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Why it is Ethical to Hunt Big Game with Dogs

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February 05, 2013
Why it is Ethical to Hunt Big Game with Dogs - 8

As a dog man, I believe hunting with canines enriches the experience of pursuing game beyond merely being outside and pursuing your quarry. Working with an animal to take another defines teamwork, evolution, and the relationship between man and dog.

Beyond just enabling us to take animals – be it pheasants, quail, chukar, ducks, geese, coyotes, cougars, bears, raccoons, or whatever else – hunting with a dog allows us to take some game in a more ethical manner.

Here in Washington state two counties, King and Pierce (home of Seattle and Tacoma, and a bunny-hugging hippies and city folk) make all the laws for the rest of the state. In their ecologically ignorant and short-sighted wisdom, the West-side hippies made hunting cougars and bears with dogs illegal more than a decade ago (thanks to lots and lots of out-of-state money from the Humane Society of the United States).

But, about five miles from my place, in northern Idaho, the use of dogs for cats and bear hunting is legal.

The anti-hunters like to say using dogs to tree bears and cats is an unfair advantage for hunters. Following that line of thinking, like all lines of ban-inducing thought go, depends upon how each one of us defines “fair.” The fact is, however, that using dogs to hunt big cats and bears gives the hunter a better chance to identify, age, and determine the sex of his prey. It helps ensure the harvest of a mature animal that has provided the biological duty of reproducing.

My friend, Mike Woodard, pictured here with a big mature tom cougar, makes that point perfectly clear. “We got a good lion with a bow using dogs. It was a good chase and fun hunt,” he said. “We put five in the tree so far this year, but this was the first one worth shooting.”

Using dogs, Woody and his hunting party were able to tree five cats and evaluate them. This one cat was taken out of the population, having undoubtedly already reproduced, while several others were allowed to return to the environment and carry out their existence. That selective, ethical, hunting isn’t possible here in Washington.

Comments (8)

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from charlie elk wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Tracking is a fun and challenging way to hunt too and has mostly become a lost art. Congrats on your lion njschneider, good tracking job.
Sometimes there is no snow or not enough for efficient tracking this is when a dog and hunter can team up to do some tracking.
The dog is either leashed or if highly trained to sneak with the hunter at his side as they proceed along the track together. The dog sniffing and listening while the hunter uses his eyes as necessary to direct his dog.
I'm currently reading Ted Kerasote's book "Merle" he describes this technique as he and Merle hunt WY elk. An interesting way to hunt.
later,
charlie

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from njschneider wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I understand using dogs to become efficient in aging the mountain lion and being successful of controlling this predator. But I do not understand when people say its for the thrill of the chase. I tracked a mountain lion in the black hills and that was the most exciting hunt I have ever been on. By myself after a fresh snow fall following tracks and harvesting the mountain lion after he was looking back at me from the edge of a cave. I will never forget that moment and after that I would rather track the animal, then walk up and shoot it over dogs the first or second day. Is it ethical? yes but as exciting as tracking a 125 pound lion by yourself no. Some guys just want to shoot one and dogs are the most efficient way, but keep the dogs kenneled till you have tried to track one yourself, you will feel a greater accomplishment.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

The reason deer are not mentioned is because the "ethics" behind hunting the cougar is treeing the cat and then deciding whether or not to shoot at that close distance. You will get the deer running with a dog, but not up a tree for a better look. Don't misunderstand my stance. I think hunting anything with a dog is great. I am just explaining why I think deer were not mentioned. I also think ethics should be the same for small game or big game.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I’ve never hunted big game with dogs, but I know I would never get a chance to take most of the game I have without my dogs. Lord knows I would never find most downed game without the aid of them. Considering the quarry that I hunt and the land they reside in, I question the ethics of hunting without a well trained dog. I know small game and big game with dogs may be apple to oranges, yet I believe as a hunting community, the more divided we become, the easier we fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Good stuff Brian. I'd always used the argument that hunting is necessary for conservation, and that using dogs was the most effective and practical way to hunt certain animals, particularly cougar and black bear. Spot/stalk or still hunting for either is truly difficult.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NEPA Fisherman wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Have you ever hunted deer with dogs huntfishtrap? If not, how would you know whether it was 'repulsive' or not? Some of my most enjoyable days in the field have been listening to a good chase. For a dog hunter, the chase is almost better than the harvest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Hunting with the aid of dogs, like any other form of hunting can be ethical depending a lot on the tactics involved.
If hunters are cruising along roads in electronic contact with each other then jumping out of their trucks to shoot animals brought to bay- not so ethical.
If the hunters are listening and pursuing with the dogs on foot or horseback, it is not only ethical but much more challenging than sitting on a stand waiting in ambush.
I've hunted bears, cougar, coyotes and deer with hounds; those hunts were some of the most challenging & ethical I have ever been on.
later,
charlie

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I notice deer aren't mentioned in this article, even though hunting them with dogs remains a common practice in some Southern states. To me, hunting deer with dogs would be...repulsive, to be blunt, but what are other user's opinions on the matter?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from charlie elk wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Tracking is a fun and challenging way to hunt too and has mostly become a lost art. Congrats on your lion njschneider, good tracking job.
Sometimes there is no snow or not enough for efficient tracking this is when a dog and hunter can team up to do some tracking.
The dog is either leashed or if highly trained to sneak with the hunter at his side as they proceed along the track together. The dog sniffing and listening while the hunter uses his eyes as necessary to direct his dog.
I'm currently reading Ted Kerasote's book "Merle" he describes this technique as he and Merle hunt WY elk. An interesting way to hunt.
later,
charlie

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Hunting with the aid of dogs, like any other form of hunting can be ethical depending a lot on the tactics involved.
If hunters are cruising along roads in electronic contact with each other then jumping out of their trucks to shoot animals brought to bay- not so ethical.
If the hunters are listening and pursuing with the dogs on foot or horseback, it is not only ethical but much more challenging than sitting on a stand waiting in ambush.
I've hunted bears, cougar, coyotes and deer with hounds; those hunts were some of the most challenging & ethical I have ever been on.
later,
charlie

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NEPA Fisherman wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Have you ever hunted deer with dogs huntfishtrap? If not, how would you know whether it was 'repulsive' or not? Some of my most enjoyable days in the field have been listening to a good chase. For a dog hunter, the chase is almost better than the harvest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MazPower wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Good stuff Brian. I'd always used the argument that hunting is necessary for conservation, and that using dogs was the most effective and practical way to hunt certain animals, particularly cougar and black bear. Spot/stalk or still hunting for either is truly difficult.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I’ve never hunted big game with dogs, but I know I would never get a chance to take most of the game I have without my dogs. Lord knows I would never find most downed game without the aid of them. Considering the quarry that I hunt and the land they reside in, I question the ethics of hunting without a well trained dog. I know small game and big game with dogs may be apple to oranges, yet I believe as a hunting community, the more divided we become, the easier we fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I notice deer aren't mentioned in this article, even though hunting them with dogs remains a common practice in some Southern states. To me, hunting deer with dogs would be...repulsive, to be blunt, but what are other user's opinions on the matter?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from njschneider wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I understand using dogs to become efficient in aging the mountain lion and being successful of controlling this predator. But I do not understand when people say its for the thrill of the chase. I tracked a mountain lion in the black hills and that was the most exciting hunt I have ever been on. By myself after a fresh snow fall following tracks and harvesting the mountain lion after he was looking back at me from the edge of a cave. I will never forget that moment and after that I would rather track the animal, then walk up and shoot it over dogs the first or second day. Is it ethical? yes but as exciting as tracking a 125 pound lion by yourself no. Some guys just want to shoot one and dogs are the most efficient way, but keep the dogs kenneled till you have tried to track one yourself, you will feel a greater accomplishment.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

The reason deer are not mentioned is because the "ethics" behind hunting the cougar is treeing the cat and then deciding whether or not to shoot at that close distance. You will get the deer running with a dog, but not up a tree for a better look. Don't misunderstand my stance. I think hunting anything with a dog is great. I am just explaining why I think deer were not mentioned. I also think ethics should be the same for small game or big game.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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