What is tooth-in-hand hunting and what are its characteristics?
The hunting proverb reminds us that “he who hunts without dogs, hunts in the hills”, and those who decide to practice this art without the invaluable help of a canine understand why. Tracking is an innate aptitude for certain dog breeds and a difficult skill to learn for the most talented hunter. Modalities such as tooth-in-hand hunting invite you to exploit the full potential of man’s best friend and obtain dream pieces without taking a single shot.
For the most experienced hunters, hunting is not inseparable from firearms, which is evident in disciplines such as falconry, hunting with burrowing dogs or hunting tooth in hand. In this last modality, a hunter or group of hunters carries out the hunt without firearms of any kind, accompanied by dogs that track, stalk and capture the game in a coordinated and strategic way.
As its name indicates and as this definition clarifies, hunting with teeth in hand combines the advantages of the modalities of hunting with teeth and in hand. Thus, the hunters do not use their packs to lift the game, but the dogs play a decisive role in obtaining it. The number of hunting dogs is limited to three per person, a figure that can be increased to only two dogs under 18 months of age. Occasionally, the greyhound is banned from hunting in the herds. These limitations vary according to current legislation and hunting management regulations in the different Autonomous Communities.
This modality of small game hunting is particularly suitable for the capture of rabbits and hares. The hunting of rabbits with teeth presents, among other attractions, the opportunity to value the importance of the dog as an element that enhances and enriches hunting, which would lose part of its grace and enjoyment without these faithful companions.
The hunting with teeth in Extremadura and other autonomous communities should not be confused with other disciplines with similar names and/or characteristics, such as jump hunting, hand-over-hand or Andalusian style hunting. Suffice it to say that in these and other modalities, the use of firearms or weapons powered by air or other compressed gas is permitted; the packs are limited here to assisting the hunter in tracking, sampling and collecting.
Other modalities of hunting animal against animal on the rise
Tooth-in-hand hunting means giving a break to the rifle or shotgun that has served us so well in hundreds of hunts and adventures, and giving all the protagonism to the rehala. But this modality of animal against animal, so to speak, is not the only one that allows to save on cartridges, without giving up the rest of the ingredients that give sense to a hunting game.
Falconry is among the best known alternatives. It consists of the training of birds of prey (hawks, kestrels, hawks and owls of various species) to hunt land animals and birds of prey. Its origin dates back to medieval times, and in recent times Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and other national personalities successfully cultivated this centuries-old art.
Hunting with burrowing dogs tests the hunter’s tracking skills, who must locate dens, haystacks and other shelters of four-legged animals such as rabbits, foxes and even badgers -which, despite not being a hunting species and their capture being forbidden, can be caught accidentally during these hunts-. Small, brave and agile dogs, such as the foxterrier, the Viennese dog or teckels and the German terrier, mainly, are used in this modality.
In particular, the greyhound and the ferret are powerful allies of the hunter, and hunting based on the use of teams of these animals has proven to be an effective method of locating and capturing hares, rabbits, foxes and other game when they remain crouched in open country or hidden in their respective burrows, that is, where the rifle and shotgun cannot reach. With the authorized means and avoiding introducing the ferret in the wrong burrow, this modality can be as rewarding as hunting with tooth in hand.