Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Calling The Dogs

Calling hunting dogs by yelling hyeh hy-eh

Years ago, our holler rang with the sound of calling in the dogs to load them up for a hunting trip or for feeding time.

I don’t really remember Pap calling the dogs. After us kids were born his hunting days were mostly over. But I have fond memories of my brother Steve and my Papaw Wade calling the dogs up by yelling he-yeh he-yeh he-yeh.

After starting the Blind Pig, I came across an article detailing the different calls Appalachians used to call in the dogs, the cows, the pigs, the chickens, or even the sheep. It was then that I realized how precious it was to have those memories of Papaw and Steve’s voice ringing down through the holler.

Smoky Mountain Voices A Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech edited by Harold F. Farwell, Jr. and J.Karl Nicholas has an entry for hyeh this is a portion of the definition:

hyur: adv., variant of here. Pronounced hyeh only in calling a dog

The entry goes on to discuss different uses for hyur. The book also documents the use of hyep hyep hyep being used to scatter hunting dogs.

These days the holler is home to pets instead of hunting dogs and I typically hear people whistling or yelling the dog’s name to call them.

Do you remember any unique ways of calling up animals around your place?




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  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    June 18, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Tipper my dad had an old dog name Mugs and he would break down his shot gun put a shell in and Hollered toot toot for old mugs to go hunting

  • Reply
    December 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    My dad used a LOUD “Hoooo” call that often went down in pitch at the end. This brought in the cows and the horses to be fed. If I was riding on the back side of the place & he needed me to come in, it worked on me, too! I always called it his ‘cow-holler.’ It was amazing how far away you could hear it.
    Later on, I used it, too, but to call people in from activities at workshops and meetings. It always got their attention!

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    December 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    My dad used to call in the cows by hollering “come boss, come boss” a number of times, and by the time he got to the end the “come” wore down to just a “c” sound, as “c’boss, c’boss”. I suppose “boss” was short for “bossie”, which a lot of folks referred to a cow as.
    He used to holler the usual sooee followed by “pig, pig,pig”, to call the hogs. He also had an unusual call for the horses (we had several draft horses, but called them work horses, in those days)but I can’t recall exactly how it went. To the best of my memory it was something like “wheeeooo, wheeeooo”.
    We also used the “hyeh, hyeh, hyeh” for calling dogs when I was little but it seemed to fall out of use later on.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I only remember whistling and yelling the dog’s name.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    December 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for today’s post. So many memories that had been stored in the back of my mind. My Grandpa loved to ‘coon hunt and always had Walkers and Black and Tan hounds when I was a kid. He would holler hyeh, usually 3 times. Sometimes long and drawn out if the dogs were far off. Sometimes one long and two short and sometimes three short hyehs. If he was yelling for a specific dog he would usually throw its name in the mix somewhere.
    I guess I haven’t thought about all of this in years.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    We had ‘chick, chick, chickeee’ ; Soueeee, etc. A different call for each type of animal.
    I remember hearing a story about a man that kept pigs. He came down with laryngitis that lasted most of the winter. He tapped on a fence post with a stick to summon his pigs. In the Spring when the woodpeckers got active his pigs almost ran themselves to death.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    After telling my better-half about todays post he said…”How could you forget about calling our ducks” and then when we would try to get Rocky to go out and do his business on our terms!”
    The children’s’ Easter ducks grew up and would slip under the fence and go to the farm pond, not far from the front yard! I called, “Hearree duckee, duckee, diddle, diddle, diddle, duckeeee,
    (yes, at 74 I’m sittin’ here calling, trying to remember the exact words I said!) Soon they were waddling back up the hill and under the fence, quacking all the way. The stubborn dog would just stand and look at you until I stepped on the porch and yell in a very excited tone…”Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel, he would bounce out that door, stop dead still, look around, up the maple tree “no squirrel” and then sniff all around getting his territory marked and business done, before coming back up on the porch.
    He doesn’t fall for that trick anymore, he is way over 15 years old and the ducks, well let’s pray over the ducks!
    Thanks Tipper, and better-half for reminding me of our homegrown calling!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I love all the stories of hunting
    from the folks here on the Blind
    Pig. And I certainly can relate to blowing down the barrel of my ole 37 model single shot Winchester. (As Jim mentioned) I still have it.
    I’ve had many and still have one…Whisky is so smart and he hears and sees everything. And he
    pouts when i don’t take him with
    me when I go to town. (he gets to
    ride alot)
    Many times I’ve lost my beagles
    rabbit hunting, so I pulled off
    my coat, layed it down near where I parked and left for
    several hours. When I returned,
    there laid all 3 waggin’ their

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Don’t know about hunting dogs – Dad just whistled when he wanted our dog to come to him.
    My grandmother had chickens she called with “chick, chick, chick-eeeee” said three times in rapid succession with the “eeee” up a 4th from the “chick” and sliding back down for the repeat of the phrase.
    But the best mechanical call I’ve seen and heard is the sound of a pick-up truck driving past a herd of hungry cows! Some cows get smart enough to recognize their rancher’s truck motor and ignore the others driving past. Others are either too desperate or too indiscriminate and will run to the fence for almost any truck that passes hoping for a hay bale or some sweet supplement.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    December 6, 2014 at 10:55 am

    The old-timers used a cow horn to call the dogs in a hunt, but a shotgun barrel could be used in a pinch.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I remember grandad calling in the cow. It was soo cow and soo calf. Also the chickens, here chick chick chick chickeeen!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 6, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Aunt Pauline lived next door. In the late fall and winter when the leaves were down I could actually see the front part of her house. Without the foliage to muffle the sound I could hear her as well as if she were standing right there in my yard. “Chickee-Chickee-Chickee-Chickeeeeeee,” “Chickee-Chickee-Chickee-Chickooooooo!” As a child I thought that was the funniest thing I ever heard. I still play it over in my over in my head sometimes. Even though half a century has passed since then I can still hear it plain as day. And it is still pretty funny today.
    Tipper, if you still have the chickens, give it a try. Just go out to the chicken pen and at the top of your lungs cut loose with that yodel a few times. You might scare your own chickens to death but I’ll bet you’ll bring the neighbors’ chickens running and probably the neighbors themselves.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I was of course familiar with the shotgun bugle that Jim mentioned.
    There were a few distinct calls that we used (both learned from Daddy).
    One was hey-yoo, hey-yoo, with emphasis on the hey, and sort of slow in rhythm. That was loud and calling from afar – primarily to call them in.
    That was sometimes accompanied by their names, as in “here Chip, here Dale, hyah; hey-yoo, hey-yoo.
    The other was a hyah-hyah-hyah, much faster cadence and when the dogs were close. It was sometimes accompanied by “here he is, here he is” with the dog’s name appended to the end. That was used to put the dogs on the trail of a rabbit that had just been jumped by one of us.
    Finally, we had a dog named Chip which was, as Daddy said, the dog of a lifetime. When he was a youngster, Daddy had spotted a rabbit in a brushpile and put Chip in there on it. From that point on, Chip was the brushpile-huntingest dog you ever saw. I don’t know if it was only me, but I had an especially fast cadence of “Here Chip, hyah-hyah-hyah-hyah.” He immediately knew that there was a brushpile waiting on him.
    While you could climb up on smaller brushpiles and jump up and down to run one out, if you ran into one of these that was 6 or 8 ft tall and maybe 20 ft in diameter, there was no way you’d get one out by jumping on the pile. But old Chip would get in there and worm his way around. He had an especially excited bark when he smelled one in there, and of course it was just as exciting for all of us standing around and watching.
    What great memories this series is bringing back, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    December 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    When I was young in the Arkansas hills the fires were always in the gravel road. Pretty safe. It was common for people to be driving around the next day looking for their dogs.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Dad’s whistle would usually bring the dogs back to him. I guess they could identify his whistle?

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Growing up we had an eclectic group of different breeds of dogs. When I was very young Mom and Dad raised Cocker Spaniels they then acquired Beagles and as I became old enough to hunt by myself Dad’s uncle gifted us with a couple of Black & Tan, Bluetick and Redbone mix hounds who became my almost constant companions anytime I was outside, they came to Hyeh, Whistles or my Grandpa’s old Fox Horn. This horn was a large hollowed out Cow Horn with a hole bored out through the small end, this had been my paternal grandfather’s (who was killed in 1928 cutting Acid Wood) horn. One blew through the hole in the small end of the horn like the mouthpiece on a bugle, this emitted a sound that could be heard for a mile or more on a cold crisp morning. Since reaching adulthood I have owned numerous dogs including hounds, pointers, beagles, Dobermans, German Shepards, Rottweillers and several ankle biters. Most of them responded to whistles and/or vocal hyeh, hyeh, hyeh. If these methods failed the smell of a biscuit is almost fool proof.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Tipper–While the way you describe is the manner in which we typically called our beagles, there was a second approach we occasionally employed. This was always when we were on a hunt and the dogs had gone “out of hearing” in a rabbit race and stayed gone a long time or else had disappeared for a good period of time.
    You can blow down the barrel of any break-down shotgun and, with some practice, get a sound which carries remarkably well and certainly far better than the hunter’s natural voice. It is sort of like using a hunting horn except louder.
    I wonder if any others among your readers are familiar with this practice?
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    December 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

    on calling the dogs:: I remember most all of the callings,,,dogs, chickens,,pigs,,ect..and they all worked very well,,if i tried that now here in Louisville I would get locked

  • Reply
    Jack West
    December 6, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Down here in MS we still hunt with dog’s and still call them to try and get them out of the woods to go on another drive !!!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Being a city girl, I really didn’t grow up with the animals being called. However, here in the foothills I do hear the farmer across the highway blow, I think, a horn and I can hear the cows, etc. making all kinds of noise as they gather to where they are supposed to be. It’s cool! Then down the road a piece, the miniature horse farm uses dogs.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    December 6, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Good morning! Been awhile since I’ve visited, Hope you all are doing well. I remember going with my dad to slop the pigs and him calling ‘soo EE, soo EE’. I love that memory and like you I realize it is a precious memory to have.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 5:52 am

    My Dad’s Father, fox hunted. They would use a fox horn made of bull horn it severed two purposes, you could learn to blow it to call the dogs and you could put it to your ear and hear dogs running miles away. They lived at the foot of Bankhead Mountain and dogs could go over into some deep hollers, with out the horn to your ear it would be very difficult to hear them,, I’ve got one my Father in Law made me when My Wife and I first got married, he didn’t fox hunt tho,, he just liked making them.. We always had bird dogs and rabbit dogs we just whistled with our mouth..

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 6, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I do remember fondly my aunt, grandparents calling in cows and one aunt also called her loose chickens. Most were penned up except the banty’s and guinea’s. My aunt started out with a long yell, “whooooeeee, whooeeee chick, chick, chickeeee! By that time the chickens, cats and one old pet dog was waiting for an apron full of leftover cornbread, etc.
    My grandmother/father started off the call for cows after a short walk just behind the barn. With a loud and I mean loud, whoooeee, whoooeee cow, whoooeeee, then when she/he heard the cowbell, for it was usually down in the field in a little hollow so it sometimes took a minute for the sound of the cowbell. Then it was whooee Betsy, Belle or other name, by then it was just a matter of time for her to walk up to the barn.
    My aunt in Mars Hill, called a very loud Sueeeee, sueeee cow. I guess that sound she used was from the old days before the hogs were put in lots.
    Most of the time if a cow was a old hand at milking time, they were usually on their way to the barn for milking.
    My grandfather died at the barn after going down in the field, calling in a new cow and herding her back to the stall. He always worried if a cow (new one) didn’t pick up and head to the barn right away…
    Most of the hunters I use to know called, hep, hyep or a whistle to call in the dogs after a hunt. The ones I know of nowadays keep there prize dogs penned up in lots, not tied out or running loose. Too many dog thieves out there plus all the new county laws about any loose animals..
    Thanks Tipper,
    I hadn’t remembered those calling sounds in a long time. It is amazing what one remembers about the good times on the mountain farms..

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