A Boy’s First Fox Hunt

By Junior Johnson

fox-hunt-johnsonAs a young boy I was fascinated by an activity my Dad and a group of his friends participated in. One Friday night each month they’d load a few hunting dogs in their trucks and drive to a favorite location in Kisatchie National Forest for a Fox Hunt.

By nightfall a fire was blazing and over it cooked a small pig or goat. The men talked about their week and gossiped in general.  A bottle of whiskey was passed around and the men would begin to unwind.

I had just celebrated my 15th birthday when my Dad thought it was time for me to join the men in this sacred ritual.  I was very excited.

As I quietly sat and listened to Dad and his friends talk and tell jokes I couldn’t wait for the hunt to begin.  Since there were no guns present I knew it wouldn’t be hunting in the traditional sense.  I was curious to see where the enjoyment came from.

Soon the decision was made to release the hounds, which were tethered on a chain near the camping area. It wasn’t long before I found out what gave the men their joy and passion for Fox Hunting.

The dogs began to bark.

I was astonished how they could tell which dog belonged to whom from the sound of the barking.  It just sounded like barking dogs to me, but upon careful listening you could tell a distinct difference.

Dad and his friends would excitedly begin saying, “that’s Old Blue”, another would say, “no, that’s Brown Boy”, while another would shout, “hell no that’s Big Red.”  There was laughter all around as the men joked with each other about how bad or lazy the other persons dog was.

The hunt continued through the night into the early morning hours.  Plans were made to call the dogs home.  Each owner had a horn he would use with a distinctive sound that his dog would recognize.  Blowing this cow horn was an art in itself.

The dogs had been quiet for a while and all of a sudden they began barking and as the sound grew louder we knew they were chasing something straight to our camp.

A Bobcat came crashing into our camp, sliding up to the fire.  We scattered for the trees as the dogs rushed in.

My Dad shot and killed the Bobcat. He put the body in his truck.

Everyone loaded the dogs and we headed home as the sun began to rise. My first Fox Hunting trip was an eventful one and I had a lot to tell my classmates the following Monday at school.

Dad had the Bobcat mounted and kept it in his living room throughout his life and told the story of that hunt many times.

After my Dad passed away I inherited his Bobcat and have recounted this story myself many times.  I still remember the excitement of that night over 50 years later.

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