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By: G.R. Miller

Missouri Conservation Agent

Hunting with hounds has been a passion of mine for many years.  As a young boy, my dad and I spent many nights in the woods following a coon dog.  I enjoyed listening to the hounds run track and tree, and was extremely proud when I arrived at the tree to see a raccoon sitting in the fork looking back at me. As I grew older I became more competitive with my hounds.  I traveled all across the country entering my dogs in competition coon hunts to see how they “stacked” up against others dogs.  As expected I won a few and lost a few, but overall found that I had some pretty nice hounds.

Now I find myself making a full circle back to just enjoying the sounds of a hound run track and tree.  No competition, just interaction with the hound and the satisfaction of knowing the job was done right.

As I sit here today, I wonder if pursuing furbearers with hounds is coming close to an end.  I used to have no problem finding a place to hunt with my hounds, but that has changed in the last 5 to 7 years.  Why has this happened?

Hunting with hounds or other dogs has its problems.  First of all, the dog isn’t aware of where they are, they go where the animal they are pursuing goes. So, occasionally dogs are found on property they are not supposed to be on.  This can happen with a coon hound, coyote dog, bird dog, rabbit dog, just about any type of hunting dog you can imagine.  How should this be handled?  The proper way to retrieve a dog that has entered property they are not supposed to be on is to contact the landowner and request permission to enter and retrieve your dog.  Entering property without permission is trespass.

Each year I receive numerous phone calls from landowners complaining about dogs running all over their property.  Typically the phone calls come from landowners who are trying to deer hunt during the alternative methods season or the late youth deer season.  Commonly I find coyote hounds running through large sections of ground chasing the coyote they were born to pursue.  How is this conflict resolved?  Well, common courtesy goes a long way.  Hunters who meet with landowners and obtain permission typically don’t have a problem.  If the hunter has permission for a specific tract of land, they should consider meeting with surrounding landowners to obtain permission to retrieve dogs if they happen to travel onto their property.

Follow the “Wildlife Code”.  Hunting activity that encourages trespass, shooting from the roadway or vehicle should be avoided.  When this activity is observed, it not only sheds a bad light on the individual hunter, but also the sport of hunting with dogs.

If you have questions about hunting with dogs or any other “Wildlife Code” question, you may contact me direct or contact the Northeast Regional Office at 660-785-2420 or go online to mdc.mo.gov