Hunts are much more than shooting. I’ve always enjoyed the dog part of a hunt. What a special relationship humans have with canines. I love to see one with drive. The fire in their eyes. The passion to hunt. I’m OK with minor handling or control glitches if they have drive.
The toughest one I ever saw was my 30-pound Boykin, Meleagris (Mele), named for the wild turkey. She was passionate about duck hunting. Always focused. Break ice. Relentless on cripples. She accepted pets. But none of that nonsense when hunting. If I touched her she would move out of my reach. None of this lovey dovey stuff when we are hunting.
Hunting dogs also need to be under control. Control is important. An ill-mannered dog can ruin a hunt as well as a well-mannered dog can make a hunt. And drive and control don’t necessarily go together.
Good hunting dogs give so much. They depend on us so much, and we need to do everything in our power to take care of them. Their life is so short anyway compared to ours.
Here are some suggestions for care of your canine hunting partner, based on my experiences of about six decades of hunting with dogs.
• Keep them off the highway. They’re not programmed for 70 mile an hour predators, especially at night.
• Keep their shots up-to-date. There’s no need not to. Get periodic check ups from your veterinarian, especially for older dogs. A physical exam and blood work is an insight into their condition. Results may help address health issues while you still can.
• Keep them away from poisonous snakes and alligators. I have had personal experiences with my dogs with poisonous snakes, and I hear the stories about alligators. Snakes and alligators are cold blooded and are not usually active during cold weather. But warm days in winter can get them going. I had one of my duck dogs bitten the day after Thanksgiving years ago. A large timber rattlesnake was sunning above ground. I got her quickly to a veterinarian. She looked rough for a while but pulled through. I hear there is snake vaccine now that may be worth a look.