I’m 62 years old, but I remember our bird dog Ike like it was yesterday. Yet Ike died in 1968 two days after my Grandfather died. The neighbors next door to my grandparents said that the night Granddaddy died Ike howled all night long. Then the day we buried Granddaddy, we found Ike’s body under Granddaddy’s bedroom window.
All these years since, I thought that Ike was Granddaddy’s dog; that is until I was talking to my Uncle a few weeks ago. I found out that Ike belonged to Uncle Ferrell.
I began to ask a lot of question cause Ike was no ordinary dog. He was practically a legend around our hometown. His hunting skills were sought after.
Ike was an English Pointer. He was not a house dog. He lived outside in my grandparent’s yard. There was no way my Grandmother would allow that dog or any other dog to come in her house.
I remember him as being gentle, kind, playful, and affectionate, especially toward us kids. He was about a foot and a half tall at his shoulders and was white with brown markings.
As I got older I realized what a great sporting dog he had been. The stories about his intelligence and drive became legendary, especially in my family.
My Uncle got Ike as a puppy about 1960. Mr. Jim Smith, manager of Jumpie Run Plantation and my Uncle’s future father in law, was handling dogs for a guest when the man asked Mr. Smith to please get rid of one of his dogs, a female pointer.
Mr. Jim noticed that the dog had a good nose and could honor and point; but unfortunately she also liked to chase trash, which in this case would be unwanted animals like deer and raccoons. Such a trait would be especially frowned upon in this type of breed.
So Mr. Jim had the dog removed from the hunt that day and later after the man had left noticed that she was already bred. Out of a sizable litter, two puppies were chosen and given, one to Uncle Ferrell and another to a friend named Randall Thompson. Uncle Ferrell got the male puppy which he named Ike, and Randall named his female puppy Mamie. Ferrell was about 22 at the time.
Both boys raised and trained their dogs to hunt. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Mr. Jim was around to help. And my Grandfather Hamrick was no slouch at bird hunting either.
“Hold”, “careful”, and “easy” were some of the words Uncle Ferrell used when training Ike. He found Ike easily trainable and always eager to please.
Ferrell and Ike became partners in a partnership that was mutually beneficial. With Ferrell’s training, Ike turned into not just a good bird dog, but the kind that folks talked about for a long, long time. Ike could run, hunt and point like no other.
By 1962, my Uncle married Mr. Jim’s daughter Sandra. He also worked his way through college; and while he went to school at FSU, he left Ike in Monticello with his parents. This is why I thought Ike belonged to Granddaddy. Aunt Sandra grew up on Jumpie Run, which is now for sale. You can see a video about it below.
I can still see athletic Ike streaking around the outside of my grandparent’s house like lightning. He loved to run, but most of all he loved to hunt. And he seemed to live just to go hunting. He will long be remembered for his skill, artistry, and passion for the sport.
My Great Uncle BG was there one day on the Jumpie Run when Ike pointed some quail. A couple flushed and Ferrell killed one which Ike retrieved. On his way back with the bird still in his mouth, Ike stopped again at a dead point. Uncle BG said, “He just smells the one in his mouth.” But Ferrell knew better.
He replied, “No, that’s another quail and you better get ready to shoot.” Sure enough, another covey flushed. Ike brought them the bird in his mouth, and then returned for the second bird. Ike could point even while retrieving.
Another time Ike pointed, and there in a thicket were two rattlesnakes wrapped up and breeding. Ike never moved from his point, while Uncle Ferrell came forward to investigate. Upon spotting the snakes, he held Ike by the collar until he could shoot them.
Ike would load in a truck, a trunk, or the backseat of a car. It made no difference to him as long as he got to go hunting.
I sincerely believe that Ike had an innate ability to read body language and to respond to subtle cues. It was evidenced by anytime Granddaddy or Uncle Ferrell tried to sneak out of the house with a shotgun. It was like trying to slip sunrise past a rooster.
There are numerous stories about Ike and cars. Ike was loaned out to hunt to various friends and neighbors, some of whom only had cars to hunt in. Ike would either ride in the seats or in the trunk.
One day the neighbor’s guest next door called Granddady to please come get Ike. It seems they opened their car doors to leave, and Ike jumped in for the ride. Ike just thought he was going hunting.
Another time Ike had been hunting with someone who transported him in their trunk. So when Grandma got home with a trunk full of groceries the next day, Ike jumped right into the trunk as soon as she opened it.
Poor old Ike, I cannot imagine what happened next. All of us kids knew that you didn’t mess with Grandma Annis. She had a fearsome temper.
Another day in a field Ike pointed a quail and then started to creep forward. Ferrell tried to see what was in the bushes but from where he stood it just looked like a big shadow. All of a sudden a big turkey gobbler bounced out. Ferrell killed him on the wing. If you haven’t guessed by now, my Uncle was well known for his wing shooting.
Paul Crisp, Edith Pope’s husband, and Ferrell went hunting one time and parked next to this big field. Ike jumped out and galloped first down the road and back and then he jumped the fence just past the car. He immediately pointed in his usual high style. His nose was amazing, but these quail got up before they could cross the fence.
Another day, a possum ran across their trail and tried to escape up a tree. I guess he wasn’t fast enough, though; because Ike jumped high up the trunk and dragged him down. He was a most athletic bird dog, too.
One time on the Simpson’s property, they were hunting near a grassy pond. Ike pointed an upland bird which Uncle Ferrell took aim and shot. Unfortunately, the bird fell and landed on a grassy tuft in the pond.
Ferrell said that Ike looked back at him and then back at the bird as if he were thinking for a second. Then, he jumped right in and retrieved the bird. Ike was a good retriever, too.
Hunting at the edge of a field one time, Ike pointed within a few feet of Ferrell. He eased up to a grape vine where a quail silently waited. I guess he waited too long, because Ike jumped into the vines and caught the quail before it even flushed.
Ike got shot in the butt one time. A friend did it, and Ike ran away. They tried to find him but to no avail. Finally, they left and Uncle Ferrell returned alone. Ike came up to him shaking and scared. Uncle Ferrell opened the car, and he jumped right in.
Uncle Ferrell remembered a particularly windy day, when Ike kept his nose up running all the way across this field. Just at the edge of the woods on the other side he stopped and pointed. Three dogs worked the field that day but only Ike found the birds.
One day at home Uncle Ferrell and Granddaddy were in the yard when Ike found a cat and her kittens. Usually, Ike had no problem and was gentle with cats, but this cat didn’t know it. The cat and her kittens quickly climbed telephone/antenna pole to get away, but I guess Ike still got too close because that cat sailed off that pole and latched herself on to Ike’s back side toward his butt.
There was an outcry of howling, whimpering, and snarling as Ike ran under the house and out the other side. My grandparent’s house set up off the ground but not high enough that Ike was able to peel off the offending cat. Ike made several circles back under the house before the cat finally let go. Uncle Ferrell and Granddaddy laughed and laughed.
So Ike was more than just a hunting dog. He was loyal, and he minded well. He wouldn’t jump up on you. Normally, he would just sit or lie down. He would sit when told. And he was especially good with all us kids.
Back then, it was simpler times. You could hunt just about anywhere. No one cared as long as you respected them and their property. There were no problems with lawyers, insurance companies, and liability at least where I was raised. And just about everybody I knew hunted back then.
I miss those times and can’t believe it has been almost 50 years since Ike died. What a great bird dog!