Deer hunters are out in force this holiday season, and one group won't venture into the woods without some four-legged reinforcements.
Welcome to Liberty County where dirt roads are commonplace, where camouflage and orange are trendy colors, where the power of a hound's nose is priceless. In Liberty County, deer hunting is the sport of choice.
A rat pack of dog hunters have been at it for 30-some years. Every Saturday in hunting season they trek through the woods to locate tracks.
In comes Adolf, the trustiest hound dog around with a nose that doesn't disappoint. Once he picks up the scent of a deer his comrades are called in. As the dogs disappear into the brush the team surrounds the perimeter. The chase is on. Then comes the point where you have to be very, very quiet and listen carefully because when you hear the howls it will lead you to the final prize.
When the tone of the barking changes, that's called the jump. The deer typically takes off and the dogs try and keep up. That's when communication is a must. These hunters quickly move from point to point anxiously awaiting the deer's arrival.
More active and often unpredictable, sometimes the dogs come up short. That's when the game goes from hunting deer to hunting hounds.
Russell Hosford, a deer hunter, says, “Those tracking collars allow us the opportunity to keep up with our dogs.”
But keeping up can be exhausting. Once the boys are rounded up it's time to track again. For this crew it's an all day affair, one with many rewards. Even in the end if their luck has run dry, stories of past hunts lift spirits and emotions reminding them of why they love this sport.
The Hosford hunters only shoot at bucks. They've never had a shooting accident and they eat everything they kill. They consider themselves true sportsmen.