Southwest Hounds Goes Southern
By Tom Anderson
PO Box 1454
In April the Power Company I work for sent me to Miami Florida
for a week of training. What an opportunity, I'm just a country boy but my Mom grew up in Southern Florida and I'd be spending
a few days after the training visiting kin I hadnt seen in quite a while. I knew Uncle Buddy Hand was a hounder from way back
so when he offered to let me to tag along on a morning hunt I was all over that opportunity.
Southern hospitality is an art and my family has it down. I arrived to the smell of fried Dorado and Halibut cheeks,
cole slaw, Southern beans and cheese grits. Oh Baby what a feast. Aunts, Uncles and cousins all came to enjoy the family bond
and good food. We pushed conversations late into the night and finally got a couple of hours of shut-eye before the alarm
signaled time to go hog hunting.
I really didn't know what to expect having never ventured out into the palmettos before. I run a few flea motels for
bear in the West and catch a lion or two as well. I was hoping to see the country, ride in a swamp buggy and maybe see a small
hog or two before the day was over.
Both of my companions are very experienced. Dad told me
Uncle Buddy used to roam the area when it was wild and free. He went bare-footed until a rattler injected venom into an unprotected
foot. At 58 he is a lean, handsome Cracker that takes a break from hunting every so often to build houses. His wingman, Coleman
Deal is 63 and can run like the bulls in Spain. He supervises
a crew for a building contractor. Just hanging with them would be worth another plane fare. Both have been running dogs for
deer and hogs all their lives.
Nothing compares to a morning in a new place. As the blackness gives way to gray dim, strange shapes start to appear.
The huge trees are very different than the pine and fir forest Im used to. Yellow and red streaks in the eastern sky signal
the suns eminent appearance. A layer of mist hangs in the morning air obscuring all forms of life close to the ground.
Coleman coaxed the swamp buggy to fire as Buddy loaded the dogs, three plott-looking dogs and one yellow cur. I tried
to help but was in the way most of the time. At times through the day even the dogs would look at me as if to say, Sit back
and enjoy Boy, this is the way things are done Southern style. All the dogs are young. The rig dog is three the yellow dog
two and the other two 6 months and a year and a half.
Colemans buggy is a green three seat unit that sports two dog cages on the back and tie downs for two rig dogs up front.
If you've never seen a swamp buggy they are hard to describe so I wont try to here. Log on to my website www.swhounds.com
and go to the HOG link at he top of the page.
Riding on the motor driven tower through the pastures was great. Groups of cattle would appear in the fog as we drove
by but the rig dogs were quite. Hogs could be anywhere but there were some pastures at the far end of the ranch they seemed
to prefer. We'd covered some ground, following canals around the ranch when our dog started to crank up. Slow at first but
we kept pressing into the mist and soon he was really telling us hogs were here, RIGHT HERE. There were no fresh tracks and
he ran down the canal bank with his nose high. Finally he located the current the pig scent was in and off into the fog he
We backtracked to a crossing and followed the dog in the buggy. Soon we spotted some cattle, mostly calves spooking
out of the area. This would be a bad deal but the two veterans didn't even consider that the dog was trashing. To my relief
and their expectation a group of pigs emerged right in front of us with the dog chewing their tails. We dumped the boxes and
watched as they disappeared into the brush.
Buddy had tried to inform me about the nature of a hog hunt but I hadnt been able to relate. Bear hunting is much more
of a leisurely activity. If we could compare racing to this, bear hunting would be like NASCAR and hog hunting is like Top
I was totally unprepared for a bayed up hog in the thick brush. Buddy and I circled around and Coleman dove into the
tangles. The hog was snorting and rushing the pack; dogs were yipping, growling and barking when the shot brought silence
to the glade. The small boar was finished. Buddy and I loaded the hog while Coleman put the dogs back on the trail, there
were six pigs in the group and we would get another by days end.
The yellow dog was held back and a young plott/cur cross got thrown out. This race was long. Once we heard the dogs
baying so Buddy went in. We lost him from that point as the hog broke and headed toward a busy road. Tracking is a mess with
the cell towers skewing the signal. We were making the best guess and then traveling. Listen, track and go was our strategy
for the next two hours.
Finally the barking could be heard. The hog was only a couple of hundred yards from the road. He bayed up in a big
palmetto thicket. We could hear the action and see the foliage move as the fight progressed.
Suddenly a huge hog came out and looked right at me. My video camera was off and my gun in the rack and I'm right in
Colemans way so he cant get a good head shot. The hounds kept the hog out of the thicket so he headed for another. The yellow
dog was given to the race and man what a dog. He stopped the big hog in short order and when we arrived for the dispatch he
was buzzing around the head while the plotts worked the heels.
I've never seen dogs so ideally suited for their purpose. The rig dog rigged and struck, the trail dogs kept pushing
and baying and this little yellow dog was trying his best to catch the pigs ear. A couple of the dogs had war wounds and we
couldn't let this go on much longer.
Coleman graciously allowed me to catch up with him and
pop the porker. I made a fair shot to the head but the hogs brain wasn't hit. He went to his knees and was swamped. Brindle
and yellow streaks opening a can of whoop ass. I wasnt quick enough to put a second shot in without hitting a dog so Coleman
joined the fight. He ran in and grabbed the 265-pound hogs back leg and yelled for my gun. Holding the hog in his left hand
and the rifle in his right he pulled the beast over, kicked the dogs off his head and sent the coupe-de-grace into the brain.
This red hog was done.
Over the past 12 months I've been fortunate enough to see
some pretty good dog work. Lions in Arizona and Utah,
bear in Utah, Arizona and New
Mexico, bobcats in Arizona, coon in Arizona
and hogs in Florida. What impresses me is each dogs ability to handle different
species and terrain. Not all dogs work on all game. How apparent this was watching the yellow cur dog work that hogs head
over. Thanks to Buddy Hand and Coleman Deal for allowing a western redneck to hang with the crackers for a wonderful day of
This is submitted to Full Cry but is unpublished.