The chase pack
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Passion for hounds

The chase pack
Josh Brones lets his dogs loose for a night raccoon hunt in the woods near the Sacramento River. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
High-tailing it
Raccoons often climb high trees to escape but will attack hounds when cornered. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
Final stretch
“It’s heaven on Earth to see a dog that you’ve bred, raised and hunted become [an] amazing athlete,” Brones says. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
Natural hunters
Man and dog have been hunting together for more than 14,000 years. Initially early humans scavenged off the kills of wolf packs but eventually they harnessed the animals’ talents to aid them in their quest for meat. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
A growing chorus of anti-hunting activists is working to silence California’s hounds and keep hunters like Brones indoors. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
A hound is fitted with a radio collar for tracking. In the East, houndsmen trudge through fields or stands of woods. California’s open spaces call more for “roading,” in which a hunter lets his dogs loose and follows them in his truck. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
A hound dutifully howls at prey it chased into a tree. (George Wilhelm / LAT)
Brones says that for him, this type of pursuit is linked to another. “I’m what sociologists would call a spiritual hunter. I do it because it helps me keep my sanity. It’s how I commune with nature. It’s when I’m most appreciative of what I’ve been blessed with.” (George Wilhelm / LAT)
“There are a lot of people who just want to go out in the woods with their dogs and be left alone,” Brones says. “They don’t realize that there’s a very realistic possibility that hound hunting could end in the next few years.” (George Wilhelm / LAT)