Trailing in the desert

Talk about Cougar Hunting with Dogs
Uncle Dave
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Trailing in the desert

Postby Uncle Dave » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:10 pm

Hope to get a little insight from folks with more experience with trailing lions in desert conditions . What substrate do your dogs have the most issues trailing across and which seem to be easier?

I ran a fresh female track today for fun across a large area that was basically beach sand with sporadic junipers and the dogs really struggled with it despite the fact that it was only about an hour old (crossed over my own tracks). I have never seen these dogs do so poorly. I watched them walk over the track 2-3 times, open, trail 30 yards, lose it...repeat. Luckily with the sand I was able to visually keep them on the track and know we were headed the right way.

Humidity was around 14%, light wind, sunny, between 40-55 temp.

At what humidity levels do you start seeing your dogs struggle?

Hoping to learn something from today's adventure. Thanks.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Cowboyvon » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:01 pm

lol well welcome to my world .. I've caught a few lions in the desert .. I've trailed a lot of lions in the desert .. I have ran some tracks that seemed like I was having a trash race and I have poked around on fresh tracks that seemed like they were a week old .. Arroy sand can be tough .. grease wood will actually stop a pretty good track but I have trailed across it before .. rocky bottoms that are protected and have bed rock you can trail a lot older track then most realize but not very far. If that lion is just walking you can trail pretty good sometimes but when she goes to sneaking around that hour old track can seem like a week old track. I've been trailing along real good down a bottom with things getting better and moving pretty good and then that lion gets about 1/4 away from topping out and we slow down to a crawl .. thermals? more exposure to the elements? or does that lion go to sneaking wondering what is on top or on the other side .. I think that sneaking is what happens when the old timers use to say that a lion can turn their scent off .. I use to think that we had some females that would just hit a long trot and stay out in front of the hounds .. but I'm not sure about that now .. I think that maybe she hears us coming and just goes to sneaking around and when she is sneaking its hard to trail her ..
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Mike Leonard » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:30 pm

I agree with Brett, at times them buggers are right there sneaking around you and for the life of it you can't get their track up and going.

Sand and that low humidity is certainly a factor as well because the UV rays will just burn that scent out so quickly. but here is the dang deal: that stinking lion is right there so you would think there would be airborne scent hanging in the air and your dogs would just throw their heads up like a pointer and drift to it.

Now we are back to old Dale Lee's subject of can lion's hold or modify their scent? Some will say that is impossible, just can't happen.

Well then you tell me why when i am a trailing a lion right along sometimes so fast that I have to goose my horse to stay in earshot of the dogs and all of a sudden no real change in the environment, but the lion encounters prey. He goes into hunt or stalk mode and screech!!! the track comes to a halt or a snail's pace. Something happened????

Conditions, tracks and even lions travel and mode can change so quickly that it keeps this game ever young, for the inquisitive mind.

Even in snow conditions I have seen this, and sure a lot of times a person or a dang smart hound can sight track those paint by numbers track holes in the snow and work thru it but even then I have been left scratching my head when i back track a ways and find the lions track crossing right over mine.

Don't shoot the dogs!!!! LOL!
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby perk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:26 pm

Never hunted in desert, or in lions, but have hunted around plenty of hounds on several species. I was always told, and it's been my anecdotal experience, that 'you cant/wont run a piece of game at a pace faster than they are moving.'

Meaning if the game is walking the dogs will be moving it at a walking pace, and when are running hard they move faster.

I've seen this to prove true in my experiences many times with fox, rabbit, cat, deer, coon, etc.
Dogs slow moving track and struggling when game is just sneaking around infront of pack, or walking, and soon as you get close enough and he may run hard the scenting conditions seem to pick up.

Now why this happens I dont know. Or if it even really happens that way, but seems to be my experience and the experience of my mentors and their mentors. Hell maybe its just an old wives tale, and I'm crazy.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Walkerdirt » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:38 pm

I've experienced this a few times myself. Just a few weeks ago I thought we had one jumped and my dogs were running and opening hard but it took us up and over a boulder field pinnacle, skirted the sunny side (I think) of the ridge through some gnarly rocks then came back around the shady side. It took forever for my dogs to get through the boulder field and I couldn't tell which side of the ridge was the in or out track. We made a loss after a 2 mile race that seemed like it was red hot. One way or another that lion snuck right past us.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby al baldwin » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:37 am

My five dogs were trailing a bobcat that I thought was just sneaking along in front of them. The three older dogs cross a small open space & entered brush patch. Thinking to my self that bobcat is not very far ahead of those dogs, about them two younger dogs entered that small open area, noses to ground about maybe 75 feet apart. What a treat, about that time a nice tom cat came tiptoeing out of the brush where those three older had entered a few minutes ago. tiptoed between those two young dogs & disappeared into the brush into the direction all five dogs had came from, those young dogs never seen that cat at all. About the time that tom cleared that open area one of those old dogs entered that open and walking in the same path the cat had followed. After considerable time had pasted with this type of trailing. A small tight mouthed female got a jump on that cat & in short order that tom was treed. I have trailed many bobcats that sneaked ahead of the hounds, seen numerous cats ahead of the hounds, however that was the only time I witnessed a bobcat tiptoe between two hounds. Makes me believe it happens more than one would think. This took place on the Oregon Coast. Al
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Mike Leonard » Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:57 pm

Al,

You gotta love that little tight mouthed female!

I have seen this too, and a few times I have seen a cat just set down among some working hounds and just watch them. They just working with their noses down and go right past him almost running into him. go figure that?????
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby LarryBeggs » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:31 pm

I dont know if my thinking is right on this but I think if a cat like a big powder puff full of scent. When the cat is moving slowly and carefully only a little scent falls off but when it starts running and making quick movements more scent falls off. I was running a cat one day. They would jump him and he would head for a large creek that was high and rolling full of waterfalls and blow down. It would take them a while to get across and the cat would be sneaking along and they would struggle with it. They would eventually jump it and he would head for the creek again. This went on for several hours. I saw the cat come out into the rd. once and when he saw me he took off running. When the dogs hit the spot where he was running they blew up and ran him back to the creek again. Finally after 8 hours the cat got tired and went in a culvert. But the dogs didn't push him in there.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby LarryBeggs » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:32 pm

This was a bobcat in wet country not desert but I think the same rules apply.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Goose » Sat Mar 07, 2020 2:28 pm

It’s scientifically proven in man tracking that sudden fear can and does change the scent and pheromones that are released by the body resulting in a different scent profile, I’m no cat hunter but have read and studied these cases and instances a good bit just out of curiosity, I’ve seen this very thing happen when hog hunting( before any smart as$ comments about how bad hogs stink, study swine anatomy and you’ll learn they produce no type of body oil and leave very little scent, hog pens stink but hogs themselves don’t) and I’ve noticed it happens the majority of the time when a hog is crossing a road with the hounds behind it and they see somebody, and then they continue crossing, I’ve seen some sure enough high powered dogs look plum foolish on these times, sit back and let the game cross the rd and not know it has been seen and it’s almost like the dogs never miss a beat, Pegleg what you mentioned about how fast the game is running determines how fast the hounds are moving, never give it any thought but I have to agree with you on this that more times than not I’ve witnessed this very thing, and never knew what I was watching, I mainly breed for line control and track speed so my dogs are above average fast on track and some days I’m just scratching my head as to why ole so and so ain’t moving that track faster and alway immediately looked into the environmental and atmospheric conditions at that time, there might be a lot more going in here than what we’ve been able to discover, thanks just when the hamster wheel inside my head was starting to slow down a bit so I could sleep at night it has now gone back into full speed ahead...
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Uncle Dave » Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:55 pm

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I'm glad I'm not the only one that this has happened to!

This female definitely knew we were behind her so the sneak mode theory definitely could be possible in this situation. We'll be back in that same country to try again at some point. I figure that's the only way I can start to sort out if it was environmental conditions or lion behavior that was giving us issues.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby macedonia mule man » Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:08 pm

Sounds like the sandy scenting conditions compare to the pine needle mats in the southeast. Regardless of what part of the world you are in I believe it’s all about the scenting conditions in the spot you dog is working in at the moment. And I believe those conditions can change pretty fast,like in the next 20 yds. And I believe it’s all about barometric press and wind. I’ve noticed my dogs can run with authoity in any kind of ground when there is a light fog hovering 8/10 feet above the ground, let the fog lift and the running starts dwindling a little. I had the loan of a Southwest cat hound a few years back and he was as tough as they came. On up in age and looked like a mixture of potlicker hound with a good voice and would tree hard as any coon hound I ever had. I don’t know what his style was earlier but when I had him he could smell tracks that other dogs had no idea what he was barking at. I think he had rather smell a track than run and jump a cat, he jumped a few butcouldn’t run one over 50 yrs without going back to the jump and start over again. I’ve watch some video of dry ground hounds and they acted the same as he did, really slow walking track. Have any of you boys tried breeding a little more swing into the dry ground dogs?
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby al baldwin » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:17 pm

Greetings Muleman, I have found swing more likely then not makes catching bobcat more difficult. Returning to the same spot can for sure can be a determent to catching at times, after about the second time, time to do a little correction. Dogs that learn to put the nose down & trail to get the critter jumped then get head up and run at a steady pace fast enough to break the cats pace catches more bobs than a wide swinger who over runs the track, has to spend time finding the track again Sounds simple, surprising how hard it can be to find such a dog sometimes. just my experience.
But if you talking about drifting out on an old feeder track that can be a big advantage. Al
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby macedonia mule man » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:04 am

Al, when I say swing I’m not talking about one direction. Most animals leave a trail in somewhat of a streight direction whatever they do, feeding running or just traveling. The dogs I’ve noticed that can move game workinside out moving forward. If you think of 12 on the clock, most tracks are going to be in a forward direction from 9am to 3pm when you are trailing and running. When I say swinging, I’m talking moving forward working from 9 to 3. That type dog will pick just about anything including a double back. A one direction swinger is usually out of the race most of the time, spend more time getting back to the race. I’m not talkin just about cat or lion, I talking anything you run.
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Re: Trailing in the desert

Postby Goose » Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:28 am


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