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  1. #1
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    Default Be careful - and help if you can

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time posting on the forums and unfortunately it is for nothing good. I just finished visiting the Smoky mountains this weekend and I have to say that it is beautiful country, perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen. I backpacked in three miles on the Snowbird trail (big) and camped near the rusted out VW bus. The next morning I left my tent up and took my dogs for a hike before returning to take down camp.

    A few minutes after I arrived at camp I heard dogs barking. I moved here from the west coast so I assumed that it was another hiker coming down the trail with their dogs. Soon I was surrounded by a pack of bear hunting dogs. It did not take long before one of them decided to attack my smaller (30 lb) dog. I had the collars of both of my dogs in my hands but they dragged my smaller dog away and mauled her before I could get to her and protect her (all I had in my hand was a tent stake). This happened several times before I was able to pick her up and put her in my tent. In the process I was bitten several times in my hands and legs. They then attacked my other dog (45 lbs). At one point they had him by the throat and he turned blue because he had no oxygen. They dragged him across the river away from me before I could get to him. I laid on top of him, hitting dogs with the only weapon I had, a stick.

    It was 45 minutes before the hunters arrived. Even when they arrived they had a very hard time pulling their dogs off. The entire pack was 12 dogs, but it was about 6 dogs that really wanted to kill my dogs. My dogs have several lacerations, puncture wounds, and one is missing part of his ear. I have two bad bites on my hands and several bruises from bites on my legs.

    The hunters did not offer to help with veterinary or medical bills. They helped me back to my car by carrying my pack but that was all they did. I lost my camera in the skirmish and I am sure it is gone forever.

    I am out $600 in vet bills and may end up owing more if complications develop.

    Please, please, PLEASE be careful in the Smokys, especially if you are hiking alone or with dogs. If these hunters are still using these dogs they pose a serious public safety hazard. The next time someone may not be so "lucky." I am not anti-hunting, I recognize the need for management, but I also feel it's incredibly unacceptable to have something like this happen on public land with "trained" dogs. The next time I will be carrying a pistol.

    If you have any information that could lead to the contact of these individuals, please contact the Graham County Sheriff.

  2. #2
    illabelle's Avatar
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    What an awful story! I hope you and your dogs heal fully, and I hope these hunters encounter some karma.

  3. #3
    Registered User Damn Yankee's Avatar
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    This is a tragic story and one that should not have happened, had the hunters been responsible. I have hunted all my life and have never needed the help of dogs to hunt. Acting as an armchair quarterback and I'm sure if you weren't so shaken up, I would have taken their information or at least got their license plate number if possible. If they refused to cooperate(which they shouldn't have) I would have dialed 911. Of course this is just me talking which is easy because I wasn't involved. Hind sight being 20/20. I wish you luck and maybe the vet will forgive the charge because of the circumstances.

    "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
    Isaiah 55:12

  4. #4
    Registered User mrcoffeect's Avatar
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    I thought dogs were not permitted in the smokys??

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcoffeect View Post
    I thought dogs were not permitted in the smokys??
    Only blanket prohibition is in the GSNP. Not sure what rules apply in the National Forests and Wilderness areas, but I think dogs and hunting are allowed in both.

    Link to Snowbird:

    http://hikingthecarolinas.com/snowbird.php

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcoffeect View Post
    I thought dogs were not permitted in the smokys??
    I was hiking in the forest service land bordering the Smokys, in the Snowbird wilderness area near Joyce Kilmer. So, dogs are allowed. Obviously had they been hunting bear with hounds in the national park they'd be in much more trouble.

    I wish I had their information. As you all know, phone service is spotty to poor out there and I did not have reception. I reported their campsite to authorities but no one has investigated yet. I am also not against hunting, I grew up around hunters and the majority I know are ethical and enjoy hunting because they enjoy being out in the woods like I do.

    I have been hiking for a decade, often alone, and this has made me re-think personal safety. I am not afraid of bears, mountain lions, etc. because so often they run away, and honestly, an attack by any of these would have been more "acceptable" than an attack by a pack of "trained" hunting dogs.

    I would strongly recommend if you are hiking in these areas with dogs that you have a gun or bear spray.

    They are allowed to "train" these dogs even a month before bear hunting season, so avoiding October will not protect you.

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    Dear Run... I am so sorry this happened to you. To say it must have been traumatic is probably a huge understatement! Just from having been the victim of an unprovoked dog attack myself (although nowhere near as horrible as what you went through), you'll have a giant amount of bruising and be sore and uncomfortable for a long, long time, and also pretty darn edgy around strange dogs. Go easy on yourself. I'm much hoping that you and your dogs received prompt medical attention and, although this may sound odd, you yourself may even benefit from talking to a professional who is skilled in dealing with victims of violence. To have something happen like this, out of the blue, just so incredibly scary and threatening, leaves wounds, not all physical. It will take time to heal.

    If it were me, though, I'd also give this experience a little time to "settle" before I made any hard and fast decisions about how and where to hike again. Very hopefully, this truly was a highly isolated incident and not likely to recur.

    Best of luck to you and your dogs in your recovery.

    Jane

  8. #8
    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    These dogs were not "hunting" only training as TN game law allows. If your dogs would have been on a leash you might have been able to have prevented this unfortunate ordeal. Also having unleashed dogs in a "Game Management Area" is illegal, (the same goes for weapons possession) and just not a good idea. Bear hunting is only allowed in a very small number of counties in TN but many hunters also use NC hunting areas also due to the longer season and larger area in which hunting is allowed. I'm sorry you suffered the ordeal you did but some of the bear hunters aren't the friendliest of folks out in the woods. I was out last week and 2 hunting hounds came through my camp at 2am but quickly moved on after I made a little noise. The next day I was at Jerry's Cabin shelter when 2 unleashed dogs came in ahead of their hiker owners. These dogs were so bothersome that I packed up and moved on to a tent site a mile away. Keep your dogs on a leash and be aware of Bear hunting season dates will prevent most problems.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

  9. #9

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    If the dogs were that bad I would have severly injured it, if not kill it. You can do this with your bare hands or with your feet or even just a rock or heavy stick. All animals have weak/vulnerable spots, that's why predators go after things like throats.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaling Fool View Post
    If the dogs were that bad I would have severly injured it, if not kill it. You can do this with your bare hands or with your feet or even just a rock or heavy stick. All animals have weak/vulnerable spots, that's why predators go after things like throats.

    There were six dogs that were attacking my two dogs and myself. Had I been able to reach my knife, I would have stabbed the dogs without a second thought. I was camped. I had both of my dogs by their collars when they were attacked and dragged from my hands. This was unprovoked. I was able to get my smaller dog in the tent after she as dragged away from my hands twice, saving her life (she has a very serious abdominal wound).

    I realize there are many unethical and careless people who hike with their dogs. I'm not going to pretend that I do not hike with my dogs on leash, but my dogs have flawless voice command control. They are border collies/aussies and are beyond obedient. When I see other people hiking, my dogs go on a leash. I don't want to impair anyone's ability to enjoy the woods, and I know not everyone likes dogs. If my dogs had been on leash it would have been a death sentence, and regardless, they still would have been dragged away from me by the pack.

    Also suppose the dogs wouldn't have attacked me if I'd been on a leash?

    Seems silly to me that it is legal for the hunters to have their dogs run out 45 minute ahead of them, UNLEASHED, yet I cannot hike with mine, who come when called and do not bother others.

    Thank you to all for your comments. I think it's a shame that the hunting dogs have more protection than I do.

  11. #11
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    Also, these dogs were hunting. It was the first day of bear hunting season and they were out trying to shoot bears.

  12. #12

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    Weapons are all around, if you can't muster up the strenght with your fist or boot, then pick up a rock. WRT there being six of them, so? Is that a reason not to attempt to save your dogs life or prevent serious injury. You start with the dog that presents the most threat and repeat as necessary.

  13. #13

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    You hit a dog in the eyes and nose it will back off.

  14. #14
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    It's a good point. Honestly, going after one dog probably would have led to further injury to my dogs as the pack attacked.

    I had to use my body as a shield to protect them. There were no rocks nearby (believe me, I looked!). I thought about taking my boot off and using that to hit the dogs. The tent stake and my fists were most effective.

  15. #15
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    Being alone, I could only keep the dogs away so much. I was surrounded by dogs and they would feint in and try to grab my dogs by the legs/scruff/etc if I turned my back. Hitting them in the face did get them to retreat but it often gave courage to the dogs I wasn't looking at and they'd try to sneak in and grab a bite.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Cleaner View Post
    These dogs were not "hunting" only training as TN game law allows. If your dogs would have been on a leash you might have been able to have prevented this unfortunate ordeal. Also having unleashed dogs in a "Game Management Area" is illegal, (the same goes for weapons possession) and just not a good idea.
    Runwyld---Sorry to hear of your encounter with the REAL unleashed dogs---Hunting dogs! I spend alot of time in the Snowbird backcountry and in the adjoining wilderness areas and have seen countless hunting dogs over the years. They are a pest much worse than the bears they hunt. And if we hikers need to leash our dogs according to The Cleaner, then by god the hunters need to keep their dogs on a leash. But no, it's a grand southern tradition to hunt with dogs. I call bear hunting Ethnic Cleansing.

    If I took my dog out in the forest and abandoned him for 3 or 4 days I'd be cited by the authorities. But no, the dog hunters just dump their "pets" and they roam the forest unsupervised and hikers and backpackers have to deal with them. Many a time I have picked up a hunting dog and thrown him out of my tent. Or pushed one out of camp trying to steal my food. I pretty much hate 'em.

    It's pretty much the wild wild west in Graham County NC and Monroe County TN when it comes to dog hunting for pigs and bears. And I doubt Graham County forest officials will do a dang thing to help you as the local hunters are a favored and protected bunch. Each hunting dog has the owner's name on the collar and maybe next time you could call them up (or your lawyer could call them up) after one of them bites you.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Flash View Post
    You're being a jerk and victim-blaming here.

    Cut it out and realize that not everyone can think sharply in a situation like this, and that one person fighting off a pack of six aggressive, vicious hunting dogs with only sticks or rocks is always going to end up with that person being bitten.

    Victim blaming is crap, so cut it out.
    BTW, I like your signature; I believe we should all live with that mindset

  18. #18
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    Pedaling Fool, I am a female (and at a little over 5 foot, considered petite). While I like to believe I am as strong and capable as any man, I simply do not have the strength that many men naturally possess.

    Thanks for everyone's thoughts/well wishes.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by runwyld View Post
    Pedaling Fool, I am a female (and at a little over 5 foot, considered petite). While I like to believe I am as strong and capable as any man, I simply do not have the strength that many men naturally possess.

    Thanks for everyone's thoughts/well wishes.
    Don't sweat it. It was an unexpected and dangerous confrontation and you managed to save your dogs. There are reasons why dogs are successful predators and one of those is the ability to hunt in a pack. Being attacked by six attackers is an extremely difficult situation. If you were solely protecting yourself you would have been hard-pressed plus you had to defend your dogs. In the heat of the moment we do not always react with text book accuracy. Sorry this happened to you. It's not acceptable for the dogs to attack another dog like that. A pack of hunting dogs should not have free license to attack indiscriminately, that's dangerous.
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    You should report this to the local conservation officer and/or Department of natural resources also.

    Hope the pups heal soon.

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