It feels good to be back with old friends, talking about hunting.
This is a story from days gone by: Our gang, then-Letcher County Sheriff Steve Banks, his brother John, and former Deputy Sheriff Gale Dean Campbell were rabbit hunting on the Knott-Letcher county line around Redfox.
Our dogs were running a rabbit when we heard a strange voice join our dogs. We watched as a beagle joined our pack and never missed a beat. She was the one that kept our pack on track. After we got the rabbit and walked over to the dog that was standing on the rabbit, we noticed it had a collar with a name tag. He was an old friend of ours that lived at Redfox who did it all — trade dogs, guns, and loved to hunt.
We tried to put her in the dog box until we finished, but she wanted to keep hunting, so we let her out. We could tell she was old and the miles running rabbits were many. At the foot of the hill, they turned toward Letcher County and I headed to return the dog.
My friend was standing in his yard. “How are you, Steve?” were his first words. I told him we had found his dog and wanted him to have the rabbit we had killed from her work. “How do you know it is my dog?” he asked. I said, “Because it has your name tag.” He said, “She has been a good one,” never looking at the dog in the box yet. “How old is she?” I asked. “Fourteen” was his answer.
We opened the box, she came out, and headed straight toward the kennel.
About three weeks later, the same group was once again hunting there. Again, we heard this voice with our dogs, but it was not a strange voice this time; we had heard it before. Sure enough, here came the same little beagle. She joined us and once again I loaded her up to take her home.
After I pulled into his yard, he came out and I said, “Brought your dog back again.” What he said next still is in my mind today. “How do you know it is mine? Does it have a name tag? I am not missing any dogs.” I was in shock. I opened the box, she came out, wagged her tail at him, and jumped down and headed toward the kennel.
This story has no ending, I never saw my friend or the dog after that, but it will always linger in my memories.