How'd you start?

Thread starter #1
Just thinking about dogs. Why? Well a couple of reasons. The main is I LIKE DOGS and off hand I think that is a lot of the deal. If all I want is a deer I can sit in a tree. I think the dogs would "re-vitalize" my interest. A new aspect for outdoor sport.
I know one way to train a rabbit dog is to have it run with other rabbit dogs- it picks up the drill. On the deer dogs, I always figured you had to know somebody to get involved in the thing but I was wondering about how you all got started. Would a walker just naturally run a deer? It seems like some sort of training would be needed.
Most of the guys I see look like they have tracking collars on the dogs but they often seem to spend most of their time driving around looking for the dogs.
Don't remember how I started, I was brought up with it.

Most folks seem to start pups with older dogs. I never have. I start them by themselves, usually at night with a spotlight (legal in Fla, not sure about Ga). I want them to be able to do it by them self, I have no use for a pack dog. If they won't trail on there own, I won't keep them. I've never had trouble getting one from good stock started. I just shine the deer, then walk them out to where they just were and try to get them exited about it, talking to them or whatever. Usually 3-4 times and they will start trying to run them. When they get to where they will start running them pretty good, I start letting the tracks get older before I put them on them. Then when season comes, I hunt them all I can (almost every day).

I remember the days before beeper collars. Deffinitely less driving and looking for dogs. The GPS collars are a must have in my opinion. You know what there doing and where there at at all times.
Thread starter #3
Thanks. I live in Central Florida but check out GON because I'm up in GA a lot. Any Georgia folks interesting in FL (bass, etc.) I'll always offer whatever I know. In any event I hunt around folks with walkers in Ocala National Forest and I've been sort of thinking about it. I'm getting burned out sitting in trees and the dogs would give me something else to focus on plus I like dogs. I think one point a lot of folks against dogs after deer miss is that you have to really like dogs, they are a big part of the hunt.
I know certain bird dogs will take a instinctive point on quail without any training. In any , as I understand what you said-the deal is to drive the back roads for deer at night. When you spot one, stop the truck and get the dog out to scent the tracks and let him run.
I've been thinking about getting into dog hunting myself. I live in Lake County and there are lots of doggers around where I live. Every other truck you see on the highway is a Ford Ranger with a dog box in the bed.
I grew up in Bladen County, NC dog hunting and have several friends that run dogs. My best friend has Plots and Walker/Plot crosses that will flat out burn a deer up. He's offered to give me a couple of puppies to get my pack started.

One resource is the Central Florida Dog Hunters Association which I am thinking about joining. I think they are out of Altoona.

The big expense is the tracking equipment. The big drawback now is the new antler restrictions in Florida. Three points on one side or a main beam length of 10".
Thread starter #5
Well, like about 99% of Floridians- I came from other places. I had never seen dogs being used. I think there is a lot of misconceptions and those opposed to running dogs aren't very objective about it. They think running dogs "guarantees" you a deer and it is unfair. What is really screwed up about all this is that those anti-dog folks often have private land leases and plant food plots and sit in trees waiting for the animal to come out and eat some of the food being grown for them. BUT most of the dog hunting I've seen has been in Ocala National Forest- true wilderness, no food plots, wild deer, etc.
There seems to be a trend to outlaw dog hunting and I think that would be a shame. I've had lost dogs trying to climb into my vehicle and after a while you sort of develop a liking for the dogs. That got me to talking with a few dog owners and they were telling me that half the enjoyment is experiencing the dogs doing their job.
I came to realize that dogs can be following a doe rather than a buck, that the deer can crisscross their trail or head for water to lose the dogs- the whole thing is far from any sort of guarantee.
In Ocala National Forest I normally see one pick up with two or three hounds and the guys let the hounds loose and then track with the telemetry gear. As I understand it, there are hunt clubs that run a more grandiose hunt with posted hunters and more dogs and better success.
On coon hounds, I know one goal is to train the dogs to only follow the intended game, I figure the same would apply with deer. You wouldn't want the hounds running coons, possums, fox, etc. I know rabbit dogs will have the game circle back to the hunters.
I suspect that as things now stand, a lot of deer dog hunting is a "hand-me-down" type thing. You have friends that dog hunt and you buy a couple of walkers, etc. and have them run and learn from older dogs and then set out on your own. But I really don't know much about it. I have no idea if the dogs simply bust bedded deer from day time thickets and get the deer running or if the dogs try to herd the deer towards hunters, or how one goes about training dogs, etc.
I've read some Archibald Rutledge and Robert Ruark stories. It sounds like hunters take stands along escape trails the deer may take- so then the dogs just get the deer running.
It seems like the guys by themselves and 2-3 dogs have very marginal success, that these larger affairs do better. There is also another aspect to these larger affairs. Let's say there are twenty hunters and 2 or 3 deer are taken on a weekend- whatever. I've been on bear hunts for a week and each day maybe one bear comes in by someone but there is a certain excitement in just being part of the thing. I got a bear on the next to last day but before that I helped out in tracking down a couple of wounded bears shot by other guys in the group and then all kicking back at the end of the day with campfires, beer, and talk and the whole thing is good. So I figure applying some of the same logic to dogs and deer is doable.
A few years ago I was in a tree stand by a small pond. A doe came out of the thickets, stood in the open but was looking back into the thickets. I pretty much figured that doe had dogs after it although I heard no dogs. The deer walked around a shrub, hopped over a log. turned beside a rock, etc. and was gone.
About five minutes later a dog arrives. I always though the hound scented the deer now and then and sort of ran straight but this walker walked around the shrub, hopped over the log, etc. exactly the same as the doe. Pretty interesting.
I grew up dogging in south GA with beagles (in counties that don't even allow dogging now). Then never did it again until 10-11 years ago. I live in probably one of the last areas where dog hunting is the primary way of deer hunting and picked it up from my ex wife's family back then.

The dogs and social aspect are the fun of it. I have killed 10x more deer while in the stand and it's a cheaper type of hunting as well if you feed and care for dogs all year which adds up fast. It's much more enjoyable to me to see the dogs run that I raised than to kill a big buck. I know guys who don't even carry guns or ever get out to try and shoot the deer. I run and train mine all year not just Nov-Jan to kill deer in front of so. If not for dog hunting I probably wouldn't deer hunt much at all.
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Thread starter #7
I'm sort of burned out sitting in trees and waiting. I thought the dogs might sort of renew things a bit. Plus I like dogs. Some of the Florida guys seem to shoot a lot of deer and feed the less desirable parts to the dogs.