Showsight Presents the Treeing Walker Coonhound

TREEING WALKER HISTORY

Another big Leafy Oak winner was “The Ghost” whose dam was a B&T and whose sire was a Walker. The Ghost was registered as an English Coonhound. I mention this just to show you how much impact the Walker hound was having on UKC even 20 years before they would become fully recognized. Leafy Oaks would spawn the Kenton Nationals and numerous other large pursed field trials, and the coonhound fraternity would feel the boom of prosperity. Another great field trial event, the Tree Top Field Trial, was held the second Sunday in August in Niagara Falls, New York. The first Tree Top event was held in August of 1930 with a guar- anteed purse of $300, which in 1930 was quite a sum of money. It would grow to become a coonhound carnival with a $600 purse in 1934, its fourth and final year. Regulars at this event would include the Smith brothers who were originally from Kentucky but would move to Ohio and bring their Walker-bred hounds along with them. These brothers would win one of the first Leafy Oaks with a hound called “Red Fox” (as well as win First Line at the 1933 Tree Top with Red Fox), and his kennel mate, “Leapin Spider,” would win First Tree money at the same event. From 1931-1933, the Smith brothers and these two Walker-bred hounds would win the small fortune of $2,500.00. With that kind of money at stake, coonhounds would grow in value from $25.00-$35.00 to well over a $100.00—and sometimes even $300.00. Thus, the business of breeding champions to champions began, and anything with a magical shot of “Walker power” was in high demand. Mountain Music Magazine started on December 21, 1931 and touted itself as the National Fox, Wolf, and Coonhound Journal. A.B. Hartman was the editor and publisher as well as the owner of the Mountain Music registry. To register your hound, you needed only to send in the dog’s pedigree with a brief description of the dog and $.50. This was later raised to $1.00. Triggs, Walkers, Red- bones, B&Ts, etc., were all registered with the Mountain Music registry and were often advertised in the magazine complete with the MM#. One such Walker was “Big Stride.” Owned by Kentucky breeder Samuel L. Wooldridge, Big Stride was considered to be the best hound of his day. On Big Stride’s grave marker, the follow- ing was inscribed: “Opinions Die; Records Live.” Mr. Wooldridge

Speed, Speed, Speed. By and large, humans are competitive. And that competitive spirit is strong within the ranks of coon- hound enthusiasts. At the beginning of the 20th century, this com- petitive spirit would see the sport of field trialing thrive. While no one knows where and when the first coonhound field trial was held, there were a great many held in the 1920s-‘50s, covered by Mountain Music Magazine, Full Cry magazine, Hunter’s Horn mag- azine, and The Chase magazine—so we have a good idea of how popular these events became. Today’s field trials are hundreds of yards in distance, but the early field trials could span as many as seven MILES in distance. In a March 1942 Full Cry article, Harry Andrews gives credit for the first field trial to George Slatzer of Marion, Ohio. This event may very well be the first advertised field trial, but earlier writings show that many clubs held “challenges” well before the summer of 1924. Regardless of who gets the credit, the field trials would soon bring coonhunting to the forefront of America’s dog-related pastimes. The winner of “Dad” Slatzer’s field trial was “Bones,” a UKC-registered English Coonhound owned by Col. Leon Robinson. Bones was considered a Bluetick in his day, but all foxhound-related breeds were registered under the Eng- lish Fox & Coonhound banner during this time. A quick look at Bones, and any present-day English Coonhound breeder would be proud to own him. With his victory, the $50.00 purse, and the subsequent coverage of his feat, the sport of field trialing would take hold and dominate the sport of coonhunting for over 30 years. Following in Slatzer’s footsteps, Col. Hank Pfeiffer would organize a $1,000.00 event to be held in May of 1927, called Leafy Oaks. Leafy Oaks would also be sanctioned by the United Kennel Club and would draw hundreds of dogs from around the country, with the majority being from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylva- nia. With the success of these events, Chauncie Bennett would see dollar signs, and UKC would flourish as it began registering these hounds. At the time, UKC registered only three breeds of coon- hound; the Black & Tan, the Redbone, and the English. ALL were registered as Fox & Coonhounds at the time. One of the first Leafy Oak winners was “The Sheik,” the product of a Redbone bitch bred to a Walker dog. The Sheik was registered with UKC as a Redbone.

236 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2021

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