John McCoy is the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette’s award-winning outdoors writer. His "Woods & Waters" page appears weekly in the Sports section of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
In 32 years of outdoors writing, John has had articles published in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, Hatches and other publications. His works have earned more than 50 state, regional and national awards for writing and photography.
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Sometimes conservation officers are called upon to do rather … unusual things.
From the Associated Press:
PARIS, Ind. — A hunting dog that spent more than a day trapped underground after falling into a southeastern Indiana sinkhole was rescued early Sunday by a state conservation officer.
Indiana Conservation Officer Zach Walker was smeared with mud after he rescued the unharmed coonhound, MoMo, about 1 a.m. Sunday from the Jennings County cave.
Walker said he carried MoMo part of the way up a ladder he had used to reach the cave’s floor, and the dog was raised the rest of the way via rope and reunited with his owner.
“He was really excited to be back aboveground,” Walker said Sunday.
The coonhound went missing about 9 p.m. Friday during a raccoon hunt near the town of Paris about 35 miles north of Louisville, Ky. Walker said MoMo may have fallen about 20 feet into one of the cave’s numerous sinkhole openings.
The dog’s owner and two other raccoon hunters searched throughout Friday night for MoMo and returned to the area again Saturday. They finally called police after finding the trapped, barking dog late Saturday night, and realizing they wouldn’t be able to free the hound.
When Walker arrived, he lowered a ladder through a narrow opening and carefully entered the cave.
“If I weighed five more pounds, I wouldn’t have been able to fit through that hole. It was like fitting a key through a hole,” he said.
At the bottom, Walker found the excited dog in a cave room that was about 30 yards long and lined with a layer of mud.
Because the hole was too narrow to bring the dog up in a cage, Walker carried the hound up the ladder part of the way.
“His owner asked how much he owed me and I said he’d already paid for my services with his tax money,” Walker said.