Fallen Heroes - Wayne Caudill
3/22/2008 9:50:21 AM
Journal entry for Saturday, March 22, 2008
The coonhound world lost one of its most dedicated and successful fighters for hound hunter’s rights yesterday with the passing of London, Kentucky’s Wayne Caudill. Complications following kidney surgery ended the life of the Kentucky Houndmen Association’s (KHA) co-founder and executive secretary. But the work that Wayne did and the example he set for all who aspire to follow him into the arena of canine legislative affairs will never be equaled and certainly will never be forgotten by coon hunters across the nation and especially in his native Bluegrass State.
Wayne and I became friends years ago when he placed a hound in the UKC World Championship. It wasn’t long after that that he and fellow Kentuckian Red Caldwell caught the vision for an association to protect the right to hunt with hounds and the Kentucky Houndsmen Association was born. Over the years the pair traveled thousands of miles, including hundreds of trips to the state house in Frankfort to advocate for their beloved coon hunters and their sport. Before the Kentucky Houndsmen Association, coon hunters were typically reactionary in regards to legislation that affected their sport, waiting until the wolf was at the door to mount a defense and often too late to do any good. Caudill believed that the best defense was a strong offense and pioneered the way for pro-active legislation. Where once coon hunters were ignored or patronized in wildlife commission meetings or legislative hearings, the Kentucky Houndsmen Association reached the point, though the leadership and dedication of Caudill and Caldwell that no dog-related legislation or agency policy would dare be drafted without the input of the KHA. Kentucky hounds people owe a great debt of thanks to Caudill and Caldwell and those officers and board members that joined them in the fight over the years.
Wayne loved his Walker dogs and his sense of humor was what endeared him to me as a special friend. I can’t help but smile as I remember Wayne’s ability to call a dog in by “treeing” like a coonhound. Anyone that experienced Wayne “treeing” never forgot it. One night I was hunting with Wayne and Alba Neat at Tom Lichleitner’s place in northern Indiana. Tom’s hunting buddy Denny Ramer was along. Denny had a dog that sounded like a coyote when he came treed. While on the hunt, a pack of coyotes cranked it up in the distance and Wayne said, “Listen, there’s a whole litter of pups out of Denny’s dog and they’ve got one treed.” On that same hunt, we laughed until we cried at Tom and Denny trying to shoot a coon out with CB caps. They had an old single-shot .22 and Tom was shooting and Denny was handing him the bullets. “Ping,” goes the rifle. “Dang it,” goes Tom. Denny hands Tom another CB. “Ping,” goes the rifle. “Dang it,” goes Tom. This is repeated time after time as Wayne, Alba and I are rolling on the ground. Wayne was hunting his Arkansas River Crank dog that night, a pup off of old House’s Lipper.
My heart goes out to Penny and their children today. While we lost a fellow coon hunter, a friend, and a defender of our hunting rights, they have lost a husband and father. I pray the Lord to comfort them and give them peace.
Wayne Caudill was a big man that left big tracks in this coonhound world. His passion for our sport and his willingness to sacrifice whatever it took to defend it will never, ever be forgotten. Rest in peace, my old friend with the knowledge that you made this world a much better place for us all.