What?! Hunting boars getting you down? No, not those blues! The Small Gascony Blue – the Petit Bleu de Gascogne, the loyal, talented and best hog-hunting hound there is!
More about the Petit Bleu de Gascogne
The Petit Bleu is a shorthaired hound that is actually more “French tricolour” than just blue. It is a medium-sized, well proportioned dog that originated in the south-west of France. As you might suspect, the “Petit” Bleu is closely related to the “Grand” Bleu. It was “created” to give a dog with a more tailored build and which is more biddable.
It may come as a disappointment that its coat is not outright blue, but mottled black and white. This does lend it a slate-blue reflection, hence the name. The head is black and tan, long, with a gentle expression and long, thin, drooping ears. The body is strong, solid but well proportioned.
In terms of its temperament, the Petit Bleu is noted for being determined in the pursuit of its task, but also calm and affectionate. It is very attached to its master, gentle with children and docile around other dogs. All in all, a much admired temperament, and justifiably so on many an occasion.
Versatile with a keen nose
The Petit Bleu was initially intended for gun hunts or as a hunting hound for small game. However, its strength, endurance and, most of all, its outstanding nose, make it the superlative scenthound of choice on any self-respecting boar hunt.
It has initiative, yet works very well in a pack to the benefit of a very well executed team effort.
Getting the most from your hound
Although the Petit Bleu’s character lends itself to boar hunting, certain handling rules should be followed to put the odds in its (and your) favour.
A boar hunt begins in silence with the territory staked out at first light and the dogs left behind to avoid driving the game away before time. The scouts will look carefully for good coverts before reporting to the other Guns back at the rally point.
Each Gun will set off to his or her post and stay there until they hear the signal to indicate that the tracking is over – one of many safety rules that requires no explanation. When all the Guns are in position, the drive can begin.
Let loose the dogs of boar
The handler who guides the hounds (sometimes known as the “whipper-in”) directs the pack through whispers to avoid exciting them before the time is right. The hounds scent with care, fully focused on their task. When one of the hounds opens, or first speaks, it marks the start of the drive. The hound moves nearer, followed by its fellows. The pack gives tongue. This part can sometimes last over an hour and a half before the boar is driven out and the pack is in full cry.
At bay, and the hunt at a stop
A change in the tone of voice of hounds that have come to a rest indicates that the boar is at bay, cornered, or a dog is hurt. It is up to the huntsman (whipper-in) to check before giving the signal for the hunt to continue. Remember to fit your Petit Bleu with a boar-hunting vest. Details can be found in our article at http://en.browning-blog.eu/choosing-the-right-equipment-for-your-hunting-dog/
The role of the hunter
The role of the Petit Bleu is to drive the boar out so that, ideally, it follows a line towards the hunters at their posts. The outcome is then in the hands of the Guns, who need to be focused and keep their eyes (or at least their aiming eye) open so as not to miss the shot if the opportunity comes their way. It should be noted, however, that the boar will be off like a shot, so it’s important to be doubly careful and to follow the safety rules.
If you own a Petit Bleu, we’d love to hear about its prowess!