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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garmin's first chucks

A big thank you to Teddy Moritz for sharing the story
Garmin was a young dog during her first hawking season. She did well on rabbits and learned to find them in thick brush and to run them. She was bred by Bob and Connie LaRosa of Long Island, NY, out of my stud dog Navarre by their Sandy, who is a sister to Pete and Bonnie Mercier's Trooper and Odie. I didn't get Garmin into hard quarry that first summer because she was so young. She showed a lot of interest in holes but I kept her on rabbits. She finished her AKC Field Champion title in four trials last fall. She came into heat in November so I bred her and she whelped four nice pups in January. Now that the pups are weaned I have started taking Garmin out for harder quarry, mainly groundhogs. She is a small, stocky dog, built for hole work with a nice small chest.

On her first day out I took the lurcher and just Garmin as a hole dog. I wanted her to learn by herself and to depend only on her own ideas about hard quarry. The lurcher marked a hole at the edge of a farm field. Garmin checked the hole and showed interest. She had to dig her way in because the hole was full of leaves and twigs. After she disappeared it took a few moments for her to find the groundhog, then she began baying. She came out once to see if I was still topside. Then she went to work in earnest it seemed. I could hear her baying but she sounded deep. I located her via her transmitter collar at six to eight feet. She had to have her quarry in a hibernating den. I let her work for several minutes and listened to her steady barking. Meanwhile, the lurcher heard something down the slope, in the briars, by the base of a big tree. I thought a squirrel might have moved. Garmin had gone quiet so I walked to the base of the tree. I saw a groundhog looking out of a hole at the base of the tree. I backed off and the lurcher found his way through the briars and nabbed the groundhog as it ran into the woods. I waited and then called Garmin. She eventually came out the original hole, covered with sand. I think the groundhog had gone very deep, then come up a tunnel to his escape hole in the tree. Nice work by Garmin.
Next hole was in a big mound of dirt and looked like it could be a fox den. Garmin took a long time deciding to go into the hole. I waited for her to make up her own mind, not encouraging her. She has to learn to think for herself. She finally went in. After a few moments she gave a sharp bark, then a yip and she came shooting out a far hole. That made me pretty sure it was a vixen in the den, probably with cubs. Garmin circled the den. Again I didn't say anything to her. I wanted her to decide about hard quarry on her own. She hadn't taken a bite but I believe the fox took her by surprise. Garmin walked around a little, then went back into the hole she'd first gone in. This time she began baying very strongly and moved deeper into the den. Suddenly the fox shot out a hole in the far side of the mound, running through the thick greenbriar. The lurcher gave chase but he couldn't maneuver through the heavy thorns and the fox disappeared. Garmin came out all in a huff and tracked the fox. I called her back after awhile and we left the fox. This gave Garmin the confidence to face harder quarry, given the choice.
On the way out of the farm I saw a big groundhog run into the woods. The lurcher, who had been trotting ahead of the car, marked the den, a two-holer under a fallen tree. I had dug this den with Bane last year. The shallow holes I had dug for him were still in evidence, though filled with leaves. Garmin again had to dig to get into the den. I thought she'd head toward the far hole, which was freshly dug. This groundhog chose to go to the old den. I cleaned out two holes with he post hole diggers and could hear Garmin moving through the tunnel, barking. The lurcher showed interest in the furthest hole so I used the digging bar and dropped it between Garmin and the chuck. When I pulled the bar out the chuck tried to go toward Garmin but her barking became louder and faster and she kept him in the tunnel. Eventually he backed up to the far hole and the big dog pulled him out.
Thus Garmin met three adversaries in one morning's hunt and faced them all without taking a bite. So far so good for a young dog, although once she gets bitten then I'll know what she's made of.


MTWaggin said...

Wow, hunting that I know nothing about so it was a great read!

Anonymous said...

Fun read & I love the tagging on the back of your car!!
Justin Richins.

Stan said...

Teddy, You and your dogs' adventures amaze me! (not to mention your hawk!!) I got nervous just READING about the dog being that deep underground...honestly, that must take some getting used to. Thanks for sharing!

Teddy said...

Here in the sandy soil of DE I am finding that hibernating dens are six feet deep or more. As the season progresses the groundhogs will stop using these dens and move to natal dens to have young. Even the fox go deep here. Bane was in a fox den today at eight feet. He bolted the fox. The sandy soil allows such deep dens. If I getinto one of those digs I'll call you for help digging, OK?

Stan said...

Anything for you! Just don't call Curt unless you're good at CPR! LOL