Showsight Presents the Treeing Walker Coonhound

TREEING WALKER HISTORY

Lester Nance, Charlie Lord, and Russell Baker. At the conclusion of this meeting, and at the next subsequent meeting, Dr. Fuhrman decided that he would register these dogs as English Coonhound (Walker treeing). Floyd Reeder was the man responsible for the first Treeing Walker breed standard. This wasn’t exactly what these men had envisioned (and the first Treeing Walker Days wouldn’t be held until September of 1951), but it was the start of what would become the most dominate coonhound breed ever. Raymond Motley had been breeding Treeing Walkers since the 1920s. His strain of coonhounds was derived from Walker foxhounds solely. Mr. Motley’s first “straight” coonhound was a Walker named “Mike.” He purchased Mike in the early 1920s for $35.00. His second coonhound would be a female Walker that he found while coonhunting one night, and she was caught in a fence. From this point on, all of Motley’s hounds would be of the Walker variety. In Lester Nance’s Treeing Walker History and Memories , Lester is quoted as saying: “Beyond a doubt, the Motley-bred bloodline of Treeing Walkers deserves a lot of credit for the foundation blood of the outstanding Treeing Walkers of the present era.” Motley’s “Major” can be found in many of today’s Treeing Walkers. Both Raymond Motley and Lester Nance were two of the most influential Treeing Walker breeders in the early years and were the first “big-time” promoters of the breed. NITE HUNTS & DOG SHOWS Ingraham, Illinois, would become ground zero for UKC’s ven- ture into licensed Nite Hunts. It was here, in 1954, that they would sponsor their first event. This event would be won by Plotts by the names of Overbeck’s Lucky and Branderburg’s Big Lucky, while third place would go to Lester Nance with the new Treeing Walk- ers. As I stated earlier, many local clubs were holding “Wild Coon Hunts” prior to 1954, but with the backing of UKC, ACHA, and other respected registries, the Nite Hunts would soon take off in popularity. These Nite Hunts were true tests of a coonhound’s abil- ity, the handler’s knowledge of the sport, and the breeder’s ability to make successful matings. The popularity of the sport would see the kennel names of Finley River, House, Lone Pine, Yadkin River, and Spring Creek rise to the top of the Treeing Walker kingdom. And with the rise in popularity, so too came a rise in sponsorship. Today’s Treeing Walkers can hunt for purses in the $25,000.00 range as well as for new trucks in the $50,000.00 range. The great sires of the Treeing Walker breed have sired from 1,800 pups to 5,000 pups, and the influential dams have whelped litters with a 60 percent success rates in achieving hunting titles. Now, with the Treeing Walker’s inclusion into the AKC Hound Group, the Treeing Walker will come in from its “nite” time activities and be shared with the millions of Americans who tune in to watch dog shows on TV. And as the lights dim and the crowd shuffles out of Madison Square Garden, following the conclusion of another Westminster Kennel Club dog show on a cold February night, somewhere in America a Treeing Walker is being cut loose to give Mr. Ringtail one more chase through the woods. “These Nite Hunts were true tests of a coonhound’s ability, the handler’s knowledge of the sport, and the breeder’s ability to make successful matings.”

would hunt Big Stride in several of the Ohio field trials during the 1920s with great success. Daughters of Big Stride would win the 1925 and 1926 National Foxhound Trials. His ability to reproduce was unmatched during his time, but the reason he is important to Treeing Walker enthusiasts is because of a dog called “Brays Speed.” In 1927, Brays Speed was purchased by Herman Bray for $75.00 from Glenn Walsh. Mr. Walsh had acquired Speed from some foxhunters he knew after witnessing Speed fall out of a night- time foxhunt and tree a raccoon. Brays Speed was of Big Stride breeding and was the prototypical Walker dog. He would be bred to “Foland’s Queen,” another Walker hound, in January of 1932. Foland’s Queen was sired by a Walker hound by the name of “Ring” that ran loose in a small southern town in Ohio. Duke Shell, a trav- eling salesman for a tobacco company, would pick Ring up and ship him to his brother Perry in Perkinsville, Indiana. No one in the town would claim old Ring, so I guess you really couldn’t call him stolen. (However, no one was ever paid for him either.) He was whisked away to Indiana, and the Shell brothers would enjoy many nights hunting raccoon with Ring. He would also be bred to sev- eral local females, producing some outstanding coonhounds. The Speed x Queen cross of 1932 would produce a litter of 12 puppies. Lester Nance of Arcadia, Indiana, would purchase two of the pups. One pup, a female, would be run over and killed. Mr. Bray kept two pups as well, one of which he named “King.” At eight months of age, Lester Nance would purchase King from Mr. Bray… and the story of White River King would begin. TWO ‘BIG-TIME’ PROMOTERS Lester Nance was born in 1912 and always had a fondness for hunting dogs; bird dogs, foxhounds, coonhounds, and rabbit dogs. If it pursued game, Mr. Nance was a fan. Lester Nance went on his first coonhunt in 1926 with Charlie, Glenn, and Floyd Newby and their Bluetick hound, “Queen.” Along with Queen were sev- eral other hounds, including Charlie Newby’s Lead dog. (Must have been a great night, as Lester Nance would continue to coon- hunt for the next 50 years.) During King’s lifetime, Lester would use him on raccoon as well as fox, but King was known best as a coonhound. Over the next 10-12 years, King would be bred to the best bitches available in an effort to lock in this “treeing” instinct. It was Lester Nance, and a small group of men, who would go to UKC and AKC in the early 1940s in an effort to have these Walker hounds registered as their own breed. Neither UKC nor AKC were interested at first, as these hounds really weren’t breeding all that true to type and because the Walker type dogs were already being registered under the blanket English Fox and Coonhound breed. In many instances, the dogs didn’t even have three generations of pure breeding. With those doors being closed, Mr. Nance and Raymond Motley would use their influence with Full Cry magazine to get them to register Treeing Walkers for the first time. The Full Cry registry had been registering Walkers and other foxhound breeds for a number of years and had started to register coonhound breeds in late 1940. Bill Harshman would serve as the head of the Full Cry Kennel Club. Around this time, the Mountain Music registry would begin hosting coonhound events as well. These would become a series of events called the Mountain Music Hunts, and were spread across the US from Oklahoma/Texas to Ohio/Pennsylvania. In 1945, Dr. Fuhrman, Chauncie Bennett’s son-in-law, would take over UKC. Dr. Fuhrman could see the advantage of adding what was becoming a very popular type of hound to his registry, and he set a meeting with the newly formed Treeing Walker Asso- ciation and the Bluetick Coonhound Association. The meeting was held at the home of Floyd Reeder in Logansport, Indiana. Treeing Walker enthusiasts in attendance were Floyd Reeder, Les King,

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2021 | 237

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