The Twilight Zone’s “The Hunt” Shows The Importance Of A Man’s Dog

The Hunt is a Twilight Zone episode from 1963. It is about an old man named Hyder Simpson and his old hound dog, Rip.

The episode opens up with Hyder Simpson returning home to his wife, Rachel. They live in the uncharted wilds of 19th century America.

He comes in for dinner, with his wife having made some sort of stew for them to eat. Hyder brings Rip in the house with him. Rachel clearly has a level of rueful disdain for the old hound. She tolerates him letting Rip sit beside them at at the supper table.

As Rachel feeds some stew onto a plate for Hyder, with him flirting with her.

“Say, when was a last night a woman like you been kissed? ”

She smirks and rebuffs him lightly as he flirts with her. As the scene progresses to them eating at the supper table, it becomes very clear that they have a close, loving relationship. They discuss being married for over 50 years and how much they love and care for each other.

Hyder tells Rachel that he and Rip will be going coon-hunting that night. Rachel is clearly distraught, citing omens she has witnessed over the past few days that Hyder shouldn’t go coon-hunting that night. Hyder treats her nervous worry as the superstitions of an old woman.

Hyder and Rip do go coon-hunting on that evening. Rip trees a raccoon and Hyder, at first, says to Rip you didn’t tree a raccoon. Rip starts to run along a stand of trees and they find the raccoon has run over several branches to a branch over the river.  Rip instinctively jumps in after the coon and Hyder yells out, “You’ll drown yourself doing that, Rip!” Hyder jumps in after Rip in order to save him.


They both awake the next day by the river, with Hyder thinking he fell asleep while tracking that raRccoon down. The two companions walk back to Hyder’s property and find two of Hyder’s neighbors digging a grave-shaped hole on his properFty. He greets them, but they don’t respond. He then threatens to leave his property with his gun and they still don’t respond. Hyder calms down when the men mention they are burying a dog. Hyder sympathizes with their silence, as he thinks they are just too heartbroken to talk.

He returns home to find his wife dressed in all black, with a black hat with a veil. Hyder then sees the local pastor approach his wife, saying that even though Hyder wasn’t a religious man, he deserves a Christian burial. As Hyder protests—with nobody noticing him—Hyder slowly realizes that he and Rip might be dead.

As his wife sobs in the pastor’s arms, he tries to bargain with the situation and tell his wife this is nothing but a bad dream. He sees a coffin taken out of his bedroom and he wonders aloud, “Who do you have in that box?”

As they walk to the cemetary, Hyder encounters an unfamiliar fence that prevents him from walking in. They follow the fence a ways, thinking he will eventually find a gate. He does and a man behind the gate approaches them.

The man greets the two, asks for Hyder’s name and asks him how he died. Hyder has to confront that he drowned in the river the previous night. The man says that beyond the hill is the Elysian Fields. Hyder asks the man if he is Saint Peter, and the man coyly says he does man the gate.

When Hyder tries to enter the gate, Rip growls, grinds his paws into the dirt and refuses to cross the threshold. Hyder refuses to enter a place that is “too high-falutin” for Rip. The man and Hyder argue for a time and Hyder decides to not enter Heaven without his dog.

They continue to walk along Eternity Road for a spell, with Hyder musing on what sort of place would not allow dogs in and not allow men to coon hunt with their dogs.


Hyder sits down and after a time, a man clad in a plaid shirt and overalls greets Hyder, sits down and states it’s time to move on to heaven. Hyder states that he already told a man that he wouldn’t go into heaven without his dog. The man looks at with a bit of apprehension and asks Hyder if he got mixed with that man. Hyder says no, as it would be a hell of a place with no dogs.

The man responds that Hyder would not be too far wrong with that assessment, as he tells Hyder he avoided entering the gates of Hell. Hyder asks why Hell would refuse to allow a dog in. The man—who by now is clearly an angel—tells him: “You see Mr. Simpson, a man—he’ll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can’t fool a dog!

The episode wraps up with Hyder walking with the angel towards a gate to Heaven, waxing about how he is looking forward to coon hunting. When they reach the gate, Hyder asks about his wife, Rachel. He is worried about Rachel getting past the gates of Hell. The angel assures him that Rachel will have no problem avoiding the lure of Hell and will be along shortly.

Serling ends the episode with this narration:

Travelers to unknown regions would be well-advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once – in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.

On one hand, this episode can be read as how Heaven—or any version of the beauty of eternal life—hinges on how you view life. To Hyder, Heaven was raccoon hunting, square dancing, and spending time with his wife. To another man, Heaven could be working on Wall Street and having a robust urban lifestyle. In this vein, a man’s values and morality—which leads to a virtuous lifestyle—also leads to an afterlife that is framed around those lived experiences. The virtuous farmer lives on in the fields, the virtuous businessman lives on in a shop.

That, however, isn’t the main theme of the episode; devotion to loved ones is the primary theme.

the hunt ryder wife

Hyder has a great level of respect towards his wife and is completely devoted to her. The same is true of Hyder’s wife and her love towards Hyder. While this dynamic is secondary to Hyder’s relationship with his dog, it is an important theme in the episode. When Hyder dies, it is his wife’s impassioned devotion towards him that causes Hyder to realize that he has passed on from the living. When Hyder finally meets the heavenly angel at the end, the angel remarks his wife will be along shortly, implying that her devotion to him will compel her soul to pass on to the afterlife.

His relationship with his wife recalls a time past. A time when men and women truly loved one another and had a level of devotion and respect that is completely foreign in modern times. As we see at the exposition of the episode, they have clearly defined roles (gender roles) and they are perfectly fine and content with that. They clearly live in technologically primitive times, but have a level of happiness and contentment that is unknowable in the age of omnipresent media and familial collapse.

Still, the most striking devotion in the episode is Hyder to his dog. Hyder clearly has a great level of respect for dogs, given his commentary to the men digging a grave on his property. Hyder trusted Rip with his life.

What I think Hyder valued most about Rip’s devotion was how pure it was, as was Hyder’s to Rip. Rip faithfully followed wherever Hyder wandered and was fiercely protective of Hyder when confronted with the evils of Hell. Hyder returned this devotion with a devotion of his own—he followed Rip after the coon simply because he trusted Rip’s instincts; Hyder refused to enter the gates of Hell because of the demon’s refusal to allow Rip across the threshold.

As the episode highlights, a relationship between a man and his dog can be a thing of beauty. Dogs are simple creatures: faithful, devoted, and protective. Dogs can fill the voids the modern world forces wide. Loyal to a fault and appreciative of their owners, dogs are the the perfect antidote to the modern world filled to the brim with the ungrateful, the disloyal and the covetous. While dogs have always been great companions in many ways, dogs are loyal in a world full of disloyal women and appreciative in a world all to often dismissive of men.

Especially in Hyder’s isolated and dangerous world on the frontier, it wasn’t just the love and devotion of his wife that gave his life meaning, but also his beloved dog. It can be tough to relate to in the modern world of urban sprawl, social media, and the teeming multiplicity of people, but Hyder lived in a tough, unforgiving world filled with few people. A dog wasn’t just a companion, but also a beloved member of the family—this is seen with Hyder’s insistence that Rip sit at the table with him and his wife, as Rip was just as fit to break bread at the dinner table as any human family member.

While we are not confronted with the isolated frontier lifestyle—filled with primitive technology and social isolation—we are faced with new problems. We are more socially connected than ever before, yet still feel isolated. All the technology in the world can’t replace the substantive relationships we social creatures so deeply crave with each other.

dog (1)

All that notwithstanding, the simple love between a man and his dog is more than enough to speak to the power of the relationship. As Hyder ambled down Eternity Road, he was purely content to spend eternity with no more than his dog’s companionship. That simple fact shows the extraordinary relationship that a man can have with a dog. Dogs do not judge, dogs do not discriminate, nor do they take life for granted—those are all human faults and foibles. With the vagaries of human fickleness absent, a man can truly a love something that will love him back unconditionally.

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78 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone’s “The Hunt” Shows The Importance Of A Man’s Dog”

      1. This is a comment on the society we live in now. Illiterate (Where the Red Fern Grows) and always seeking to be offended and outraged.

  1. It should be noted that, much like women, you only get out of a dog what you put into it. If you aren’t willing to make the effort (and the sacrifices) to train a dog and maintain strict rules and boundaries, that dog is going to come back and bite you in the face one day.
    I have an 8 month old pup at home being trained up into a bird dog. Most days I do 3 miles of off leash training/exercise followed by work at home. At a minimum that is a two hour commitment a day. Most people/most dogowners are not willing to make that sort of sacrifice – hence all the shitty dogs in this world.

    1. Dogs, much like women, are largely products of the environments they are raised in. Trouble is, an individual man can’t control the environment his woman.

      1. Exactly, thus we get stuck with a bunch of Ms. No-Daddy’s who as a result have no clue how to treat or respect a man. It’s funny how they love saying that you can tell how a man treats women by his relationship with his mother, well the reverse (or lack thereof!) is even more true, a hundred-fold!

      2. Truth. That’s why one shouldn’t pull the Captain Save-a-ho trick of getting a pound puppy. You are cleaning up somebody else’s irresponsible mess. Get a pup at 8 weeks when they are developmentally ready and spend time bonding with that dog.

        1. Bill Burr has a hilarious bit on that: “why should I spring a dog thats been doing hard time?”

        2. I took a 3 year old dog from the pound once, I was told he was turned for digging holes in the yard. I had him for 7 more years, and he never dug a hole my yard a single time, some one was just chickenshit to him. The funny part is, he had enough sense to hate women and girls.

      1. I remember a dog I once had, the first time I took her shooting we had a great time running around and having fun. Every so often I would stop and let her smell the gun, I wanted her to associate that smell with fun. It worked a little too well, it got to the point that whenever I picked up the gun, the dog would run to the front door and try to get in the truck.

      2. The dog was bought to be partners with my granddaddy’s 1926 Winchester Model 12 if that’s what you mean. Although I am looking into a 410 or even a 20 gauge because a 12 is a lot of gun for smaller birds.

        1. Yeah I imagine a 12 leaves you with shredded bird Peking Duck style. I would love to go bird hunting but it is difficult in the UK.

    2. Usually people like that new puppy smell. It’s kind of like young single mothers with a baby. Everyone gathers around and coos and blow kisses. It’s great in the beginning, however, once it starts to cry, shit, piss and needs to be feed and cared for that new puppy/baby smell wears off quick. The dog ends up in the backyard tied to the fence barking all day and the kid is in the crib crying while mommy goes and finds another cock to ride.

    3. “It should be noted that, much like women, you only get out of a dog what you put into it. If you aren’t willing to make the effort (and the sacrifices) to train a dog and maintain strict rules and boundaries, that dog is going to come back and bite you in the face one day”
      The difference though, that a man can put boundries on his dog. He cannot with a female; society has removed any and all restrictions on human females while inversely putting major restrictions on men.

  2. Yep. And a dog won’t lie to you, manipulate you, give you ultimatums, tell you that you aren’t as good as a previous schmuck, abandon you for some perceived bullshit bigger-better-deal, call cops or lawyers on you… Must I go on?

    1. Compare the cat: beloved creature of twisted and single women everywhere, will only appreciate you when you have something to offer it, will happily wander from house to house taking food where it wants, and demands you show it affection while it remains phlegmatic.

      1. I have to say, one of our cats did save my father’s life. My father, who was elderly, had fallen unconscious from some sort of of mild heart attack–not enough to kill him in and of itself, but he did go into an arrhythmia that would have killed him had I not gotten him to the hospital in the nick of time–anyway, of the cats that my mom kept, the Old, Wise One put it together that I could help, and he came and got me from where I was, in another part of the house, unaware that my father was in distress. Basically he showed up and started acting agitated, trying to get me to follow him, etc. I thought to myself, “That’s the smart one; I’d better go check this out”, and he led me to my dad, and off to the hospital we went.
        So I guess what I’m saying is, “NACALT — Not All Cats Are Like That”. *grins*
        Of course, he was a male cat, so there’s that….
        À bientôt,

        1. Thank you sir, cats are the most wonderful things ever made, they are natures masterpiece.
          It saddens me how the so called enlightened people here. insist on abusing them.
          Cats are loving, loyal, social animals, i could go own for a long time about how good they have been to me, but I will just tell a joke.
          What is the difference between a cat and a woman ?
          One is a spoiled, arrogant, conniving, pain the ass that is only friendly when it wants something,
          The other shits in a box.

      2. Honestly, I’d limit that to female cats- my old one was bitchy and prone to biting… my de-balled male cat is awesome 🙂

    2. Ah, my coonhound tries to manipulate, guilt and control me every day. I love her for that and indulge her little games that mean so much to her. She falls asleep at my feet every night and never strays. Not such a bad life, heh?

      1. Sure, if you like having a stinking box of shit inside your house.
        I have cats and had a dog. There’s something to be said for *not* having a box of shit in your house. Everything has an up and down side. Besides the cats are about as loyal as a woman, and only want attention on their terms most of the time.

        1. Actually my cat goes to the public gardens next door and secrets his shit in the flower beds. What a good cat.
          Ghost I know you’re undercover cat lover, don’t try to hide it!

    3. Good points made. I have a colleague whose a shrink. He tells his male clients that if they want loyalty they should get a dog. A dog will be just as happy to be with you even though you are both scrounging for a meal out of a dumpster, then if he was eating a nice prepared dinner in a posh apartment. A human female will BBD your ass in a second.

  3. A few typos. Its Hyder, not Ryder. And it was the 1900s, not 1700s. For an article that is not time relevant, couldve done better copy editing.

  4. I want a dog. I like the stereotypical labs and retrievers, but theyre too common. Coon hounds look cool.

    1. Best I can tell from the stills, Rip is what we call a Walker hound here in the South. I had a Blue Tick Coon Hound once, they need a lot of room & exercise…they like to run, trail & sound; not appropriate for the city, an excellent companion for rural distance runners.

    2. check out the AMERICAN bulldog; looks how the english bulldog was before they ruined the line (a lot taller, more ornery looking, muscular).

      1. looks like Frog from MacGyver, stubborn as hell. Thats probably as small as I could accept. I like bigger dogs, or, you know, dogs.

    3. Hounds are noisy. Really noisy. If you’re out in the country though, quite a good, loyal and decent dog.

  5. The most horribly beta thing I did was find a “better home” for my dog because my then wife didn’t like the dog.
    I miss the dog.

    1. My ex wife told me one time I had to get rid of my cat, I told her that he had more right to be in my house than she did. He had been there longer and treated me better.

      1. Why is your ex telling you what to do? She lost that right when she divorced you. More to the point, what is she doing in your house? ;-P

        1. This was long time ago, before she became an ex. She is not in my house, except for the time she came over and I made use of her for a pack of cigarettes, lol. She is an EX wife for some very good reasons.
          I love your screen name, very cool .

        2. Thank you Bill
          I was kidding about your ex. Sounds like you made the right choice in that situation.

    2. One of my fiance’s and I broke up, I promptly got a new place and started moving out over the course of two days. As I was moving the last of my stuff I casually asked where our dog was because I expected to be taking him (she didnt give a shit about the dog). She looked at me as plain as could be and said well since you didn’t specify that you wanted him I dropped him off at the pound today. I said to her are you crazy, why would you do that. I jumped in my car and drove to the pound. I explained that my dog was inside. They walked me back and there he was in a pen. He started barking so they took him and I outside and he listened to my commands. They said okay, it was an improper impoundment and gave him back. The look on the dogs face driving to my new place and him sticking his head out the window with that big ol doggie smile….good memory. Throughout my life I’ve seen women display serious lack of emotion and downright cruelty. Later I asked her what if they put him down, and she just said” not my problem”

  6. I don’t remember that episode but it’s true to the core. If there is an afterlife I hope I can spend it with the dogs I’ve known and owned.

  7. This episode of TWZ is formative. Taught me more about the afterlife than any pastor, priest or church service.

      1. They live at their flat; I live at my house, which is how it’s going to be for the time being (they want to move in but have plenty of time left on their lease, which is fine by me.) Aside from some family obligations, they will have a lot of free time over the holidays, as will I, so I expect to spend 1.5-2 weeks with them, on and off (literally and figuratively). I told them they were on “temp to perm” 😉
        À bientôt,

        1. Nice. After reading your comments from a week or two ago and thinking back on my past experiences (which I briefly mentioned),I’ve been contemplating attempting it again. It’s a very precarious situation to be in. Best of luck with you. Enjoy your holidays.

        2. I hope it works out for you. My view in this is, it’s fun while it lasts. So not precarious. If I (and they–of course we already know how they feel) decide to make it permanent, then they can move in. Until then, I have no plans to give up the dancer and other miscellaneous pussy. *shrugs* Meanwhile, another girl I used to bang reached out to me tonight by email. She moved away for work, but misses my presence in her heart and loins (I’m assuming the latter, anyway). So life has gotten more, um, hectic. I’m clearly suffering. 😀
          Happy holidays to you also.

  8. Great episode. Anyone that enjoys “The Hunt” will surely enjoy the film “Hud”. They have similar themes.

  9. I remember this episode well. It was fantastic and I really liked your analysis. It’s hard to imagine the loving families pre-1960s insanity.

  10. Oh man, that hurts. I remember that show. I got divorced recently and she took the dog. Ain’t seen him in more than 3 months. Likely never will again. He’s a big ol’ Yorkie (13 pounds!) named Wally. A veritable wolf among his kind. Brilliant at chasing groundhogs back into their holes. God, I miss that dog. I’d like to think he misses me. Wife won’t ever take him down by the river, she’ll keep him on the sidewalk rest of his life. This act of meanness alone is enough for me to regret forever the invention of women’s suffrage.

    1. I lost my schnauzer. I’m sorry for you loss. My friends and I joke about kidnapping him back but he’s probably been brow beaten and brainwashed by now.

      1. Sorry dude. I don’t think a dog can be brainwashed though, so you’re all good there. Ever see those videos of soldiers returning home to their dogs? They remember us well. I feel sorry for them when the owner is gone. They are pack animals and are uneasy when a member is gone. Wives should share custody of dogs, if the state really cared about animal welfare.

        1. Very good point. Those videos of dogs greeting their owners are always uplifting to watch. I would love to see shared custody of dogs, but doubt that will ever happened. Anecdotal, but I’ve noticed that women who hate the dog will insist on keeping them after the breakup. Have you noticed that too?

        2. I’m a man, so I have to be fair and even handed. Gotta say my ex does indeed love the dog. But my ex is a woman – which is to say she is happy in the knowledge that she causes me pain by withholding from me something I love.
          So yes, it makes perfect sense that a woman would keep a dog she hated, if for no other reason to cause a man pain.

  11. Now I usually admire 2Wycked’s writing, but I cannot share in his love of dogs. The fact is that dogs are the new cats for single ladies, because they are scared of the “cat lady” stereotype. The obsession crazy single ladies have with their dogs ruins it all for me.

    1. Why do you define yourself by what women like or dislike. A loyal good dog will be a loyal good dog to you whether women find dogs au courant or not on any given day.

      1. Yeah, I knew that comment was coming. I’m just voicing my feelings. It seems that an obsessive attachment/doting to animals is like some sign of loneliness. Anthropomorphization of animals seems especially troublesome to me (see
        It is, therefore, no surprise that American females are nuts about their pets.
        I prefer to keep relationships with animals businesslike. Dogs should be well-trained, and obedient. It is not a substitute for a friend; it does not have a human mind; it is not a “person,” it is an animal.

  12. Cats, dogs, ferrets, birds, snakes, monitor lizards, tiger sharks, velociraptors… ANYTHING that doesn’t talk is a better option to have around than a woman!
    Especially my two hands – they don’t cost any money, only drain as much time and energy as I want them to, and NEVER say “No!”.

  13. Having dogs reminds me daily about enjoying the simple honest pleasures of life. Keeps everything else in perspective.
    I can’t tell you how many times girlfriends have been jealous of the time spent with dogs. Keeps the girlfriends in line, they have to via for your attention. Of course so does flirting with other women right in front of them. Same concept.

  14. I refuse to be a dog man but this paragraph was good one;
    “On one hand, this episode can be read as how Heaven—or any version of the beauty of eternal life—hinges on how you view life. To Hyder, Heaven was raccoon hunting, square dancing, and spending time with his wife. To another man, Heaven could be working on Wall Street and having a robust urban lifestyle. In this vein, a man’s values and morality—which leads to a virtuous lifestyle—also leads to an afterlife that is framed around those lived experiences. The virtuous farmer lives on in the
    fields, the virtuous businessman lives on in a shop.On one hand, this episode can be read as how Heaven—or any version of
    the beauty of eternal life—hinges on how you view life. To Hyder, Heaven was raccoon hunting, square dancing, and spending time with his wife. To another man, Heaven could be working on Wall Street and having a robust urban lifestyle. In this vein, a man’s values and morality—which leads to a virtuous lifestyle—also leads to an afterlife that is framed around those lived experiences. The virtuous farmer lives on in the fields, the virtuous businessman lives on in a shop.”
    And don’t forget those same attachments can create a hell in the after life for the non-virtuous man. Anyway, point is to liberate ourselves from these attachments and thus liberate ourselves from both heaven and hell. To end the cycle of rebirth.

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