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Smoke School Stories

Annie- The 6 million dollar duck dog- Her official name is Oak Creek Smoke EM Annie JH, What an appropriate name for a smoke school dog. Annie is AKC and UKC registered and she is a real trophy pedigree winner in many competitions. Smoke EM Annie's puppies are for sale.


Photos of Annie complements of the Breeder and Annie's trainer Chris Anders of Thunder Force Kennels

Call Thunder Force Kennels

I made 59 years old on November 4, 2008. I have been away from my home town since 1969 when I dropped out of college to sign up for the Air Force during a war that nobody wanted. Now I am back living in Louisiana in West Monroe just across the river from the town where I was born. Our family always loved to camp, hunt, and fish. My favorite memories include deep woods full of Cypress, Red Oak, White Oak, and Pin Oak. Sadly, almost all of those woods have been clear cut. We now have crops of pine trees that can make it from seedling to harvest in 10 years. I am not complaining  much. We all need to make a living and I do like toilet paper. I accidently mistook poison ivy for an oak leaf. You talk about red.


We always started hunting in the woods the first day of squirrel season in September. The leaves were still green on the trees and the squirrels were hard to see. I would slip through the woods as quite as possible, then stop and search the trees for moving leaves and limbs. It was not easy to distinguish the wind rustling the limbs from squirrels jumping from tree to tree.

Aaron's first squirrel


Deer season started on November 4 and the trees were still green. It seems like I saw a lot more squirrels then than deer. I would sit on the ground against a tree and watch them play. There were also a lot of birds. The black crows were annoying, calling from one to another busting up the quietness. I watched the robins and the sparrows flying from tree to tree, limb to limb, to the ground and pecking in the leaves. The woodpeckers were also annoying- chop- chop- peck- peck.


By the end of deer season in late January, the leaves had all fallen. The ground was brown, the same color as the cotton mouths. It was impossible to walk quietly down the deer trails because of the noisy leaves crackling under your feet. So I would just sit there against a tree or in a tree stand, drinking coffee from a thermos, smoking Winstons, and watching the birds and the squirrels who by now were hopping on the ground looking for acorns in the dry leaves. It was so very peaceful. Not a care in the world. No phones, no traffic.




Back then, before the working around the hazardous noise of jet engines in the Air Force, I could hear.   I could hear the orchestra of crickets, the mocking bird sing, the whistle of the bob white quail, and the noisy armadillo rooting on the ground rattling the dried brown leaves. I could hear the snap of a twig on the ground or the cracking of an acorn that indicated a deer was in the area.


In the early days members of our hunting camp on Glascock Island, near Ferriday Louisiana and at 5 points, near Chatom and Columbia Louisiana ran packs of Walker hunting dogs to chase deer over the standers. We would sit in the woods along the logging roads and listen to the dogs jump and run the deer. It was so exciting to hear the dogs howl at the first scent of the deer. The excitement increased as the dogs packed up on the deer in hot pursuit. You could feel your heartbeat increasing as the dogs inched closer and closer to you. Then, the excitement increased beyond your wildest dreams when you heard the deer snapping twigs headed your way. Slowly and as quietly as possible you snapped your gun safety off, waiting for the flash of the deer running your way through the dense woods. When the deer crossed the logging road it was usually moving 90 miles an hour taking 30 feet a jump. You had about 30 seconds to decide if it was a buck or a doe, legal or not legal, and then pull the trigger. My uncle Hip used to say, you can’t eat the horns anyways.


Hunting with dogs is so much more fun and exciting than still hunting. I have owned a few deer dogs in my life. The best was Biscuit. Biscuit was a black and tan dog that showed up at a friend’s house early in the hunting season. She was not wearing a collar and my friend did not know the owner or the phone number. He fed the dog a few days and then called me to see if I wanted the dog.


I drove there to pick up Biscuit, put her in a dog cage that I had made from an old air conditioner frame and headed for the deer camp at 5 points. A large 30 point buck jumped across the road in front of my 1984 red Chevrolet Silverado truck. Biscuit broke the door off my dog cage and away she went.  I stopped big red and listened as Biscuit ran out of my hearing range after the buck. She was gone for 3 days, and I never expected to see her again. We were only about 100 yards from the camp when she started chasing the deer. I guess she was able to back-track her trail, find the spot where she jumped out of the truck, and then find the camp. I was very happy when she came back.



We hunted with her for the rest of the season. You could always count on her to jump a deer, run it, and make it back to the camp. After the deer season ended, I packed her up and took her back home to Baton Rouge, where I built her a pin and a dog house. She was not suited to living in a pin, so she kept jumping out. I kept getting complaints from the neighbors in town and the dog catcher who had to fetch her and bring her back. I made a mistake that I will never forget. I tied her to a stake in the middle of the dog pin. One day when I returned from work, I found her dead and hanging by the neck from the top of the dog fence. She pulled the stake from the ground and got her rope hung on the top of the fence when she jumped over. I still miss that dog.


Like Biscuit, most of my dogs through the years were given to me. I have only paid for a dog once in my life. I paid a hundred dollars for a registered Dalmatian.


My closest friend dog, some of your have met. I was doing a smoke school in Henderson Kentucky at Audubon Park in 2004 when I first met the Dawg or JJ. After smoke school was over, I took a shower and walked out of my cabin when I saw a Dalmatian, the Dawg walking towards me on the road. All of the other campers had checked out for the day, I was the only person left in the cabin area. I said come here Dawg, sit- stay, and walked off about a hundred yards and said “come”. I thought that this Dawg has been trained. I asked the park rangers about the Dawg and they said he had been around about 6 weeks and that they had been feeding him in the maintenance building. They said the state inspector was due the next day and that they needed to take the Dawg to the pound, because dogs were not allowed in the park unless they were on a leash. I said that I would take the Dawg home with me, and I did.


My ex-wife Catherine did not like dogs. After about 6 months she gave the dog away to my secretary Hope.  Luckily Dalmatians are one man dogs. I had been taking DAWG on the road with me to smoke school. DAWG loved me and I loved DAWG. Wherever I went DAWG went. When I was gone for a long period of time, DAWG grieved and rebelled. He had a habit of chewing up my boots, and ripping up my clothes and toting them across the yard. This was all in protest. Well, DAWG rebelled at Hope’s house and chewed up boots, clothes and bedspreads. Hope brought DAWG back home to me.


The most unusual dog was Red who was just a 101 mixture of something. My assistant Little League Baseball Coach called me and said he had a stray dog and would I come pick it up. The dog was red and that is what I called him, Red. Red loved water hoses. You could turn on a water hose and Red would find it. He would come running into the water from 50 yards out, running into the path of the water with mouth wide open.


Red was with me everywhere I went. Unfortunately, our neighbor Tom in Baton Rouge did not like dogs. Tom secretly made several calls to the dog catcher who ended up camping on the corner of our road hiding and waiting for Red to get out of the house. We had a leash law in Baton Rouge.


One day I was standing under my carport building a deer stand, sawing a piece of Georgia Pacific treated plywood on a saw horse. Red was as usual right at my feet lying down. The dog catcher pulled into my driveway and walked over to me and spit some Redman Tobacco juice on Red. “That dog is not on a leash. Let me see your driver’s license.”


“I am not driving- I am cutting plywood and this dog is just lying down under my feet.”


“He is not on a leash; let me see your Driver’s license.”


“I am not driving.”


“You are resisting arrest; I am going to call the Sherriff office if you don’t give me your driver’s license.”


 “You just do what you got to do-I am not driving.”


He walked over to his dog catcher truck, picked up the Motorola, and started squelching to the Sherriff. I stuck my license in the crack in the window. I accused him of baiting me up for a trap.


They set a court date, and I forgot about it- I was deer hunting on the court date. The next Monday the Sherriff came over with a warrant for my arrest. They set a new court date and he said I had better be there or else end up at Angola Penitentiary with all of the mother rapers and the father rapers and litterbugs.


I more or less panicked and called Willy Vick, my best deer hunting buddy, a disabled Vietnam Vet, and a Baton Rouge homicide cop that stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 370 pounds. Willy had been shot 9 times in the leg from groin to knee with an AK 47. They killed the rest of his men and left him for dead. But Willy thinks he is John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and G I Joe, to this very day. Willy crawled on his knees 4 miles across the Viet Nam Jungle to get back to his buddies.


Willy came to in the hospital with a surgeon standing over him on the operating table.


“I am going to have to take off that leg, it has gangrene.”


Willy grabbed the doctor by the throat and said in that John Wayne voice, “You take off that leg, I take off that head.”


They left that leg open for 6 months, would not let it heal, and poured saline over it constantly for 6 months. Today Willy has this unmistakable John Wayne limp.


The funniest story Willy told me was about chasing a drug dealer. The drug dealer made a run for it down at the bottom of 10 foot deep concrete drainage canal. Willy was huffing and puffing sprinting along the top of the canal until he was plum out of breath. He stopped running, got out his 44 Mag, and fired a single shot into the air. “I’m pretty tired now; if you don’t stop running I am going to take off your head.”



Willy had a stroke one morning when we were deer hunting one very cold morning. He fell out of his stand. When I came down the road in Big Red to pick him up, he was laying on the ground, looked sort of like a mountain.  The left side of his face was paralyzed. So now he has this John Wayne limp and a permanent crooked grin. Willy’s favorite dress is old faded blue jean overhauls with all of the side buttons undone and his girdle off so his belly can flop around. I like to wear the same thing a lot, it is very comfortable and you don’t need to worry about butt crack. I am very old fashioned, when I hear the word crack, I pull up my pants. I think a joint is a bad place to go.


I panicked and picked up the phone to call Willy the homicide cop for advice.


“My dog got out and they are going to take me to jail. What should I do?”


“Tell the judge that it is not your dog.”


So there I was friends and neighbors in the court room. The judge was there in the long flowing black robe along with about 35 common lawbreakers.


The judge beat the gavel on the desk.

“You are accused of mother raping- How do you plead?”




“I sentence you to jail; pay the fine- Next Case”


“You are accused of father raping- How do you plead?”




“I sentence you to jail; pay the fine- Next Case”


“You are accused of armed robbery- How do you plead?”




“I sentence you to jail; pay the fine- Next Case”



“You are accused of littering- How do you plead?”




“I sentence you to jail, pay the fine- Next Case”


Then I walked up there and raised my right hand, swore to tellthetruth,thewholetruth,and nothingbutthetruth,sohelpmeGod.


The judge looked at my report, shook his head, looked at me and back at the report, and then looked back at me. “Why are you here, son?”


“You’re Honor, my dog got out.”


“How do you plead?”


“Can I ask a question?”


“No- How do you plead?”


“Can I ask a question?”


“No- How do you plead?”


“I am not pleading until I can ask a question”


“No- How do you plead?”


“Ok- Guilty- But that was not my dog”

He banged the gavel- “Guilty $50 fine and the cost of court. It cost me $300 to get out of that courthouse and I had to give the dog away.


And that leads us the million dollar dog, Annie. As I speak, she is sleeping next to me under the table. She is a black registered pedigree lab. I have for years wanted a retriever so I could go duck hunting and dove hunting.


I was down at Toledo Tackle in West Monroe a week or so ago when I saw this sign on the door about Chris Anders and Thunder Force Kennels, a dog trainer that specialized in retrievers. So I picks up the phone and aks him if he has any duck dogs.


He said he had one that was very good and that he would sell her for 3. I should have asked 3 what. But I didn’t. So Angie and me gets into the truck and dives over out in the woods and meet Annie, the 3 million dollar dog, that can trip, trip, trip- walk on top of the water, get dat duck, and trip, trip, trip back on top of the water and bring dat duck back to the boat. I guess he ain’t never taught dat dog how to swim yet.


Boy let me tell you what. Chris says, "Here". Annie is right there by the left leg. Chris throws out 3 of them dummies bird rubber thingies. Annie just stands there and grins. Then Chris says “Annie” ever so quietly and off she goes. Annie sprints over there and gets the last one Chris threw, then the second and then the first dummy. He does this over and over again. Then we threw the dummies and away Annie went.


I ask him if Annie is house trained. He says, “Go potty” and points over to an open area in the yard. Annie walks over there and takes a leak. Chris says, “Finish potty.” And Annie poops. I asked him if she can flush the commode.


We get out the checkbook and starts writing a check. Chris looked at the check and grinned and said it was not enough. He explained how much he wanted and we started walking to Big Red the Dodge truck. I said we would think about it and call him in the morning.


We looked around in all of the nooks and crannies and found the money. I have been almost dirt poor all of my life, until you folks came round for this smoke school. Thank you so much for paying for Annie.


Annie is just fine here out in the woods of West Monroe. One of the problems is our chickens. I have them in a chicken pin that is getting too small. I decided to put up a corn feeder in the woods across the ditch form the house, and let the chickens run loose in the yard. Then later I was watching TV and hears this chicken clucking behind me. Annie had done brought this chicken clucker into the doggie door and had her by the neck gently in her teeth. Annie then caught all of the chickens and I put them back in the pin. 


All of the neighborhood kids have been throwing the rubber dummies and Annie fetches them. They throw them across the yard and she takes off. They throw them in the swimming pool and she runs and dives in after them. The problem was the kids forgot to say “Here” before they threw the dummies. They would throw the dummy and away Annie would sprint. Another problem is Annie can not distinguish between Angie and Annie. If I call out Angie, then Annie comes running up.


The problem with not calling out “Here” got us into deep water. Last week we decided to take Annie fishing with us. The death finder said we were in 30 foot of water. I made the mistake of saying, "Angie, pass the worms" and to our shock, Annie jumps out of the boat. Someone had tied a white boyee to the bottom of the lake. It was about 50 yards from the boat and tied to the bottom. The current was very strong. I was certain that the million dollar dog was going to drown. We all panicked and started screaming, "Come back Annie!" I yanked the anchor up, Angie started the motor, and we headed out to the rescue. I yelled for Aaron and Angie to grab Annie by the collar and yank her up. They could not manage to get her out of the water and back in the boat. I almost could not catch her before she went under. But we managed to get Annie back into safety.


Dove season starts this week-end. I need to get busy and find a place to go. Do you have a place? I also need a place to duck hunt Let me know.



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