November 29th, 2011 by cowgirljules
I knew when Grey Fox died that things would be all shaken up within our little hunting group. The interpersonal relationships did take a hit, and the season had some awkward moments, but all in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The same group of us are still hunting together at the end of the season, so that’s a good thing.
The bad thing this year has been the actual hunting. I’ve never seen a year so bad, and most of the houndsmen I run with say the same thing, and they have a lot more time on the ground for comparison. So many weekends have been spent driving around looking for tracks or scents for absolutely nothing that it’s got me pretty well burnt out on the whole thing for a while. So much money and time invested, and I only got to see three bears taken. What a terrible year for training dogs this was too, as it’s really hard to teach them what to hunt if we never actually find what they’re supposed to be hunting.
I didn’t want to put my green dogs in on cold tracks for fear that they’d mess up someone’s paid-for hunt, and it’s not as good for training as hot tracks are anyway. They have a hard time figuring out what to do if the smell is too faint. So Jane got in on three hunts, and only made it to the tree on two of them. I never did manage to walk the pups in to a tree, since I was busy messing with Jane and only have so many hands. It’s next to impossible to train young dogs without a lead dog of your own, and I don’t have one.
The dogs are driving me nuts at home too, always barking, like hounds do. I’ve had a lot of animal drama going on lately with Angus killing poultry and me having to take one of the hound kennels for him. Add to that the job insecurity and the irrationality of spending one to two hundred bucks in fuel each weekend to hunt these dogs, besides the costs to feed them and keep them healthy, and it starts to overwhelm me. I’m losing sight of the joy in hunting; it’s all work and no fun any more. I’m working hard on simplifying my life to ease stress levels, and the dog pack is a huge part of my stress.
So after a great deal more thought than I spent acquiring the pack (and that was a lot,) they are now for sale. I have someone coming over tonight who likes Cara a lot and used to own her grandmother. He may take the other two as well, for another friend who’s down a few dogs. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this but rationality says that it’s the right thing to do. It’s just not the right time for me, and getting a green houndsman involved with a green pack was a poor decision. If the financial things shape up, I can get back into it at any time, but next time, I’ll buy some trained dogs to start with. Puppies are just more headache than they’re worth.
I’m having a problem with feeling like a failure and I definitely got more attached to these little hooligans than I should have, but I do think that my life will be easier without them. The box will come out of the truck so I can use the bed, but I’ll keep all of my equipment. I liked being a houndsman, but I think I will like lowering my blood pressure just as much. I’ll miss them but my poultry and the neighbors won’t. At least I’m in good company; more than half of the houndsmen that I know have sold off all of their dogs at one point or another. Grey Fox himself used to sell dogs left and right, and completely got out of it more than once. But if I get back into it, it’ll have to be from another angle. I’m not a dog trainer, at least not at this stage.