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If you want to hunt lions and bears, you have to find lions and bears…and in the vast rugged West, that is often easier said than done. For decades, dogs have helped hunters and ranchers locate, track, and tree game in a variety of conditions. Traditionally a roll fulfilled by hounds, Lacys, cur dogs and similar breeds are gaining popularity as effective tree dogs because of their intelligence and versatility.

Mountain lion in Nevada

A mountain lion is generally quick to tree. Photo by Cory Davidson.

“You can go catch a lion Monday, check traps on Tuesday and push cows around on Wednesday,” says Cory Davidson of Central Nevada. Multi purpose dogs are ideal for ranchers. A dog capable of tracking a variety of predators is instrumental in keeping livestock safe from coyotes and big cats. Cory hunts with a mixed pack of hounds and one Lacy. He admires the speed of a Lacy dog and believes they hunt harder…even though the hounds possess a cold nose for picking up the oldest tracks.

Lions, bears, and small game such as racoons and squirrels resort to climbing trees or ledges for safety. Once the dogs have located a track and found the quarry, their job is to push it up a tree and surround the base, baying to keep the animal from fleeing. Dogs that bay consistently and maintain respect for the cat or bear are more effective at holding the animal and less likely to be wounded or killed.

A multi purpose dog does require a bit more time to train. It’s easier to train a pup from experienced dogs than to start from scratch.

Since Lacys are so intelligent, they are easy to teach to track and tree. Most hunters start puppies on drags where a line is tied to a lion pelt (or whichever type of animal you intend to hunt) and drug through the woods. As with blood tracking, a good tracker must be conditioned to track. This means nurturing the desire to hunt and locate prey by keeping it fun and rewarding for the dog. There are few things more fun and exciting to a bay dog than a critter in a cage. A live animal can be trapped and a put it into a cage for the dog to bay and chase across the ground. Though not often thought of as a treeing breed, Lacys can be taught to tree very easily by suspending a caged animal from a tree where the dog has to opportunity to approach the tree and become excited about the prize in the top.

Teaching a lacy to tree is easy!

Lacys and cur dogs are well-balanced breeds, adaptable to various types of hunting and terrain. Their agility, speed, and a baying style that is unrelenting make them good choices for hunting predators in rough country. Although not specifically bred for treeing abilities, they are intelligent enough to learn to tree very quickly and can become proficient in trailing and treeing bear, cougar and bobcat when hunted in packs.

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