Monday, July 20, 2009

July 19 Montana Chronicle

Penn-Marydel hounds from North Carolina can run Montana coyotes.

But, first things first: The second night here we hauled horses to the high mountains where we camped. The horses had to learn to be hobbled in order to eat. Smoke is a slow learner The next morning we helped drive 400 cows and calves the final 5 miles of the way to their summer pasture. There can not be a more majestic cattle drive.

The next day we hauled horses and mules to some higher mountains where we rode for 4 hours to camp at a beautiful pass. The mules gave the horses a lesson in the "hobble hop," a fast way to get around in hobbles. We saw 4 bears, one elk and a wolf. The wildflowers were something. Lloyd, 85, oversaw the entire event, as they were his mules and he has packed hundreds of miles with them.

Today we were back in the saddle, but with hounds-something Elaine and I understand. There were five of us: Lloyd's son Charlie; Jay, the manager of the 1000 head of cattle on the Anderson Ranch; his son Paul, who we have picked out for Randall; Elaine and me. Lloyd, had a sore leg from the previous three hard days of riding, and he took a pass. We met in sage brush country that is almost completely open; a place Jay and Paul said there were lots of coyotes. We took 14 of our 16 hounds as Yankee has come in season and Pogo was elected to stay and keep her company. Of course, Dozer, Paul's coonhound cowdog was along, too. As they are haying on the ranch almost around the clock, Jay and Paul could not get there until 8 am, so we started later than we would like.

The day was hot but there was good cloud cover. The first three hours were spent learning. About cactus, antelope, jack rabbits, and especially badgers. Around eleven Dozer holed one in a bank. Our hounds came to help, but the sound of the badger growling made them less enthusiastic than they are when we put a fox to ground. But we could not find a coyote. As we were admiring Dozers work, Jay heard a coyote yelp in the hills nearby. Apparently it is pretty common for Dozer's commotion to bring a coyote to investigate. And even though it was hot and late, we went looking. Paul spotted the coyote heading over the top of a ridge 200 yards away. It took about 5 minutes to get the hounds to the top of the ridge but when I topped it the coyote was just 20 yards away. It had waited. I guess it thought we were just Dozer. It learned better. Of the 14 hounds, 11 made it away on the coyote, which indeed had an "O.S." moment. For about 3-4 miles we had a fine chase and could see the hounds working up and down the hills and often we could see the coyote as it blasted out of Dodge. The 11 hounds stayed right together but finally the heat and the hill whipped them and they gave up when the coyote ran through a herd of cattle. The three hounds that did not keep up were two young hounds, Nimrod and Earl, and Leadbelly, who suffers from a low IQ. But the stragglers soon showed up and after a long ride we got back to the trailers about one We had a hunt breakfast of beer. It was good.

After getting back to the LL Ranch and getting animals squared away and getting some real food and a rest Charlie and Lloyd and I walked down the hill to the river and caught brown trout for supper. That was good, too.

Just before dark Gary and Carol arrived safely from three days travel from NC. Tomorrow we rest and get some more horses. Tuesday we try again.

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