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Friday, September 4, 2009

Usefullness of small and narrow dachshunds in varmint control

Even though this blog's emphasis is on blood tracking occasionally we cover other types of hunting and activities that involve dachshunds. This e-mail came from Teddy Moritz, a longtime good friend of ours. She has been breeding and using her miniature dachshunds mainly for woodchuck and rabbit hunting. This is her account of recent events.

Here's a photo of Tar with a 14.2 lb. groundhog she located and bayed under a shed. She bolted the rabbit to the lurcher, also out from under a shed. Tar weighs about 7 lbs and is very narrow and up on the leg. I do varmint control on a fairgrounds and find that the groundhogs live under sheds exclusively, there are no dens except tunnels under cement barriers. Most of the groundhogs harbor under garden sheds of various sizes, as do rabbits, skunks, and possum. It's interesting that so many animals live amongst the buildings and lawns and gardens of this fairgrounds. Perhaps the variety of plants and the absence of bigger predators, fox and coyote, make the grounds seem like a safe haven. There are events at the grounds almost every weekend so the varmints eat at night or at dawn and dusk, especially during the week when the place is slightly quieter.

In order to work the dogs on these varmints, who regularly eat or destroy the flower gardens maintained by the grounds crew, I need a very narrow, small dog. A big-shouldered dog simply can't get under the sheds far enough to do any real work. Bigger dogs can get just so far under the shed but the groundhog or other varmint can run back and forth under and over the supporting two by fours. And a dog who cannot maneuver will soon get chewed up if the varmint comes their way. Sometimes the sheds are on cement slabs, which makes it even more difficult for any but the smallest, narrowest dogs to move about. And sometimes the sheds are on stone dust and the groundhogs make barriers of dirt so the smaller dogs have to follow the animal as best they can, digging through to their quarry.

Yet the narrowest, smallest dog doesn't have the biting power to harm an aggressive opponent. So the job of locating and baying is given to the little dog and I back her or him up with a .22 rifle as well as a lurcher. If the quarry bolts the lurcher is there to catch it as there are seldom any other refuges for the varmint to flee to. If our quarry won't bolt I lay on my side and slide the .22 under the shed and quickly dispatch the animal, having first called the dachshund out of course, or sometimes simply shooting beside the dog. My dogs learn 'get back' means I'm going to shoot and when they hear the gun go off they pile onto the quarry. Unfortunately sometimes the shot isn't lethal and the little dog finds out the quarry isn't as dead as they thought. Another shot soon follows and the dachshund pulls the quarry out.

I occasionally have terrier people come with me and their dogs invariably are too big to be of use under the sheds. Even my biggest dog, a mini long of ten pounds, is too big to be of much use in moving a varmint under a shed, so a terrier is at a disadvantage as well. The terriers have bigger heads than my dogs and can bite harder, but they seldom can get up to the quarry to put pressure on it. Therefore, small and narrow gets the job done. Each varmint control job calls for certain canine and human abilities and on these fairgrounds and under these sheds, a small, narrow dachshund works best. Fortunately when I added European blood to my lines I got some nice tall, narrow dogs and they have been an asset in most hunting situations. The hunting desire is well set in the American lines I've been using but I needed more leg and less shoulders. I continue to try to breed this type of hunting dachshund as they can move quickly and efficiently above ground as well as below.

FC Tar and Feathers von Moritz ml WC, 16 months old

PS. Walked 14 year old Gavia on a string out the camp road yesterday at 2 in the afternoon. She doesn't hear well or perhaps at all so I keep her on a line when I walk her here. She hit a line off the camp road and started sniffing at the base of a tree. I figured she smelled a squirrel so I let her loose. She knew she was loose and took off down an animal trail at a good pace. I followed for a bit and sent the lurcher with her. She picked up speed and disappeared in a bed of ferns. I ran to catch up and saw her running further on. I realized she was not on a squirrel so I hoofed it faster. I caught her sniffing a fresh bear scat and only caught her because she couldn't hear me coming. She saw me and tried to dodge but I got her. She likes that bear scent. And a further PS, she is Tar's grandmother on one side and great-grandmother on the other.

PS2. Carl came back into camp around 9:30 this morning and said he just saw a sow and three cubs cross where Gavia had run the track yesterday. A friend has been camping here for two days with his Kemmer Curs. He dropped his three dogs, and my lurcher, on the track and they treed a sow wearing an ear tag. We held the dogs back and let her jump and then they ran her up another tree. Cool way to start the day. Thank goodness no dachshunds were with the lurcher because at one point the sow fought the dogs on the ground. So Gavia was correct about the bear line yesterday.

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