Joy All Stars was created to honor 12 houndsmen around the nation that have been around dogs and hunting their whole lives. They have a passion for not only the dogs they hunt with but the sport as well just as we do here at Joy. These men also have a history with Joy Dog Food that we want to spotlight as well. We picked these men based on their lifetime commitment to hunting; whether it be coon hunting, duck hunting, rabbit hunting, or any other animal. These men have dedicated their lives to hunting and the dogs they hunt with. We here at Joy Dog Food want to spotlight these men as the true pinnacles of the hunting community to show our support to the hunting world. We will be sharing a story each month about one of these men and their journey through life being a true houndsman and how they have earned the title of a Joy All Star.
Johnny Altman’s love for coon hunting began very early on in life. He fell in love with the sport at a very young age when he went hunting for the first time with his brother-in-law at only 7 years old. Back then, they didn’t have “high-tech” tracking systems; all they had was the hunter, a flashlight, gun, and a dog. The hunter let the dog loose and let the dog do exactly what it was bred to do. That’s what drew Johnny in, the power and drive in the dog to do whatever it could to tree the coon; all because that was its job. He also enjoyed the brotherhood of the hunting community; “I remember when we would have to go through deep creeks that I was too short to cross, so I was always lifted up on my brother-in-law’s shoulders and he carried me across the creek to make sure I was safe” he said. Between the power behind the dog and the brotherhood of the community, it didn’t take long for Johnny to fall in love with the sport.
Johnny hunted coons every chance he got. When he got older, he branched out and started hunting with new people and learning new techniques. He would go with whomever, wherever- he didn’t care, as long as he was hunting with a buddy and a hound. He would build relationships and a reputation for being a great hunter. It wasn’t long before people started to reach out to him and ask him to hunt and handle their dogs for competitions. This is how Johnny got involved with UKC hunts.
It didn’t take long for Johnny to get connected with the big names of the UKC world. He went to hunts all over making a name for himself and eventually people that were very well known in the UKC community started to notice his talent with a dog. They wanted him to handle their walker coonhounds. So, he handled the walkers throughout high school to make some extra money and save up to buy his own set of dogs. However, Johnny wasn’t interested in buying walkers. He wanted blue ticks. Eventually, after some time, Johnny won enough hunts he was able to purchase a few of his own blue tick hounds.
With Johnny owning his own dogs and hunting his own dogs, he became even more involved than before. One of his first dogs was named Cowboy. He was a great hound that could tree any raccoon he put his nose to. However, one day, Cowboy unexpectedly died, leaving Johnny with an empty space in his kennel and a hole in his heart. He searched for years and years to find a dog as great as Cowboy. No other dog could ever compare. One day, one of Johnny’s friends Loyd C. Morris called him and told him that his partner for his walker female Show Biz Liz was wanting out of the partnership and he wanted to know if Johnny was interested. Johnny came by and he had finally found a dog that he liked. So Johnny bought out the other partner of Show Biz Liz and started hunting her and winning competitions with her. After a few years, he would go on to buy the other half of the partnership, making Show Biz Liz his dog 100%.
Johnny dove deeper and deeper into competition coon hunting. He went to bigger hunts, traveled all over the U.S, and owned, bred, and handled dogs that had national championship titles, he even acquired his own training pen and started training the dogs as well as breeding them. He was able to do things and see places that he never would have been able to experience had it not been for getting so involved with coon hunting.
A year and a half or so ago, while talking with Steve Yandt, Steve had brought up Joy Dog Food and how he was feeding it to his dogs. Johnny mentioned that he used to feed it back in the day but he hadn’t for a long time. Steve then explained how Joy had a better formula and that Johnny had to try it with his hounds because it was working great with his. A few months later at Grand America, Johnny ran into our salesmen Chip Kohser and Ryan Rushing at their booth. They gave him a sample of the food and some brochures to take home with him. Johnny was instantly impressed with how well his hounds took to the food and how well they were performing on it. Their coats were shiny, their kennels clean, and their endurance and stamina were better than ever! He bought more and reached out to the owner about becoming a dealer. They kicked it off instantly forming a great friendship and partnership. Not only was Johnny impressed by the quality of the food, but the company and how much they cared about the hunting community and the sport of coon hunting.
“When I saw how much Wade and the rest of the company genuinely supported the hunting community and the sport, I was so impressed. It explained why the food was so ideal for hunting dogs. Their biggest priority is the dog’s well-being”– Johnny Altman