Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns regarding the tales of Mutt Rasco.
Continuing from where we left off, in the words of Mutt Rasco:
“We drove the hogs up the river about 5 miles very slowly, stopping at water holes along the way to cool the hogs down and let the dogs drink. Soon we were back to the Brazos-Madison County ford. Paw Sam had the dogs round up the hogs in a circle on the riverbank and hold them there. He told Will to take the north flank and Mr. Heath to take the south flank, to keep the hogs from swimming up or down stream and getting in the willow trees along the bank on both sides of the river. He told me to count the hogs.
In about 10 minutes, he came back and asked how many hogs I’d counted. I answered that I couldn’t count them since they kept moving around too much. He told me it was easy, just count their legs and divide by four. Mr. Heath then said there were 52 head.
We started to move the hogs across the river, which was about a hundred yards wide at the crossing, shallow at the edge and getting deeper out by the willow trees. Mr. Heath, with me riding behind him, took the south flank when we got to those willows. As old Dan started to swim, we went under some limbs on one of those trees, and there was a big black wasp nest in that tree. It was too late to turn back, so we kept going.
The wasps swarmed all over us and they were sure enough stinging me, especially down my collar and up both sleeves. I wanted to jump into the water, but I was afraid I’d get washed away with the current. Mr. Heath was knocking wasps off with his hat, but they kept following us.
When we finally got to the other side of the river, we got off the horse and got the wasps out of my shirt. I had about 30 wasp stings and was sick at my stomach and vomiting. They had no medicine to put on the stings, so Mr. Heath took out some Bull Durham smoking tobacco, wrapped it in a bandana, dipped it in the river, and dabbed that on the stings.
My father came over and said we had to get moving right away or we’d lose control of the hogs. The dogs were moving them through the river bottom to where the pens were, about a mile close to where we lived. When we got the hogs penned, I walked to our house and went to my room, where I laid across the bed and fell asleep.
I awoke to the sound of a wagon pulling up in front of the house. It was Will and Jearl, and they had the old mules, Beck and Roda, hitched to the wagon. Just then my father came in my room and said, “You wanted to be a hog hunter, so you get up and go with Will and Jearl to get that old spotted sow we left in that water hole. As I walked to the wagon my head was ringing. I was very dizzy and still a little sick to my stomach. I got in the wagon and laid down.
We had to go over to Highway 21 and cross the river bridge to get back into Brazos County. Af-ter we crossed it, we went about half a mile on Highway 21. Then we turned into Mr. F.C. Hearley’s ranch and took the old logging road that went down to Democrat Crossing. When we got to where the old sow had been tied in that water hole, sure enough, she was gone. She had pulled the rope, broken the root that she’d been tied to, and gone back into the yaupon thicket. Will and Jearl put the dogs on her trail and pretty soon they bayed her in that thicket.
We went into the thicket, got hold of that rope, and pulled her out to the opening. Jearl went and got the mules and wagon. We put her front feet up in the wagon and then we picked up her back end and pushed her into the wagon. We tied her with the rope onto both sides of the wagon, and then we started back home.
As we got back to Highway 21, it was getting dark. Will said, “We will have to keep a good look out for cars on the bridges because we don’t have any lights on the wagon.” Then Will put Old Beck and Roda in a fast trot. I just laid down beside the old sow and went back to sleep. We didn’t see any cars on Highway 21 and had only one mile left to get home. I awoke when we pulled in front of our house.
Will and Jearl told me to go on into the house and go to bed while they put the old hog in a pen and put the mules in the barn and fed them. I went in, fell across my bed, and I laid there for a few minutes. I thought that this had been the longest day of my life, and that if you want to be a hog hunter, you better damn well be tough!
Just think about it: driving 50 head of hogs, some wild and some tame, 6 miles through the riv-er bottom and across the river and putting them in a pen. It would have been impossible with-out those very good leopard dogs.”
Now, in my (Laura’s) words, I hope you enjoyed Mr. Rasco’s stories as much as I have. I’m eternally in his debt.
Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., is open to the public Wednesday through Satur-day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum curator Jane Day Reynolds and volunteers welcome your visits. Memorials or donations may be mailed to the Museum at P.O. Box 61, Madisonville, TX 77864. The telephone number is 936.348.5230.