Oh about 6 or 7 years ago I went out to Hickory Hills Kennels. It was quite a drive for me, but his add was compelling. I went out after talking to Merle as he said he had just what I wanted. When I got there we talked a bit in front of his rusty World Hunt Trophy and then went to look at his hounds. I should have left then, every hound was standing is 2 to 4 inches of feces. He let me pick several hounds to run and I did, I watched them all and finally after about 2 hours picked a little red gyp. To be honest I felt it was almost a rescue. She was not in great condition but she ran much better than the others. He didnt want to get rid of her, but thats the one I wanted. I got back to his trophy room and he looked through a stack of about 50 papers and you could tell he was just trying to find something that was close.
When I went back to get the gyp out of the kennel there was one hound crapping out a bunch of worms. I pointed it out to Merle who said he would be on his normal worming routine in a few days. I almost left her, but she was a decent hound and I just didnt want to leave her. I took her home, she was sick for a week but I nursed her back to good health. She was a good jump dog and had decent hunt, but she was not quite up to the caliber of hounds I run. I gave her to a friend who gun hunts and he has had her ever since........she is a house dog and pet now. It made him and his family very happy. So as with every dark cloud you can find a silver lining.
That was quite some time ago, I never thought Merle would still be selling hounds.....his kennel was a disgrace and yes if you had to label something as a puppy mill this was it. He has no idea of what is breeding what and the hounds are very poorly cared for. This is not conjecture, this is from first hand observation. I was my choice to still purchase a hound from him. While it ended up great for that hound and my friend, I am as guilty as Merle for buying a hound from him and allowing him to profit from his "kennel".
I never looked at it like that then, but I see now that a guy like that stays in buisness because guys like me didnt have the sense to tell him to pound salt. But I have learned a lot from that day...........doesnt seem Merle has, but he has to have buyers to stay in buisness.