Discussion in 'General Wisconsin Hunting' started by spinner, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. spinner

    spinner Staff Member


    Written By: Len Harris

    We lived in Milwaukee. My father and mother hated the
    big city. We lived there because that is where the
    welding and steam fitting jobs were plentiful. He was
    born and raised in a small town in northern Wisconsin.

    He left to hunt or fish every chance he got. He took
    turns on his trips. One went to Oconto Falls (His)
    hometown and the other went to (Mom's) Gays Mills. The
    trips alternated.

    It was the fall of 1958 and our family was in Gays
    Mills. My dad wanted to go pheasant hunting. My dad
    and uncle went hunting. The bird hunting was OK that
    day........The job hunting was even better! On the
    way home to Milwaukee my dad sprung it on the family.

    While pheasant hunting he ran into a guy that worked
    at the power plant in Genoa. He was the plant manager.
    Dad was hired during a pheasant outing to be the new
    welder there.

    My dad was so excited to get out of the big city, he
    had even bought a house in Gays Mills already. We were
    moving in 2 days. The house was 33 steps from the
    Kickapoo River. It was a four bedroom with a large
    front and rear porch. A huge yard for the children.

    My father went in to his job site and contacted his
    boss. The boss was not suprised at my dad's leaving.
    He told dad that "You always left to the sticks every
    chance you got." "Have a wonderful life in rural
    Wisconsin." My dad made one more stop before he left
    his old employ.

    It was at the company bulletin board. Dad had seen an
    add on there. *Puppies* to good home. Beagle and
    Spaniel mix. My dad had always wanted a hunting dog.
    He loved grouse/pheassant/rabbit/squirrel hunting and
    figured now that he had a house. He could have his
    first dog. Dad stopped on the way home and picked up a

    She was a beagle and spaniel mixture. Redish brown
    colorored with a little wave to her fur on the back.
    Her original name was Ginger. My oldest sister named

    Ginger was the ultimate family pet and hunting dog
    combined. My dad didn't waste anytime taking her into
    the wild to hunt.Her first outing was rabbit outing.

    Her beagle half was obvious from the get go. She had
    that beagle bellar.....and stubborn on the track
    mentality. Dad and Ginger had a wonderful first
    outing. They harvested three rabbits. It was time to
    go home to show the family the fruit of their first
    hunt together...but Ginger was on a hot track.

    She was on a rabbit and she wasn't giving up. My dad
    sat and waited for her by the Van for 2 hours. Ever so
    often he heard a bellar in the distant. He finally got
    disguisted and went home {leaving Ginger there}.
    He went home for re-inforcements.

    Rabbit hunting was about 40 minutes from home. Dad
    drove home cussing that stubborn dog the entire way.
    When dad got home he was met by my two oldest sisters
    and mom in the driveway. They were worried about dad
    and ginger. Dad was angry at the dog. He was ready to
    give up on her for not listening properly.

    My mom had all the kids load up into the yellow van.
    Mom and the girls had grown quite fond of the dog and
    they were going to make dad go back and get her.

    We went directly to the rabbit place. My mom
    even offered to have the girls and her look for the

    Mom explained to Dad. "Do you want a lazy dog or
    do you want one that stays on track?" "This was her
    first time." "She needs more training." Dad wasn't
    angry at the dog by the time we got there. We pulled
    off the road and went into the woods to look for

    She must have heard the vehicle...She met us half way
    into the woods.

    She was muddy and wet. Three quarters of her body
    was covered in burs. She was happy to see mom and the
    sisters........When dad yelled at her. "Ginger get
    over here!" Ginger cowered and slowly worked her way
    over to my dad.

    Dad grabbed Ginger by the scruff of
    the neck and lift her nose to nose with him. He yelled
    at her as loud as he could. "When I say come I mean
    come!" He picked her up and carried her back to the
    yellow van.

    Everyone was quiet on the way home. We were afraid
    that dad was so angry at Ginger that he might give her
    away. Dad told all of us NOT to pet the dog. Not to
    show any attention to her the entire way home. We were
    all certain that Dad was going to give her away the
    next day.

    We all piled out of the van. Dad told my oldest
    sister it was her job to clean up the dog. He said she
    was NASTY and she wasn't allowed in the back porch
    until she was completely clean. It took my 2 sisters
    three hours to clean her up.

    The next morning my dad woke us all up and we had a
    family meeting. We were all certain that Dad called
    the meeting to tell us he was giving away the dog. The
    girls were all crying and my mom was a little misty
    eyed. My Dad announced that the he was keeping the
    dog...but he had decided to change her name. Her name
    from that day forward would be NASTY. He made it clear
    to us that if the dog didn't listen to him. She would
    be gone.

    Nasty turned into the best hunting dog ever. My
    dad said that she was better than any AKC dog. She
    listened and stayed on a hot trail better than any 500
    dollar AKC over priced dog.

    I remember the rituals before hunting. My dad
    firing up the dog. Going to the gun cabinet. Opening
    up the cabinet. Then he closed it and walked away.

    It was a game my dad liked to play with the dog. He
    would work her into a fever pitch. She would get so
    fired up by the time Dad put on the hunting coat...She
    would be howling and running round the house bouncing off
    of furniture. Mom would finally get sick of the two
    and kick them out of the house. They would get into
    the yellow van and go hunting.

    As I got older i yearned to go with them. At age
    eight i was allowed to go.

    The three of us made many hunting memories
    together. I can still remember like yesterday the time

    Nasty had a squirrel latch on to her nose after my dad
    had shot it. She shook it off and let it lay. She did
    not attack it. Dad had taught her well about not
    chewing up game.

    Then there was the time that Dad
    winged a pheasant and it jumped into the Kickapoo
    River to get away from the dog. Nasty did NOT
    hesitate. She jumped right off the eight foot sheer
    bank and swam and retrieved the rooster. We had to
    slide down the bank and help her up the bank. She did
    NOT drop the bird.

    Nasty did not understand deerhunting. Dad went to
    the gun cabinet quietly. He tried to sneak out of the
    house without her seeing. He loaded up the yellow van
    in the dark. Nasty always watched at the window.
    Waiting her turn to be loaded in the van. Dad left
    without her. She would lay by the gun cabinet sulking
    the entire time he was gone.

    Nasty would always be the first one to know Dad was
    home from deerhunting. She would hear the van before
    we could see it. She would let out a howl and be
    bouncing off of the front door to greet my dad upon
    his return.

    She quickly forgot about deerhunting and was allowed
    to ride in the yellow van again. She had her position.
    She staked the claim to the front seat long before I
    was old enough to hunt. My place was the next row
    on the van and Nasty and Dad in the front. The dog
    always had to have the window open so she could have
    her head out the window while we drove places.

    Many falls had come and past. Nasty had developed
    a white muzzle and was getting a little slower...but
    she still had that fire burning for hunting. November
    came and it was her worst time of the year. Dad was
    going hunting without her again. At least I was home
    to play with. I wasn't old enough to go deerhunting

    Nasty slept in front of the gun cabinet. She waited
    for her human to come home. It was the last night of
    deer season. About ten pm. Nasty let out her ***Dad is
    Home Howl**** We all went out side to the yellow van.
    Things were a little different this year for Nasty.

    Her human never came in the house and the yellow van
    left without her again. What Nasty didn't know was
    that her human had died while deerhunting of a heart
    attack. November 23, 1967.

    Nasty didn't have closure like we did. We went to
    Dads funeral and got to say good bye to him.. She
    waited for many days for the yellow van to come
    home.She would stand on her hind legs and look out the
    window at vehicles that went by. She slept in front of
    the gun cabinet.. The yellow van didn't come. We had
    sold the yellow van to my Uncle. My uncle wanted to
    have his brother's hunting vehicle.

    Nasty finally quit looking out the window. I wasn't
    old enough to take her hunting. My uncle wanted to
    have her. My mother said she was part of the family
    and was staying where she belonged. Nasty became kinda
    fat. She was a family dog now. Not a hunting dog
    anymore. The years passed slowly for her.

    It was June of 1972. My sister was getting
    married. My Uncle had asked if he could give away my
    sister. He was my dad's only brother so my mother and
    sister agreed .

    My uncle was supposed to arrive the day before at
    noon. Nasty went crazy at about 11:15am. She was
    howling and bouncing off the front screen door. She
    tore her way through the screen door. She heard her
    yellow van coming .

    Her human was finally coming home.

    Nasty was the first to meet the yellow van in the
    driveway. She went directly to the drivers door. My
    uncle got out. She immediately jumped in the van. She
    searched the entire van.. My uncle left the van door
    open. Nasty stayed in the van in the passenger seat.
    She sat there for a couple hours before Mom went
    outside and brought her into the house. Nasty went to
    her place in front of the gun cabinet and laid down.

    We all greeted my uncle and the hours flew by. The
    next thing I knew we were watching my sister leave the
    church and we were all throwing rice. It was about 8pm
    when we all got home. It was quiet in the house.

    No Nasty at the door to greet us as usual.

    I went upstairs looking for her. There she was.
    Asleep in front of the gun cabinet. I bent down to pet
    her and .....it was obvious she wasn't sleeping. She
    had died. I didn't want to ruin the day's happening
    and tell everyone about Nasty. I quietly carried her
    to back porch and and i wrapped her in one of her
    favorite blankets and put her in wooden box that my
    dad used for reloading equipment. Everyone was still
    up talking. I got the keys to the car and put Nasty in
    the car. It was clear where I was going. I carefully
    cut out the sod and dug a hole and replaced the sod

    Now Nasty could rest in peace.

    She was with her HUMAN.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2007
  2. Great story
    My rat dog is 13 all most 14 now, she hates me out of her site, she doesn't hunt but she acts like I left her for days when I go out for a hour or so to the store with out her,
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2015

  3. spinner

    spinner Staff Member

    I have been asked by WPR "Wisconsin Public Radio" to read this story from my book in the "Wisconsin Life" series on air.