I grew up running hounds. The seed was planted early as my earliest memories are of me hunting coyotes with my father’s hounds in Laredo, Texas in the early 70’s. It was very clear how much he loved his hounds and the great lengths at which he would go to make sure they were cared for a trained to perfection.
I was 9 years old when he told me one day that his bobcat hounds needed to be hunted. For a moment I was excited because I thought that we were going hunting. Paralysis hit me next when he said, “ Dan, I was you to take the hounds by yourself; go get my truck and load the old hounds only and go make a round.” There is no way I can do that, I thought, what if something happens? No, wasn’t an option so I headed top the dog pens with reluctant nerves overpowering excitement by a huge margin. My father had fourteen cat hounds with ten of them being broke and finished hounds. I loaded them and started heading down to the pasture. Of course, I wanted to catch a bobcat and make Dad proud but more importantly at this point I wanted to get the hounds exercised and back in the pen without any problems. There was no question that if something happened out of stupidity, there would be hell to pay. I drove to a pasture on the ranch called the blue mott. For no less than 15 minutes, I just sat there in the truck without turning the dogs loose. The thought crossed my mind to just sit there for a couple hours and then go back and lie. That was a bad idea because I had tried that lying thing before and he always knew. After a few more minutes of a serious anxiety attack, I walked to the back of the truck and opened the gate. Ten big strong foxhounds took off down the road in front of the truck and I sat down and put the truck in gear. My hands were visibly shaking as I started down the road behind the hounds. Crazy thoughts ran through my head concerning things that I had all of a sudden forgot. I couldn’t remember what hounds sounded like treed, what if I didn’t stay close enough to them, or what if I lost all of them? I’d gone about three miles down the road when I noticed Ben, Dustin, and Sissy wagging their tail in the ditch on the left side of the road. Panic burned through my body because I knew that little wag of those tails meant they smelled a cat. More bad scenarios played out in my head. What if they go the wrong way and then only half come back? What if they cold trail and get strung out and I lose them? Just then Sissy opened followed by the other two. The hounds started moving to the left out into the brush trying to move the track. Let’s keep in mind that these were the days of name tag collars only, meaning, no tracking collars. To know where the hounds went there was only one way to do it, keep up. Sissy and Ben had the track pretty much lined out and were pecking away at it and getting a good distance from me. I took a sendero (path cut through the brush) toward them get closer. Just as I turned the engine off, I heard a hound start opening every breath way out in front of the hounds that were trailing. Everything hushed and went to that dog and when they got there it was on. The cat was jumped and the hounds were roaring at him. Round and round they went about 100 yards from the truck running a tight circle. I hoped that they stayed close and didn’t tree him. I was concerned that I had forgotten how to tell if they were treed and that I couldn’t get the cat jumped out if I needed to. Fifteen minutes or so went by and they made a lose. All was quite for what seemed like a half hour but in reality was less then a minute. Finally, I heard one of the dog’s bay and I heard my father’s words in my head, “There he is”. They caught the cat and I walked out to them and dragged him back to the truck. I counted to hounds as I loaded them to make certain that I had exactly the number that I started with. It was such a pride filled moment pulling up to the house to show Dad the bobcat. I had pulled it off without a hitch. Never will I forget that one hunt that solidified my love for hounds. I’m north of five thousand bobcats under my belt and many generations of hounds since I hunted those ten but that one cat sticks out more than all of the others combined.