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LenHFebruary 29th, 2008, 9:39 am
driftless area

Posts: 58

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 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. I placed a squirrel in there and one of Dad's Old Hunting Caps. It even still smelled like Dad

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.

MartinlfFebruary 29th, 2008, 3:23 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3161
You guys are shameless, choking up your buds like this. What a site. Good stories, bugs, fish. Makes it hard to get to the tying table these days.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3March 1st, 2008, 8:03 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Fantastic story, Len. Thank you.


P.S. My wife is a dog-lover, I am not. At the risk of your story causing the subject of getting a dog to come up again, I'm going to ask her to read it. Really great stuff.
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis

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