I enjoy all the folks I get to hunt with and all the stories we share with each other. Some folks judge the success of an organization by the number of participants in a competition hunt. While I like the competition hunts and think they are good in general for the improvement of our tree dogs and the fellowship and friends we make along the way, they have never been the measuring stick of success for the KSBA. We have a lot of dedicated hunters across the
I found an old article that I wrote for Full Cry that appeared in the August 1996 issue about competition hunting. Even though I made up the scenario of the hunt, I was amazed at the number of phone calls I received from folks stating that ‘I must have heard of what happened at their hunt’. When I told them that I made up the story, they were amazed and would say that it was almost identical to what happened at a hunt they attended. Folks, this was one article at a moment in time. I bet at any particular month or time, you would get the same response from some folks, meaning is probably happens fairly often but is never really brought to the public’s attention.
In today’s world, I feel like a lot of the hunt clubs, registries and associations have stemmed the poor sportsmanship at most of the hunts and not let a few bad eggs ruin a great time for the majority of folks that enjoy the competition.
Anyway, here is what happened thirteen years ago!!
Ultimate Expresser of the Breed (Full Cry article August 1996)
“TREE MY DOG!”
That’s not your dog! That’s my dog! Tree my dog Judge. Hey Judge! You need to warn this dumb fellow if’n he calls the wrong dog again, he should be scratched! I’m telling you Judge! I know that’s my dog treeing!
The judge asked the third member of the cast if his dog was treed. The half-scared-to-death 16 year old youngster replied, “Yes sir Judge! I believe that’s him treeing that these two fellows are arguing about.”
The judge said that all three dogs had been treed and the tree was closed, “so let’s start walking towards the tree”. All the way to the tree the two older fellows gave the kid ‘what for’ telling him that his dog had not even barked. When they reached the tree and shut up long enough to listen and see what was going on, the only dog treeing was the youngster’s dog. You barely could hear the other two dogs barking as they were leaving the country.
The two older fellows immediately started hollering at the judge that the kid’s dog was an alligator and that he must have run their dogs off the tree. As they were arguing, the squirrel bailed out of the tree and ran into a hole with the youngster’s dog in hot pursuit. The kid was the only one watching what was going on.
“Look at that Judge! That boy’s dog has left the tree and run a rabbit in that hole over there” The judge said, “Son, I’m going to have to minus your dog for leaving the tree and warn you if your dog runs off-game again, he will be scratched; and, by the way, these two gentlemen agreed that your dog did, in fact, tree first so I am going to minus your dog 125 points. Also, their dogs never did really tree so I am not going to minus their dogs.” “Yes sir” said the youngster.
About that time the other two dogs came back and they continued the hunt. The boy’s dog treed and he treed him. All could see the boy’s dog treeing while the other two dogs were milling around showing no interest in the tree. The judge pulled out a stopwatch and said, “Son, he has to hold that tree for three minutes before it is closed and we can go to him”.
Again the youngster said, “Yes Sir Judge, but he shouldn’t go anywhere because I can see the squirrel from here”, to which no one replied. After three minutes of watching the boy’s dog tree his heart out and the other two dogs sniffing around like they were looking for a bone, the judge told the boy to go tie his dog and let’s look for the squirrel. The boy said, “Here he is Judge! Right up there in the fork of that tree!”
The other two fellows started arguing with the judge again, telling him that was a knot and not a squirrel. The judge agreed and told the boy that he would have to circle the tree points. The discouraged youngster hung his head and again replied, “Yes Sir”.
For the next hour and half, the two fellows treed their dogs ahead of the boy’s dog five times. The youngster’s dog treed first on every tree but he was so discouraged that he took last tree.
One of these fellows won the hunt and finished his dog out. He was now the proud owner of a Squirrel Champion.
After the hunt, the judge and the two fellows were all smiles and real friendly. They walked up to the young fellow and told him that he really had a nice dog and that he did a good job for his first hunt. Thy boy shook their hands but replied, “No Sir, this was my second hunt, my first and my last. I thought a squirrel champion was some kind of special dog; but now, I don’t want a squirrel champion, I’d rather have my dog”.
You fellows out there that feel sorry for this youngster are on the right track. You fellows that think the kid is nothing but a cry baby and if he can’t take the heat then he should stay out of the kitchen, then you guys are a detriment to our tree dog fraternity.
There is so much of this bull going on in the competition hunts that we just accept it as part of the hunt or we don’t want to get involved and simply turn our heads the other way.
This youngster represents our future in the tree dog world. If we treat all the newcomers like this boy was treated, the competition hunts, as we know it, will soon be a thing of the past. The only new blood that will stay are the ones who will join the cheats. The honest fellows will become a minority and soon get disgusted themselves and drop out of the hunts.
If you do not believe that this is already happening, just go to some of the hound hunts. You don’t even have to go on a cast. Hang around the clubhouse after the hunt and you can witness it for yourself. The cur and feist hunts are not as bad as the hound hunts but we are headed in that direction if we do not put a stop to it now.
We have some of the finest organizations and finest folks you would ever want to meet in tree dog world and right now they are still the majority. This writing is not aimed or directed at you in any way other than to challenge you to stand up and enforce what is right.
I know you good folks are probably wondering what all this has to do with the Ultimate Tree Dog. I believe Mr. Claypoole stated in one of his articles a while back when asked what a squirrel dog was, he said, “a squirrel dog is a dog that will go hunting, get treed, stay treed and have the fur”. He said a mouthful in a few words. I can’t remember if he was talking about a pleasure dog or a competition dog but it does not matter because the Ultimate Tree Dog will excel at both.
If you have a good tree dog, then you don’t have to cheat to win in a hunt. You won’t have to put everybody else’s dogs down to make yours look good; and if you talk about their dogs, you will most likely talk about the dog’s owner. Of course, this is no way to win friends and influence people.
Go to a big hunt and act dumb (which I have no problem with!). One group of folks who like a certain type or family of dogs will talk bad about the folks standing over ‘yonder’. If you go visit with those folks, they are usually talking bad about another group of folks. I guess if I was looking for a good tree dog and I did not know anything about them, I would try and buy a dog or pup from the person most talked about. Kind of sad isn’t it!
Just remember, there is nothing you can say about a dog that will influence someone more than a good performance by a good honest tree dog.
Like I have mentioned in the past, competition hunt should be nothing more than a measuring stick used to judge how our dogs perform and compare with our neighbor’s dogs. We should be willing to share our training and breeding methods with each other to help develop and improve our tree dog stock, without any jealousy or envy. (Wow, is this nowhere close to reality! I had to laugh when I typed this! Boy has time changed!)
If you competition hunt for any reasons other than your love for tree dogs and the wonderful fellowship with your peers then whatever those reasons might be are wrong. Think about this friends! If the only reason you go to a hunt is to win a little ole trophy, then you are not going to have a good time—most of the time! Yes I am just as competitive as any of you guys and when I go to a hunt I want to win; but I also realize that competition hunts are just ‘parts of the whole’ that makes this sport so enjoyable.
The Ultimate Tree Dog is a very special, unique animal. They are ‘far and few between’. We must stay dedicated and focused on our objective to hopefully produce the “ULTIMATE EXPRESSER OF THE BREED!”
Thanks for reading,