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The Hound Hunter's Glossary | Terms You Hear From Dog Hunters Defined

The Hound Hunter's Glossary | Terms You Hear From Dog Hunters Defined
September 28, 2022

Decoding the most common vocabulary used by hound hunters.

By: Josh Hayes of On Track Media Group

Photo by On Track Media Group

Let’s face it, being new to the outdoors can at times be a bit overwhelming, and if you’re interested in becoming a hound hunter, the intimidation factor and barrier to entry are probably set even higher. But don’t let anything you’ve seen or any of your own worries stop you from your new pursuit, I think you’ll come to find that hound hunters are often more than willing to guide a newcomer that has a genuine interest in taking up this cherished pastime. 

Maybe by now you’ve been following along on some of the social media forums, listened to a few podcasts, and started hanging out in the “Houndsman” trail on the GoWild app, but your mind is still flooded with questions and you’re trying to decode all the new terms you’ve been hearing. In case you’ve been a little hesitant to ask, we thought we’d lay it all out for you in a simple and digestible way to help you get started in your journey as a new hound hunter, or if nothing else, allow anyone with a curious mind to better understand what the heck the hound hunters are talking about!

The Hound Hunter’s Glossary

AKC: American Kennel Club

Back Track: When a dog is running a track in the wrong direction from where the animal travelled.

Bawl: A low-pitched, long, drawn-out bark, almost a howl.

Bay/Bay Up: When several dogs corner or encircle an animal on the ground and keep it from moving away, often a bear or a hog.

Bloodline: A dog’s pedigree or genetic lineage.

Box/Dog Box: Enclosed structure where dogs ride in the back of a truck, often secured for safety. Many big game hunting dog boxes have openings for dogs to stick out their heads to air scent and strike a track while the hunter drives around.

Broke Dog: A dog that is well-trained, compliant to commands, and can be trusted to avoid chasing trash.

Cast: 1) The action of sending a dog away in the woods to locate a track, or 2) when used as a competition hunting term, an individual round where multiple hunters send their dogs out against each other to earn points for locating tracks and treeing game.

Chain Gang: a.k.a stakeout chain, a long chain staked into the ground on both ends used for tying out multiple dogs. Each dog has its own drop chain that connects them to the main chain. Often used for managing multiple dogs during training and while travelling. 

Cold Nose: A dog with a strong nose for picking up old scent when limited ground scent is available. 

Cold Track: An old track from an animal left behind by at least several hours or more, with very minimal scent available.

Competition Hunt/Comp Hunt: A registered event in which hunters run their dogs against each other in a competition-style “hunt” (no animals are killed) to earn points, often for coonhounds and squirrel dogs. Depending on the competition, dogs earn points for striking, tracking, and treeing.

Crossbred/Crossbreeding: Breeding of different breeds to combine the desirable traits of each into the pups.

Drag: A scent drag, where artificial scent or an artificial track is laid on the ground either for training or competition purposes.

Dry Ground: The conditions often seen in dusty, arid, western environments by big game hound hunters that provide very difficult scenting conditions.

E-Collar: An electric/electronic collar that provides static stimulation, tone, and vibrate sensations and used for the training and tracking of a dog off-leash.

Finished Dog: Similar to a broke dog, one that is fully trained and has experience hunting. Typically available for purchase, with the advantage being they’ve already been trained and are ready to hit the ground running with their new owner. 

Handheld: The receiver unit of a GPS tracking collar system carried by the hunter, often with a visual display that shows a map and movements details (direction, distance, and speed) of the dog(s) while they are tracking or treeing game.

Hot Nose: A dog that only picks up on recent, fresh scent.

Line Bred/Line Breeding: Breeding dogs from the same bloodline, to continue to pass on the desirable traits of that lineup of dogs.

Loose Mouth: Barking not associated with tracking or treeing (a.k.a. babbler).

NKC: National Kennel Club

Opens Up/Opening Up: Just after the initial strike, a dog will begin repeatedly barking as it starts following the track.

Out-Cross/Out-Crossing: Breeding dogs of different bloodlines within the same breed, to combine the desirable traits of each parent into the pups.

PKC: Professional Kennel Club

Pleasure Hunting: Hunting for the fun of it!

Registered Dog: A dog that has been bred into or displays physical breed standards according to any one of the common dog registries (AKC, NKC, PKC, UKC, etc.)—think, “a dog with papers.”

Slick Treeing: When a dog is barking treed, but no animal is found by the hunter; a false tree; an empty tree. 

Split Tree: When two or more dogs are each treeing game in different trees at the same time.

Started Dog: A dog that has some training and generally has some experience hunting but is not yet finished. Often available for purchase, this option cuts the training time down for the new owner.

Stim: Short for stimulation, the sensation or static shock administered to the e-collar on the dog by the hunter from his handheld. Often used for correcting an unwanted behavior or enforcing a known command.

Strike: When a dog first smells a new track, he often lets out a loud, powerful announcement bark or bawl.

Strike Dog/Striker/Box Dog/Rig Dog: A strong-nosed dog that will ride rigged up on top of the dog box as the hunter drives around to strike a track (most often when looking for bear or lions).

Stud Dog: A male dog used for breeding.

Tie Out/Stake Out: A long metal stake that is used to tether dog(s) and keep them in place. Many tie outs allow for multiple dogs to be connected on a line (chain gang).

Tight Mouth: A dog that does very little barking while tracking.

Tone: An audible sound on the dog’s collar made by a hunter who presses a button on his handheld. Often used to recall a dog from a tree or to break them away from chasing trash.

Track: The trail of ground scent left behind by an animal as it moves.

Tracking: When a dog is nose-to-the-ground and moving forward following an animal’s track.

Tracking Collar: A collar with a built-in GPS unit that follows a dogs’ movement (direction, distance, and speed). Can be used to indicate when a dog is treed and out of earshot.

Trash: Any non-targeted game animal or other wildlife.

Trash Breaking: The conditioning of a dog to stop chasing trash.

Tree Dog: Any hunting dog that was bred to chase a game animal up into a tree or locate the end of a track and find the animal in a tree and then bark at the tree to indicate to the hunter they have found the animal.

Treeing/Treed: Once the dogs have located the end of a track and/or visually found the animal in a tree, they will bark excitedly and often place their forearms on the truck of the tree to indicate to the hunter to come in. 

Tree Bark: The excited, short, choppy barks and bawls by the dog(s) once they’ve chased up or located the animal in the tree and indicate to the hunter to come in.

Treed & Freed: Describing when an animal like a bear, cat, or coon is treed but the hunters and dogs walk away leaving the animal to be. Often practiced during comp hunts, during the training season, and anytime a hunter selectively chooses not to take an animal for any reason.

UKC: United Kennel Club

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