Friday, March 19, 2010

Memories of The Uncle Earl's Past

Christina at 4 years old, and her Bobalou, at 16 weeks oldde la Houssaye's Catahoula puppies

Christina and I have never missed an Uncle Earl's until this year.

Bobalou, my swamp tour guide dog, at two years

As promised I will share some fond memories of years past.

A de la Houssaye's Swamp TourEven though, I missed a weeks worth of swamp tour business, Christina and I always found a way to be at Winnfield for our annual spring break.

At the year 1999, my daughter, Christina was six old, and I remember her asking me if she could cut her hair, I said "yes".

Now bear in mind, this question came to me as I was packing the truck for our week at Winnfield.

I was busy, and paid no attention to her until about 1/2 hour later, when I found her with scissors in hand and doing a trim like Daddy does when he cuts his own hair.As you can see in the image above, she had a few loose ends and was a little rough around the edges, but all in all did a good job considering her lack of experience.

Cutty Dark on a sow
Typical of Cutty Dark he will catch what he can as seen belowI can't wait to put him on something he can't catch, like the rank hogs at Fort Bayou Ranch next week!

Sammy, a six year old son of Maurice
A Louisiana sunset in My Wild Louisiana

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sabine River Delta Hunt with Big Dogs

I drove over to the Sabine River this past weekend to meet some friends who bought puppies from me years ago to share in my favorite way to hunt. From a boat in the marsh!

This is my favorite way to hunt because it is the way
I learned to hunt with the man who took me on my first hog hunt,
Mr. Daniel Edgar from Louisa, Louisiana.

Spider, a three year old son of Bob and Angel,
out of de la Houssaye's Catahoulas And the hero of last weekend.

I was invited on this hunt, because last weekend, while out in the marsh, my friend and owner of Spider, got a call from a fellow hunter as to the location of a really big, bad boar on a certain location that had wiped out his pack of dogs.

When asked what do you mean wiped out, he was advised that the two best dogs were tore up bad, but still alive(which led to 7 days and 6 nights at the vet), and the 2 younger dogs gave up and came back to the boat(smart, started dogs).

So he headed over to the location where the last pack were defeated, and discussed the plan of attack. Thus far the score was Wild hog-4 Big dogs-0!

Well my friend announced that he would try what de la Houssaye had been teling him; and decided to send in Spider by his self. Cuz if you have the right dog, one dog by himself does not pressure the hog to run, and has a higher survival rate. Meaning with no help, he will back up and bay, and wait for help. ie: man and bulldog

So he unsnapped Spider, and he went flying into the patch of palmettos. The funny part is, he says he came out faster than he went in! (smart, finished dog!)

At six weeks old, Spider was bit
on the whiskers by a brown recluse spider,
and lost almost all the hair on his snout.

The interesting result of sending Spider in alone was he came out of the palmettos and bayed from about 30 feet away from the hog and periodically looked at his master as to say: "What are you waiting for?"

So Coco was sent in with two men right behind him, and to quote Spiders owner; "I caught the biggest, baddest hog of my life, with only one bay dog, one bull dog and two very brave men. I later asked him if he had to check his shorts when it was all done.

At the boat landing, everyone is nice and clean,
but really ready to get the boat wet,
and get down and dirty in the mud!

With a big long canal on one side

and a seemingly infinite expanse of marsh on the other

we turned the dogs out on high ground hoping to have an easy start

and a quick clean catch.Well the high ground yielded nothing but a few cows getting nervous and us getting real warmed up for our first good walk through.

Then we came to the Sabine River.

And headed south for the marsh between us and the Gulf of Mexico.

Big, with his nose on the ground, good boy!Having never been in the marsh in his life, I knew Big(with green collar) would be curious about all the new smells. Especially since he was a happy, rat hunting puppy in the house he grew up in, in the city of New Orleans.

By the way there are a lot of rodents in the marsh,
especially the infamous nutria as seen in the center of the photo below.And did you notice the alligator in the lower left hand corner?
Watch it, they love to eat dogs!

In spite of his city slicker upbring, Big was ready to get down and dirty and wasted no time getting out.

Typical of a Catahoula, he did pass back periodically to check in and give me an opportunity to take a photo of his athletic physique.

After a short look around, we loaded up and moved on for a stronger scent

Spider, a son of Angel and Bob was doing a fine job of winding off the bow of the boat

Spider is still waiting for the right smell.

Looks like we are getting closer as Spider almost cannot contain himself!

And it wasn't long before the chase was on!Unfortunately the boar crossed a sow after about a 1/2 mile into the race and Spider was sidetracked long enough for the big one to get away.

But hey, we didn't scratch. That sow is now getting adjusted to sweet feed and a lot less room to run around in at the pen in my yard.

If you have never hunted the marsh, please take my advice; buy neoprene chest or hip waders and pull them up high as possible, cuz you are gonna need them, unless you like being wet, cold and muddy.Also you might consider the marsh is a tidal floodplain that is sometimes slightly flooded during high tide and often periodically turns into mud flats where water was a few hours before on low tide.

The point here is, if you have never been to the marsh, get a guide, and even if you are experienced in this wonderful paradise along the Gulf Coast, be careful not to burn your motor up getting caught in shallow water because thats the normal water depth in most places, IT IS REALLY SHALLOW!


A GPS is not a reliable aid to navigation because it doesn't read depth, just surface features. Be forewarned, you will pay for a lot of outboard motors if you want to hunt and fish the marsh year round. Make sure you bring a paddle and a push pole 'cuz
your gonna need 'em!

This is something else you might need, a catchdog from hell!Coco, a two year old, blue Pit Bull. And the best built pit I have ever seen!Are you ready to rumble?!!!

I personally don't favor size, but yesterday, Big lived up to his name and was doing his best to find that interesting smell that he kept coming across.Cuz, he wanted to bay his own hog!

So much so, he went down the bank and jumped into a boat and got stopped about six inches away from the sow we had just hobbled.

Whiteboy, a littermate brother to Spider was as usual, ready for action

It got to be a long daySpider, and his younger brother, Smoke
were ready to take a power nap between locations.

But in the end, the dogs made us look good in spite of the big boar slipping away.

The Sabine River Boys getting into the picture before we go tear into the
bar-be-que chicken waiting for us under the porch.

By the way my friend asked that I not publish his name so we could keep our honey hole to ourself. But he will be glad to tell you about his satisfied customer experiences of buying and hunting my dogs. If you would like to talk to him give me a call, I am Marcus de la Houssaye @ 337 298 2630. I own and operate de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours in Lafayette, Louisiana, and like Jimmy Young, "I love the smell of a stinkin' hog"!

By the way there is a great article on page 29 of this months issue of Bayed Solid Magazine, about the importance of the right kind of protien in a dogs diet. Raw Meat!

If you are not subscribed to Bayed Solid Magazine and you want to click here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Uncle Earl's Hog Dog Trails Cancelled?

de la Houssaye's Catahoulas

And you think you are disappointed? This is just one of the looks I got
when I announced we were not going to Winnfield this month.

Bless her heart, she has been waiting for the Uncle Earl's all her life!

I'm sure most of you have heard the news by now, but just for the record, I will post it here too.

Letter of cancellation of Uncle Earl's issued by Bayed Solid magazine.

Yes it is true, yet hard to believe, unless you know Jimmy Young the way I do.

Jimmy is a stand up and tell it like it is kind of man, and if he says we shouldn't be there this year, I am behind him 100%, no questions asked.

And on that note, I want to say Jimmy Young is my hero.

In September of 1995, at the dog festival in Ashland, La., Jimmy observed Maurice's natural ability to bay a hog and advised me that I should enter my dog into a hog dog field trail competition, "Because he could win".

About six months later, I hauled Maurice in the back seat of my 1976 Cadillac to Wills Point, Tx to test Jimmy's proposal at Dave Alexanders bay pen.

The result? Maurice tied for 1st place.

Simon, a great, great, grandson of Maurice in training
as my de la Houssaye's Swamp Tour guide dog

I admire Jimmy Young for his vision of the Uncle Earl's in its conception, Mrs. Sharon Young's for her hard work through the years, and the city of Winnfield, Louisiana, for hosting us every year for a decade and a half.

I will post a new article every week of my memories at the annual Uncle Earl's with my daughter, my dogs, and all the new friends I made there through the years.

But back to Jimmy Young:
He has always maintained that the Uncle Earl's was for us. The hog hunters who brought our dogs, families and money to Winnfield every year to be a part of the world largest baying held at the end of March every year in the city of Winnfield, Louisiana.

He has always stood up for what he believed and made no concessions for it.

Watch for Cayenne Rose at Fort Bayou, cuz she's a hot peppa!

The good news is, Reggie Little will step up and host a baying at the Fort Bayou Ranch in Mississippi, the same weekend Uncle Earl's was scheduled. So we have that to look forward to.

Jack Sparrow's reaction to the good news of Fort Bayou

Whiteboy, a son of Bob and Angel

I am sure we will all get a very detailed explanation of the cause of this cancellation by Jimmy Young, the publisher and editor, in a future issue of Bayed Solid magazine, which as far as I know is the co-sponsor of The Uncle Earl's for the last 15 years. We should not speculate or gossip about this unfortunate turn of events in Winnfield, but plan on being at Reggie Little's Fort Bayou Ranch in south Mississippi on the same weekend that the Uncle Earl's baying was scheduled to take place.

I hope we have a better water supply system at Fort Bayou for our dogs and more restroom facilities for our families, than what was provided to us in Winnfield over the last decade since we were promised that 15 years ago and it was never delivered.(just a personal gripe of mine, considering we{the competitors} brought in millions of tourist dollars to the ecomomy of Winn parish and the city of Winnfield for a decade and a half. And... without us, there would be no Uncle Earl's!)

Maybe Jimmy Young had enough of empty promises too, and was standing up for us, who make this thing possible. Like I said: He is my hero, start to finish!

Reggie has stepped up to help us in our time of need and planned to host this special baying on short notice to fill in for our big disappointment in Winnfield this year. You can expect all the big names that were planning to be at the Uncle Earl's to go to Fort Bayou to compete in Reggie's well organized events. You can get more information at

I just got off the phone with Francesca Buck as she was leaving the Fort Bayou Ranch in Van Cleave and she advised me that Reggie was in full swing organizing the baying due to start in about two weeks.

If you have not been there, I can tell you it rivals the competition at the Uncle Earl's because there is an amateur class for dogs that have never won a baying and a pro level. Not only that, there is a puppy bay, a yearling(12-24 month), an old and young, and one and two dog bay, there has been fun stuff like a wild boar poker event, and just so you know, that is not my cup of tea! I prefer to be the one skinning the hogs rather than them skinning me! But to each his own.

I have not confirmed this, it is say so at this point, but someone told me we can get hot showers if we are camping in the Fort Bayou Ranch. Hey, sounds good to me, I plan on being there on Sunday before the event, get a prime campsite, and do what I can to help set things up for our hog hunters spring break.

I will also make any news that is passed on to me, posted here as soon as I get it.

Jessie, a three year old son of Bob and Angel, showing his son Gus, how to do it

I will be posting an article detailing the story about Spider, another 3 year old son of Bob and Angel, all by hisself, until the men and catchdog arrived, helping my friend from the Sabine River Basin, catch the biggest, baddest hog he ever caught in an upcoming post soon.

If my friend will indulge me we will get a photo of the hog, dog, and hunters up with that article.

Until then, let's plan on being in Van Cleave, Mississippi in a few weeks and support Reggie's effort to fill in the void left in Winnfield this year.

Jessie, my official de la Houssaye's Swamp Tour guide dog

And one more thing: let's get them dogs off the chain and go hunting!