Thursday, October 27, 2005

Histoty They Don ‘t Teach You.A Tradition of Cockfighting


Volume 35 , Number 2 , Fall 1995


Histoty They Don ‘t Teach You.

A Tradition of Cockfighting

by Lynn Morrow

The rising popularity of cockfighting in the past decade has placed the Ozarks, and in particular the White River region, in the forefront of this ancient blood or pit sport. Sportsmen in our region, and others with family connections here, have served as officers and lobbyists in the national and Missouri United Gamefowl Breeders Association. Animal rights activists in Missouri have risen to oppose cockfighting, seeking prohibitive legislation, so far unsuccessfully. The debate over this sport, which is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Ozarks, calls for an historical review. Such a review is especially helpful in considering cockfighting since, as one southern mountaineer said in regard to the sport, "Here’s history they don’t teach you."

A wise Missouri jurist wrote that "Tradition depends not at all upon thinking, nor is it disturbed by thinking. Of all the influences which affect the conduct and affections of men, none is so powerful as tradition. Resting upon use and custom, it is independent of the caprice of man and exercises over him an uncontrollable dominion. The value of tradition lies in its unreasonableness. It contains experience rather than thinking." And therein lies much of the debate: tradition unites us, convictions divide us, a rule that Thomas Jefferson knew well when he said that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."

The power of words in any debate is always important, but our interests include the legacy of tradition. Cockfighting has bestowed upon the English language an array of popular idioms upon which modern sports depend heavily. In boxing they include, match (in weight, to pit one against another), main event, battle royal, the ring (early pits were round instead of the squarish or rectangular ones ultimately used), weigh-in, handlers, and clean-cut (de-wattled). Even boxing gloves are a descendant of cocks’ spurs covered with muffs for sparring. One’s spirit is often described by a cocking term: cocky, game (plucky), chicken, raised hackles, crestfallen, and yellow. Orchestras are seated in the former cockpit space in theaters, and pilots reside there in airplanes. Affluence is described as well-heeled, a reference to good-fitting steel gaffs attached to the cock’s natural spur for fighting. Workers are familiar with the pecking order on the job and supervisors who are cocksure. Nearly everyone has used cocktail, originally "cock ale," a stimulant that was and is fed to fighting cocks before a main event. The term cock of the walk, a champion bird, referred to the gamecock exercise area and is better known now for the restaurant chain.

In a world where change is the constant, the blood sports of cockfighting, bullfighting, and dogfighting have survived virtually unchanged for three thousand years; cockfighting is by far the most pervasive. Most authorities allege that the beginnings of cockfighting were in southeast Asia, where partridge and quail competed, but as a sport, it seems so ubiquitous that no specific country can claim to be the point of origin. Some claim that the domestic chicken’s ancestor was the wild junglefowl in the dense Asian tropics. Once the cocks were domesticated, travelers and merchants diffused them and the pit sport through India, across Persia (modern Iran), and into the Middle East. Mediterranean cultures practiced the sport widely in the late first millennium B.C. while elevating the gamecock to divine status, as some Asian cultures did. Themistocles, the Athenian general, is credited with introducing the sport into Greece, and Greeks intro-

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duced it into Rome, while Rome diffused it into the greater empire including Britain. Ancient lore records that Mark Antony’s gamecocks always lost to Caesar, a portent of Antony’s own future. The Romans introduced artificial spurs for combat, developed organized cockfighting, and engraved fighting cocks on silver coin of the empire. Archaeologists, at the Italian excavations of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 A.D.), unearthed a mosaic of two cocks in combat. Pit sports, in general, took deep root in Roman society, culminating in the contests of lions against Christians.

Cockfighting in the Ozarks comes more immediately from our British colonial inheritance; in fact, the sport (after boxing) was probably the first European one in the New World. By the 12th century, schoolboy cocking was an annual event in some grammar schools. Students brought their cockpennys to school, building a fund to finance the event at the end of the term --prizes were awarded to the winners. The grammar school competitions in Britain continued into the early nineteenth century.

By the sixteenth century, pit sports -- bearbaiting, bullbaiting, dogfighting, boarfighting, lionfighting, and cockfighting --were a national theater that grew to international renown into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. "Hawks, hounds and cocks were true marks of a country gentleman," said one commentator, and gambling became irrevocably tied to the sport. Shakespeare referred to the pit sports in many of his plays -- Macbeth, King Lear, several Kings Henry, and others knew well the bear garden and cockpit. Indeed, King Henry Viii’s new cockpit at the Palace at Whitehall, constructed in 1536, remained a sporting center until 1816. English kings of the seventeenth century recognized cocking as a national sport, including the appointment of a cockmaster who supervised the breeding, rearing, and training of gamecocks for the royal pit. All classes participated in the sport, but the aristocracy set much of the tone in celebrating well-bred and well-trained gamecocks. By the nineteenth century, their named birds became champions for spectators to place wagers upon.

The degree to which participants idealized game-cocks seems little short of remarkable to modern observers. Flags and banners waved atop cockpits to advertise the sport. A chord of dissonance, however, did criticize the events. A serious complaint by Puritan preachers began during the reign of Elizabeth 1(1558-1603) that denounced the brutality of blood sport and urged suppression of the spectacles. By the end of the seventeenth century, secular voices joined the religious ones. As cockfighting assumed widespread popularity in the eighteenth century, England’s literary masters castigated the sport as cruelty to animals. The famous British historian Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), taking an explicit shot at the critics, claimed that the Puritans deplored such sport "not because it gave pain to the animal but because it gave pleasure to the spectators."

Sundays in the British Empire included time to gather with the crowds in boisterous celebration and gambling at the pit. In Scotland, churchyards were popular sites, and towns competed in main events against each other. The royal government sponsored special holiday exhibitions that drew thousands as the cockpit competed with horse racing and dramatic performances at the theater. These working-class holidays were, in part, a safeguard for the government against mob disorders. Upon occasion, riots did occur, and at other times the stands collapsed and killed spectators, but not in the large numbers of modern soccer tragedies. Many writers defended the popular sport while Puritan oratory continued to condemn it. By 1849 cockfights were illegal in England, but not because of any mounting tide against the sport. The increased popularity of horse racing at the track garnered support to channel gambling to a larger arena.

The Borderlands immigrants (Ulster and the Irish Republic, Wales, north England, and south Scotland) to America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had practiced cocking widely. On the east coast, the English and Irish were the most prominent cockers. By the early nineteenth century New York, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, and rural America were scenes of regular pit sport with gamecocks. Enthusiasts constructed arenas from St. Louis to New Orleans, and later San Francisco became

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a West Coast center. City directories listed the operators of cockpits and their addresses. America’s elite icons competed, too. They included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew and Stonewall Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln, who, according to lore, not only was a referee at cockfights, but received his sobriquet, "Honest Abe," for his fairness as a sporting judge.

The symbolism of the fighting rooster that expresses a fierce independence is easily observed in text and art of early America and the nineteenth-century South. Journalist James Agee reminded us in 1934 that "the eagle was chosen to symbolize the U.S. by only two votes over the cock." In Virginia, Branch Archer killed a cousin in a duel in 1841. He invited a relative to join him in Texas where they could live "like ... fighting cocks." Local Ozarks sources record that neighborhood ruffians would stand on a rail fence and crow like roosters, thereby taunting a nearby foe. The Confederacy placed images of the rooster on its currency and at least one Tennessee infantry company chose the rooster as mascot. After the war, Democratic weekly newspapers, including shops in the Missouri Ozarks, proudly printed the rooster image as a part of their masthead. The University of South Carolina continued the mascot tradition, naming their athletes Game-cocks. Clearly, the message given to the viewer by the fighting gamecock is unmistakable.

Creative spirits have used the cockfight for symbolism in poems, paintings, and short stories. British lithographs and prints, some rare and expensive, from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of well-groomed gamecocks can still be found in art shops. By the 1950s consumers could also purchase "Fighting Cocks for Wall and Den" as aluminum casts of roosters joined the American eagle in vernacular art for suburban display. One of the more distinctive celebrations of pit sport history was the "cockfight television chair, originally designed for cockfight fans, now it’s the most comfortable chair going for watching television." As

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poultry populations have diminished with the family farm, the rooster image is found more frequently in agricultural art and displayed at major museums such as the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

In America institutionalized opposition to cock-fighting, and other forms of alleged animal abuse, can be dated to 1866. In New York an independently wealthy man established the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the mother of all subsequent state chapters. The American Humane Association came into being a decade later, and these two organizations have led their fight against cockfighting and more into the late twentieth century. Significantly, women -- not men -- have been the backbone of the opposition. Women constitute the core of activism and continue to generate the critical attack. One historian noted, "Were the support of the women of America suddenly withdrawn, the large majority of societies for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals would cease to exist." Another historian reported the complaint of a pit-sport enthusiast in 1979:

"The Ladies League came in, and when the women control you, that’s it."

Since 1879, however, the year of the last open pitting of gamecocks in America for the general public, there have been thirty-two cocking periodicals published in the United States. Cocking is a sport and a business, and the audience has not lacked a medium for discourse and development of the thoroughbred gamecock. Outsiders are usually surprised to learn that gamecocks, due to their pedigrees of dozens of generations, delicate rearing, and rigid training, are radically distinct from common barnyard roosters. Directions for selective breeding and handling, animal discipline, and rigid rules of the competition are all spelled out in guidebooks or other official literature. Aficionados throughout the twentieth century could subscribe to the popular Grit and Steel, Gamecock, Feathered Warrior, and more. Gamecocks receive care that can only be described as pampered, much like a race horse. Ethics of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct rule the arena. The birds are more vigorous in cold weather, so the sport is generally practiced from December to June. And, amenities for the spectators are not forgotten. Concession stands that sell hamburgers, hot dogs, Mexican food, sodas, and coffee are common.

During the 1920s and 1930s there was something of a revival in the sport, not unlike the last fifteen years. Cock stables of dozens and hundreds of birds were and are kept by breeders and trainers. In the Depression, Branson mayor Jim Owen became a leader in Missouri when he gained notoriety in the Ozarks advertising his "mountain raised" Ozark Doms and Ozark Blues as "Fowl as Rugged as the Hills" in Grit and Steel. International cocking tournaments were held in "safe areas," including the nineteenth tournament in the South, where competitors from Canada, Mexico, South America, and Hawaii met. Top prizes went to sportsmen from Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas. The success of American victors historically has led to the export of eggs and chickens, especially to Pacific Rim countries. The sport is a national pastime in the Philippines, and Central America has attracted serious international competitions.

Gambling, however, is as synonymous with cock-fighting as it is with horse racing. Overtime, only very rough estimates can ever be made of the amount of money that flows with the sport. Although many states had statutes against cockfighting by the early twentieth century, the contests continued, ignored by local law enforcement who generally responded only upon spirited objections. The derbys of cocking tended to "float" from site to site in states that had prohibitive legislation, but in those that did not, large pits attracted thousands of participants. By the late 1930s Florida, New Jersey, and Oklahoma were national centers; in more recent years, the Copperhead Pit in Arizona has claimed the distinction. A half century ago, historian George Scott estimated that $10,000,000 was a conservative figure spent in 1950 in America on gambling at the cock pits. Annual tournaments amounted to nothing less than a World Series of cockfighting.

Raids on cockfight arenas have been sensational local press throughout the twentieth century. Gangsterism of the 1920s and 1930s helped to cast shady reputations upon participants. A good example, somewhat humorous in hindsight, occurred in

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Greene County, Missouri, in December 1930. A regional competition involving some 200 sportsmen from Springfield, Kansas City, Tulsa, and St. Louis met eleven miles east of Springfield on the McCoy farm, site of well-attended cockfights for many years. Shortly after midnight six bandits, brandishing sawed-off shotguns and long-barreled pistols, "commanded instant respect" from the crowd. The gangsters rounded up the participants, searched and robbed each one, took some $8,000 in cash and jewelry, dropping it all in a gunny sack, and drove off in a car with Illinois license plates. Shortly afterwards, another group of local hoodlums who had planned to rob the sporting event discovered that the out-of-towners had beaten them to the punch. After the crowd settled down, the fights continued anyway.

Victims of the bandit raid included a number of well-known Springfield men, including the former chief of police, Tom Hunter. Sheriff Marcell Hendrix said he received no official report of the robbery since the cockfight gathering was illegal. Prosecuting Attorney George Skidmore said he had to leave town on business and would not investigate cockfights near Springfield as he would leave that up to the prosecutor-elect the following year. No one was ever apprehended, and probably no one but the victims ever cared.

In the 1930s national magazines publicized the growing debate over what had become a clandestine national sport. Fortune, Esquire, American Mercury, and Life published dramatic photographs and carried the sentiments of sportsmen and moralists alike, while urban newspapers, especially the Hearst empire centered in San Francisco and Los Angeles, waged particular campaigns to eradicate the competition. Journalists around the country presented proponents’ arguments for the sport based upon the rooster’s courage, pugnacity, skill, physical condition, and indifference or insensibility

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to pain. One breeder, in support of the gamecock’s aggressiveness toward any other rooster, told how several of his roosters "drowned trying to fight their own reflections in watering troughs."

Sportsmen argued that fundamental to the gambling enterprise is that you can trust the sport since it is free from cheating and rests so much upon chance. Enthusiasts love to root for underdogs who commonly Wm. Led by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, local humane societies and others attacked the brutality, the unseemliness if not immorality of a blood sport, and an association of gambling that in the Great Depression generated up to $5,000,000 annually. Proponents argued that bred gamecocks live to fight while opponents claimed they are bred to be killed. The success of California anti-cockfighting legislation and enforcement led to the migration of pit activity into Arizona, which remains a national center. By 1948 Florida was the only state where cockfighting was legal, but legislative changes over the years have brought other states in and out of legality (at this time, the sport was illegal in Missouri, too, but it became legal in 1985; see below). Time magazine reported in 1948 that competitions were not hard to find from Saratoga Springs, New York, to Frederick, Maryland, to Pass Christian, Mississippi, or to Clovis, New Mexico.

Law enforcement across the country did respond to some protests. Sportsmen were arrested and game-cocks confiscated for years. It was not uncommon for misdemeanor penalties to be meted out -- a few hundred dollars fine and up to several weeks in jail. Unfortunately, the fowl did not fare so well. Commonly, the detained roosters ended up fighting and killing one another as their new keepers did not know how to manage the spirited fowl. Gamecocks became ingredients for the week’s "jailhouse stew," were destroyed by court order, or were killed and given to charities, such as hospitals. Occasionally, the breeders recovered their confiscated property and took them back home.

By the 1960s, Western observers, however, were beginning to accumulate evidence of the international nature of pit sports. Journalists reported the closed-circuit television coverage of the insect cricketfighting season in the South China Sea, near Hong Kong. Fans in hotels could watch pairs of crickets pitted against one another in a wooden tub fighting to the death. This anecdote is siguificant in hindsight. By the 1960s improved communications internationally and the immigration of Asians and Hispanics to the U.S. had become important in the continuing diffusion of information and culture to America. The new state of Hawaii became a Pacific center of cockfighting that included Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and native peoples. Cockfights were standard fare at goveminent-sponsored annual festivals, such as Peru s anniversary date for liberation from Spain in 1821, or an anniversary date that commemorated 400 years of settlement since 1567 in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1969 Iran held its first national cockfighting tournament, attracting large delegations from Mghanistan and Indonesia. While Asians and Hispanics had long participated in and encouraged cockfighting in California, they would help diffuse the popularity, if not revival, of the sport in the coming decades. American breeds were commonly exported to Latin America and the Pacific Rim, while the famous Spanish birds increased in exports to European countries. The modern Hispanic connections with cockfighting, however, have tended to mask the more secretive and equally widespread sport throughout the United States, especially in the South.

As Americans celebrated the Bicentennial, it was in a southern society that one of America’s most famous stories produced a character associated with cockfighting. "Chicken George" (1806-1890) in Alex Haley’s Roots became an unforgettable character in the book and on the television screen. Chicken George, a slave, trained gamecocks for his owner-father Tom Lea and wound up in 1855 gambling for his freedom, and instead became part payment for a losing wager in a cockfight that sent him to England with a new master.

Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan might be credited with opening the 1980s decade for cockfighters. In February 1980 the contender was surrounded by aides and reporters in an informal

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setting in New Hampshire. Reagan set the stage:

"How do you tell who the Polish fellow is at a cockfight? He’s the one with the duck. How do you tell who the Italian is at the cockfight? He’s the one who bets on the duck. How do you know the Mafia was there? The duck wins." Of course, the politically correct impulse from critics went right to work in the media, and the incident is now all but forgotten except by cynics.

In the early 1980s Missouri initiated legislation that declared cockfighting illegal. But, in 1985, the Missouri Supreme Court stimulated what was already a resurgence across the country in cockfighting. The Court ruled that the anti-animal fighting statute, especially the section concerning spectators, was unconstitutionally vague. Separate legislation prohibits dog-fighting, but dueling with gamecocks suddenly became legal in Missouri. Missouri joined other Sunbelt states -- Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Arizona -- where cockfighting in advertised pits could be legally exhibited.

In 1986 Missouri legislators began to sponsor bills to specifically outlaw cockfighting. Throughout the country, most states have enacted prohibitive legislation that carries potential misdemeanor penalties --fines and short jail terms; sixteen states, however, have enacted felony statutes. What has become significant in Missouri is that the proposed legislation would include felony penalties -- it would be illegal to fight, own, or attend a cockfight. For almost a decade now, the 30,000-member Missouri Humane Society has battled the 1,000-member United Gamefowi Breeders Association, chartered in 1976, in trying to pass a bill.

Whatever one’s position is in the debate, it is significant in Ozarks history that the small-sized cocking fraternity has been successful in beating back the large Humane Society in the democratic process for ten years. It is a political feat unnoticed by the press. By 1990 authorities reported that 65 counties had some cockfighting activity. However, incredulous legislators can not bring themselves to demand up to five years in

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jail and a $5,000 fine for constituents who may be found at cockfights. For some, it is reminiscent of the late-nineteenth-century Missouri law that sent chicken thieves to the state penitentiary for two years, a statute that was repealed years ago. Sen. Mike Lybyer also invoked sentiments for tradition: "cockfighting is a hobby for a lot of these people and for some people it’s an important way of life." Moreover, Missouri breeders have joined the interstate and international trade in gamecocks. The proscriptive bill would "create hardships" on those who have successfully built up a business. In a spring 1994 compromise for a bill that increased penalties for animal abuse and animal neglect, sponsors had to change the word animal to mammal to pacify the cockfighting lobby. Thus, prohibitive legislation has continued to narrow the legal arena in which the pit sport continues to flourish.

Those not acquainted with the economics of cock-fighting may find this last rationale a bit strange. However, the sport is no longer one in which faithful adherents of an archaic custom congregate. It is very big business in the Philippines, where thousands of American-strain gamecocks compete, some in Manila’s 10,000-seat arena. In Europe, one survey reported thirty-two legitimate arenas in northern France near the Belgian border, where the sport has thrived for decades. In the American territory of Puerto Rico, the island’s Department of Recreation promotes the con-

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test on television for natives and tourists--600 arenas sponsor competition annually. In December 1993 the first Gamefowl Congress of the World was held in Mexico with representatives from eighteen countries in attendance. A year later, in fall 1994, as arguments over cockfighting proceeded in Kentucky (where cock-fighting was legal in the early 1990s), proponents claimed that banning the sport in that state would take millions of dollars from local economies. The owner of the state’s largest pit in Montgomery County said that his audience came from eighteen states, "professional men who fly here in Lear jets." (A December 1994 appeals court ruling once again made cockfighting illegal in Kentucky.) In Louisiana, sportsmen in two parishes claimed $6.5 million annually in revenues. Reliable estimates for money that changes hands in Missouri is not available. Nationally, observers can only assert that cockfighting has become a multimillion-dollar underground industry. In Missouri, about five pits operate with sponsorship of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association--the largest, and probably the most successful, is in southern Stone County. Leading spokesman Phil Church of Ozark says that Missouri cockers want to keep the sport as it is, "quiet, small, and gentlemanly."

It is out of Stone County that a famous case in this debate came. In August 1987 a zealous investigator with the Humane Society of Missouri lied to a circuit judge, signing an affidavit that illegal pit bulls were being trained; he secured a warrant for the search and seizure of property at the Travis and Peggy Clark farm near Lampe. Sheriffs deputies, water patrolmen, highway patrolmen, and humane society personnel raided the Clark home. The Clarks were away, but officers confronted their son with weapons drawn, emptied drawers in the house, and removed photographs, while

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several personal property items were stolen. The intruders released nearly 180 gamecocks from their pens, creating a melee that resulted in their destruction --some $18,000 worth of roosters.

The Clarks filed civil lawsuits for trespass, invasion of privacy, malicious prosecution, and more against the investigator, James J. Brown, and the Humane Society. Litigation proceeded through the circuit court and Court of Appeals and, on a change of venue, to the circuit court in Lawrence County. Finally in 1991 the litigants compromised on a settlement in favor of the Clarks for $100,000. A couple of years later the Clarks won a second suit from the Humane Society for $8,012, including $12 for a stolen beer stein of pennies from their home.

Observers comment that to make cocking illegal in Missouri it will stop cockfighting like prohibition killed the consumption of alcohol. While legislation "prohibits" cockfighting across the country, the blood sport is booming in popularity. In New York in 1995, for example, where practicing the sport is a felony, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is reporting the largest raids and arrest numbers in the 129-year history of the organization. Defenders ask, "Why is it less cruel for a cock to be killed by man than by another cock?" Advocates are quick to draw attention to the broiler industry. At these factory farms young chickens "may live 42 days, are force-fed, and don’t see a blade of grass or a ray of sunlight." Game-cocks do not begin fighting until they are a year old, many live for several years, and have a life of indulged comfort. "At least a gamecock gets the opportunity to die like a man," reported one promoter.

Other advocates see the time and money spent on anti-cockfighting as hypocritical when viewed in the greater arena of animal abuse. In 1990, as the media reported increasing American sensitivity to government intervention in personal lives, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control (ADC) program spent nearly $30 million in federal funds and $15 million in state monies "to kill mammals and birds considered predators or pests." Anti-hunting lobbyists reported the same year that hunters, only 7% of the population, killed some 200 million birds and animals, most on public lands. Why aren’t opponents fiercely attacking the wealthy sport fishermen who torture a marlin for four or five hours? "Factory breeding" of fetal pigs and cats for laboratories and some 100 million frogs for America’s high school biology classes of the 1960s fed an insatiable experimentation on life forms. With such a hemorrhage on the landscape and in the water, why, asks an advocate of cockfighting, should legislators be concerned about evenly matched competition, where there is a chance for survival of the fittest, among gamecocks? Obviously, they say, sportsmen and tradition are being selectively prosecuted. Some cultural historians support that assertion, writing that the debate lies in class privilege. The dominant middle-class society seeks to further discipline the modern working class into higher standards of "public order and more industrious habits" by outlawing pit sports while "gentlemen’s fox-hunting, fishing and hunting" remain free and legal sport.

Missouri’s Mark Twain saw many things in his Life on the Mississippi, including cockfighting. For over a century since Twain witnessed the sport, Americans and Ozarkers seem to be caught in the same dilemma that Twain described: "I never saw people enjoy anything more than this gathering enjoyed this fight. The case was the same with old gray-heads and with boys often. They lost themselves in frenzies of delight. The ‘cocking-main’ is an inhuman sort of entertainment, there is no question about that; still, it seems a much more respectable and far less cruel sport than fox-hunting -- for the cocks like it; they experience, as well as confer enjoyment; which is not the fox’s case."

Or, we may prefer a more modern journalist’s commentary. Frank Herbert summed up the controversy this way: "You don’t have to attend a poultry show to see that the chicken has scratched its mark into our culture as it has into the customs and folklore of most peoples. When your chickens come home to roost you may be as mad as a wet hen or just have your tail feathers ruffled. You can lay an egg at the theater as easily as you can at a hen party. Birds of a feather do flock together and you can’t teach

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your grandmother to suck eggs. And that’s no cock and bull story.

The debate will continue.

I would like to thank Jenifer Burlis-Freilich, administrative programs coordinator, Missouri State Archives, for alerting me to cockfighting artwork in the Archives collections. Readers may consult an extensive literature on cockfighting. Good places to begin are Don Atyeo, Blood and Guts: Violence in Sports, 1979; The Cockfight; A Casebook, Alan Dundes, ed., 1994; Steven L. Del Sesto, "Roles, Rules, and Organization: A Descriptive Account of Cockfighting in Rural Louisiana," Southern Folklore Quarterly 39 (March 1975): 1-14; Jack Morgan, "Cockfighting: A Rural American Tradition," Missouri Folklore Society Journal, vols. 15-16 (1993-1994): 119-32; Foxfire 8, Eliot Wigginton and Margie Bennet, eds., 1984; George R. Scott, The History of Cock fighting, 1957; the Peter Tamony Collection, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri-Columbia and the Alliance for Animal Legislation of Missouri, St. Louis.

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Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Good Gaffs one piece and two piece

Alan Ray I've been told has very reliable gaffs. One year guarantee. I'm placeing an order next week. http://www.raysmfg.com/
Good one piece gaffs----
Dwight Orr 5895 Waterlevel Hwy SE Cleveland, TN 423-476-5101 David Killingsworth Route6,box 63088 Winnsboro,TX 75494 903-629-3172

Hatred ,Game ,and Aggressi

I had another post titled "What is Gameness "gave there definition of game. I'm not exactly sure if there are different levels of game. Men might say there are, I don't believe this. Although I may be wrong. Now I know there are orientals out there that would never run in there boxing matches . I say boxing because it is kind of like a boxing match when he gets nocked out or dies he looses. The second he taste steel they run.
If a bird runs he is not game as far as I'm concerned. Now some of you might say if he wasn't in good health or he was still moulting. This is a man's excuse for his pride being hurt that his fowl ran. I'm sorry fellers ,but under no circumstances should a game bird run against another gamebird.
Now here is my question . Is hatred linked with gameness? Is gameness linked to aggression ? Are the three tied together ? I don't believe that aggression and gameness are the same . There are plenty of dead game fowl out there that arn't aggressive. They are defensive fighters.
I have watched some L.K. fights were the birds took there time it was 5 min before they actually started fighting. I have never owned fowl like this. Our birds without even getting them mad if you put them on the ground 20 feet appart as soon as they see each other they run to meet. When I see this it makes me believe they hate each other.
Now the hatred. Why do gamefowl fight ? We have bred for the strongest game genes possible. In the wild they fought over territory and breeding rights. To prolong there line there genes ,and they will die to protect this right.
Now let me ask you this you grew up watching your father fight and his father. You might have watched cocks die. You finally matured and had to fight for some land or a territory.You have your herum or flock of hens and pullets that you worked hard for maybe even killed for. Now some prideful stag or cock is comming to take your life and everything you worked for. Can you tell me honestly that you don't think this cock who is protecting his territory and his life doesn't hate that other cock ? Hate him enough to kill him.
According to the dictionary here is our definition of hate and aggression----
Hate- 1.to dislike intensly or passionately ; 2. to dislike ;be unwilling : 3. to feel intense dislike or extrem aversion toward something
I don't know hate to me kind of sounds like my gamecocks attitude toward each other. Lets see what the dictionary says about aggression
Aggression - 1. the action of a state in violation by force the rights of another state , particularly it's territorial rights ; an unprovoked offensive , attack, invasion ,or the like. 2. any offensive action or procedure ; an inroad or encrochment : an aggression upon one's rights. 3. the practice of making assaults or attacks ; offensive action in general
Again this to me sounds like my cocks. I would have to say that hatred, game ,and aggression are all tied together. What do all of you think ? Irishmuffs


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KNOWLEDGE IS STRENGTH. STRENGTH HOLDS POWER

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Long Heel Gaff Verse Short Heel Gaf

THis is kinda one of those questions that is reference to which determines the ultimate gameness...Although that is not what I am going to ask... Ok I have always heard that the short gaff lasts longer then the long gaff and with that being said then the ultimate gameness tests would be the short gaff... Ok recently I read a post I think it was from irish and he said a old cocker friend had told him that the long gaff lasted longer in the old days...So with that being said then wouldnt the long gaff be the ultimate test of gameness??? So what are your thoughts... Did the long gaff test the ultimate gameness in the old days and now over time it has switched to the short gaff???

Now please remember I am a firm believer that there are many weapons that test for the ultimate gameness of a cock and I would never really say one is more of a test then another... I just want some input on this subject...


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YFIS Laura

Copena
actually my experince being around family and friends most of my life and being in the sport myself over a decade is that short gaff fights actually are faster. The long is more often longer. ONLY because after a rooster tires they have alot more difficulty pointing a long heel and often hit on the back of the gaff. This is compounded by a owner/handler that doesnt know how to choose gaffs for that particular fowl as well. Short heels are easier to point and dont hang as often.

Canole413
to me long gaff is more of a challenge because the birds have to be able to withstand the deeper more painful cuts. im not sayin short gaff isnt a good test, but for me if the bird can take a 3in cut he can take a 1 1/2 no problem.

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YFIS, Greg Stefan

Irishmuffs
When we are talking the most brutal bludgening test of gameness it is the natural spure or peg awl. Now the reason that the long heel gaff last longer than short heel gaff is just like Copena said. It is a lot harder to point a longer heel than a short heel. The first few flys they don't have a problem, but once they get tired a lot of fowl cant point them. Not all mind you some breeds can point them for a long time, but the longer heel in the drag they usually throw air. Now when it comes to a test of GAMENESS between short heel gaff, and long heel gaff these are the points. Let's say you let 2 pairs of the same fowl go for 20 min. In 20 mins the S.H.G. pair will have less hang ups, and way more head and body shots than the L.H.G. fowl. The reason being that for most fowl it is a lot easier to continually point a short heel than a longer heel. So the S.H.G. fowl will take a heck of a lot more steel in the 20 min period than the L.H.G. fowl. This is why I believe that the short heel gaff is a better test of GAMENESS on your fowl. Please in no way am I knocking any heel that any man or woman fights. As free cockers fight what you want. I would say this is my opinion, but I don't believe it is opinion it is fact from countless readings on the older days in pit's, and talking to chicken men who have fought all over the country foe 30 to 55 years. I know men who have fought against Sweater McGuinness, Murphy and countless others. Also i know some will say the bigger heel is a bigger wound. You can pierce a lung or heart or liver in a chicken with a 1 inch heel Irishmuffs.

RedNeckLaura
Thanks guys... I have not seen any short gaff fights, but what I have read about the short gaff I would go with the long gaff as canelo said.. A good cocker knows what length to put on his fowl where they arent hitting the air and also has good conditioning methods to help in getting him in condition... And also you may not see alot of hitting the head (although it does happen and I have seen gaffs pulled out of the head many many times in the long gaff and still not do any damage, which also makes me think that the short heel gaff would last longer) in the long gaff but you will see over 90% body hits...I guess that is one of the most confuseing about the long heel lasting longer...Although I can certainly understand what a few of you said about some not being able to carry the longer gaff for long periods (but most are bred with alot of bottom so this isnt a problem, which I can see it being a bigger problem in the old days, and a problem with newcomers to the sport)..

And yea irish I do think that the long gaff leaves bigger holes, one reason is because they do pull them out and they do damage when the rooster pulls them out his self.. This can also be a problem with a cheating handler pulling one out Wink ... But I would think that the bigger the puncture hole in a lung etc would be more of a test of gameness...

I want to thank all of you for agreeing and disagreeing and not degrading ANY WEAPON on this post... Its wonderful to see how we cockers can disagree in a respectful manor... It definatly shows what the true cockers are about!!


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YFIS Laura

Canole413
well said laura.

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YFIS, Greg Stefan

Irishmuffs
I agree 100% Laura. It is a good thing that we all respect each others opinions. By no means do I think I know it all. It takes a game bird to take steel, and not run that is the bottom. I still think the most brutal tests are the peg awl, and natural heel, but as far as I'm concerned game is game. I still want to bring my fowl to a longer heel fight. 1 1/4 inch against whatever inch gaff. I have faith in my fowl. Good post Laura Irishmuffs.

Easterly
A oldtimer 35 years ago,told me a group started fighting pegawls to whip the beginners on condition,the beginners started fighting asil crosses,and beaten them, so it stopped the pegawl fighting.
Easterly
Long heels or the best test as a lot of fights last a long time have fought in long and short gaff,short and long knife.

MarshButcher
Irishmuffs is 100% right in his posts. When E.T. Piper was editor of the Feathered Warrior he timed the fights at the Orlando Tournament and the fights at Troy and found that the short heel fights were quicker. I remember my Grandfather saying that it was much easier for the fowl to point a short heel than a long heel when they were tired. The way he explained it was......if you were in a streetfight which would you rather swing at your opponent, a 3 foot pole or a 6 fooot pole.

EARLY DEVELOPME

Well I know I told a couple of you that this is my first year breeding these Blue Irish Muffs. I got one older pair. So I never tested the cock he's old though. The guy I got them from saiddead game could cut, and lots of bottom. So I've been a little on edge about the results from the stags. They are beautiful true blue and grey feathers on the majority of them some a small pacentige show a little more red. All the stags have yellow legs all the hens have green legs. Well they are just barely 4 months old. I hade this breed on my buddies yard for I've been building cages for like 2 months now every weeked tying to get ready to house these stags, and pullets. Sunday morning one of my blue stags fought one of his 3 time winner cocks threw the wire, and sliped his leg. You could say he was a little upset. So I went over Monday and picked up five stags, and one cock, and one pullet all Blues. I also caught one pullet of another blue muff line that I breed my cock to 2 of my buddies hens. There blue muffs to. The father of these 2 hens is one of the few aces I've ever had the privlage of seeing. So any way a real weight has been lifted off my shoulder anyway. Not that they have proven anything yet , but there fighting anyway. Makes a daddy proud lol.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Gamefowl chicken men. How are my fellow brothers doing?

Chicken Men Come Visit The Gamefowl Cockfighting Short Heel Forums I Moderate

Gamefowl chicken men. How are my fellow brothers doing. I am getting this blog going to help inform fellow gamefowlist that you have brothers out there. There are many informative gamefowl web sites out there.

One's that except whatever heel you fight. One's that want to help you learn about our warriors. One of my favorite is GamefowlWorld.com. There is a free gamefowl auction going on right know.

There is a lot of knowledgeable chicken men at this gamefowl site. Well check it out . I'm always there!

To vistit all of the cockfighting short heel forums that I moderate click here or visit all of the GamefowlWorlds gamefowl and cockfighting message forums here.

MODERATOR . Irishmuffs

Ground Bacteria

Ground Bacteria

Well we have been getting alot of rain . Last week we got 5 days straight of rain. Now I don't know if everyone knows ,but there is bacteria in the groung. Some of it is not to friendly to our fowl. This is what will happen puddles will form ,and our chickens will drink from it. Now my buddie called me up ,and told me some of his cocks were getting skinny. He suggested I use a biotic on all of them. I went out and got oxytetrasicaline ( hope I spelled that right) . Oxytetrasicaline is a very powerful wide spectrum biotic. I use to use the injectable. The place I went to didn't have it. They had the powder you put in the drinking water. One bag treats 2 gallons of water. So two and a half bags will do a 5 gallon bucket. I hope this helps some of you new guys. Any of the more experience cockers use a different biotic for this same perpose ? Irishmuffs