by Jadranko Terzić, 2006

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JT: What is the size of your hunting pack? Do you use the bay dogs?

MF: The exact size of our hunting pack is variable because there are always fresh dogs being introduced and some older ones either getting killed or being retired. Overall, I would say we keep around 30 hunting dogs between my hunting friends and myself (our core group is made of four hunters). Of course, we don't go out with 30 dogs, but what I mean is that we have this amount of dogs in hunting condition, more or less fully trained (depending on the individual stage of training each dog is going through). There are a lot of differences between each of them, since no two dogs are the same, working-wise. We have a few dogs that work well as long rangers (these have very specific benefits and also very specific drawbacks so we use them in certain hunting conditions only); others prefer to hunt more in the proximity of the human hunter; we have some dogs that are better finders; others are bone-crushing, heavy catchers; some are very fast runners....and I could go on and on, but I have drifted, so, to get back to the initial question: Normally we would go out with anything from 4 to 9 dogs, depending on the circumstances, the type of hunt (on horse, on foot, on truck), the time of the day (day vs night), the area being hunted (heavy woods and islands + river vs patagonian brush), the composition of the pack (we might use even more dogs -we have used up to 11- if we plan to use the hunt to train green, young dogs, recent additions to the pack), etc, etc. We always say that there are no two hunts that are exactly the same; every one is different and that is one of the things that make hunting such a magnificent experience. Another thing I would like to make clear is that when we go out, all the dogs we carry will hunt in the same condition, that is, leashless and free. What they do with these conditions depends on themselves. Overall, we don't make big differences in the way we handle them during the actual hunt (ex: finders vs catchers, light dogs vs heavy dogs, etc). We expect all of them to hunt fully, to perform every aspect of the hunt (scent, find, run down and catch) to the best of their abilities. Some will do better, some will do worse, but they all get the same training and chances to prove their mettle.

Regarding bay dogs; no, we don't use them. All our dogs are supposed to find, run-down and catch a hog. Of course, there are differences in the proficiency with which each dog does all these things (very, but very few are great in all of these hunting aspects, and those are special ACES), but we expect them all to be silent hunters. We can tolerate dogs that might not be very good finders if they are strong catchers and vice versa, we can tolerate a dog that is a good finder and a fast runner even if it won't display the same heart in the fight that other dog will show....because a very fast dog that also catches is very useful in a place like the one we hunt. We use a few hounds -commonly called russian hounds by the locals- for this purpose; they don't tolerate punishment from the boar like a dogo does -they don't have the same heart-, but we believe their speed improves the global efficacy of the pack. We have used pure-dogo packs, and some people in La Pampa use them, but the topography is different in the latter; there is almost no water and the boar can run, but normally they can't hide so the dogos will cut the slack and reach them. Our hunts are mostly conducted in an area of Patagonia Argentina crossed by a big river, the Rio Negro. Boars are great swimmers and sometimes you need specially fast dogs to reach the hogs before they can get into the river, which is about 500 yards wide, has a very strong current and very cold water. Dogos are faster than boars, but the latter always have the advantage of starting the run first, and if the river is near...once the boar gets into the water, it's a lost prey.

Sorry; back to the initial question: We don't use bay dogs and in fact, a dog that barks and doesn't catch is a cull for us, same as a dog who goes after cattle. These 2 types, we don't tolerate. I know this is a controversial concept, since many people -specially in the US- use baydogs successfully, but honestly, they don't work for us and for the way we hunt; the type of boar we have down here is pure russian; amazing runners. Bay dogs don't stop them; boars simply keep on running. Besides, our packs are trained to respond to a deaf bark that we call "torido", which is the sound that the first dog that catches makes before he bites. For us, dogs that bark without having secured the catch means confusing the rest of the pack and chances of dispersing it, and that is very dangerous, besides being inefficient.

Done by IMS and Terzic