Friday, November 29, 2013

Hunting with Dogs

When I was a young scrapper, Thanksgiving was a closed day for deer hunting.  In fact, it separated a split in the season, the earlier portion for still hunting only, and the later portion for hunting with dogs. The still hunt season closed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the dog season opened the Friday following. In those days, hunting with dogs was a popular past-time and many hunters kept dogs for the late deer season.  Indeed, for many years, I'd eat lunch with the family, then we'd head north to Minden, LA where I hunted the whole weekend with my good friend Melvin, whose family kept deer dogs.

In effect, we'd ring a large portion of the forest with hunters, as many as two dozen or more, then two men would drop the dogs and follow them through the woods.  If the dogs jumped a deer, the chase was on, and it was considered poor form to miss a running deer.  It was considered even poorer form to let the dogs get past you if you were a stander.  I suspect that the deer season was closed on Thanksgiving to keep the hunters near the house on this most American of holidays.

Nowadays I hunt in Area 2, as defined by the Louisiana hunting regulations.  I also note that Thanksgiving is an open day, and the dog season doesn't begin in Area 2 until December 4th.    In most of Louisiana we now have deer leases, posted land, and the large timber companies no longer have open land.  Hunting with dogs is proscribed on most private land, and has fallen out of favor.  But, there was a time where I'd gather with  hunters on the Friday after Thanksgiving and hunt deer with dogs.  Sometimes we'd have a good day, and we'd stack deer up in a pickup truck like cordwood.

I never remember any of that meat going to waste.   The rules were simple.  If you were a hunter, you had a right to a portion of the game.  If you wanted to donate your portion, there was always a family nearby in dire financial straits who would gladly skin, dress, and butcher those deer to fill the family freezer.

So, on this Friday after Thanksgiving, as you read this, I'm sitting on a stand in Area 2, but I'm not hunting over dogs.  We're all a bit poorer, because we don't spend much time hunting deer with dogs.  It was a gand tradition, and like all traditions, it's passed with our time and circumstance.

Good hunting.

1 comment:

Goatwhiskers said...

How well do I remember! Dropped off to stand by a tree and you better not leave it. Freezing your hiney off. Dogs strike, gone, out of hearing, that's it for the rest of the day till they pick you up to go back to camp. On the other hand, I got my first one, it was being trailed but you couldn't even hear the dogs yet. Now I much prefer a quiet stand in the woods, don't see many but me and the good Lord have time for a talk. GW