By Allen Hamrick
People say a dog is a man’s best friend, and down through the ages, dogs have proved that this is a possibility. Throughout time, since they were domesticated from wolves nearly 12,000 years ago, dogs have lived with humans as a hunting companion, a bodyguard, and a friend. They have been cross bred to more than 400 different breeds since the gray wolf and have been bred for different purposes to benefit their human companions. Because of their loyalty, friendship and ability to protect, dogs have become a regular part of the family dynamic, especially in our part of the globe. In early American culture, dogs were mainly hunting companions and were the front line against predators, animal or human. In the cattle and sheep industry, dogs were the protectors and the herders, saving the owner many hours of work. In modern days, dogs are still used for those purposes but are also used as guides for blind and disabled people. They are also on the front lines of police work and rescue and also play a role in the military. Dogs have sniffers on them that make them the best at tracking other animals and in finding missing people, explosives, drugs, and sometimes their masters by their scent. Most of all, dogs adapt to their situation and make the best of it. Their loyalty is impeccable and unbreakable. As the line goes, put your dog and either your wife or husband in the truck of a car, drive a mile down the road, and when you raise the trunk lid, see which one will be happy to see you.
Around this part of the country, most families have dogs that hunt and protect, from blue ticks to red ticks, beagles to plots, mutts to bloodhounds. They all have been with us in the woods at one time or another and have let us know when intruders are around. Some of those hunting dogs have proven beyond any doubt that they can get the job done when duty is called. There have been and still are a lot of dog owners around here that raccoon hunt, bear hunt, rabbit hunt and squirrel hunt. Stories can be told of great hunts that couldn’t have been possible without the dogs, stories of dogs that have become legend in Clay County, the best at their craft of hunting down predators or game. I know of several dogs that have earned the right to be remembered.
Dan, an English Red Tick, held the title of Grand Night Champion raccoon hunter and was featured in a raccoon hunters’ magazine. He was a legend who took hunting raccoons to an art form. Unfortunately, all photos of him were lost in a fire. Bobby’s Jo, a night hunting champion legend in the state of WV; Macy, a Jack Russell Terrier, was a legend at killing rats; Thunder and Lightning, two Norwegian dogs that could make raccoons and bobcats wish they were in Never Never Land; Lady, a beagle that was a rabbit’s worst nightmare; Daisy and Lou, a Blue Tick and Plott team that became mythical bear hunters; Lil Magill, Bones and Blackie, a three part squirrel hunting team that could fill your pot with squirrels. Lil was a Mountain Fiest/Border Collie mix, and Bones and Blackie are both an unlikely cross of Norwegian and Chihuahua. These dogs are just a few on a list of many greats that have earned their place as master hunters. Most of them are gone now, but there are some up and coming dogs that will try to fill the paw prints of those now drifted into legend but are still remembered around hunting camps as some of the best.
One of the stories I will share is of the triple threat of Lil Magill, Bones, and Blackie. Their hunting techniques were ones of mastery. Lil Magill was the fastest of the three dogs. She would circle high above their target and wait until the other two dogs were in position. Once set, Lil would charge down the hill so fast that the squirrel would not have time to get into a tree and would run straight into the other two dogs. It was something to watch; the squirrel would be completely surrounded with nowhere to go but up and into the sights of the hunter. One of Lil Magill’s techniques was to get into a hollow log and wait, especially if she was hunting alone. If you would like to have your dog’s photo and story featured, send it to us we will be glad to put it in print.