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- Prostaff Member Dan Braman
My alarm went off at 4:45AM this morning, time to get up and go cat hunting. Even though this time of year is hot in Texas, the hounds have to be run. With a huge cup of coffee in my hand I was out the door and headed to my kennels by 5:00AM.
Once at the pen I loaded my hounds and headed to an area on the ranch I wanted to hunt. This drive took about 20 minutes so I sipped my coffee and felt grateful for having the opportunity to be doing this.
Hunting with hounds in southern Texas in the spring and summer is really difficult. There are so many things working against you that sometimes you have to make yourself go just to keep the dogs in shape. Obviously, the heat is a huge factor; the hounds get hot quickly and don't hunt as well. Along with the heat come the rattlesnakes, which there is no shortage of. Copperheads and cottonmouth water moccasins are just as likely. The high weeds loaded with pollen on their flowers present a scenting problem for the hounds. But, for the love of the game and the love I my hounds I go.
I turned the dogs out at 5:30AM and began hunting. There are many ways to hunt hounds; I hunt them in a way that we call road hunting. I will turn them out and they travel down the road. If I turn I beep my horn and they all turn around and go in the direction I want to travel. While cruising along at an average of perhaps 10MPH they move in and out of the brush hunting. I would say the average hound hunts anywhere from 100 to 500 yards from the truck. This morning was good as far as late spring mornings go, the grass was wet with dew and the temperature wasn't that bad. It was calm and the skies were clear. I planned on hunting until the temperature got too bad or I caught at least one bobcat. For the first hour nothing happened so I continued on.
I would turn this way and that way, hunting thickets and fence lines which bobcats are known to live. About 7:30AM I decided to move to another area because it seemed that no cats had moved through the area. I blew my horn and the hounds came in and I loaded them in the truck. I drove about two hundred yards and Henry, a two year old hound of mine, barked in the truck. He had never done that before so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I backed up and when my truck went over the same area he barked again. I got out of the truck and let him and my main start dog out.
I could tell that he had smelled a cat because he was running around jumping trying to smell above the weeds. My best dog, Lotes, finally got a smell of it and put her nose to the ground. With a little wag of her tail she barked on the track and Henry did as well. With them barking I opened the gate and turned the other lose. They trailed due north for about five minutes and covered nearly four hundred yards. Finally I heard Reno, bark way out ahead of the hounds trailing and I figured he had the cat jumped. By jumped, I mean that animal knows he is being pursued and is running from the hounds.
The other hounds shut and went to Reno, when they got there the race was on. With nine hounds barking every breath they continued north about eight hundred yards and started circling back to the west. I moved the truck around to get closer and was able to get within about 150 yards of the race. They the cat settled down by now and were covering an area of about fifty acres. The cat would run about a hundred yards and squat. When he did this the hounds would over run the trail and the cat would go the other way. They would find it again and the roar would start over. After about ten minutes of this they went silent for about five minutes and figured the cat was in a tree.
Sure enough I heard Candy start barking treed and the others soon followed. While I was on the way to the tree I heard the barking turn into a fighting frenzy. For some reason that cat had jumped out. The fight lasted no longer then 30 seconds and my hunt was over. I had a wonderful race, which is music to my ears. I love nothing more then listening to a good pack of hounds run. Another bonus was that I had a puppy with me that I raised and this was her first cat. She went with the hounds and ran in the race. She didn't tree but she did fight like crazy. She's going to be a good one. I was home to write this by 10:30AM.