The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Why I Never Made a Fox Hunter

By Y.O.C. © 1984

Issue: April, 1984

“One of my long-remembered hunts”

In the winter of 1924, there came a large snowfall. It began one night and snowed all day the next day, but was tapering off in the evening. I left out of Kettle Hollow and went to the Scott Store to get a little smoking tobacco as I thought it would be nice to have.

My friend, Forrest Scott was there and we talked of hunting some the next day and using dogs and revolvers. He had one dog, I had two, one of them a new dog. So we laid our plans. He was to come over to my house the next morning early and we would go up on the Hurricane Hill.

He came the next morning and I was ready to go so we started out. We soon found out that in the open spaces, the snow had drifted some during the night. Our plan was to hang our rabbits in bushes as we got them and gather them as we came in the evening. We had hung a few in the Hurricane when we decided the flat woods between the Hurricane would be better hunting. (On account of the snow not being drifted in there.) So, we crossed over and had hunted about a mile up a branch and was sort of resting and waiting on the dogs when all at once, my new dog opened hot and the other dogs joined in.

They were coming toward us on the other side of the branch a ways. We, being in a good place, got on stumps and waited. But, instead of circling, like it was supposed to do, they seemed to just keep going on and on. I said, “That is no rabbit.”

We crossed over where the dogs had gone. Sure enough, there was a large red fox track. About this time the dogs went out of hearing over Oakes Mountain. We thought our old dogs would return but was not certain about the new dog, so we lit out for the top of Oakes Mountain (which was about a mile away). When we got to the top, we heard the dogs go out of hearing over Turnip Patch Ridge (which was across Highway 58, about another mile from where we were).

The mountain ridges were the water shed divide between east and west waters with a deep gap between where Highway 58 passed through.

When we topped Turnip Patch Ridge, we heard our dogs about a couple hundred yards out the ridge traveling like they had lost (or was about to lose) the scent. There was an acre or two of ice out where the dogs were. It was curious, for I don’t know what could have made this large area of ice as it was no where else.

We decided to get the dogs. We called once and all at once, those dogs tore off out of sight, racing on the ridge. We went out where they had started and found that the fox had gone up a leaning tree and my old dog had found it and went up after it. This old dog could climb trees better than a fox.

This was a long, long ride. We were determined to get our dogs or that fox. We went dragging along through the snow and drifts. We were pretty tired by then but we discovered the fox was dragging his tail through the snow, which was a sign that he was giving out and we were also nearly up to the dogs.

About this time, we came up on Eslie Agee who was out hunting. He thought we were about to catch a fox, so we all three kept going after the dogs and fox. The dogs and fox crossed the old Floyd Road about where Junior Harris now lives on out the ridge then turned down a rocky branch. I think it was toward Laurel Fork Creek and to the right of Cana Richardson’s.

We were traveling as fast as the dogs then. We went across another road and into Fork Mountain. We were in almost despair of catching this fox. Esley said a man living near had a good dog and went to get it while we walked. It was getting dark. When he got back, this dog would only walk slow with our give out dogs and bark a little.

As it was getting dark, we couldn’t track and we gave up the hunt. Esley went up to DeHart’s Store for us and got some food for us and the dogs. We all three had a snack in the middle of a large snow drift.

Forrest and I then set out for home. (Esley being near his home.) The roads had not been broke and were full of drifts. We had more than five miles the nearest way. We got to Uncle Volney Reynolds’ a little after eleven. We rested there awhile and warmed. Then over the hill to Mayberry where Forrest lived, we went. I got to Kettle Hollow between 12:00 and 1:00.

We never went back for the rabbits we hung. We weren’t able for a while. Later, I went to Stuart with a wagon, taking the new dog. He strayed from me about the crossroads. The next I heard, there was a great fox dog below the mountain, the very best, they said. I was sort of glad, but never felt like I wanted him back, for I was completely broke from fox hunting. I have never figured out how many miles we waded through snow that day, but it was hard miles and many.