Gary Rodgers: If you've got the squirrels, he's got the dogs
Feb. 15, 2002
About 16 years ago Gary Rodgers moved from the woods of Alabama to Quitman with a Mississippi girl on his mind. Along with Rodgers came his pack of deer dogs, 22 strong. A lot has changed in the world since that time. Although Rodgers still has some mighty fine dogs, he's switched from training deerhounds to training Mountain Cur squirrel dogs. In fact, he's become quite well known for his expertise in training quality squirrel and coon dogs.
During the 40s, 50s and 60s most country boys either had a good squirrel dog or had a friend who had one. Sadly that's not the case nowadays. Even sadder is the fact that you have to look hard just to find a place to squirrel hunt. Along with a decline in squirrel habitat, deer hunting has been growing by leaps and bounds. Somewhere along the way many hunters have bypassed taking their children on squirrel hunts. Many have opted for the ease and comfort of hunting deer from blinds.
Gary Rodgers is one hunter who hasn't forgotten the thrill of hearing the dogs bark and bay, once they have treed a squirrel. Rodgers has always loved the outdoors and has been around dogs and dog hunters since his youth. When talk turns to dog hunting, one tends to think of deer hunting with dogs. While that is still popular with many hunters, it's a different type of hunting than squirrel hunting with a dog. During the late season dogs provide plenty of action and excitement.
Although Rodgers has trained many kinds of dogs, the last few years he has trained feists and Mountain curs. According to Rodgers, feists make good squirrel dogs, but a hard morning of hunting would often tire them out. About 4 or 5 years ago he started training and hunting mountain curs and has never looked back. His mountain curs don't bark on the trail; only when they have treed. "Once I've got the mountain curs in good hunting shape they can go all day long if you can keep up with them that is!" exclaimed Rodgers.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rodgers recently and going on a late season squirrel hunt. On the day of our hunt we took 2 of his crackerjack dogs, Taz and Boomer. They turned out to be quite a pair of squirrel dogs. Not long after we got into the woods they started treeing.
As we arrived where they had treed a squirrel, Rodgers tied the dogs until the squirrel was spotted and dispatched. No sooner would he turn the dogs loose than they would tree again. Once they got going they were tearing up the woods in search of the diminutive gray squirrels.
On more than one occasion Taz and Boomer would tree different squirrels at the same time. We would choose the closest and go to that one. Once that squirrel was taken, we were off towards the other. The excitement of the dogs and the hunt really got my adrenaline flowing and brought back memories of old times.
My earliest recollections of squirrel dogs are from hunts with my grandfather Nolen near Jackson. We would gather a few of his friends and head to the woods for fun and fellowship. And there was always plenty of action. Once we got back to the house, Maw Maw would fry up some squirrels, brown gravy and cook homemade biscuits. I can almost smell that squirrel gravy now.
As our afternoon neared an end, Rodgers' dogs never stopped hunting or treeing, we just ran out of daylight. In fact, Taz and Boomer treed two different squirrels just as last light was fading. We quickly bagged those squirrels and our day was done. What a day it was! I had made some new friends and enjoyed the fellowship of a top-notch squirrel hunt with some of the best dogs in the country.
According to Rodgers a first rate squirrel dog is worth a pretty penny. However, a puppy from good squirrel dog stock can be affordable. And many times all they need is to be taken hunting. Contact Mike Giles at email@example.com or 626-8843.