Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Learning his Life's Work

While I have not been blogging about it, I have been enjoying life. Almost every day (unless pressing business or weather intervenes) I run my Mountain Cur pup in one of my woodlots for at least a half hour. Calhoun is 4 months old. He was bred to run and tree squirrel, coon and Bobcat. I have pretty low expectations at this point. My short term goals are for him to:

Learn to come when called.
Be comfortable with the sites and smells of  the woods
Learn to leave the Deer and Turkeys alone
Learn that he is part of a team with me and he can trust me
 He is doing well on all those accounts. As he grows older, my expectations for him will grow. My hope is that about the time the leaves are off the trees, he will find squirrels on his own  and bark tree.

These daily walks also let me see my woodlots, which was something I could not do as often as when we had sheep. Truth be told, Hardwood has been one of the most profitable crops on our homestead over  the years. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex subject, we have always "low graded" so we grow more timber than we cut. We open up small spaces to give partial shade to new undergrowth and let the big straight trees grow faster.
This months Farming Magazine has an excellent  article by Wendell Berry on that subject.My interest in the woodlots have always been beyond timber. The peace of the woods is a place for me to think, and important to my spiritual health. 

There is nothing I would rather do than run with woods with a dog. I also like to eat squirrel, so I have made a few management decision that other woodland owners might not. For example, I don't get too excited Beech Tree encroachment (Beech can be invasive, and is lower value. Some woodland owners eradicate them by spraying).

Squirrels look plentiful this year. and I don't have much competition in hunting them. most hunters today are after bigger game. Few bother hunting squirrels and fewer still seem to want the time commitment of training a dog. If anyone is interested, there is a good article about squirrel dog training in this months Fur Fish and Game, which to my way of thinking is the only general interest hunting and fishing magazine still worth reading.


Anonymous said...

It must be exciting to train your pup as a blank slate, so to speak. I'm familiar with the Black Mouth Curs, but have never seen a Cur with Calhoun's beautiful markings! I always thought that Mountain Cur was just another name for the Black Mouth.

I would love to learn more about woodlot management. We have 31 acres in woods, with several paths. I'll follow your links to learn more.

We have mostly red squirrel on our property. My son is itching to try one for dinner some time! So far, he has only picked up some road kill to skin for pelts :-).

It's good to hear from you again, and glad to see you enjoying the beauty of your woodlands.

The Midland Agrarian said...

He is about the nicest marked pup I have ever seen. Technically he has a bit too much white to please some breed standards, but the white is nice to see him when hunting coon at night.

Mountain Curs originate from further north than the Blackmouth Curs. I had two Blackmouth Curs from Missisippi in the early 1990's. Cur dog history is interesting but there is a lot of conjecture. It doesn't help that Cur came to mean "Mongrel" in modern English.

Thanks for Reading.

Brigid said...

What a beautiful dog. Barkley was not trained to hunt as was my last Lab, coming into my life at a time I really didn't have time for a dog, I worked with him all I could, but that was one thing there wasn't time for. Still, his life now is rich, and there are a wealth of games to be played in the woods, just he and I.

The Midland Agrarian said...

Hi Brigid,
Thank you!
Anytime you visit my blog, I feel particularly honored, like a medieval peasant having Royalty stop over! Your mix of writing and imagery is so beautiful.