Barking Up The Right Tree – Full Cry

     Happy February to all! By the time you read this, Christmas and the New Year will be behind us. Here’s hoping 2013 will be much better for everybody.
My friend Mark Jordan and I talked a little today. Mark has been very busy this year doing work for the Bentonville Police Department. He told me he had some good luck deer hunting and he was bringing me some deer meat. He always brings me meat or sweet potatoes. I feel a little guilty not being able to return the favor yet anyway. Mark’s squirrel dog is coming along well. He’s a good guy and a credit to law enforcement. I’m proud to have him as a friend.
Another good friend is Mike Wedgewood who transferred from here to Punta Gorde, FL. He will serve there as a deputy sheriff — the same position as he did here for several years. He is well satisfied with his transfer. I hate it that he moved but the pay is better and that means a  lot this day and time. Mike and his wife Nancy have been good friends for years. We will miss you guys. Good luck, Mike. You and Mark have a very dangerous job. Both of you be very careful.
My brother Gene McCoy and sister-in-law Pat have been fishing the Laramie River and Gene was showing Pat how to run a Rapala and she caught a two pound walleye. It was Pat’s first time to plug fish. Gene also picked up a two pounder and he said she caught the fever. The reason she had not plug fished before was that she didn’t want to lose the plugs. Ha, ha.
My sister-in-law Pat sings Western music and plays the guitar. She has over a half a dozen songs on CD that she has written. She entertains at nursing homes in Wheatland and Torrington, both in Wyoming. She sings and plays very well. She sent me her CD. Thanks, Pat. You are sounding good. Keep up the good work.
Another friend Ivan Kirkpatrick, Cassville, MO wrote a good lengthy letter and sent some good pictures of himself and his favorite dogs. Ivan lives in the mountains and loves it. I like hunting in the mountains also — that’s where the game is. You probably remember a few months back I sent a picture that Ivan sent me. It was of his mailbox blown all to the devil. Whoever did this is very mean people. I figure the readers would see just how mean some people can be. I will quote some of Ivan’s letter.
“Hello, Mr. McCoy! Greetings from the mountains. I hope this letter finds everyone at your house well and in good health. You asked of photos of my dogs. You printed that my dog’s name was Eh. His name is Eli. I thought that since he came from an Amish breeder I would give him an Amish name. I will end this letter now. I have enclosed a photo or two. Take care, Ivan. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Thanks, Ivan, for correcting me on your dog’s name. I do make mistakes and the readers know that just by reading “Barking Up the Right Tree” for almost 30 years or better. As I promised at the beginnings of the last column, I would try hard to do better I’m like people I do make mistakes. Ivan’s dog’s name is Eli.
Ivan has caught more coon this year than last year. He mentioned that the armadillos seem to be more plentiful. He thinks that they must have had three litters. He said the coon must to have moved nearer to the lake. He also noticed some wild hog sign. They split his Plott hound’s belly open a few years back.
I’m sending a picture of Ivan and his dog, Eli. Eli is what I call a combination-hunting dog. That is the kind of dog a person needs especially in the mountains. I think by just looking at him that he can do it all. That’s my opinion if it is worth anything.
Thanks for the news, Ivan, and the pictures. I have picked out the one with you and your dog Eli together for the readers to see. The best of luck to you and your dogs.
Another friend Kirby Bell dropped by and we visited while sitting on his pickup bed tailgate. He had just sold a big brown goat that he had. It could stand flat footed and looked over a five strand barbed wire fence. Kirby knows all about goats and I know nothing. I can image though that it could be a good hobby.
He looked over my hideout and thought it to be pretty good. It didn’t take him very long because it’s awful small. He asked for a picture of my Red mule. I didn’t have one handy but will hunt one up for him.
This reminds me of a story I wrote several years ago.
The Birtchfield Place and The Fight with Billy Goat
It was the year 1943 when my folks and I moved from our neat Cedar Bluff cabin to a place they called the Birtchfield place. This was about one mile south of Clifty, AR. My brother Lewis Gene was born that year. I was six years old. The house was longer in length than the Cedar Bluff home but it was also made out of oak lumber. I remember it set up on wooden tree blocks about three feet off the ground. It was located at the end of a long ridge. This is the year I started hunting with my father. We hunted feral hog and goats. We also hunted coon, possum and squirrel. I sure had a lot of fun that year.
I remember a few things very well and one was running down a steep hill path to the spring. The roots from the trees stuck out into the path and me being small I had to jump over each one. Well, under one of the roots lay a copperhead and as I jumped over it, the snake stuck, missed me but got its fangs caught in my pant leg. I remember running, crying and every jump I made while running that old copperhead was wrapping around my legs. It scared me half to death and I don’t know what happened to the snake but I might have killed it just by the beating it took before the fangs came loose from my pants. Boy, what an experience!
This was the year that I picked enough strawberries at five cents per quart to buy me a new pair of overalls,  a shirt and a pair of lace up ankle high leather shoes. Boy, was I proud! We hunted mushrooms in the early spring, picked strawberries for Charlie Birtchfield to the north of us. We also picked wild blackberries and huckleberries for canning. We had to can enough for winter and make enough money picking strawberries, tomatoes and green beans to buy clothes.
In the winter of that year of 1943, I started hunting with my dad. I sure spent some cold nights with him. We didn’t have good clothes and me being only six years old it was really cold but I wouldn’t let myself quit. We used toe-sacks to wrap around our shoes and legs. I took to night hunting like a duck takes to water. Just treeing an old possum was a real thrill for me. I remember sitting watching dad skin possums. I would think, “Boy, I bet that really hurts that possum.” I guess because he had just been killed I thought he hadn’t been dead long enough to keep it from hurting him. We kept some of the coon meat for eating and sold all of the fur. No matter how small a possum was we kept the hide. We hunted with an old kerosene lantern and on the nice nights I carried some of the skins. When the dogs treed, dad would build up a fire and then walk around the tree holding the lantern at a slant to spot the eyes. Coon were not plentiful then but we caught one every once in awhile. We had stretching boards and they were made out of wide long oak shingles. Dad was good at splitting the boards and forming the board just right. He would tell me “Now, these boards have to be real thin so that the hide will look bigger for the buyer and we’ll get more money for them.” Dad was a trapper so the fur that I saw hanging were possum, coon, red and gray fox, mink and beaver. Those were sure the good times for hunting.
That year I learned some about shooting. Dad had a 12 gauge single barrel shotgun and I wanted to shoot it bad. Dad showed me how to draw a bead and had me shoot at an old tea kettle about 25 feet away. I was unaware that the shotgun kicked backwards almost as hard as it shot forward especially for someone six years old. I pulled the trigger and when I came to my senses, I had been knocked backwards and I was lying flat on my back and probably counting the stars. I’m not talking about in the sky either. This kept me from not wanting to shoot the shotgun for several years. I did find out what damage a shotgun can do if you were on the receiving end of the blast. I feel that it was a lot more than just a lesson from my dad. He wanted me to know how dangerous a gun can be.
Now back to the wild goats. It really bothered me when they would butcher. The neighbor told dad that the meat would be better to eat if the goat was hung up by the hindlegs and the throat was cut to bleed out. That was what he and dad would do and it really got to me. I would run and hide in the brush and hold my hands over my ears.
We had a big, old mean billy goat that ran loose and that goat would run around and watch and if someone turned their back that goat would butt them. It had big horns and I was really scared of that goat. One day I told mom and dad at the dinner table I could whip that goat. I guess I got on dad’s nerves because he said “All right after dinner,” (that was the noon meal to us). “I will just let you fight him.” I started having second thoughts but he held me to it and I couldn’t back out. He gave me a piece of iron off an old broken horse hame and told me. “Go get him.” Well, I slid out of the front door with my piece of iron and walked slowly towards the goat. The goat seemed to be a lot bigger now and as I got closer and closer, his eyes got bigger and bigger and he was looking directly into my eyes. He lowered his head and started his charge. I threw down my piece of iron and gave him a run for his money. Dad caught me in midair and jerked me on into the house. I wasn’t too proud to find out that I wasn’t as brave as I thought I was, but it was sure a good feeling to know that I got away. The end.
Here is something that might be of interest to several deer hunters in Arkansas. Arkansas Wildlife Code 05.26. It is unlawful to import, transport or possess in Arkansas any portion other than bonus meat from a cervid carcass originating from any area proclaimed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to have an increase risk of CWD or taken from a captive wildlife facility or (outside of Arkansas.)
1. Antlers attached to clean skull plates or cleaned skulls where no tissue is attached to the skull.
2. Cleaned teeth.
3. Finished taxidermy and antlers products.
4. Hide and tanned products.
5. Deer or elk harvested in commercial wildlife hunting resorts in Arkansas providing that CWD sample is collected.
I read this in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette Sunday 9, December 2012. I believe some might not know about Code 05.26.
Wild hog in Arkansas is getting thicker all the time. They have been seen in all counties. They are digging up the forest and grazing lands of farms and ranches. Deer, elk and turkey are having to compete for food. I hear that Savage arms offer a special hog-hunting rifle and ammunition manufacturers are making special hog loads. The wild hog represents some great hunting opportunities. The Game and Fish wants to get rid of them and so does the forestry service. I do understand the situation. Several hogs were planted years ago and now it costs thousands of dollars each year to try to manage the damage. I will kill every one that I see while I am hunting. They look like the devil but most are good eating. I have eaten some of six different hogs and the ones I have taken were delicious.
Reid Berch of Enola killed a 450 pound wild boar November 11, 2012. Reid is 15 years old. You did a great job, Reid. Hunters, keep your eyes open. They are not a dumb animal. You’ll be lucky if you get one.
Three more states adopt the “Right to Hunt” constitution amendments. Hunters in Idaho, Kentucky and Nebraska should be proud that their states have adopted measures to protect the hunters and sportsmen by guaranteeing those rights in their state constitution. These three states joined the ranks of many other states that have adopted these critical constitutional amendments. I hope all states throughout this country join in together which will protect sportsmen and hunters from now on.
My cowboy and cowgirl friends Joe and Lorraine Meurer, Kerrville, TX, wrote and sent a nice cowboy Christmas card as they have done for many years. I will quote a portion of their letter.
“Dear Max, it has been some time since we have heard from you and since you have not heard from us, guess as we get older time seems to hurry by much too fast.
“We have had three nights and days of really cold weather. I guess you all have had the same. My brother lives in Oklahoma and he said they were expecting cold weather, too. What we really need is rain, lots of rain.
“Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.” Joe and Lorraine.
Thanks for your letter and the great cowboy Christmas card. Joe, keep on hunting squirrels and Lorraine, keep on taking care of Joe. Cook him up a big skillet of squirrel and squirrel gravy. Ha, ha. Joe, even if you have to sit on a log and let them come to you. The rain will come soon. Thanks for the years of friendship.
Another letter comes from the Duvalls, Torrington, WY and a picture of Amy, Michael and Ashley holding their new dog, PR McCoy’s Little Joe, Bluetick. I’m not sure but Little Joe may get spoiled with all that attention. Ha, ha. Thanks and happy hunting. I hope you all had a nice Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for the nice letter and picture.
I have been wondering about him and I want to ask a question. Do any of you readers know of a boarder collie that trees squirrels? I like the boarder collie breed and I have wondered about that for several years. I know they have the brains to do that. Drop me a line if you know anything about these fine dogs. I may get me one some day.
Yesterday my wife Donna and I spent the day squirrel hunting and cutting a Christmas tree. We had a good time. Then we stopped on our way home and had dinner still wearing our hunting clothes. I guess people thought we were working on the farm. Ha, ha. We’ve always had fun squirrel hunting together. She has hunted with me for over 40 years. She hunts with a Golden Boy Henry rifle. It’s a great gun and she’s proud of it. She can hit a squirrel in the head without any problem. The sights remind me of my 30-30 Winchester.
Many years I spent in law enforcement, I enjoyed most of the people. I did my best to serve the public no matter where I worked. I scored a 97% with my sidearm and was voted in by the people “Policeman of the Year 1967, 1968 and 1969. I gave up my job to make a better living for my family. One hundred dollars more a week helped me make the decision to change my occupation. It was very hard on my mind to do this. It was like giving up everything I liked best.
To this day, I miss law enforcement and think of it almost every day, so in my heart I am still a lawman. I am sending one of my pictures with this month’s column.
Let us not shift the blame from murderers to responsible gun owners. The gun saved my life, the gun is still protection for my family, friends and myself.
In closing, I wish the best of luck to all the readers of Full Cry, “Barking Up the Right Tree” and and many others. Thanks for reading. Happy New Year to all! I’ll see you next month.

By: Max McCoy Sr.