Pack size for bear hunting

Talk about Bear Hunting
mrburneisen
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Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:13 pm

How many hounds should be used in a bear hunt to effectively tree a bear? I understand that there are a lot of variables, the bear itself being one of them as not all bears will tree. This paper recommends 3 to 4 mature and well trained hounds.

http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tp ... hounds.pdf

I currently own for 4 hounds for hunting: a plott female 1 1/2 yrs old, a walker female 2 yrs, and a pair of 3/4 walker 1/4 plott 3 yrs old 1 male 1 female. I have spent the last couple of years training focussing on handling and breaking them off deer. I haven't tried to break them off anything else because I mostly run them during the day in the mountains of Western NC where there are a lot of bear, so they're more likely to cross a bear track than fox, coyote, or other game. I have run them at night in pairs and they've taken a few possum. I run them all together during the day, sometimes only 3 of them due to one being in heat. They have worked bear tracks many times, but have not treed a bear.

Coming into this training season I would like to start focusing on bear only, but I don't want to get my dogs hurt because I put them on a bear either too soon in their development or with too few mature dogs. I have been invited several times to join other hunting parties, but I haven't taken them up on it. I don't know if it's pride (I want to train my own dogs, and be successful on my own) or something else that has kept me from accepting their offer, but I am still hesitant to hunt with these larger groups who sometimes put 10+ dogs on the ground. Should I just swallow my pride and try to learn as much as I can from these guys? Is it ok to take my dogs into this season on their own? Would you recommend some combination of both? Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Lee Wolford
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby Lee Wolford » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:28 pm

A lot of good questions. Sounds like your youngest dog is 1 1/2 years old and your broke off deer and they have been on a few bear.. so it sounds like they are started in the right direction. Its is deffinetly time to start hunting them as much as possible. You CAN NOT worry about your dogs getting hurt if your gonna hunt big game, especially bear. Its going to happen sooner or later, its just part of the game. If you spend too much time worrying about your dogs getting lost or hurt its going to really affect your end result. As for a number of dogs to run on a bear, that is irrelevant. The quality of hounds that you run on a bear far outweighs the quantity. Your better off with 2-4 quality dogs then 25 trashy ones. Many a bear have been treed with one dog! One good bear dog in a pack of 10 mediocre dogs makes them all look good at the tree. When in fact if you didn't have that one great dog you couldn't catch a bear to save your butt! When it comes to hunting with a lot off different dogs that you don't know anything about it's BAD BUSINESS if you have younger dogs that are just starting. If all you have are old dogs that have been around forever and can withstand the pressure of other dogs running off game and ill dogs at the tree, then its a lot of fun to hunt with large groups of dogs. Unless you know all the other dogs really well your way better off to hunt your dogs for a season by themselves until you know what you have. It would be very tempting to run your young dogs with 10 other hounds BUT at the end of the day you would be very disappointed if your young tree dog got ate up at the tree by someones ill dog or got on a trash race all day with another young dog that wasn't broke off deer.
dhostetler
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby dhostetler » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:16 am

You should definitely run your dogs with other dogs that catch bear. You can do all the training you want which is good but those dogs need to learn run to catch. The more bear trees they are under the harder they will run. Yes there could be negative impacts to run with strange dogs but the benefits of success far out ways those risk. Your dogs are at the age that they should be screamers on bears.
lionhunter78
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby lionhunter78 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:24 am

I agree with dhostetler it will help your dogs to run with some dogs that are catching bear as it will help build there confidence as long as there good dogs your hunting with, because as he said there can be negative effects as well if there not all good dogs. If you run your dogs with others that do good but one of there dogs quit a mean one that can cause your dog to pick up the same habit
Bneill
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby Bneill » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:58 pm

I have to agree with mr. wolford. There is a lot to be said for learning your dogs, while they learn to run bear. You need to know what you have, without the help of everyone else. If you want to turn out behind someone else's dogs, who yours aren't packed up with, I don't think you ever see your dogs full potential or learn them from the box to the tree. I would say, make your own excellent dogs, don't let someone else. The payoff is far greater!
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby lionhunter78 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:34 pm

Mr Wilford and hostetler both have great input, far as size of pack myself prefers 3/4 you learn more about the dogs your hunting and you do tend to have less problems. But ya 1 or 2 special dogs can get er done all day long also. Less dogs means heck of a lot less vet bills
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:35 am

Thank you for the advice. I don't have the ability to run off of baits and in the areas that I hunt there are few roads, so we are mostly driving to trailheads and hiking with the dogs back in looking for a track. Keeping to 3 or 4 hounds will not only save on vet bills, but is much easier to manage in the field. I still have a lot to learn, so I will work my butt off to get these dogs on as many tracks as i can this training season mid-Aug through mid-Oct, and we'll see how it works out. Thanks again
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:31 pm

Update: Training season is in full swing and gun season is just around the corner. We have put a lot of miles on our boots/paws this fall and been on 1 bear for sure. I saw the track after my plott/walker cross started going nuts. That was probably one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced in my life. I have gotten buck fever hunting deer and been shaking in a tree stand watching the cross hairs bounce all over the place, but this was different. The dogs had a good couple mile run before losing it in a thick creek bottom. they circled around for a good bit before we went down and caught them. Thank you for the advice, my sons and I have really enjoyed running our dogs this training season, despite very limited action on bear. I have posted an ethics question in another thread regarding this particular chase because I could see on my gps that the tracks were coming from the east, and a little over 2 miles to the east of this spot is some private land where they put down bait. At the time I was so exciting I just turned all the dogs out on it, and didn't really think about it until later. That bear was probably visiting that bait site. I don't want to steal someone else's bear, and I don't want any problems with my fellow bear hunters, I want to learn from them. I had a bad experience during archery season with a deer I shot and someone else finished and tagged, so maybe I'm just overly sensitive to this kind of thing. There were no other hounds barking, and I never saw another hunter or hound during the whole race, so I didn't turn my dogs into someone else's chase. any advice or comments are appreciated.
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby Gritty dogs » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:08 am

I know you said you hut a area that has limited road access but if you want to make dogs you have to put them on game! I don't know your country but with out a finish dog I would find a good dirt road and get a drag like wire bed springs or chain link fence with some weight on it and drag it that night then check in morning for fresh tracks!! When they get it started and the race is sounding good then just goes quite look at your map on gps mark that spot the dogs are at and get there as fast as you can there is a good chance the bear is up and the dogs are not locating it. I don't know your dogs so I don't know how tree minded they are but young dogs have to learn when the trail ends to look up!!
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:07 am

Thank you, I didn't consider the fact that they may have treed that bear and just not been at the tree. That makes me think about a couple other races that I thought they quit, and maybe they treed the game and didn't look up. There's a whole lot more to this sport than I thought when I started acquiring dogs 3 years ago. I should be able to get ahold of something to drag, the ground is pretty soft here due to a lot of rain lately. I appreciate the advice.
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:22 pm

Mr. Red Barron,

I have politely requested advice from houndsmen who are more experienced than myself in regards to the proper technique of training hounds for the purpose of treeing and/or baying bears. You have not provided any advice, or suggestions that will help me or any houndsmen in the field. I will politely request that you refrain from commenting unless you can provide advice or useful information. The videos you posted are neither in the english language or depict hounds, so they simply do not apply to my situation and provide no value to the conversation.
Gritty dogs
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby Gritty dogs » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:23 pm

I hope it helps it's good to see more guy's getting in to the sport!! It's easy to go buy finished dogs and catch game then boast like your really something but that doesn't make you a houndsmen!! Doing what your doing you will learn more and know more about your dogs than most ever will just keep at it you will get it! If you have a chance to pick up a little more experienced dog to help yours it just makes it easier lots of guys let old dogs go that get to slow that will help yours locate and stay treed and after a few bears hit the ground they will really turn on!! But if you just want to run what you have get a roll cage and put something in it in Oregon we can still use coons lay a sent drag to it and pull the cage up in a tree and get them treeing you can learn alot right at home working with your dogs and a roll cage. In my opinion the trailing is the easy part hounds do this naturally its the it's the locating and staying treed that makes a dog with out that you have nothing so help them all you can and like i said when that hot race just ends chances are he is sitting in the biggest tree down there watching the dogs go on by so get there quickly and help them out good luck!!
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:26 am

Thank you, I have a neighbor a couple doors down who is a coon hunter. It's been too long since I paid him a visit. I know he has done a little trapping over the years to help teach his dogs. I'll ask him if he has a roll cage I can borrow. He has inviting me coon hunting in the past, the only thing that kept me from it is my wife not wanting me out all night with him, but that's a whole different conversation. She's ok with me chasing bears during the day, just has thing about me taking my sons out all night. I appreciate your advice.
Gritty dogs
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby Gritty dogs » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:13 pm

Mr burneisen i was just wondering if you were having any luck and how your dogs were doing?
mrburneisen
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Re: Pack size for bear hunting

Postby mrburneisen » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:52 pm

I had thought about posting updates a few times, but there are very few active people on this forum, so I started a field journal instead. Below are a few excerpts from that field journal, to give you an idea of what we've been up to. We hunt the dogs in that game lands every Saturday, and do our best to run them a couple more times during the week. our training runs are usually in the evening/early night on dirt roads in the game lands/national forest, so some training runs turn into night hunts if the dogs get on a track of some sort.

I never get tired of the landscape in the mountains, the rocky outcrops and mountain laurel are spectacular. We also come across more than our share of deer and that is how I know my dogs are pretty well broke off deer. I have had clear shot on 2 deer so far this season. The first was a nice 8 point buck about 15 yards away from me. My dog Grace was busy barking at a hole on down the mountain at the edge of a horse pasture. She was not on the track of that deer. On another trip to the black bear area north of Lake James, my dogs got on a coon track from the night before, my sons and I could see the tracks in the muddy creek bottom. We also saw turkey tracks, but that was just a bonus. As the dogs were working that coon track a doe cut back out of the bottom and stopped about 10 yards away from Justise and I. She stood there a minute before walking off. My dogs never turned off that coon track. We caught them all but Grace to make sure they wouldn’t even have a chance to run that deer and Grace never turned to run that deer either. We ended up taking Dolly and Lola back to the Subaru and going back in to catch Grace who was hanging out in a section of oak trees along a ridge about a mile and a half from the parking area. My best guess is that that coon was in one of those trees, but it was during the day so I couldn’t shine a light up there to try and find out.

On a recent weekend my son Kacen had a football game and my mother-in-law was coming into town, so no one wanted to go hunting with me. This was the first time I had taken the dogs out entirely alone, and honestly I didn’t really want to go. I took the dogs back in past limekiln creek and they had a big run up by the peak of woods mountain. I hiked a good 3 miles back in listening to them work that track across the mountain. On my way back out to the Subaru the dogs were waiting for me along the trail. They had back tracked down the mountain a whole lot faster than I could hike.

It is now November and we have hiked longer and farther this kill season than any other hunting season in my life. This includes those years tracking white tail in the snow. My sons and I have scoured the mountains from little buck creek to highway 221 in the Woodlawn area in search of a black bear. I am afraid that my techniques are antiquated and do not fit the current situation in the area we have been training and hunting. We have been using a technique called free casting where you pretty much just turn the dogs loose to go hunt for a track. I have been keeping them on a leash for a good mile to mile and a half away from the road then then turning them loose to hunt. We then hike along the trails and do our best to keep up. Grace has a habit of going on a dead run for about a mile or so and then putting her nose down to start hunting. Lola will stay within 500 yards or so and check back in with us as she searchers along the valleys and ridgelines we are hiking. The way Lola has been hunting is about what Dolly does, except Dolly will go with Grace sometimes and then start hunting when Grace does.

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