I have a mixed kennel of Tennessee tri-color treeing walkers and beagles as I work rabbit during our long season (October-February) and feral hogs, which are highly prevalent in my area and getting worse, during the summer months. As such I have a few smaller baying hounds that I will run with my beagles during flop ear season as they have proven adept at working briars for bunnies.
The thing is, my hunting club is on the same 3000 acres of wooded bottom, native grasses, legumes and other broadleaf plants that hogs lurk and root through and I have stumbled across these porkers while looking for Mr. Bucktooth in winter. Now on the bright side, hogs are legal year round which is why I carry a few slugs in my pocket just in case our paths cross during a rabbit hunt-- but these pigs, especially boars, can be deadly to my beagles.
Case in point
Here is Sam. He is one of my walkers that have been with me through the past several seasons in both rabbit and summer hog hunts. He came to me with these scars, picked up on his first season's training runs as a baying hound against a particularly nasty boar on the Pearl River.
I have seen dogs far worse and seen dogs not make it. Hogs are dangerous animals, especially when cornered.
Typically on a hog hunt, I use heavy 1000 denier Cordura cut vests, made from much the same material as snake chaps that are resistant to boar tusks. I also have a background in (human) emergency medicine/first response and veterinary (vet tech) experience so I carry a pretty in-depth aid kit to include quick clot, blood stop, staples, and sutures and have used them in the field for a variety of reasons.
Now on a rabbit hunt, those bunnies are not as deadly as a boar no matter how big those flop ears get (!) and the vests aren't needed for my dual-purpose walkers but I still bring my med kit for emergencies even if I leave it in the truck.
However, I do still worry about my beagles in the same area during rabbit season. While they aren't hog dogs per sae, if they stumble across one, there can be issues. They do make cut vests small enough for beagles (Symlar and S4 among others) and, besides being a defense against an angry and accidentally encountered hog they can help prevent the problem of briar-induced bloody belly.
On the other hand, when in the very thick underbrush, a vest could slow down a dog or get caught on brush and hang up a running beagle.
I'm thinking of getting a light vest or two for my more enthusiastic beagles and see how things work out on the flopear chase just to have the option and the peace of mind, especially with the number of hogs getting higher each season despite very intense hunting efforts.
Do any of you use cut vests? What's your take? More trouble than they are worth or useful safety gear?Drop it in the comments below.