American Houndsman Berry Tarlton

Houston Valley is a beautiful Appalachian valley located in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. In this valley Berry Tarlton was born to Spencer and Carry Tarlton (February 19, 1928) and has never lived anywhere else. There were thirteen children in the Tarlton household. The Tarltons, like most Appalachian folks, lived off the land. Food for the table came from primarily two sources farming and hunting. Out of necessity the hardy mountaineers kept dogs that would run fox by day and tree coons and possums by night. The family thanked God for any meat provided and the hides provided much needed income. Needless to say a good dog was a valuable possession.

In his early years Berry hunted with many types of dogs including crossbred hounds and curs. Any dog that would earn its keep was highly appreciated. Sometime in the late 1940's Berry began to hear about a strain of dogs called Plotts. For sometime Berry sought to buy his own Plott without success. Eventually a Plott female was located in Middlesboro, KY and was brought home to Houston Valley. Berry paid the enormous price of $65 for his first Plott.

Berry later obtained a dog, named Jap. Jap was subsequently injured while fighting a bear. Permanently injured, Jap could no longer be hunted. Berry's friend Gene White, of White Hollow Plotts, wanted Jap to use as a brood dog so he gave Berry a female pup in trade. This casual trade was to have a major impact in three of the Plott breed's most respected breeders. The trade worked wonderfully for Gene because Jap proved to be a great reproducer. Hunters throughout the United States bought pups out of Jap. Berry named his pup Tarlton's Roberta and she became the foundation stock of Houston Valley Plotts. Many of our dogs still trace their roots back to Roberta. Tarlton's Roberta was bred to Cascade Big Timber and this litter produced Tarlton's Big John and Bear Pen Plotts Bronco. Bronco was owned by Mr. Steve Fielder and is now in the NPHA hall of fame. Tarlton's Big John was a bear-fighting machine and has become a legend among local hunters. Berry is honored to have his named linked in Plott history with the White and Fielder names.

Most of our time in the woods has been spent chasing bears. We've hunted mostly in east Tennessee and western North Carolina and hundreds of bears have been run, caught, and treed by Houston Valley Plotts. Several trips to Canada proved just as successful as we watched our dogs adapt to strange country and over come rough terrain. A good dog is a good dog no matter where the tailgate is dropped.

More important than the dogs we owned and the bears we treed are the family ties that have been strengthened and the lasting friendships that have been built. Many Sundays after church family and friends would gather on Berry's porch and share memories of past dogs, present pursuits, and future hopes. It's been a wonderful journey. Berry gives God the glory for good health and provision.

At Houston Valley Plotts we feel grateful and indebted to the Plott family who gave us the gift of fine dogs. We've tried to enjoy this gift and protect its authenticity. As the Old Time Plott men fade into history we hope that the younger generation will never forget who walked the mountains and followed the hounds before them! His family and friends dedicated a site to Berry Tarlton. We recognize the privilege of having a genuine "Old Time Plott Man" among us.

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