I have been with SportDOG™ for the better part of 3 years. I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best hunters and just all around great people, but nothing stood out to me more than the “Hound” guys. I won’t say it was love at first sight, but it was definitely something at first sight. I just haven’t quite found the right adjective to describe it.
I grew up around hunters and if my dad had his wish, I would have a long history of hunting under my belt but like in most marriages where a daughter is concerned, the mother prevails and I am certainly no exception, which leads me to tell you the story of my first coon hunting experience/fiasco…which should definitely be classified as a comedy.
One aspect of this culture that appealed to me was to see that the adults took such an interest in the youth to carry on their traditions and this strong sense of brotherhood that was never spoken of directly, but was there without words. Funny thing about brotherhoods though, they don’t like outsiders which was me, plus I was female. Double Whammy! I was fortunate enough though to meet a few guys (I will leave out their names to protect the innocent) that were willing to teach me what coon hunting was all about and thus my addiction to hunting began…a VERY rocky beginning!
I showed up, not with waders on, but Georgia boots…strike 1. No head lamp, strike 2 and the dogs were still in the dog box! Thankfully one of the guys had some equipment in his truck that I was able to borrow for the night and we were ready to go….or so I thought. While he was gearing up, he handed me the leash to the dog I would be hunting with for the night, and the leash to the dog he would be hunting with for the night. Apparently they picked up a scent and took off, WITH ME! We were near a pond so as I’m being dragged towards water, all I could think of was DO NOT LET GO OF THE DOGS! I dug my heels into the dirt as deep as I could to gain some traction to gain control again but to no avail. They kept going HARD. Incredibly, one of the guys I was hunting with was able to get to the dogs before I ended up swimming with the fish for the night. All I kept saying was “I didn’t let go, I didn’t let go!”
The guys were polite enough, meaning they turned their heads before they started dying laughing at me. I regained composure and grabbed my dog and we released. We were just standing there in total darkness. When a dog would bark, they would say things like “strike” and have conversations about “running junk” etc…back to the brotherhood thing; it apparently also has its own language!
About 2 minutes later, we started walking towards one of the dogs, which was treed. The dog looked just like our ads. It was doing exactly what is portrayed and exactly what it had been trained to do. It was one of those moments where you realize what the whole hunter/dog relationship is all about and it was beautiful. We ended up treeing about 2 or 3 coons that night and walked what seemed like forever.
Since it’s been quite a while since this happened, I can look back on it and just laugh. It certainly was not the kind of experience where you have an “Ah Ha!” moment and realize this is your destiny, but something about that night certainly stuck with me and I have been in the woods every chance I could since.
I have had many fiascos since then and I am sure will have plenty more…the barbed wire fence incident I will save for blog 2, yes, it’s another comedy! But, despite my horrid beginnings, I have made life long hunting friends and gotten into the woods hundreds of time. I have since then won an AKC hunt and I’m proud to say I have come a long way. I am even more proud to say I am a hunter(ess) and would like to think I am now a part of this unspoken brotherhood. The real happiness for me, though, is in my dad, I could have been a doctor or a lawyer, but I think this interest in hunting, let alone a career in hunting, is what he has been longing for my whole life and somehow it just fits me and was lingering in my blood all along. Who knew?! I also hope that a lot of women out there can relate or heck, even men can relate to this story and my rocky beginnings. If not, at least I hope someone gets a good chuckle out of it.
Brandee Stinnett is the Warranty Service Assistant Manager for SportDOG Brand. She has been with the company for three years. She became an avid coon hunter last year and is looking to branch out into bear hunting in the near future. Brandee lives in Knoxville with her two daughters who are being introduced to the hunting culture by their Momma and Grandpa.