Some might say Tony Porter's a bit squirrely -- probably a lot squirrely, in fact.
Porter himself probably wouldn't object to that description, but he might take exception if folks forget that his world-class Original Mountain Cur hunting dog, Sand Creek Boone Dock, is every bit as crazy about squirrel hunting as his master.
"I've been squirrel hunting since I was 8 or 9 years old," Porter told the Daily News. "Between October and March, my partner and I, Paul Tindall, try to hunt every night. Squirrel season generally starts when the leaves are off the trees and runs through the end of January."
Tindall and Porter have been friends since the two were children and have been squirrel hunting together almost as long.
According to Porter, the two friends eat everything they kill Ñ except for raccoons. "We don't eat those," he said. "We sell the hides."
Porter and Boone Dock don't eat their prey from competition hunts, either.
"We don't kill anything at a competition hunt," Porter explained. "Competition squirrel hunts work just like other competition hunts. The dogs earn points based on the order they take the scent and the order they tree the squirrel."
Porter became involved in competition hunting about five years ago.
"This past year alone," he said, "Boone Dock and I have competed in hunts in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
According to Porter, Tindall doesn't participate in competition hunts. "He just hunts for fun."
Still, Tindall is co-owner of Boone Dock.
"We won three world hunts this season," Porter continued, "and a state title and a reserve title. We also won Dog of the Year from the Original Mountain Cur Breeder's Association."
Porter attributes a great deal of his competition success to Boone Dock.
"Boone Dock's three years old," he explained. "And for me, he's that one perfect dog all hunters talk about Ñ that once-in-a-lifetime dog that's perfect in the hunter's eyes. Another hunter might find something wrong with him, but he's perfect for me and my partner. It's all about chemistry between hunter and dog."
"I never have leash him," he continued. "He listens perfectly and knows exactly what to do."
Boone Dock is so good at what he does, in fact, that in March 2012, Full Cry Magazine, "America's Leading Tree Hound Publication," came knocking.
"They put my dog on the cover with a full-color photo spread," Porter said proudly.
It's obvious that Porter's extremely impressed with the Original Mountain Cur breed in general.
"They're highly versatile," he said. "They're bred to squirrel hunt, but they can do a whole lot more. They're extremely tree minded. They're used all over the world to bay hogs, and to tree bears and mountain lions. Farmers use them to herd."
In fact, Porter said he receives regular calls from local farmers for help with raccoons problems.
"Boone Dock started coon hunting about a year ago," he said. "He took right to it. The farmers we help out are extremely thankful, because coons are extremely damaging to their crops."
Porter raved about these animals' suitability as pets, too.
"They're great for families," he said. "They're not overly protective, but they're very territorial. They're smart as a whip, too, and eager to please. My 9-year-old son and my 6-year-old girl come hunting with me and Paul and Boone Dock every chance they get."
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011