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Log Dog Posted - 01/27/2014 : 11:53:18 AM
Don't know if this is the spot for this topic, but I'll put it here until we get a Traditional Mushing area to discuss such things (still waiting Admin ).

We have folks on SDC from all over the world. How do folks hunt with their sled dogs? Any stories about traditional hunting methods involving sled dogs?

I know of two distinct styles used in Bristol Bay (and I'm sure in other areas as well). One was employed with caribou. The musher would go out looking for caribou and/or fresh tracks. Once the animals are located, run at the herd and chase them for a while, then stop. Sit still and let the herd settle down. Give chase again. Stop and wait again. Finally, give chase until they crest a hill out of sight and then stop and wait. Eventually the caribou wonder what happened to the pursuer and walk back to the team in range for a good shot. This was done by men who were my age before statehood. Haven't heard of anyone doing this in my life time. This hunting method would be illegal today. I have done something more subtle with similar results. I found fresh caribou tracks, followed them until they were in sight, then I stopped, stood on the breaks and pulled out my rifle. Before long the herd of 20 stood in front of me in a half circle about 75 yards away. I shot two and shooed the rest away. Have only done this a few times, but it sure works well.

The other is a moose hunting tactic. A musher and his team would travel about looking for either moose or tracks. Once they were found, the musher would walk up the line to his "moose dog" and turn him loose. The loose dog would take off after the moose while the rest of the team followed. Eventually the moose would bay and the musher got a shot. Again, this would be illegal now, but was a real tactic before statehood. I wonder about this method. It seems similar to Scandinavian elk hound hunting. With our 150 year old commercial salmon fishery, this region has a strong Scandinavian influence. Was this type of moose hunting introduced by fisherman hanging around for the winter?

Any other hunting-with-sled-dogs stories out there?

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kissAnew Posted - 01/05/2016 : 7:16:10 PM
An old friend, Tuppy (long dead now) used his lead dog to follow the jig while the rest of the team rested. For those that don't know, a jig is contraption, kinda like an upside down sled, used to scoot along under the ice via a small line(rope). It was made so as to make a tapping noise and also pulled another line(that would be used to pull the net through to the other hole). Once the jig had pulled a set length of the line through, the light rope would be lightly jerked to make the tapping noise. The fisher"person" was usually the one to listen for this but not so with Tuppy. He had his leader standing at exactly the right place to make the other hole, right over the jig. Tuppy would then set his net/s and mark and cover(freeze-proof)the holes.
Tuppy's 7 dogs pulled a sled with 21 boxes of fish. each box weighed 85lbs and up a bit. Them big sled dogs of Tuppy's ate 1 frozen Tulibee a day. Or more rather evening or night. A Tulibee is a fish about 3-4 lbs. Tuppy ran his dogs single file with them big stuffed leather collars like a horse's Hames style collar.

My grandfather had a dog on his team that he would un-hitch when they came across tracks. His dog would actually "herd" moose, deer and elk towards him and the rest of the team waiting. A 30-30 sure is a trusted friend and that specific friend fed his huge dogs, brothers and sisters and aunties.....
My grandfather also ran his 9 dogs single file.

I personally would go mushing where I figured I would get close to deer as elk are so wary and fast and moose are now pretty rare around here. I was lucky 1 out 2 times on the average. The deer were afraid of snomos, ATCs, and trucks because that's what death rode into camp on. I would get a deer about every 2 weeks(big family)all winter for 6 winters. It seemed they never did associate the sound of approaching harness bells(good wolf deterrent) or the sight of dogs pulling a sled quartering at them with danger.
In my neck of the woods I can harvest food anyway that I deem necessary, especially in a more traditional manner, to provide sustenance to my family.
I think personally though that hunting by airplane is un-ethical...unlike some government agents that I know.
endurancekennels Posted - 02/18/2014 : 1:49:40 PM
Our dogs bird and rabbit hunt.
swanny Posted - 02/08/2014 : 3:39:19 PM
A long-time musher from Fort Yukon told me how the "old guys" used to hunt moose with dogs. They would go down the river until they saw moose tracks crossing to an island. Then they'd mush around the island, letting a dog off the the line every so often. The dogs would head inland all in search of the moose and after a spell the moose, surrounded by dogs on all sides, would essentially be trapped in one place for the hunter to find and harvest.

I suspect ADF&G would frown on that today.

Laughing-Bear Posted - 01/31/2014 : 2:43:46 PM
When I think of traditional mushing I think of running dogs single file between trace lines rather than siwash as I see most mushers run today. I have found that running traditional has opened up a much easer world to me, as I prefer using my team for trap line, hunting, fishing, or just camping for no other reason than I can do it with out those mosquitoes. I use this form of mushing dogs as well for my tour business.
I might suggest that more mushers look at running traditional, as I need very little trail width. It is not much of a problem if I need to break trail. I just down my snowshoes and the team drops in behind me all making a good path single file, no dogs fighting each other for the packed area, they all have it.
I have found if one wants to hunt from the sled it is best to get the dogs used to the noise of muzzle blast. Leave those magna-ported rifles at home as they are really hard on your teams ears. If you dogs are not used to gunshots, your might find yourself by yourself as the team rockets toward Siberia. A real hassle especially if you have a caribou down, or are way out there.
Just some of my thoughts on the subject.

Blessings, Bill Laughing-Bear

Willow, AK
Jason M Posted - 01/29/2014 : 07:40:04 AM
There is a great movie from the early 1970's called Vanishing Wilderness that has a sled dog/ Polar Bear hunting scene. Very good film with lots of traditional mushing footage
sallydawson Posted - 01/27/2014 : 7:06:58 PM
While I am NOT a hunter, Dan raises an interesting idea: I mush with Airedales - best used in the northeast and upper Midwest for hunting black/brown bears. Depending on when open season occurs, I don't see why you couldn't mush to the area, turn 2-3 Airedales loose for hunting, (even un-trained, they will instinctively work as a team to keep the bear occupied while waiting for the hunter to make the kill) then use the sled to haul the carcass home. Maybe I should give it some thought - My classmates were calling me Annie Oakley when I was range-qualifying for my 'concealed carry' license.

D.Heilbrunn Posted - 01/27/2014 : 2:50:33 PM
I've been told stories about Polar bear hunting by dog team. When fresh tracks of the bear were found and the bear was somewhere nearby, three dogs or so were let off their traces and went chasing after the bear. When they found the bear, they surrounded it and kept it in place until the musher came with the rest of his team for the shot.

Also been told stories of muskrat trapping by dog team here in the Mackenzie Delta. Rats winter in pushups, which are dens built on lake ice. When you open a pushup it has a VERY distinct smell. The rat trapping method that I was taught was to give the lead dog the scent of the pushup and let them sniff them out. I've never seen it done, as we've always gone ratting by snow machine, but I remember an elder telling me that story over tea one day.

My girlfriend's grandfather Colin Allen Sr. told me a story about his half wolf dogs. When he was hunting with his friends, and his dogs smelled the caribou from far away they'd start charing. He couldn't stop his team, just hang on until they got there. He'd be the first one to the caribou. Like so many lucky people of that time period, those same dogs lead him back from getting caught in a whiteout right to his front door.

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