Category Archive 'Coursing'

30 Nov 2015

Taigans Versus Wolf

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Note that one of the hunters also has an eagle.

Hat tip to Sir Terence Clark.

28 Aug 2015

Greyhound Coat of Arms

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LudovicoCeffiniArms
Boccacio, Il Decameron

family arms of Ludovico Ceffini, copist (1396-1424)

BnF Italien 63

13 May 2012

Kazakh Tazys

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From Steve Bodio, a photo essay on hunting foxes with the Kazakh Tazy (or Tazi or тазы), the local version of the saluki or Persian greyhound, a hunting dog which pursues its quarry by sight.

The tazy is regarded as a Kazakh national symbol. This essay tells us that there was an old Kazakh saying that one tazy could feed an entire village. Tazy are described as capable of running down prey at speeds up to 80 kph (49.7 mph).

According to the Russian text, there are only 300 thoroughbred Kazakh tazy left: “300 Spartans.” I’m afraid that I don’t buy into that “only 300 left” stuff. Steve Bodio and I both own Kazakh tazy.


Our Uhlan looks a lot like those “thoroughbred Spartan Kazakh” dogs to me.

25 Feb 2012

At the Recent National Open Field Coursing Association’s Grand Course

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Swift greyhounds are closing on the jackrabbit.

(photos by: Herb Wells — click on images for larger picture)

When he reverses course and dashes back right through their legs!

14 Oct 2011

Hunting Party

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A nice car interior shot from Rodger the Real King of France via Vanderleun.

23 Aug 2009

Yesterday Offline

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7-week-old Tazy puppy Uhlan

I was away from the keyboard yesterday, driving nearly 200 miles each way to pick up a seven-week-old puppy.

Last month, the renowned Saluki authority Gail Goodman sent me an email telling me that a retired Russian zoologist (living very near me — only about 200 miles away!) had just bred a litter of the rare Kazakh Tazys, which the serious connoisseurs of aboriginal coursing dogs, people like Gail herself and Steve Bodio, particularly admire for their hunting instinct and drive.

The fact that I have no experience in coursing and live in the East where we lack the kind of open spaces suitable for sighthounds easily found in New Mexico did not deter my friends from getting behind the idea that I needed to own one of these.

Tazy (or Tazi) is just another Asian term for the breed originally referred to in the West as the Persian Greyhound, but these days known as the Saluki (or Saluqi).

Naturally, I had only to look at puppy photos in order to succumb and place a deposit on one of these.

Yesterday, the fatal day arrived. Karen insisted that we go and pick up our Tazy immediately upon the breeder announcing that he was ready to leave his mother.

We wound up taking the same fawn-colored male with the black mask (with a little white on the nose) that originally made an impression on us in the puppy photos. A brother with a darker color struck me as a possible candidate, too, but the darker puppy struggled and was unhappy when picked up. Our original choice was quite content to be handled, and actually never even whined or cried all the way back.

Our Basset Bleu de Gascogne arrived already named Cadet, so we decided to stick with the military theme. Since Tazys are slender and fast running dogs of Asian origin, we decided his name ought to describe him as a type of light cavalry of Asian origin, so we are going to name the puppy Uhlan.


Tired from a long drive

02 Aug 2009

Why I’ve Been Busy

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We’re probably getting the red male with the black mask

A friend from the sporting literature community got in touch with me to inform me that a retired Russian zoologist who is a keen aficionado of aboriginal dogs had bred his first litter of Kazakh Tazis.

Tazis are hounds used for coursing, the pursuit of game using swift hounds which hunt by sight rather than by scent.


He will look like his mother as an adult

Tazi is really just one regional term for the saluki, probably the oldest type of domesticated dog.

Kazakhstan is renowned in coursing circles as the last refuge of native-bred saluki of first-rate hunting ability, unmixed with Western or show dog strains. A few enthusiasts have actually traveled to Central Asia in recent years in search of the canine equivalent of the Holy Grail.

Looking at photos of those puppies had the inevitable result, I succumbed and mailed in a deposit. The opportunity to own so rare and exotic a hunting dog is very unusual. Of course, house-breaking and trying to bring up a fierce aboriginal hunter from the steppes of Central Asia in a house full of cats and antiques is probably going to be a lot like trying to establish peace and order in the neighborhood of the Khyber Pass.


Kazakhstan looks upon tazis as an important cultural treasure

25 Aug 2007

Kyrgyzstan Hunting Festival

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Taigan chases wolf at festival

The event was near the village of Bokonbayevo, some 186 miles east of the capital Bishkek, August 24, 2007. More then 20 hunters with dogs and eagles took part. The slideshow illustrates exhibitions of hunting with Taigans and Golden Eagles using domesticated wolves as the quarry. The Salburun (hunting) festival has been held annually since 1997.

Hat tip to Dr. Milton Ong.

16 Feb 2007

Like the Blade of Grass

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Paolo Uccello. The Hunt in the Forest. c. 1465-70. Oil on canvas. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.

(above) 15th century Italian gentlemen hunting the roebuck.

Like the blade of grass pushing through the concrete sidewalk, natural human instincts, well known and understood in the past, continue to assert themselves even in today’s deracinated urban sprawl.

In contemporary Glasgow, for instance, young men are secretly breeding and training dogs (lurcher and greyhound crosses), and going out early in the morning in organized groups, just as their ancestors once did, to hunt the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), who, long unhunted, have adapted to life in modern suburbs and grown numerous and bold.

Being deprived of the right to own and carry more useful and practical arms, they have nothing beyond airguns, pocket knives, and their boots and hands to use to kill a deer. And being unschooled in venery or sportsmanship, these covert hunters dispatch their quarry crudely when it is brought to bay.

Regrettably as well, they evidently have not learned how to unmake the deer and how to prepare him for the table. Nor, I fear, has anyone taught them to reward the hounds, as William Twiti advised, with “bowellis and fete” (bowels and feet).

As one might expect, the organized do-gooder organizations are howling, and the British Press, e.g., the Telegraph and the BBC, is suitably outraged and alarmed by the discovery of sporting activity by British youths.

All this is ironically occurring at the same time in which an excess population of rural red deer is leading British academics, environmentalists, and journalists to loudly advocate the reintroduction of the wolf (!) to curb their numbers.

Deer poaching, in defiance of authority, has a long and famous tradition in Britain, including not only Robin Hood but even Shakespeare himself.

Long may Glasgow’s Geordies divert themselves by the manly pursuit of the swift and ingenious roebuck, say I. Over time, it is likely that with greater experience there will evolve among the more skillful sportsmen the same sort of better practices and aesthetic code which naturally evolved among their predecessors.

Unfortunately, better sportsmanship is far more likely to evolve in circumstances in which sport is openly and proudly pursued, rather than in those in which sport is inevitably stigmatised and equated by bigots and Puritans with crime.

09 Mar 2006

Coursing Poem

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From Steve Bodio:

SMALL POEM ABOUT THE HOUNDS AND THE HARES

After the kill, there is the feast.
And toward the end, when the dancing subsides
and the young have sneaked off somewhere,
the hounds, drunk on the blood of the hares,
begin to talk of how soft
were their pelts, how graceful their leaps,
how lovely their scared, gentle eyes.
(Lisel Mueller)

11 Feb 2006

Arrian on Coursing

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Loni Hancock thinks coursing is “barbaric,” and the practioners of such a practice are insensitive. Here’s a passage by the author of the earliest surviving account of the sport, written in an era when crucifixion of human beings was a routine punishment.

The true sportsman does not take out his dogs to destroy the hares, but for the sake of the race, and the contest between the dogs and the hare, and is glad if the hare escapes. And if she flies to some brake that is too thin to hide her, and seems to decline the contest, he will call off his dogs, especially if she has run well. I myself often, when I have followed the course on horseback, and have come up in time enough to save the hare alive, have taken her from the dogs, and tied them up, and let her go. And sometimes, when I have come up too late to save her, I have not been able to avoid striking myself on the head in chagrin at so good an antagonist being killed by the dogs.

Arrian (c.87 – After 145 A.D.), Cynegetica, 16:4-5.

11 Feb 2006

Coursing Under Attack in California

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Dean Wolstenholme -- Greyhounds Coursing a Hare
Dean Wolstenhome, Greyhounds Coursing a Hare

The self-styled I-Team (“I” for investigation, get it?) of KGO-TV in San Francisco hit pay dirt Superbowl weekend. While couch-potatoes all over America swilled beer, munched pretzels, and watched steroid-enhanced gladiatorial combat over the pigskin spheroid, Ted Baxter discovered that a tiny minority of Americans were still afield in California pursuing the ancient sport of coursing.

Coursing is a very old and traditional form of hunting, whose literature goes back to the 2nd century A.D., cultivated both in Christian Europe and in the Islamic Middle East, consisting of the reduction to possession of game (typically, the hare) by the pursuit of gazehounds, i.e., dogs which hunt by sight. Some breeds typically used in coursing are greyhounds and saluqi.

Ted, of course, was engaged in a more modern, and far less sporting, type of hunting: the pursuit and elimination of the unpopular minority by a pack of fools and bigots down a trail of prejudice, guided by curs like Ted himself. Ted Baxter in this case being an orthodontically-gleaming opportunist named Dan Noyes, who preens and congratulates himself publicly for his reporter’s instinct (I’d call it something else), and for telling a compelling story.

The compelling story consists of the survival of a “blood sport” within the Bay Area, an esoteric and little-known activity, incomprehensible to the urban masses, with the controversial feature common to all blood sports, including fishing, of the death of the quarry, at least on those occasions –often in the minority– when the pursuit is successful. To city boys like Ted, meat is produced in government-supervised nutrition factories, where it is processed, packaged, and then shipped to convenient supermarkets. The death of an animal is unthinkable. As one city-dweller once said to me: how could you be so heartless as to kill an animal, when you can eat a hamburger at McDonald’s?

Ted Baxter’s indignant news story, which opines: “That’s got to be a tough way to die for a rabbit.” implicitly imagines that aging jack rabbits retire to nursing homes, collect old age pensions, and die in bed.

Ted has no idea that, in California, jack rabbits breed year round, producing a litter of up to 8 leverets every six weeks or so. Females nurse the young for only two or three days, and then go back to making more jack rabbits. Crash production is essential, because the life of the jack rabbit is characterically short. Few jack rabbits live to the ripe old age of one year. The jack rabbit is a principal staple of the diet of coyotes, bobcats, foxes (red, grey, and kit), minks, martens, fishers, ferrets, mountain lions, bears, weasels, and numerous species hawks and owls and snakes; and are commonly killed by motor vehicles and by domestic dogs and cats.

It sounds terrible and barbarous to some busy-body old lady, left-wing state legislator from Berkeley, like Loni Hancock to whom Ted went running to tattle, that jack rabbits do sometimes suffer the unenviable fate (as Ted notes) of being slain by the jaws of the greyhounds. But, once Comrade Hancock introduces (see her blog), and in theory passes, her bill banning coursing in California, the jack rabbit saved by her efforts and those of noble Ted Baxter (and Channel’s 7’s crack I-Team) gets to run only a short distance further down the sunny California meadow, and, whoops! down come a great big red-tailed hawk which slays him with his talons, and tears him to pieces with his beak. Or up comes the hungry coyote, whose jaws are not readily distinguishable from those of greyhound.

The elimination of this ancient, complex and honorable tradition will, in reality, spare few pangs to jack rabbits.

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Steve Bodio also comments on this classic manifestation of the well-known tolerance of California’s Bay Area.


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