Following What Isn’t There

In the world of coon hunting, the hound that “gives tongue” on something isn’t there is called a “babbler.”  In that world, telling the hound’s owner (who, trust us, already knows), that they have a “babbler” is akin to the insult leveled in the terrific movie, Sandlot, as seen below:

Clearly, these boys never saw baseball sensation, Melissa Mayeux, though they’re to be forgiven because, well, they’re fictional characters living in the 60s. But we digress.

Hunting a smell that isn’t there isn’t limited to a novice or enthusiastic coonhound. There’s a name for a hunting Beagle who follows a non-existent scent or trail, as well, and it’s the colorful phrase, “Ghost Running.”  Owners can’t always know that their hound is ghost running, but a good indication is when one dog barking, and the rest of pack is silent. Some hunters advise that the owner stand still on or near the line that the dog is running –  and wait.  Rabbits run in a circle, and if the dog comes around twice but a rabbit is never seen, odds are good that s/he might be ghost trialing.


The dog might also be cold trailing which means that there used to be a rabbit along the line, but the scent is old. If anything, it suggests that the dog could have a “big” nose, but the other hounds can’t smell it, or simply choose to ignore it because it isn’t fresh.

And you thought scent hunting was cut and dry.

Image: “Hot Pursuit” by award winning Robert Ragland is available on his website here.

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