Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This is a picture of me and Rowdy. He is now approaching 18 years of age. All of his brothers and sisters turned out to be good dogs, except him. He was bred to be a lion dog, but he never thought it was a good idea. Over the years people who hunted with me often asked why I kept what seemed to be a worthless hound. I told them there was a story that went with that dog. This is his story.

One spring in the late '90's I loaded my hounds and headed off towards the Truth or Consequences area to the Ladder Ranch, a beautiful place owned by the Ted Turner. I was supposed to meet Neal Lawson and Bo Turner about five miles up Animas Creek, but some ranch business came up and they stayed at headquarters to attend a meeting. When I reached the ranch I decided not to wait for them, but to go on ahead and start scouting for lion sign.

The ranch is rough, steep and rocky and the terrain is hard to navigate. With miles and miles of road in various stages of repair, the ranch crew carries radios to help them stay in contact with headquarters. I picked up a radio and tossed it in the truck seat along with the 0.357 pistol that my youngest daughter had insisted that I take with me when I left the house. She insisted long and loud and wore me down until I agreed to carry it. The idea was that if I got injured I could let off a shot so I would be easier to locate. This was during that long lost era before cell phones and GPS equipment that fit in your pocket.

I drove past the old rock house and up Animas Creek looking for sign. The dogs just kept trotting on, checking the underbrush, but gave no indication that a cat had been in the area. I decided to head north, so I topped out on Dollar Road. When I crossed the remains of an old two rut road that had been put in a few years earlier to accommodate a fence building crew, the dogs struck a lion track headed south along that ridge. I slowly drove up the old overgrown and rock strewn fencing road to an overlook where I could hear the dogs trailing down in a deep canyon. Not wanting the dogs to get too far ahead of me, I got out of the truck, stuffed the pistol in its holster and followed a wildlife trail down to where I could hear the dogs better.

By the time I reached the bottom of the canyon the dogs had jumped the cat and soon were barking treed. When I arrived at the tree I found the lion had climbed up in the top of a small juniper. I noticed that all of the dogs were at the tree except for Rowdy. After a few minutes the lion got tired of the dogs harassing him in close proximity. The cat jumped out and ran down the canyon with loose rocks bounding has he slid through the tough going.

Dogs seldom catch a cat on the ground, but he made a mistake and the hounds caught up with him. There was a terrible fight going on and in fear that some of my good dogs were getting badly cut up and some might be killed, I pulled out the pistol and waded into the fight to get a head shot. As I aimed the pistol the lion lunged and made a swipe at me, knocking the gun from my hand and lodging a claw in the end of my thumb.

The fight continued, but now the dogs were pulling the cat one way and I was attached to to the other end by a strip of tough hide.

The cat was reeling me in quickly towards claws and teeth and at the last moment when I knew I was in serious trouble, I caught a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. It was the no good red hound, Rowdy. As Rowdy launched himself ten feet through the air onto the cat and grabbed the big tom by the throat I grabbed the lion by the foot and extracted my bloody thumb from his claw. While Rowdy had the cat by the throat I crawled over to a nearby cactus and fished the pistol out of the spines. Together we made quick work of the cat. So when someone asked me why I keep an old, worthless dog with a grayed muzzle and bleary eyes I tell them this story. Rowdy may be old and gray, but he is still my friend.