Hound Hunting in American History
The pursuit of mammals with dogs is a time-honored tradition in the United States, dating back to 1650. Though our Founding Fathers castigated many aspects of British society, one of the facets they firmly held to was the grand sport of hunting with hounds. President George Washington was not only the Father of his country, but was the Father of the American Foxhound. Several of our Presidents either owned or hunted behind hounds including Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the Father of American Conservation, Theodore Roosevelt.
Hound Hunting in American Culture
Many of our nation’s early explorers such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett hunted with hounds, and much of their discovery of what would later become the United States of America was due in no small part to the jaunts their hounds would lead them on. More notable houndsmen in contemporty times include actors Tommy Lee Jones and Kurt Russell, and singers Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Ever hear of the sayings, “hot on the trail,” “barking up the wrong tree,” and, “threw me for a loop“? All of these expressions are derived solely from hound hunting. Hound hunting remains deeply entrenched within our culture and is in many ways more our nation’s original pastime than baseball.
Hound Hunting in Wildlife Management
Hound hunting has been legal since the inception of the California Department of Fish and Game and continues to be relied upon in order to help meet management goals.
Hound hunting is one of the most highly effective and constructive forms of wildlife management. It allows for the age and sex of the animal to be determined before any attempt to harvest the animal is made. This determination empowers the hunter to use personal discretion that favorably reinforces population dynamics such as offspring recruitment and gender ratio.
Hound hunting is one of the very few forms of non-consumptive hunting. The ultimate goal of using hounds and other coursing dogs is not the harvest of wildlife, but the enjoyment gained in training, listening to, and interacting with the dogs during the pursuit. As such, hound hunters diligently leverage their harvest and often take fewer animals than is prescribed on an annual basis.
The use of hounds allows for the timely and accurate resolution of incidents involving threats to public safety by identifying, locating and taking only the offending animal.
Given the profound benefit that hound hunting has played in the history of this nation, and the value it continues to provide society to this day, it would be a profound tragedy if Americans were somehow prevented from enjoying this unique sport.