Belgium has one pack of Roe dogs used to hunt stags and large deer. Their home is outside Saint Hubert in the province of Luxembourg. Such a hunt is actually forbidden in Belgium, but not in France. Belgians can't stand the extreme cruelty of a pack of hounds biting a big stag to death after a two to three hour chase. No guns are involved. Men ride horses to follow the hunt. This is very difficult for horse and rider, very intense, and demands extreme good horse ridership, because of the wild terrain full of surprises: low hanging branches, pits and holes, thick brush, water ponds and streams, to name the most common.
The owner-master of the pack has the power to call the dogs back. This allows the hunters to claim the dead stag as game. The master knows every dog by name and he understands the relationships within the pack: leaders, followers, loners, experienced dogs, youngsters, coming leaders, etc. A pack must hold at least 20 dogs to be effective. The male dogs make the noise, but it is actually the female dogs that will kill the stag or deer. Each pack holds three generations of dogs. The Belgian pack consists at the end of 2009 of 72 Roe dogs (three generations), and is owned by Gregon Harvey. 20 % of the males are responsible for 80% of the offspring. The bitches prefer the older dominant males, over five years old, to mate.
Watching the feeding of the pack with tripe of sheep is an exciting, stinking and frightful experience. The cruelty of these animals is at display, jumping each other, fighting each other to get the biggest piece of food. They attack in silence, but the more food is consumed the harder and louder the fight becomes. The master walks into his pack with the whip in his hands. He drives them first out of the large open cage into an enclosed meadow, so that he can come in with a wheel-barrel full of sheep intestines, he throws around the cage. Then he opens the cage again, and the dogs storm over each other into the cage and upon the garbage. To witness the feeding of the pack, contact the St. Hubert office of tourism: www.saint-hubert-tourisme.be
- More pictures: http://galleries.fin-mas.com/p601296734