by: Eddie Trapp
While Delta County native Stan Szafran was serving in our military he met Eric Wilby from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Eric is fun loving and full of life, a real character. He wanted me to know he wasn’t a regular big city guy but lived more in the backwoods which he called Pennsyltucky, a cross between Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Eric and Stan hunted with grandson Casey and me Saturday, February 16 near Charleston and we had a great trip. After we traveled to my cabin we put the tracking collars on Jack Russell terrier Zack, Catahoulas, Purdy and 380, and Dakota Click’s bulldog, Buster. Walked east to the mysterious waterway, Akard Slough. This little creek’s headwaters are northwest of Charleston and form McGuyer Branch. When it gets to the flat land in South Sulphur River bottom the lack of slope causes the water to spread out, leaving no sign of a creek or ditch. After a half mile or so the water begins coming back together, forming small ditches. The nearer it gets to South Sulphur, the more little ditches come together and soon you have the original sized McGuyer Branch again. But now its name has been changed to Akard Slough in reference to the one time landowners.
The dogs hunted hard as we approached Akard Slough and turned to follow it north. Our plan was to make a big loop and wind back up at the cabin in a couple of hours. If we didn’t have any luck we could then cross the river and hunt in Hopkins County. When dogs are out of sight it is a good idea to stop a while so they can better search the woods. If you are on a forced march they get in the habit of zipping along and not checking carefully. When we stopped one time Eric asked me about catching fish with hands. That has been called hand grabbing, noodling, and the term we use, grabbling. I told Eric there was a deep hole in the river in front of the cabin and years ago somebody ran an old car off the bank where it still lay submerged. One year I was feeling around in the old car and felt a huge catfish but he would move to the opposite side of the car and I couldn’t reach him. After several hours with no success I called a scuba diving friend. With scuba gear my friend went into the river to get the big fish. Now here I just quit talking and we started walking again. I had gone about twenty steps and was afraid no one would ask when Eric, following behind me, said, “How much did he weigh?” Without breaking stride, I answered, “We never did know because each time the scuba diver got close, the fish would roll the window up.” Our walking stopped for a few minutes while Stan rolled on the ground and laughed at gullible Eric.
Trying to mix in a little science for our visitors I found an old box turtle shell and discussed its features. When we started walking again I hung it on a tree limb a few feet off the ground before moving on. Eric asked if the hogs tried to get in a brush pile when dogs gave chase. I told him how they would back up in a brush pile or go down in a gully or ditch where they could back up to the steep bank and protect their back side. Since we were right on the edge of Akard Slough I pointed down in it to show the steep bank. Moving on north we came to the end of the woods, turned west for a few hundred yards then walked south back toward the cabin. 380 was running around in front of us as we moved south. The wind was blowing from the northwest and 380 disappeared. In less than two minutes we heard him barking five hundred yards away. Just like his great uncle, Garth, he smelled the hog in the wind and raced to bay.
As we walked to the barking I feared the hog was across a fence where we did not have permission to go. After walking a few minutes the barking stopped and I knew the hog was running. 380 would bay and the hog would run. This went on for a few minutes and we were so happy to see the hog was now running east toward Akard Slough where we had just come from. I told Eric and Stan that was a real hog dog that would drive a hog away from posted land and back where we had permission. Ha! By now Purdy and Zack had raced to help 380 and the hog stopped to fight in Akard Slough at the very spot I showed Eric. The turtle shell was still hanging in the tree, ten steps away. Casey led Buster to the top of the bank and turned him loose. He crashed into the one hundred seventy pound hog and locked down on an ear. Within seconds Casey ran to the hog, grabbed a back ankle in each hand, and lifted the back legs off the ground, a process called “wheel barreling.” Eric and Stan watched from top of the bank until Casey hollered for Eric to hurry up and use his knife. Thirty seconds later Eric was laughing and hollering. Stan got it all on video and we laughed every time we watched the You Tube worthy clip. They wanted to know the best way to cook some of the hog for supper and I suggested slicing the back strap then cooking it like pork chops which is what the back strap is anyway. Stan has a cabin near Cooper Lake and I went by to visit that night. They had cooked the pork chops and said it was the best they ever had. Eric has lots of pictures to show and stories to tell back in Pennsyltucky.