Den-hunt, dent-hunt dogs
Den-hunt is such a special hunting method to which special hunting dog species have been bred. The main point is to search for the game living under the earth and to give a signal, then to make it leave its den or to deactivate it in a battle under the earth.
Outstanding importance is the communication with the guide because another way of contact is not possible here, only after the dog has come out of the den. In this case its behaviour and its eventual injuries tell us a lot about the happenings under the earth. Excellent representatives of species bred for den-hunt are Dachshunds and Terriers – above all Smooth and Wirehaired Fox Terrier, Jagd Terrier, Wels Terrier and Parson Russel and Jack Russel Terrier.
The above mentioned species are specialists of den-hunt, however in other hunting methods we do not have be ashamed of them either. Namely, we can use them for flushing small game and big game, for water hunt, for individual hunt and driven hunt of wild boars and last but not least for tracking of wounded game. This job demands a high intelligence of the dogs.
Of course training a dog for den-hunt is different from a training for another hunting method.
The basic disciplinary exercises are the same beacause using our dog in any hunting method cannot be successful without discipline.
Accustoming our dog to work under earth can already begin in puppyhood. An imitation of a den can be used. Long time ago, when breeding hunting dogs for den-hunt training, puppies was emphasized. Female dogs usually brought forth young in an artificial den, puppies grew up in darkness, under earth. When they were able to walk, they could only reach the outside world through the routes of the den. Later on an obstacle made of earth was put in the route, so they could come out of the den by digging. Training puppies in this way made them able to naturally move under earth. The den became a living space for the puppies. This breeding attitude is not fashinable today, therefore the basis of den-hunt training is the artificial den, however only occassionally.
Before we take a look at what our den-hunt dogs have to able to do under earth, let's talk about the personality of our dogs, namely which characteristics are important to be able to fulfill the task:
-courage and recklessness,
These characteristics will be inherited. However they have to be trained and reinforced. The artificial den actually has this aim. In order to be able to work in a den, our dog has to have a perfect physical, psychological and nerve condition. If there is a problem with any of these, do not let the dog work under natural circumstances, however we suggest doing all the exercises in an artificial den.
How to use an artificial den?
First of all, aim of an artificial den is to accustome the dog to moving under earth, to circumstances under earth and to the preferable behaviour under earth.
Here we can check the barking ability of our dog. It is important whether our dog barks when it meets the varmint living in the den or when it finds its tracks. If yes, with which intensity, continuity and persistence does it bark, or with breaks, or by any chance soundlessly.
As there is no direct contact between the dog and the guide in the den, we have to insist on a signal of definite barking. We can get information only in this way about the happenings in the den. Using artificial dens have the purpose of training dogs, and not the purpose of competition without a hunting issue. Sending an unprepared dog into a natural den is irresponsibility and can lead to tragedy. In an artificial den we have the possiblity of creating situations which our dog can meet under natural circumstances and which it can solve on its own. For example fighting through all difficulties /roots, earthfall, etc./.
In artificial dens we can train our dog to apport out of the den. This has an invaluable importance in the game management of small game hunting grounds. Dogs with good abilities can bring out food rests besides „deactivated” foxes. These can give valuable pieces of information about the life style and eating habits of foxes, badgers or other species living in dens.
When our dog feels at home in the artificial den, we can begin to work with living opponents. By training we have to consider the age and the physical condition of the dogs. The opponent has to be chosen in a way that the success of the dog is guaranteed.
This principle can ensure the continuous positive experiences and can raise self-confidence.
After the training has become passionate, we can go out to the hunting ground and we can begin training under natural circumstances.
First of all, we should find an empty den. If a dog was good in the artificial den, then it will show indifference to the unused den. The dog quasi ignores the entrance of the den by instinct. It can occur that the dog marks it with urine, then it leaves without interest.
The situation is different if the den has been visited by a fox but it is not permanently inhabited. In this case, the dog will go round and round, snuffle at the entrance, then go into the den. It will check the den inside. After it finds nothing, it comes out and does not want to go back. Picture nr.3.
If we find an inhabited den, the dog becomes nervous and definitely pulls toward the entrance of the den. If we take off the leash, the dog immediately disappears and goes into the den. After little time, it will bark. Barking gives us the accurate information about what is happening. From the intensity of barking, we can know where the two opponents are. Picture nr.4.
The behaviour of the den-inhabintant always depends in which time the den-hunt takes place.
During the rutting season the fox does not hold on to the den, therefore it gets out of the way of the attacker at the first given opportunity and escapes towards the exit. It is called „bolting”. The escaping fox will be brought down by hunters waiting outside.
It is not ethical, however on hunting gounds where small game is intensively bred, a necessary hunting way is the den-hunt during whelping. The female fox holds on to the den because it protects its cubs. In this case the underground fight cannot be avoided. As the dog comes nearer, the fox is retiring to the place where its cubs are. During this time the dog is continuously and passionately barking motivated by hate, then at the first sign of uncertainty of the fox, the dog immediaty attacks. There is no barking, but rumbling can be heard. When there is silence again, the dog can be expected to turn up at the exit of the den. After a short rest and treatment, the dog goes back into the den and brings out the carcass of the defeated opponent. Then it goes back again and deactivates and brings out the cubs as well.
Without apport ability, or if the den is too difficult and the dog is not able to bring out the carcass, then the only thing we can do is to dig out the den. Of course it is only possible if the ground and the conditons are suitable.
It can occur that we have to dig in order to save the life of our dog because it gets stuck or is in a losing position. In this case, it can happen that we have to dig out more holes. We have to be prepared therefore it is proposed never to go to a den-hunt alone.
Den-hunt is nothing else but hunting for varmint living permanently or temporarily there by using hunting dogs bred for this special purpose. Which requirements do they meet and which dog species belong to this den-hunt group? First of all Dachshunds and various Terriers. By working in the den, a very important characteristic feature is the indomitable courage, which leads to the fulfillment of the task if there is some intelligence available as well. Besides, – as working in a natural den is always doubtful and dangerous – the highest level of psycological and physical condition are required. Therefore it is an absolute rule that a dog under one year must not work in a den! Only adult dogs are suitable!
In order to have a hunting dog with excellent qualities, the breeding responsibility is enormous. It is not enough to breed a nice dog, it has to be good, which means that the inherited internal qualities are very significant and decisive.
At the underground work the dog cannot make mistakes because it can cost it its live, however this job is really essential for the game management. Therefore, it is important only puppies with excellent internal and external qualities should be sold and bought. It is based on purposeful selection, the aim of breeding and the environment where the puppies spend the first period of their lives. From the first moment on the puppies have to be trained and developed. It should be done in a way that does not become overcharging and boring! During this period their behaviours have to be observed. Weak-nerved and timid puppies must not begin to work, and cannot participate in the breeding procedure!
Dachshunds and Terriers are friendly and human-centred therefore they are useful to be kept, however only those people should breed them who can consider the above mentioned principles and who can fulfill this activity according to the breeding objectives. It is important because of the maintenance of genetic qualities of these species. And finally, some words about the concrete tasks. Den-hunt is up to appropriate timing. The so-called „bolting” takes place during the rutting time in winter, which means in January and February. In this case foxes have to be bolted by the den-hunt dog and chased to the hunter waiting outside.
The other hunting time is from the time of whelping to the independece of the puppies. The female fox leaves the den almost never because it is with its cubs by instinct. Here comes to an underground fight. The apport is essential in this case because the dog has to bring out the deactivted fox and everything it finds in the den. On each hunting ground we have to decide what we want: small game or foxes beacuse the two together are only possible if we consider the appropriate proportions. An excellent den-hunt dog can help a lot.
From: Pomázi Ágoston – Den-hunt, den-hunt dogs
Attention! The following pictures can disturb tranquillity!
Please take a look at these pictures only if you are interesed in hunting!
Pictures about den-hunt for badger:
Pictures about den-hunt for fox: