Jack Russell Terriers
share my home,
fill my life and
own my heart.

They are not my
whole life but
they make my
life whole.


Jack Russell Hunting, Jack Russell hunting stories, A first Jack Russell Hunt story - Conquest Terriers, Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

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Other Jack Russell Hunting Stories

Other Jack Russell Hunting Stories 2 - Colorado, USA.

Other Jack Russell Hunting Stories 3 - Raccoon Hunting Story

Other Jack Russell Hunting Stories 4  - Hunting Raccoon

Jack Russell Terrier Hunt Story - Tanya's First Hunt

Some women are very vain about aging. I am not. I don’t think it’s about aging, I think it’s about gaining wisdom and experience…and that only comes with time. So, it was with no trepidation that I faced my 30th birthday in May, 1997. (Yes, you can now figure out my age, and I don’t care!) In fact, I had somehow convinced my husband to purchase (another) dog for me as his birthday gift. He still shakes his head in amazement today at the memory of agreeing to MORE Jack Russell Terriers, let alone picking up the cost. Well, I’ve never been one to let grass grow beneath my feet, so since I had already picked out my new terrier, I began to arrange the transfer. The puppy was in Ontario, Canada so I could either have her shipped to Logan Airport or drive up to Ontario and pick her up.

Since my birthday that year fell on Memorial Day weekend, I decided to drive up to Ontario and pick up the pup myself. My husband had to work, so I make the trip solo along with my good terrier buddy, Quarrystone Victor. By this point, I had owned Victor for three years. Victor and I had already gone through quite a bit together in those three years as he began my education about Jack Russell Terriers and the trials and tribulations of being owned by them. Yes, we’d been through a lot and there was lots more to come.

So, Victor and I made the 10 hour drive up to Ontario to pick up the newest member of our pack, Conquest Tussle, from her breeder Gaye Redpath. I had met Gaye the prior October at Nationals. We were 1st and 2nd in the ring with our puppies and Gaye was kind enough to escort the shocked 1st place terrier and his owner (ME!) out of the ring. I think what gave away that I might need a helping hand, was when I turned to her after accepting the blue ribbon from the judge and said to her, “What do I do now?” That kind act was the beginning a friendship that lasts to this day. Over the years, Gaye has been there with me for many of my terrier firsts: my first win at Nationals, my first experience with hunting, the first NHC earned by one of my terriers, the list goes on.

This trip was my first long driving trip by myself. Victor was good company, but he had a hard time reaching the pedals and steering so I had to handle all the driving duties myself. We finally reached Gaye’s on Saturday evening and I was so excited to meet my new terrier. She was beautiful! We had some dinner and talked terriers for a long while and then it was off to bed. I had planned to head home the following morning so that I could enjoy my new terrier for a day before it was back to work on Tuesday. On Sunday, we had breakfast and then Gaye asked me if I wanted to come with them for a few hours on a hunt. I was nervous because I was totally unprepared. I am a person who believes you should be prepared for your things and I didn’t have any of the stuff I thought one might need for hunting. Oh, and just what were those things one might need? I wasn’t sure. Gaye’s enthusiasm overcame my worry about the lack of “stuff” and she lent me a pair of boots and a jacket. Yup, that’s all I needed. And, enough interest in the subject to be willing to give it a try.

Gaye’s truck was ready to go with crates and tools, so we grabbed a few of her dogs, Victor and a neighbor, hopped in the truck and headed out. First, we went to a chicken farm where Gaye had permission to hunt. The owner of the farm had lost some stock to raccoons and fox so he encouraged regular hunting of the property. We took two of the dogs out and Gaye instructed me about the locator collars and proper taping procedures of the batteries. I had never been hunting with Victor and I was terrified that he would run off. I was not worried at all about him facing quarry as I knew he could defend himself well having witnessed and broken up more than one terrier fight he had participated in. So, I kept Victor on a leash and Gaye’s female Conquest Custard, nicknamed Tart hit the ground running. Or, more appropriately, hit the ground scenting. We, with Tart in the lead, fully inspected several high dirt berms but found holes Tart was interested in investigating. Then, we headed over to the hedgerow at the edge of the field. In the hedgerow Tart quickly found a hole she was interested in entering.

She entered slowly but confidently and was soon out of sight. This was not an unexpected result as I had learned something about the process in my talks with other terrier people including Gaye and my terrier mentor at the time, Nonie Risley. Many of the current members probably never had the opportunity to meet Nonie, but for those of us who did, she was unforgettable. She was a woman in her 70’s of indomitable spirit and verve who fully involved herself in every aspect of JRTs from hosting a trial, to agility with her terriers, to go-to-ground and hunting. She hunted quite a bit and several of her terriers had earned Bronze Medallions for Special Merit in the Field including Victor’s father North Country Pinocchio and his sister Quarrystone Pita. So, when Tart when out of sight in the earth, I knew that she was following the scent of some beastie and would try to locate said beastie and then bark to alert us that it had been found. OK. No problem. Then we would use the locator box to find Tart’s exact location and dig her out. WHAT?!? Now, I’m the daughter of a mason and am no stranger to shovels. I know all about them, long handled, short handled, round and square…13 shovels of sand to a mix of mortar. But, I was not enthused about the prospect of digging a terrier out from under a stone wall. I know how much work it is to build one of those suckers, I do not even want to begin to think about dismantling and remantling one. You people are crazy! OK. So, I was wise enough not to say any of this stuff out loud. Instead, I asked how we were going to go about accomplishing this task.

The first thing we did once Tart began to bay was stake out Victor, which was easy because I had never taken his leash off. By this point, Tart had been baying steadily for a few minutes. Than, Gaye used her locator box to find Tart’s exact location. She was about 4 feet down and about 2 feet back from the stonewall. Gaye then began to dig down to Tart using a round, short handled shovel. She made the hole about 3 feet in diameter and piled up all the dirt in one place. It took her about 10 or 15 minutes or digging before she knew she was getting close to Tart. During this whole process, Victor is getting increasingly hysterical, barking and lunging on his stake out. Now, Gaye gently broke through into the tunnel and we could see Tart. Gaye and her neighbor cleaned out the hole some more and we could see Tart baying at a groundhog. Oh. My. God. My parents had always had a vegetable garden and we’d had more than one resident groundhog over the years. I knew they were tough and wily beasties. But, so was Tart. She bayed and bayed right into the groundhog’s face. And, if the groundhog tried to turn tail, she lunged and nipped it in the butt and it would whip around again to face her. After a few minutes, Gaye had the hole opened up enough that she was ready to capture the beastie. WHAT?!?

That’s right, she said capture it. You can only imagine the thoughts streaming through my head at this point. How does one capture a groundhog? When a wild beast of a dog is barking at it. And, those things have big teeth. Big teeth like a beaver. I. Am. Not. Touching. That. Thing. Gaye had grabbed some thing she called “the bar” which was a six foot long piece of metal about 1” wide. She sunk that bar behind the groundhog to keep it in place. Then she put her shovel between Tart and the groundhog and her neighbor pulled Tart out of the hole. She then used something called “coon tongs” to grab the groundhog around the neck and pulled it out of the hole. Tart tried to launch herself out of the arms of Gaye’s neighbor toward the groundhog, but she was prevented. Victor was barking hysterically all the while.

Now that I had seen how a JRT works quarry, and the quarry itself, we put the groundhog back into its hole and released it from the tongs unharmed. I had pulled the bar out so that the groundhog could safely retreat. This farmer did not insist that groundhog be exterminated as they did not bother the chickens and it is better to let the quarry live if possible. If all the quarry is eliminated, there will be none left to hunt. Gaye then suggested I let Victor loose so that he could check out the holes. She told me to try to get him to enter at the original hole. So, I tried. But, this dog knew that all the noise had come from the other hole, so he quickly checked out the first hole and bolted for the second one. Anyone who has a dog that tries to jump the bales at the go-to-ground knows what I’m talking about. Victor was not to keen to jump down into the vertical hole, but eventually he did so. He explored a little in each direction but the hog was long gone and in a few minutes Victor came out. Then he took off down the hedgerow toward the road. I ran behind calling him but he would not stop. Just as he got to the road, he stopped, pee’d, and I grabbed him. Back on the leash! When I returned, Gaye and her neighbor had begun to fill the hole back in so I staked Victor out again and helped. Once we had filled it back in and it almost looked as if we hadn’t been there at all, we headed back to the truck.

By this point, it was about 4:30pm. As I still planned to head home, we went back to Gaye’s. Gaye insisted I have some dinner before leaving so I did. I hadn’t realized that so much time had gone by! I decided that since the next day was a holiday, I would still leave that night so that I could spend most of the day with my husband and new birthday terrier. After dinner, I headed out. My mind was racing with the events of the day. I loved it! I wanted more! I was so filled with adrenalin over the experience that I drove all 10 hours home thinking about when I could hunt again and how and where and with whom. And so that trip began my interest in hunting which has continued to this day. I still get out whenever I can. Victor went on to earn his NHC to groundhog, in Canada with Gaye, and proved himself a very steady, hardworking partner. He never received a scratch from any quarry while hunting and would still hunt today at the advanced age of 13 if I would let him. He loves it and always pouts when I pack the hunting gear in the truck but not him. Many times my husband will call when I’m away and tell me how Victor won’t come out of his crate and refuses to sleep on the bed with him. 

Tanya - Norton, Mass USA May 1997

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