Saturday, January 09, 2010

2009 Hunting Reflections One...

After a month of English and French hunting this year, what have you learned, Dorothy?

First, specifically about the deerhound packs in England.After three years of the two hound system: it’s a wreck. This stag season, one of the two hound system packs killed a record 30+ stags. When I heard people talking about the season, this number was often mentioned. Not great runs, not particular hounds' or stags' performances, but body count.

This carries out the sad prediction of these pages two years ago.

The first problem is that as R. said three years ago, “If we could do it with two hounds instead of forty, we would have been doing it that way for a loooong time.” Two hounds have an awful problem settling to and hunting one deer.

First, as I admit I have had impressed on me by the two hound system, scent is incredibly variable from place to place, weather to weather, animal to animal, and hound to hound. Most importantly, these all change constantly. When the particular scent of this deer at this moment in this spot appeals strongest to only a couple or two hounds, they are far more likely to be present if there are forty out than if there are only two.

When two hounds CAN hunt, they are slow. A full pack moves much more quickly. Hounds encourage one another, and pick up their fellows’ slack. They move at the speed of the most locked-on-target hound of forty, not of two.

The next problem is that two hounds just don’t provide the interest to followers. Or should I say to this follower. I like to see a pack work, to see that team of individuals work out that line. Especially if we know those hounds, their personalities, their natures, their arcs.

Imagine how stadia would empty if football were suddenly restricted to two man teams.

If nothing else, it’s awfully difficult to even see them!

Finally of course is the whole moral thing we talked about before. First we resisted, and they showed us how we could go along to get along. Then once we took that route, we had to try to make some sort of virtue out of the compromise.

Now we have decided to cooperate. At what point do we become collaborators with our, and the deer's, enemies? And when are we actually their allies?

But from now on I’ll call it the shootup system. No euphemisms, that is what it is.

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