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Misadventures of a young coon hunter


I first posted this about five or six years ago. Got the story published twice as well. I was going through my documents tonight, saw it and decided to share it with all the new members.

Hope you like it.



I started hunting coons when I was 12. The farmer down the road was a coon hunter. I was just a kid up the road that helped out on the farms in the area.

The beginning of my coon hunting career started as many other hunters got started. That is, with the stories. Over the course of several years of baling hay, harvesting corn, and what ever else I heard the stories. The invitation was always there. My parents were the road block. They had heard that Walt was a fanatic coon hunter. Prone to cover miles and miles of woodland every time he and the dogs ventured out. My Grandfather, according to my Dad had passed at several chances to go coon hunting with Walt.

My parents finally gave in to my insistent pleading. Truth be told, they figured one time out would be the cure. Turned out it was the fever.

So it started, one 12 year old boy, army surplus pants, Cpo jacket, license, and a two cell flashlight. I was to be at Walt's at 6 sharp. He lived about a mile down the road so I walked down. On the way a truck passed me. It pulled into Walt's drive. I arrived and knocked on the door. Walt answered and told me to come in. There at the table sat another fella, about Walt's age. Turned out to be his brother Rich. Unknown to any of us, this would be the team for the next five years.

It was a cool October night. We hunted from the house. Down through Walt's pasture and into the woods. We had Walt's older dog, Mage. Ole Mage, I was to find out hated coons. The only thing he hated worse was a possum. It wasn't long before Mage hit a track. The steady almost timed bawls as he sorted out the track. Then the steady bawls as he started the trail. The chase continued for about fifteen minutes. In that fifteen minutes I learned about the chase. Not after the dog. After the lantern Walt had.

Walt moved through the woods swift and sure. Easy to do if your carrying the lantern. Try to follow where you can see and you get branches whipping back at your head! So Rich and I formed a quick friendship, back a ways. Out of range. It took a few weeks, but you really can get good night vision. Not about "seeing" more about shapes. The only real time Rich and I got benefit of that lantern was when we got to rock outcroppings, or in a briar patch. And of course bagging the coon.

The coon had treed in a oak tree. Of course hardly any of the leaves had fallen off of it. So we looked and looked and looked some more. Walt and Rich had five cell flashlights. They looked and looked. Walked around the tree, backed up, got closer, you name it they did it. I looked too. I had my trusty two cell flashlight. It was useless. But, I helped till it burnt in short order. The whole time Mage just howled at the tree. Rich finally had enough.

The weapon of choice was a Savage .410/.22 over-under. He loaded up a .410 and aimed for the top of the tree. No particular spot. Boom. The looking commenced again. Rich saw it first, and called me over. "See that eye", he said. "No". Rich knelt down, pulled me to the front of him so he was on the same level. Then he told me what to look for. I finally saw it. Just a tiny yellow / orange glint of light high up in the tree.

The Savage was reloaded with a .22 short HP. Rich took aim and fired. Thud. Mage got quite. Then started to bawl again. Rich reloaded. The coon had moved but finally looked down. The second shot landed with the same thud. This time you heard the coon falling through the branches. It hit the ground and Mage had him.

It never ceased to amaze me. And still does to this day. How that dog could tell head from tail. In the dark, coons still moving, maybe even another dog or two. Mage always came up with the coon by the throat. I can only remember once or twice when another dog beat him to it. He had attitude about those instances.

The fight was on. The coon was squalling. Mage had that low throaty growl going. And he was chewing and slinging that coon around like a rag doll. We let him have his fight. Then Walt stepped into the fray and grabbed the coon by the tail. I had the job of holding Mage back. Yeah I thought it was funny too.

Walt got the coon clear. Mage took a flying leap. The dog outweighed me by about forty pounds then, so I went along. Mage, the coon and I all came down together. Mage kept the coon and discarded me. I ended up on the ground on my back. To top it all off Mage decided to stand on me while he enjoyed his coon!

So the dog is growling and chewing. Walt is cursing up a storm. Rich is laughing his fool head off. Heck he even had his flashlight on to get a better view. I remember Walt cussing. Not at the dog, but Rich. Finally the coon was again retrieved and this time placed in the burlap sack Rich was holding for Walt. Mage was in come down mode. Making circles around the tree making sure that we in deed did have that coon. He sniffed my face as he passed by.

Walt was picking me up off the ground asking if I was ok. Rich was still laughing his fool head off. Once Walt had determined I was ok he preceded to join his brother in the family belly laugh. I was still trying to figure out what had happened.

Rich and Walt could hardly talk. This is the basic story they told..... over and over for years and years. Once the dog ride had ended about four feet above the ground. I had let go of the collar. Rich said I landed in the kneeling position. Mage having snatched his coon free fell to the ground and reeled around when he landed. What had caused me to fall to my back was him slinging the coon around and hitting me in the head with it.

Now you wouldn't think a little .22 could draw much blood out of a coon. The dog for all his fight almost never tore the hide at all. They bleed. That's exactly where I landed too. Right where the first fight happened. It looked like I had been in a bar fight.

Once things settled down... they settled down, we hunted some more. We treed a couple more but didn't take anymore. Hides weren't good yet.

I managed to get home and cleaned up before my parents saw the mess. As I laid in bed that night I thought to myself. I was repeatedly hit in the face by branches. Couldn't see where I was going most of the time. And to top it off ,taken a dog ride to the moon. Finally, I had been clobbered by a coon and landed in a slaughter house.

Yep I was hooked.


The season for coon hunting in Maryland always ran from mid -September to the end of January. When did this happen? I am currently <s>43</s> 48... you do the math.
 

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Some folks do not understand it, but there is a Sweet Melody to a Coon Hound (Don't matter what the breed)(I do not want any of my own, but still like to tag along with others I know who run Coon Hounds, Just to hear them run a trail) when on the track and when a coon is Treed!

I was able to tag along with my Late Uncle many of nights, Mom and Dad would Only let me go on Friday and Saturday Nights due to school...

My Uncle would run from 11 pm till 6 am sometimes if there were good tracks and trees...

I remember my Uncle's Coon Hounds being some Nasty dogs when tied up to the dog boxes, but when the gun came out and the Carbide lantern was Fired up, they seemed to mellow into loving puppies that were your Best Friend all night long but would work over a coon just like you posted!

And like you said, the tree limb and other stuff slapping you in the face in the dark while you tried to follow a guy holding a lantern...my Cousin left me learn for myself about that and it took me a few times of getting slapped in the face to learn to stay back and look closely in the dark for what was in front of me!

1 thing my Uncle always told me, Every time we went out..."DON'T Get between the Coon and the Dog when the coon comes out of the tree!"

Good Read!
 

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Good story Bluetick. It's funny how chance and circumstance molds us for the rest of our life. If it wasn't for the farmer down the street you may not be into Bluetick hounds and coons today. It's what makes somebody a Waterfowler or a Deer hunter or an upland bird hunter. You get exposed to it from someone early on and you like it so you continue in it.
 

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I went once when I was about eight with a neighbor kid and his dad. We got one that night. One of the best times I ever had. They moved away a couple weeks later and I never got to go again. I am 40 yrs old now and still remember it as one of the best hunting experiences ever.
 

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Great story. Coon hunted some in Tioga County, PA and Steuben County, NY, with my cousin and his mom's brother, both of whom had hounds. That was back in the late 60s. No way I could keep up with them hounds now, but it was fun back then.

My cousin kept black and tans, Uncle Buzzy prefered redbones. Them two haggled over which breed was the best, more than they ever did anything else. They were always more anxious to see whose dog got to the tree first, than they ever were about actually thumpin' the coon.



Chased coons, pups that got lost, helped pull porky quills and was always glad to get back to the farm and to bed, afterwards.

My favorite night, was the time a huge, wounded boar came down out of a hemlock head first. Would lose his grip and bounce off'n a few stubs, then catch himself. This was in a huge hemlock and we had the lights on him the entire way down.

Each time he'd slip, the dogs would go nuts, thinking he was finally comin' to the ground. When he'd catch himself again, they'd go to bawlin'. Likely took him about 20 minutes to hit the ground. Asked my cousin why he didn't just shoot him again, the rascal said because the dogs were havin' too much fun.
 
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