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bBig Joker and Big Jester

whelped August 23, 1939

Tom Crowe x Kit Gentry


Above Big Joker (left)\ and Big Jester (right) 


The following article was written in the 1955 Chase magazine about Big Jester and Big Joker

Facts and Fancies

by T. C. Wells

     We have had requests from time to time to write a story relative to Big Jester No. 19913 and Big Joker 19914, they by Tom Crowe x Kit Gentry.

    We in the past have hesitated to write about these great hounds, as until recently one or both were at public stud and a boost for them was one way of obtaining free advertising which, to our way of thinking, is unethical, as any hunting magazine is dependent and should be in, part, at least, on paid advertising. Since both are now dead and there are numerous new hunters coming on that know little, if anything, about this pair of littermates, I shall attempt to tell the story as briefly as possible. I am sure most of us read with interest the story my good friend, Lee Johnson, of Richland, Missouri, wrote relative to Kit and Roxie Gentry. In fact Lee's influence was one of the reasons I purchased Big Jester and Big Joker. I had talked to Mr. 0. H. Belshe, the purchaser of the pair of bitches, to the late S. L. Wooldridge, the person selecting Kit and Roxie as the best pair of bitches in Kentucky at that time, and to Collins Gentry, the original owner and trainer of the two hounds.

    Prior to purchasing Big Jester and Big Joker I had owned a hound or two sired by old Hub Dawson, Flying Cloud, Sam Stride and others of note. I had occasion to hear some Tom Crowe hounds run and while they, in general, were not real fast hounds, I was impressed with their persistence, nose, hound notes and fox sense. I lived in South Missouri for some time close to my good friends, Lloyd Whinrey and Dr. Ben Hammontree, and, like others, heard tall tales about Kit and Roxie taking on all comers, so when a litter of pups by Kit and a noted stud hound were advertised for sale I purchased a nice male pup. I broke him and sold him to a noted breeder who offered him at public stud where he became reasonably famous. He was a good hound, particularly in daytime, excellent hunter, mouth, nose, etc., but I had hounds that could hold the track faster and were more durable, although the hound never did quit. I ran 4-5 of his full mates and figured Kit Gentry should produce even better hounds on some other cross. About this time I received a letter from Mr. 0. H. Belshe, owner of Kit, that she again had a litter of pups and he would sell me my choice for $35.00. I wrote back stating I personally didn't like that cross but if he would mate Kit to old Tom Crowe I would purchase two choice pups at $35.00 each *

I was on a trip to Kentucky some six months later and ate dinner with Mr. S. L. Wooldridge. Incidentally, Mary Wooldridge was at home then. She is just like her father in more ways than one and I shall never forget how nice she was to us. I have never seen her since that time, as she was married shortly after our visit. We certainly hated to see her removed from the foxhunting world. She has the Wooldridge class we so often read about.

Mr. Wooldridge mentioned that Kit Gentry was there and that time being mated to Tom Crowe. This pleased me, so after waiting about three or four months I wrote Mr. Belshe that I was ready to come and select my Tom Crowe x Kit Gentry pups at $35.00 each. Never heard from him, so concluded she had missed or that they just were not for sale. Some two months later I went hunting on Thursday night and got in shortly after 4 a.m. I picked up my mail on the way to school and found that I had a letter from Mr. Belshe. The letter explained that Kit only had two pups, both males, and that he had decided to keep them, but since he and his father ran a drug store and his father had recently died he would have to quit hunting and no one else could fill the prescriptions so he would take $150.00 for the pair of pups. Well, Annice (my wife) and I decided to go and take a look. We arrived at his place about 8:30 that evening. I looked the pups over closely and decided I liked Big Jester the better, so asked if he would split them. He agreed to at $85.00, so I bought and loaded Big Jester and started to drive away, but finally tore that check up and purchased both of them. I took them home, took extra care of them and started making plans. We won't go into their show records. That's a matter of history. I probably showed them in the same class at least fifteen times. Big Joker won over Big Jester once in his life, this when Big Joker was fat as he had been laid up from a cut and Big Jester was in thin running condition. I was anxious to see and hear them run, so broke them too young. Big Joker started out barking more regularly and we heard much more out of him in a night race. I never had figured on offering them at stud, but I had been furnishing stud hounds for the community for the simple reason I kept good hounds and they were all old line Walkers. When the pups were nine months old John Hargis and H. R. Sanders brought a Flying Heels bitch up to breed. I refused them due to lack of maturity of the pups, but when they started talking about money I was easily convinced and they decided to breed to Big Joker. He steadfastly refused to mate with the bitch, so we eventually used Big Jester. During the next 8-10 months four full mates to the Flying Hills Bitch were mated to Big Joker. There was not a vast amount of difference between Big Jester and Big Joker in the field. Joker  trailed more, was content to tongue in the pack, was a steady running hound, plenty fast, had a good fast medium chop mouth. Both were excellent  homers. We didn't hear too out  of Big Jester until he was 18 months to two years of age, as he wouldn't holler unless he was on the front end. By the time he was two you could hear him plenty because he could and did get on the front end with any pack I ever  heard him in. Big Jester had a mouth very much like Big Joker except he squalled on a loss and on trailing and a louder somewhat higher mouth when running hard, somewhat on the wild goose type. Joker trailed the fox. Jester was the best jump dog we have ever seen. As sires they frequently produced more like each other than themselves. Joker produced better mouths and although whiter in color produced more color. They were identical being strong 24 in. heavy coated big boned rascals.

They were both mated to 35-40 bitches alternately. We particularly liked the speed, toughness and durability of the Jester hounds. We thought that Jester males were superior and that Joker bred particularly strong females. When we  finally split them we let Big Joker go. He really did well as a sire in the S.L. Wooldridge Kennels as well as the P.W. Walker Kennels. He died when thirteen years of age. Big Jester lived to be fifteen years of age and produced  three living litters when past fourteen years of age. They were whelped August 23, 1939, and remained in our running pack until we sold Big Joker and were offered a long price for Jester when he was about six decided we had better conserve his energy.

We were partial to Jester but the criticism that his get didn't tongue enough  was well founded. However we have yet our first one to see that after didn't holler after a hot fox and holler plenty. They were not trailing hounds and didn't  bark merely to exercise their vocal cords. There is one thing we always  resented and that was the assumption that no hound could be as tough as Tom Crowe. Big Jester was the toughest hound and would take more punishment than any hound we know. However, we don't think he produced hounds that were as tough as he was. We have had other sires that we felt produced gamer hounds. We feel both Jester and Joker helped materially in improving Walker hounds and that their bloodlines will continue to be sought after. We are trying to conserve space but will tell of one incident help to evaluate Big Jester as both a foxhound and a sire.

The late Carl Dolan and the late Lloyd Lilly both had hounds by Big Jester. They called up and made a reservation to Big Jester. This was when Big Jester was past five years of age. When they arrived they brought two matrons in season and some running hounds. We mated one bitch to Big Jester and was asked if we would run our stud hounds. The answer was yes. We took 7-8 hounds including our studs and two sons of Big Jester named Big Poison and Little Poison. We jumped an old red about 9:30 and hard running continued all night. Next morning just as day started to break Carl Dolan caught Big Jester out of the pack and said he was mating both both bitches to Big Jester. The last bitch mated was Cora Belle Lilly. The litter produced from this mating included W. V. Ward's "Big Lad" at stud until he was lost and a noted mate to him, owned by Charlie Smith, President-Elect of U.S.O.. We can go on with incidents of this nature indefinitely but feel the above proves where both Jester and his get spent the night, namely on the very font end of  a very hard fought red fox race.

We only wish Mr. 0. H. Belshe of Richland, Missouri, had another pair of pups, just like them that we could purchase at the same price.

(From Feb. '55 Chase]

Copyright 1999 by [Walkerhound.com]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 22 Nov 2007 19:22:58 -0500 .