out for a while. It's been slow as far as coonhunting goes lately and too dang cold for me to be honest LOL. Been busy with some of the other dogs and daytime running. I have had Clyde out during the day and doing more roading and trash breaking etc. He has gone down a few Bobcat tracks but nothing special to report. The weatherman tells us to look forward to a warming trend these next few days and nights. If so, he will be back in the coon woods. I think laying them up for good periods of time doesn't hurt em at all.

UPDATE - 01 Jan 07

I have very bad news. Clyde was ran over and killed on the road this morning. I was roading him along with a couple of other young hounds when they struck something and headed down over the ridge. There is a black topped two lane road about a quarter of a mile from where I was. The other two dogs came back after just a few minutes but Clyde did not. I was getting a good signal on him and he was not moving after being called several times. I found him lying on the side of the road. He was injured beyond repair and had to be put down. Unfortunately this will end this project and a very promising career for a very nice young hound.

UPDATE - 07 Jan 2007

Introducing Stinger. Stinger is just coming 6 months old now. She has not been hunt trained at all up to this point. Stinger has been in the daytime woods a lot and has started to road some with the older dogs. She is use to wearing the e-collar but has not had it turned on. I have had her on lead a couple of times and she plumb hates it LOL. She is just now starting to look forward to loading and going. She has never done a drag or seen a caged critter. Stinger has a TON of energy and is enthusiastic about whatever it is she is doing. She has a HUGE mouth on her for a pup. Her Mother is Buzz Anderson bred and her Sire is Richard Casey bred. Both parents are top cooners owned by Raymond Caswell of Mo. What do you all think? Should we continue our project with this little prospect? I'm game if you all are!

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UPDATE - 09 Jan 2007

I am going to start with basic obediance and begin collar conditioning. I am going to continue with the trips in the box and roading with other dogs. The most important thing to me right now with this pup is to give her ample opportunity to develope confidence and become comfortable being out in the woods etc. During these trips she will get some light corrections for showing interest in trash and a ton of encouragement to get out and explore. I am going to be very cautious with the obediance because I do not want her thinking she has to be carefull with every step she takes. It is more of a time to gently fold in the obediance as she grows and developes. I'm going to let her chase all the rabbits and squirells she wants. I will not introduce coons or coon scent to her for a few more months if that soon. I had to move her tot he kennels already because she was already becoming a real threat to the wifes cat LOL. She is a gamey headstrong little pup and it is going to be tempting to start her sooner than I should, but as most of you know patience is my motto and I think this one will benefit in the long run with an ample dose of patience.

UPDATE - 13 Jan 2007

Stinger had a big day today. We took her out with a couple of yearling pups for some roading and trash breaking etc. She finally had the chance to feel the e-collar on a few deer and dead rabbits. By the end of the day she was responding to the tone only on the collar and also was coming in when she heard the horn honk on the rig. All in all a good positive day of just being out and about learning the ropes. Here's a few pics.

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She gave these deer a good old college try but couldn't figure out why that " pinching" feeling kept getting ahold of her by the neck so she gave it up and came on back in.

UPDATE - 25 Jan 2007

Just checking in. I have not been able to do too much this past copuple of weeks due to 30 plus below zero weather and starting a new job. We should be back into the training here in a few more days though.

UPDATE - 04 Feb 2007

Stinger and I had a pretty good session yesterday. I took her out and worked her through some pretty difficult country. Ledge rocks, deep washes etc. She was wearing an e-collar and learned to handle a good bit. I spent about ten minutes with her on lead and finally got her to give to the leash a bit. I have been using a ridding quirt to lightly slap her back into the heel position when she gets to pulling etc. She certainly seems to respond to training a lot better after having had a good long walk to burn off some of that high energy.

UPDATE - 11 Feb 2007

I have noticed that she is starting to settle down a good bit this last two weeks. She is getting accustomed to the routine of going out and being handled. It is hard to put a time frame on it. All dogs are different. I suspect this little rascal will be ready for some woods time at night come late May or early June. I have been trying to work her three days a week with a good lay up between sessions or outings. I firmly believe that a good layup after each session is as important if not maybe a little more important than the actual training session. It has to do with how dogs process experiences.

The lessons just stick better if the dog is allowed to lay up and "think" about it for a couple of days. You have to correct the dog for nuisance barking while it is in the act of barking. The command SHUT UP should be heard just prior to the dog receiving the correction. You will not mess up a dogs hunting mouth by teaching it to shut up while not hunting. It is just teaching it good manners. If done properly they learn pretty quick and settle down. I absolutely detest a box full of barking hounds when I am trying to hear a couple out in the woods trying to work up a track. Silence in the box is a must.

UPDATE - 23 Feb 2007

Stinger is doing very well. She is growing up and filling out, starting to muscle up and get some depth to her. I have been pleased with her rate of maturity lately. I think once we start working with young dogs and pups with basic obediance and exposure to the trappings surrounding hunting it is confusing and a bit overwhelming at first.

After a while, with consistant handling and firm boundary setting they settle in and settle down. I have been seeing this from Stinger. She has had a great deal of time in the daytime woods this winter and a good solid introduction to the e-collar and deer and elk breaking. I think it is time for some night time outings. Not so much for hunting but as a continuation of what she has been doing in the daytime. Will she strike up a track? I don't know. I am more interested in just getting her used to being out and being handled in the dark. Might get a chance to correct her on a few skunks and porcupines. She has not been put on any drags or caged critters yet and I am in no real hurry to do that yet.

Who knows, might not have to at all. We will just have to see how it goes.

UPDATE - 25 Feb 2007

Stinger had a very good day today. I took her along with a few other youngsters out for some roading and handling. She seems to be catching on to the routine pretty good. She is starting to respond to the tone only feature on the e-collar and is learning to pay attention to what is going on around her as she goes along. To me this is the first solid progress a dog needs to show in order to move on to other aspects of hunt training. I also introduced her to the gun today. After about a 6 mile run/trot including a good deal of handling she was pretty much settled down and a bit on the tired side.

I had my Son walk out through a sagebrush flat for about 150 yard with his .22 rifle. Stinger was on the road just in front of the rig and he started shooting. She heard the small pops from the gun and went to the noise. He just kept shooting as she got closer. She went right up to him and watched him for a few seconds then just wondered off sniffin around and eventually just came back to the rig and laid down. This is a pretty good way to introduce a young dog to the gun. No surprises, no drama and kind of boring. The pups first reaction should be curiosity and not a startled response. She investigated the noise and found it to be just another of the many things encountered while on an outing. She will go through several more very similar exposures before she hears gunshots while trying to tree. I think I will take her along tomorrow night for a short outing in the dark.

UPDATE - 13 Mar 2007

Stinger got a taste of her first critter yesterday. I live trapped a coon and placed it out in a field surounded by nice medium sized tree's. I had already roaded her for a couple of miles and had her settled down etc. I let her go in the field and just let her snoop around, it did not take long and she got down wind of it and went to the scent. She was a little cautious at first and circled and sniffed and didn't really know what to do but was not leaving it. I just waited, she finally moved in just close enough for the coon to growl at her and she fired it up. As soon as this happend I got to her and calmly leashed her up and pulled her back to a fence post and tied her off.

I then released the coon and carried the cage back to the rig. I then turned Stinger loose and watched. She went back to where the coon had been and was stumped. She could not see the coon run off and was using her eyes more than her nose at first, jumping and bouncing around trying to see. I just waited. Pretty son she started using her nose and took the track. It did not take long and she was in the tree line and out of my sight. I slowly followed. It took about 5 minutes and all of the sudden she started baying like the world was ending. I got to her and she had the coon bayed up on a ditch bank. I leashed her up and tied her off, giving the coon time to move on.

I released her again and she did not waste time using her eyes this time. She turned the nose on and caught the coon on the ground again and bayed it up. I leashed her up and took her to the truck. I had to carry her most of the way because she was fighting the leash very hard and very much wanted to go back to the coon hunt.

This is where goal setting is extremely important. My goal was to give her an exposure to coon and give her a chance to use her nose. These goals were accomplished with the added bonus of getting the chance to pull her off wanting more. I carried her to the truck because this was not the time for obediance training, I did not want to correct her for pulling and fussing on the leash. This would have negated the lessons learned with the coon because a dog remembers the last experience it had. Making her heel and behave on lead would have taught her controll and could have errased the coon lesson. I will lay her up for a couple of days and do it again.

UPDATE - 25 Mar 2007

Well, I think tonight is the night for Stinger to get used to the dark! I suspect we will run into a few skunks and probably a porcupine and certainly some deer. I plan on taking her to an area that has a good number of tight fences and cattle. There are good coon numbers there as well. She is well conditioned to the e-collar and has been doing well on released coon. I think it's time to introduce her to the dark. I will put her with Heavy the pup trainer. He is straight on cats or coon and slow on track but accurate and decent at the tree. If they do strike up a coon she should be able to "anchor" off of him and we will see what happens. I have fresh batteries in the camera and the e-collars are charged up

UPDATE - 26 Mar 2007

I took Heavy the pup trainer and Stinger out last night. Heavy struck and ran one for about a quarter mile. I did not hear Stinger at all but I didn't see her either. I found em both at the tree. Stinger was smellin around and checking up the tree but not barking. Heavy was hammering. I tied Stinger back and gave Heavy the coon. Stinger wanted in pretty bad LOL. I then re cast em. Heavy struck again and caught one on the ground in the cattails. I then heard Stinger join in the fight. I got to them in time to see her pulling a little hair but mostly cheerleading. She was certainly into the deal pretty good. I caught them both off and let the coon run off for about ten minutes.

I cut them loose and it took a good ten or so minutes but Heavy found him in a tree. Stinger was at the tree and would get up and bark for a few seconds then run around actin the pup. I tied her back and really loved Ole Heavy up good. I squalled, shook limbs and raised a fuss at the tree for a bit. This really got her going. I then re cast em.

It took a good 15 minutes but Heavy struck again. Stinger did manage to open a few times on track and crossed the river twice on this race. Heavy treed and Stinger was treeing on and off. I got there and tied her back and knocked it out to Heavy. Once he was done woolin it in front of Stinger for a bit, I tied him off and took Stinger up to the coon on lead and let her wool it for a few seconds and then pulled her off and headed to the truck.

All in all a favorable first outing for this pup. She did not get bored or quit. She managed several tight fences, river crossings, avoided a good many chances at off game and cattle. She got a pretty good idea of what happens in the woods at night without having any set backs. I will lay her up for a day or two and take her back out for a short romp in the woods at night by herself.

UPDATE - 06 Apr 2007

Been slow lately. Not much to report. Stinger is growing and maturing. A few more short weeks and she will be ready for a bit more hunting time. She is showing everything I would expect from a pup. I am just being patient and taking it easy with her for now. Short fun exposures to hunting then a good long layup. I plan on getting her out for a bit more night running come the first of the week. The ice is off the rivers now and the coon are moving good so it should be just right for puppy huntin. Spring bear season opens here on the 7th of April. I plan on taking her out a bunch. I won't turn her in but I will leash her up and walk her in and start getting her use to the rig box etc.

UPDATE - 06 May 2007

Stinger had a very good showing tonight. I took her out alone. It was 38 degree's with about a 15 mile per hour wind. She is showing a pretty good desire to hunt out until she strikes and is moving a track with decent speed. Confidence in the woods at night for a young hound comes from a lot of time being out in the woods and being allowed to explore and gain independance. Working a pup around and in shallow water when young pays off big time when it comes to them swimming rivers and canals etc. She did this several times tonight on her own.

We did not get a tree but did work on a few cold or poor tracks. She came in every time when called and was loved up a bit and let go right back out. This helps em learn that it is ok to come in for a bit and they get to go out again. It developes good handling habits. We worked on lead back to the truck for a good two miles with a lot of stop and stand and heel. Plenty of praise with a few well placed leash jerks and small swats with a switch helps em remember to stay behind while on lead. We worked on standing still for collering and while in the box with the door open. A slight two finger slap on the snout usually gets em to standing at the threshold pretty good without charging out of the box like a maniac.

This little dog is showing that she is retaining a lot of the lessons learned with the pre hunt training and it is now paying off while hunting. It should not take too much longer and she will have "folded" these lesons into her hunting regimen and should turn out to be a pretty nice handling young hound. She is quickly coming of the age for harder or longer outings. I have mentioned in other posts and in this project that by working on these skills without adding in the extra pressures of actual hunting makes for a nice time.

Here's a photo I took of Stinger with her best buddy Austin and My wife Tina at the end of the hunt.

UPDATE - 04 June 2007

Well Stinger is coming along nicely. I had her at bear camp and she thinks she's a big dog now LOL. She is right at ten months old as is handling very nicely without being clingy. She goes out and hunts until called or beeped in with the e-collar. She is loading up without problem in the small Suzuki and trying to load in the big truck but can't jump that high just yet. She is standing in the box patiently with the door open with the other dogs and is starting to like ridding on the rig box. Little Stinger actually rigged two bear during the hunt.

The very most important thing I am seeing in her at this point is her overall confidence in all of the different settings that she is exposed to. This comes from, in my opinion two things. The first thing is sound breeding and good genetic background joined with patient and planned handling. Most folks call it socialization. With solid and thoughtfull socialization most dogs tend to overcome mistakes and set backs way better than dogs who are just thrust into confusing situations.

These next two months are going to be very critical in her coon hunting career. I plan on hunting her alone at least two nights a week for about two hours per drop with emphasis on trash. I plan on putting her on every imaginable off game critter I can find. It would be tempting with her at this age to really hunt the hair off of her on coon but remember she is just now ten months old.

When she hits one year in age she should have a very clear understanding of what is good game and what is off limits. At one year old she will be hunted hard in area's where she should run into coon, coon and more coon. I am looking forward to this stage of training with her. I think within the next four months we should know what kind of dog she will turn out to be.

UPDATE - 28 June 2007

Not much new to report with Stinger. She is continuing to be placed in area's where the deer and skunks and porcupine are thick and is learning they just are not worth the effort LOL.

Stinger is continuing to mature and develope physically. She is becoming a very nice little rig dog and seems to enjoy striking scent off the box or out the window. She tends to get a bit too wound up when she strikes a critter from the box and is having trouble hushing up once out of the scent but she is making improvement. This little dog goes hunting when cut loose.

This is a critical time in her young life. This is when a person can get into trouble with a young hound pup. She will go and hunt hard all night if allowed to do so. I am not allowing this as of yet. She is still very much a puppy even though she is starting to hunt like a big dog.

These next few months are the crossroads. I plan on taking it easy on her and continuing to lay a strong foundation for her as far as hunt time goes. This actually means less is more right now. Once or twice a week and only about two hours if that is more than enough for her at this age.

UPDATE - 30 July 2007

Stinger is really starting to grow up. Her stamina and persistance is starting to show now. She is not botherd by all of the "confusion" surrounded by hunting and is able to just focus on hunting. She has been slumming around with the bear dogs this Summer and it seems like she is enjoyng the whole deal LOL. She has been taking her turn on the rig hood and has managed to rig a few bear for us. She has shown good homing instinct and is pushing for the front of the race.

I am very much looking forward to getting her back in the coon woods this Fall where I think she will do a good bit of improving. She is in need of a little more trash breaking right now and she is fixing on getting it!

UPDATE - 16 Aug 2007

WELL IT IS TIME! Stinger is now one year old. She has had about as much socialization and exposure to all of the trappings surrounding hunting as any young dog can possibly get. She has been hauled with numerous dogs of all breeds and types. She has been handled in the field sense she was but a puppy. She has been introduced to coon. She will open on a good track, run it and tree by herself and with company. Her actual hunting has been limited to very short outings only lasting at the most two hours in area's that have a lot of coon maybe three times a month. She has been corrected from showing interest in off game. She will find her own way through fences, creeks and difficult obstacles. She will check in and come when called. She is properly conditioned to the e-collar and looks forward to being collard up. She will stand patiently in the dog box awaiting her turn to be dropped out. She is conditioned to the gun and has learned that if the gunshots happen good things follow. She heels on lead and loads without issue.

All of these things she learned one step at a time instead of just throwing her out there and crossing fingers hoping it all just kind of takes hold. All of the things involved with a normal day/night in the field have been introduced to her in a planned out, patient and methodical way. If she exhibited any confusion or problems it was very easy to figure out the cause and work on it. This little dog has only seen one caged coon and has never done a drag. She has never been allowed to sight bark at anything with the exception of the one caged coon and that was only for about 30 seconds and then she was pulled off and the coon was released for her to track. She found it and treed it for about 15 seconds and was then pulled off and put up for three days. Every other exposure to coon that she has had has been wild coon in their natural environement.

She has gone with a pup trainer a few times and has gone on her own a few times. She has hunted with strange dogs, rough dogs and trashy dogs. She has shown she can handle hard corrections without shutting down. She can also bounce back and seems to be "forgiving" of handler mistakes. She has been hunted just enough to ensure she knows what it is we are after. It is now time for her to go hunting. Stinger will be hunted and hunted hard for the next several months.

She is one year old now. I firmly believe that she is mentally and physically mature enough to handle the pressure of whatever it is we encounter along the way.

UPDATE - 29 Sep 2007

A little update on Stinger. She has been earning her food this last several weeks for sure. Stinger is becoming a nice little tree dog that handles well and is getting pretty serious about running coon. I think at this point in her training all that is left is woods time, woods time and more woods time. I do not consider her finished as she is still progressing every time out. She gets a little lost on some of the more difficult tracks and is still working on locating and staying treed. These things can only come with time and patience. She is hunting about 2 nights by herself and 2 nights with other dogs. She is having a few days off as she caught a coon on the ground the other night and ended up getting a pretty good infection as a result. Once that is cleard up, she will be back at it and hopefully learning more and more as she goes.

If all goes well I suspect she will have "graduated" from this project and will be added into the pack as a contributing member come December or thereabouts. I will do a re cap of her training at that time.

UPDATE - 29 Oct 2007

Well folks this has been a fun deal. I have enjoyed sharing some of my training and handling philosophy's with others. Stinger has done a pretty good job throughout this project and is doing a great job in the game catching department.

Some of the ideas I hoped to convey were these:

• Start with proven breeding.

• Be patient, meaning there are many things the dog needs to be exposed to before being exposed to game.

• Don't be afraid to start over. We ended up going through two other young dogs before we got to the end result with Stinger. Remember Smoke and Clyde?

• Doing drags and hang ups are not needed.

• Having a plan for the dog EVERY time you go out with it is a must.

• Putting the dog up for a few days or even a week after every good outing is the key.

• The raising and training of a hunting hound is really not as tough as many would make us think. The difficult part is having patience and having a plan.

I hope that forum readers have found some of this helpful.

Stinger is now living in Colorado where she will be very well cared for and hunted and hunted and hunted for many many many years.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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