Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Talk about Cougar Hunting with Dogs
Mike Leonard
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Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby Mike Leonard » Tue May 15, 2018 5:54 pm

I was watching 2 10 week old pups working last evening and this brought this subject back to my attention.
I had a toy that had only my scent on it and what scent the pups had got on it while playing with it. I hid this toy up and away from the pups out of a sight a good 10-12 feet up, and just sat down and observed them. there was a very slight breeze blowing and the temp. was probably in the mid-70's. They cast this way and that way noses popping looking for the toy. they would cast off a bit hit the scent then come back into line and worked around till they were directly down-wind of the hidden toy. a few times they circled but after finding no toy they came back to the wind tunnel and then began to seek higher and higher in the air, becoming more and more convinced that their target was there they just couldn't see it. Soon one of them opened and then the other followed and soon they were locked up on the scent, and they scrambled around trying everything they could get up on to get closer to the source of the smell. Hence they located it by scent.

Well no big deal you say, that is what tree dogs are suppose to do. And you are right but it made me think about how many pups and grown hounds I have seen who were very weak when it comes to this.

Many times lion hounds especially in the southwest bay or tree lions in bluffs or low trees where they can see the game a lot of the time and therefore scent location is not that big a deal. a lot of hunters take it for granted and when choosing to cross some dogs to get pups these is not high on this list criteria they use to select these mating's.


Bobcat and coon hunters on the other hand know the importance of this trait and they will not keep a dog that can't locate in big timber or high bluffs.

I have spent years hunting in the southwest and I have seen many, many times hounds have successfully put a lion in a tree or a bluff and seen their dogs work get confused or bored , come out or go on and the hunter never knows that he had the lion all along. Especially now days when so many guys follow the hunt on a garmin rather than actually staying right with the hounds.
Cold Strike, extreme trail grubbing, and smart drifting are all important for a top lion dogs as well as extreme endurance and handle but never forget this trait when choosing parent of a great cross.

A little story to illustrate the importance:

I had a good friend and was a very good big game hunter who wanted a truly trophy sized tom lion for his collection. He had hunted with me a number of times and got to see a number of lions in the tree but never one that he felt was quite what he wanted to do a life-sized mount on.
During a period of the season where I had been very busy he had chosen to go out with several other hunters and they had got on the trail of a really big tom several times in and area which is fairly high and has some big canyons with a lot of fairly heavy timber especially on the north facing slopes. Both times they had cut the tom's track fairly early in decent snow and got a good run on him but he had made it into the bluffs and after some hours of trailing and traveling they would end up picking up the dogs scattered around on the roads coming out tired, but no lion.

He told me I just know that last time I waded into the canyon to get close to the dogs that lion was right there. The snow was bared off on some of the slopes but I could see by his tracks he had been up and running and circling around some thru those bluffs, but there were just dog tracks everywhere but they could never take him out of there. He said he had watched one old female dog who kept going back down the same line into some really have spruce timber time and time again but she would never settle and then the other dogs would blow up and suck her out of there again. he said she did it several times but he never got down to her before she came out and went to the running dogs. He asked my what I thought?

I told him not being there I wasn't sure but it sounded to me like the lion had done some running probably had been run before and jumped and was a little smart and then it just got in some heavy stuff maybe skipped off a bluff and landed up high and just sat it out.

He said he had mentioned that to the guy who had the dogs but he said there was no way his dogs would miss a big lion in a tree and that the lion had slipped out, and was probably long gone.

He told me that the last run had taken place just that morning and they had given it up around 11 and came in and got lunch, and that is when he called me.

I asked him if he would like to show me the area as I was free that afternoon and we could see if we could find where the lion came out? He jumped at the chance so we jumped in the truck and I just loaded one old high tan female hound and we went up there.

Well most all the snow on top was gone and it was getting pretty warm but we waded off into the canyon leading old Kate, and soon were among dog and people tracks and we could still see the lions track in places. I asked him to show me where the other hound kept going back to and he showed me where she would break out of the oak and head across a rock slide and then into a timbered header. We got over there and I let Kate go. She just sort of poked around not really interested in trying a track that had been covered by so many other dogs track some hours earlier by the other hounds.

She drifted off and finally crossed the slide which was about 200 yards across and then went into the header. She never opened and we just stood thee and listened to see if she could figure which way it headed out of there. She was a very experienced hound and loved a good detective story. I'll bet we stood there 20 minutes maybe more and she never came back and we never heard a peep, and we were just about ready to go fetch her, and here it came....

A long drawn out horn bawl that quivered and made that old header just ring. I knew we were both holding our breath waiting for another bawl to follow, but it never came. The next sound was just the steady, OwK! OwK! OwK! Owk! she was treed!

Half running half falling and crawling we headed into the timber. In about 400 yards we found ourselves in a bowl like crater with rim-rocks around it and scant spruce and pines around the perimeter. There was Kate up against the wall if the rim-rock barking up a huge ponderosa pine that grew close to the lip of the rim. I told my friend right there is where that son of a gun climbed out and jumped over. We headed over to get her and then try to figure how to circle around and get on top to see what we could do with the track from there. When we got to the tree I checked it over to see if I could tell where the lion climbed it but it was so trashed out around the base by dog tracks I couldn't tell for sure. But by Kate's earnest barking I knew the scent was strong there. I had to literally drag Kate from that place choking and dragging to follow us down the wall of the bowl several hundred yards to where we could find a place we could by doing a lot of climbing and scaling get up the other side. Once we got on top we hurried back towards the spot above where the big tree was. As I got close I just unsnapped Kate and she ran ahead of us. She no sooner got there and he started treeing again but this time hanging her head over the side of the rim.

Well she has gone crazy I said and I felt I would have to find the track and drag her over to it. I just reached her and was grabbing her to snap her up when I looked over that lip, and right there not 10 feet away lay a big old huge tom on a small shelf that was unseen from below just flattened out hiding. Well I'll be dogged, that rascal is hiding right here!

I believe when the original dogs had run him around he finally decided to climbed out but finding this place to ease out on he just cooned up right there, and those dogs either never got to the tree or they didn't stay with the scent that was blowing off there and just finally gave it up. Could be a lot of explanations but old Kate followed her nose not here eyes and it told her regardless that lion is there, and wild horses were not going to drag her away if she could help it. Locating Tree Dog!

OBTW, my friend decided not to shoot this lion although he was a good one, he said just that experience was enough for him and that smart old bugger deserved another run. He said we will get on another one some day. And we did.....
MIKE LEONARD
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al baldwin
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby al baldwin » Thu May 17, 2018 2:14 pm

Mike I am not a lion hunter, but, can tell you for sure that type of locating is missing from a high percentage of the running x tree cross pups produced here on the Oregon Coast. Also realize those crosses are necessary to produce a track style that catches 60 to 70 percent of the bobcats jumped. Al
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby Mike Leonard » Thu May 17, 2018 4:47 pm

Thanks Al, and I have no experience at all with the type of bobcat hunting done in your area.

Let me ask a question: When you say that running X tree cross catch 60-70% of bobcats, are these cats generally caught on the ground, or tree and located in the tree?

The reason I am asking is I have spoken with some hunters from the northwest, and was told that if a dog would not hit deep fast water and would not locate and set down and tree on a cat in a 100 + foot tree it was worthless to them. Possibly these hunters are hunting cats in a different style?
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al baldwin
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby al baldwin » Fri May 18, 2018 1:01 am

Mike Leonard wrote:Thanks Al, and I have no experience at all with the type of bobcat hunting done in your area.

Let me ask a question: When you say that running X tree cross catch 60-70% of bobcats, are these cats generally caught on the ground, or tree and located in the tree?

The reason I am asking is I have spoken with some hunters from the northwest, and was told that if a dog would not hit deep fast water and would not locate and set down and tree on a cat in a 100 + foot tree it was worthless to them. Possibly these hunters are hunting cats in a different style?
Mike in my experience, lots depend on the area you are hunting. Take an area with good access where all hunters are allowed to hunt some of those bobs refuse to tree, not sure why, often ask self why did that cat get stretched with all these trees to climb? Get in a place with poor access, and very few allowed to hunt most of those cats treed, often times without putting up a hard race. Recall several years back partner & I caught 15 bobs 7 of those 15 were caught on the ground. That year Tom also caught a few without me. Tom only lives about 50 mile from me, he often states the cats in my hunting grounds are on average the hardest to catch of any areas he has hunted. He, unlike I has hunted with lots of different hunters in several areas. Al
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby twist » Fri May 18, 2018 2:33 am

I'm my opinion if a hound can't tree by scent it's should be considered a cull. Andy
The home of TOPPER AGAIN bred biggame hounds.
Mike Leonard
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby Mike Leonard » Fri May 18, 2018 11:35 am

Al,

Thanks for that. I have seen some cats that seem to be pretty easy to tree, in rather remote areas that are thick with coyotes. Only speculation but I have seen where Mr. bob. caught himself a nice cottontail in the night and rather than eating him where he caught him he decides to carry him a ways to a better dining spot. Seen in the snow where the coyotes picked up his trail and knew he had a rabbit and they built to him. Generally that cat is going to ground or up a tree pronto once he realized that yipping pack has single him out. A bobcat one on one with a coyote is no big deal but our little canines are pretty smart and they will make a fool of him and leave him humiliated and still hungry if he doesn't go where they can't.

Other areas where the cats get hunted a good bit and get away a few times they seem like they would rather run circle and play all day rather than tree. I am sure this is where a big fast pack of runners can sure up the odds.
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby hectorp » Tue May 22, 2018 4:31 pm

That was my experience with lion hounds from the southwest. I try to use them on coon and then after they will be train for coon, try to use them on ocelot and possibly jaguar. But at least three of the ones I bought didn´t have the trait for treeing. Possibly it will show up if I hunted 200 days a year, but I only hunted at that time about 20 times a year. They will not tree the coons. The other one I got from the southwest he had the tree instinct but he was a goer, not quit in him. Maybe very handy for the kind of trailing they have in the southwest, but not for my kind of pleasure hunting.

I aslo brougth some registed walkers, there the problem was that some will have to much tree in them and they will slick tree. Thats the other side of the story or spectrum.

Now I hunt registed blueticks from Vaughn- Mountian Music- Ormiston they are heavy in Smokey River blood from Haslouer. They tree, have fair nose, handle well.

Very nice and instructive post Mike. Saludos
Last edited by hectorp on Tue May 22, 2018 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mike Leonard
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby Mike Leonard » Tue May 22, 2018 6:03 pm

Hector,

I think you hit on a very fine line of dogs that has been enjoyed for many years as good country coon-dogs and pleasure hounds.
I must say that some 20+ years ago I had a very fine friend who moved here from Oklahoma and he had developed a fine line of blueticks from the very lines you speak of. His stud dog at the time was old but he was an own son of the Famous Smoke River Diamond Jim who is deep in Mountain Music blood and many of his bitches, had the older Smokey River, Elbert Vaughn and Gaither blood.
Up till moving here this man had hunted only coon with his dogs.
I must say this man was a country boy from the ground up and was as at home in these mountains as he was in the woods where he was raised. He knew his dogs and he knew how to handle them and it was no time and he was treeing bare ground mountain lion and bear on his own, in style. He didn't need any help or any other dogs he just laced his boots up and hit the woods.

I have seen a lot of other people come into it and buy the best big game dogs money could buy and still only follow around in groups and catch a little easy game off the roads but never could be classified as a real big game hound hunter.
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Re: Don't lose emphasis on treeing by scent in your lion hounds

Postby palmer outfitters » Tue May 29, 2018 2:07 am

i agree with you guys on everything, i think it definitely depends on where you hunt and terrain also. i have tried the running dog treeing dog cross for some more speed and they definitely worked well in certain areas especially for bobcat but have found that they didnt locate and tree hear in southern colorado near as good as my treeing walkers i got from twist. ive also got an older bluetick that is my slowest dog but a great nose on him and he doesnt miss anything either. one last thing ive been really impressed with is ive got a couple of weems/pocohantas cross plotts that have really been excelling in everything, striking,trailing, locating, and treeing. the conditions are usually pretty tough here, its real dry, windy and hot with not much brush and a lot of rocks and when we do get snow it usually melts of the south facing slopes before noon and the sun melts the track during the day then freezes at night its been a blast last 2 years watching these dogs work to figure it out. i know i dont have as good a dogs as a lot of you guys on here (yet, lol) that have been doing it a long time especially in arizona, new mexico, and utah (conditions no snow, hot, dry, low humidity, wind and rocks) but im very pleased with the dogs i do have and believe the more i hunt them the better they get. the funny thing to me is you cant help but feel a little competitive and want your dogs to do the best but i love watching all dogs hunt whether they are mine or somebody elses and they all can have good days and bad days and we have to remember we do this for enjoyment and the dogs and we all need to stick together so we can keep doing it! I got a little carried away there but basically all aspects are important, you cant catch game if your dogs cant strike and trail them and you cant catch game if your dogs dont locate and tree ive seen a lot of dogs that can do some things good but not others and when you have a dog that does everthing good then you have an exceptional dog. i just got back into the sport 2 years ago after not doing it for 20 years and just wanted to thank you guys for all your stories and great information youve put on here, it is very helpful and great reading when i cant be out there hunting. i try to hunt the dogs 4 to 5 days a week (to keep them happy lol) and i like to hike a lot and watch the dogs hunt instead of just watching the gps, but thats a nice break to sometimes.

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