New Book: To See Them Run

I love the jumping, leaping, baying right out of the box. But mostly I am in it to see them run. I’d follow them anywhere they go.

Coursing is the sport of taking game or predators with a breed of dog, aptly referred to as “land rockets,” practical, long dogs that run better than any track greyhound. To See Them Run: Great Plains Coyote Coursing explores how and why Great Plains hunters have chased coyotes with greyhounds and other sight hounds since before George Armstrong Custer. Though a well-developed, long-lived, widespread, and undeniably enthralling tradition, the practice remains little known, even to those living in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Dakota, where the tradition is common.

Coyote coursing is a hobby by locals, for locals, and it has remained a quintessentially vernacular enterprise occupying a rung below the Plains’ prestige forms of animal training and interaction—namely with horses and cattle. The coyote coursing tradition provides an ideal setting for exploring some of the central issues pertaining to the relationship between animals and the study of folklore.

Through authentic collected commentary from participants, Eric Eliason uncovers how hunting dogs and coyotes both have shaped, and been shaped by, human aesthetic sensibilities in ongoing folkloric and biological processes that represent a deep and sophisticated local knowledge interaction with the natural ecologies of the great North American prairie.

Readers will find a scholarly but never boring appreciation of this vernacular practice that uncovers how hunting dogs and coyotes both have shaped and been shaped by human aesthetic sensibilities in ongoing folkloric and biological processes. Through words and Scott Squire’s gorgeous and expressive photographs To See Them Run examines the artistry, thrills, values, camaraderie, economy, and the controversies of this uncommercialized and never before studied vernacular tradition.

To See Them Run is now available.