Fox Hunting in the Roaring Twenties


White County Historical Society 2002 White County Heritage


This article originally appeared in the Little Red River Journal at Pangburn, May 8, 1985



ncle Jim Hilger was quite a hunter.  He kept a pack of hounds and just about all of them would tree anything that would climb a tree, catch wild hogs and hold them until he got there, also run a red fox.   He owned one dog named Red.   Red was Uncle Jim’s pride and joy, but was mean as a hound could be.  If he couldn’t outrun another dog, he would kill it if he could.  Wes Ramsey owned a dog named Coolidge, after Calvin Coolidge, of course.

One time Red and Coolidge were running a red fox.  They were running neck and neck ahead of all the other dogs.  All of a sudden, Red and Coolidge stopped barking.  Wes said we better get there, so they did and Coolidge had the best of Red.  Uncle Jim said, “Wes, pull him off!”   And Wes did, but down deep he would have enjoyed seeing it finish, for he knew Red had started it.

Hap Hilger, Jim’s grandson, a small lad, had been begging to go fox hunting.  This time, grandpa let him go.  They walked about a quarter-mile before the dogs struck.  Uncle Jim said, “Hap, hold this lantern here in the middle of this old road and don’t move, and if they come this way, put your coat over it.”  Hap did just as instructed while Jim went toward the dogs.   Just before he got to them he yelled at them, and, sure enough, they started toward Hap. 

Closer now, Hap on his knees, lantern covered and between his knees, dark as pitch…  Then the crash, the lantern went into the air end for end.  Hap, while rolling to one side, yelled, “Grandpa, that was a hog!”  But Hap wasn’t hurt – just scared out of his wits. 

One time Uncle Pole Hilger and Uncle Jim made a bet as a result of one of their arguments, and Uncle Jim put old Red up to cover his part of the bet.  When Uncle Jim lost, Uncle Pole told him that he would be back after Red later.   This gave Uncle Jim somewhat ease of mind, for he didn’t think that Uncle Pole would come to get Red, knowing that he had no use for him whatsoever. 

Uncle Pole was the mayor of Pangburn at this time.  In a couple of weeks after the bet, he went after Red.  Uncle Jim said, “Pole, that dog will tear your arm off.”  So, since the bet didn’t amount to anything, Uncle Jim got to keep Red.

Another time, Uncle Jim was having a race in the winter when the ground was frozen.  Pauline’s dad Jim Ghent heard a knock at the door about 1:30 in the morning.  The race was started at West Pangburn and has run into Pangburn, around and around in the N.A. Lewis lumber yard.  So Uncle Jim needed to warm up, thinking that was all of  the race. When Pauline’s dad went to the door the first thing Uncle Jim said, “Jim, how can anyone sleep while a fox race is going on?”  By this time the fire was going good, and before he got good and warm, the dogs rousted that fox out and the race was on once more.  Uncle Jim went out of the house but failed to see a tub of  water  which  had  been  caught  for wash water.  It had about one and a half inches of  ice on top and Uncle Jim hit it smack in the middle.  I don’t remember if he warmed again or went after the dogs, but my guess is after the dogs, for they were headed toward West Pangburn.  I do know Pauline’s dad got as much kick out of the incident as Uncle Jim did the race.   Uncle Jim was a man that everyone loved to hear as he talked.   He was rather interesting as a trial lawyer.  He said what he thought and meant what he said.