The first morning of the hunt found us standing on a mountainside while almost 30 hounds dashed excitedly around the trucks. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I felt again why so much of the thrill of bear and lion hunting revolves around the dogs. It was Ivan’s first time among hound dogs, and he was grinning from ear-to-ear as they dashed up to him, skidded to a halt so he could rumple their ears, and then dashed away again. Scott and Angie Denny of Table Mountain tethered two dogs atop the hood of their Toyota and a handful more on the platform on top of the dog box. The other two houndsmen followed suit and the whole cavalcade divided into a cobweb of winding, steep-sided mountain roads. Veteran strike dog Lucy danced excitedly, paws kneading at the carpeted hood, nose weaving methodically back and forth across the wind, searching for the scent of a bear. Her apprentice, Charlie, hunkered down and held on, having been promoted to strike-dog-in-training just a day or two earlier.