Barking up the right Tree : Full Cry

“Barking up the Right Tree” is one of the best ways I know of to get the news of what’s happening in my part of the world with some help from Full Cry. (Ha, ha.)
It’s dry around here; we need rain and I need hay for my mule Big Red. My two miniature pastures only produce enough for eight months of the year that leaves four months of the year to buy hay from someone nearby; that is if I’m lucky. This first cutting that I saw has a lot of weeds in it around close to where I live.
This morning my nephew Jeff Pollock, (Detective for the Rogers Police Department) was shot while checking a car that was sitting with the engine running at Lake Atlanta in Rogers, Arkansas. He got shot with a 357 magnum by a deranged person. The bullet missed his vest and went through his side. The shock of the bullet rolled him off a fifteen-foot embankment and into Lake Atlanta below. The person sped away but Jeff got three shots off with his 357 magnum at the car. They took him to the hospital to be patched up. I have known Jeff all of his life, Jeff almost lost his life this morning. He and I both belong to the Masonic Lodge. He’s on leave and they say that he will recover soon. He’s a good lawman and person. The person that thought he got away soon realized that he was surrounded by police that came from everywhere. He ran into two or more patrol cars smashing them up, but found himself closed in with no place to go. He was advised to put up his hands, and he did, but then he grabbed his gun and shot himself twice, taking his own life.
While attending the Laramie FBI Law Academy, I was advised by an FBI Agent Nemo to always be careful when stopping any car. In my mind I heard his words for years every time I stopped a car. I was lucky, but I was very careful. Jeff did it right, but the deranged person just stuck the gun out the window and fired backwards alongside of his car. I worked without a vest all my years, as I said, “Luck.”
Well, enough of that horn tooting for right now.
Arkansas lost another good musician April 19, 2012. The Arkansas native was Levon Helm. Helm wasn’t just a regular, he mainly played the drums, and they say he could even make you cry. Dick Clark mentioned that Helm gave tunes a soul, and Clark and Helm died within twenty-four hours of each other. “I personally think that music makes a big difference in our lives. Music is the key to happiness.”
A couple of my friends helped fill me in on some of the life of Levon Helm. Kirby Bell is one of them. Kirby lives in Springdale, AR. Kirby knew him and had Helm’s and his mother’s lives insured. Don Cope, another friend, of Bentonville, AR, knew him in school. He said that Helm was about three grades behind him. Don coached him in basketball.
He remembers Helm and his sister, Linda Moon, had their own band. They played fund raisers and churches all around the area and brought laughter and smiles to the crowds. Don said, “He was a cutup, laughing at everything and everyone’s stories. He loved life. He was the most popular in the band. It seemed like everyone came to see Levon. I understand that he could do the hambone perfect and dance in time at the same time. Helm tried his hand at working on oil rigs off the Louisiana coast, possibly picked some cotton on his dad’s farm when he was young. He became popular at Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. His father gave him a new shotgun but it burned in his father and mother’s home. Helm was very upset over his loss.
Helm was born May 26, 1940, in Phillips County in the town of Elaine, and grew up on his father and mother’s cotton farm near Marvell, AR. He loved the soil. He loved traveling medicine and minstrel shows with musicians more than raising cotton. His musical career started at the age of seventeen with the Ronnie Hawkins band called the Hawks. His name was Mark Levon Helm. Soon he dropped Mark and just went with Levon Helm.
Bob Dylan had invited him to join him in Woodstock to work on songs. Helm was introduced from folk music to electric rock’n’roll, then after that Helm and his band were headlining on their own tours and doing well.
Helm not only played drums, guitar, mandolin, banjo, electric bass, and harmonica; but he sung up a storm.
Some of Helm’s songs were The Weight, Take a Load off Fanny, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up on Cripple Creek, Ophelia, Rag Moma Rag and The Shape I’m In. Helm won a Grammy award for recent CD’s: Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt.
I’m sending a picture this month that is not real good, it was taken in 1955.The guitar player on the left is Thurlow Brown. The singer in the middle is Linda Moon, Helm’s sister and Helm himself on the right with the guitar. The guy on the left is unknown at this time. I have read and been told that Linda has a great voice and runs the Venetian Inn in Tontitown, AR, east of Springdale, AR. I have eaten there several times since 1963. It’s a great place to eat.
Helm won the tractor driving competition at the 1958 Four H Convention and he and his sister Linda won the talent contest. He loved to drive a tractor. There was a farmer near Levon’s home in Woodstock that would let him drive his tractor. He was like a priest with his gift of music.
Acting was natural for Helm; one movie was The Last Waltz, which became a documentary. Helm also had memorable rolls in a number of movies, playing Loretta Lynn’s father, Ted Webb, in Coal Minor’s Daughter, as well as Captain Jack Ridley in The Right Stuff.
Helm was definitely a Southern gentleman with a distinctive Arkansas twang. Levon Helm died of throat cancer at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Helm is survived by his wife Sandy and his daughter Amy and her husband Jay Collins and their two sons, Levon “Little Lee” Collins three and Hugh “Huey” Collins eight months. It’s my pleasure to toot a big horn for the famous, folk, rock’n’roll singer, plus and actor and musician, the one and only Mr. Levon Helm!
I appreciate Kirby Bell and Don Cope for helping me with the information on Helm. Kirby told me that he sold his rat terrier kennel and has no dogs left.
He said his goat farm is doing well and that he had an old nanny goat that had produced seventeen kids and going for more, he hopes she will make the record on kid goats ever born of one nanny in Arkansas. That is Kirby’s goal. I want to wish lots of luck to the nanny goat, (Ha, ha.)
Don and I are planning on a fishing trip in a few days.
I am sending in a picture taken by Pat Hopkins of Madi West, Sportsmen of the Week. She is on the left of the picture. She and Sam West, her brother, worked together to bag this big bird. They took him in the Ouachita National Forest near Hot Springs, AR. The big turkey weighted 20 pounds. It had a ten and a half inch beard and one-inch spurs. Madi and Sam’s parents are Jerry and Kim West of Jefferson County.
Congratulations Madi, I hope someday I’ll be lucky and get at least a turkey, (Ha, ha.)
Our squirrel season opened six days earlier than last year. I always get excited each year when that season opens. I usually start out still hunting with my 22 magnum and the scope. It’s a real challenge. It’s not how many I take, just getting out there in the big timber alone and away from the daily noise. I usually just take the gray ones. They, in my opinion, are more tender and better to eat. One squirrel makes six pieces, counting four legs and the back cut in half. Two squirrels will feed six to eight people easy; of course, you got to have other food to go with it. I like corn, fried potatoes, some brown beans and a big piece of cornbread; that’s food that goes good when you’re eating squirrel.
I’m busy putting a new back in my 14 foot riverboat. Someone had used a 3/4 inch plywood board untreated. I’m surprised it had held out all these years. I will be replacing it with a 1 1/2 by 10 1/2 treated pine lumber board.
I finished the back end of the boat this morning, and will head out to go squirrel hunting this evening. It’s 88 degrees, so the hunt will be a poor day for hunting. I don’t care I need to get away and be alone for a while.
I am now back from hunting, after walking over three hills and three hollers, and missing out on my dinner, I’m pretty tired. I saw about a couple of hills over about tree-400 yards a deer. I scoped the deer out but couldn’t tell if it had antlers or not. I could tell there were two ears but that’s all I could really make out. I stood still in my tracks and the deer came straight at me. It would disappear down in the hollers, but each time it would top the hill I could tell that a beeline was happening. Then the deer appeared on my side of the hill and it was plain in my scope that it was a nice size doe deer. I held the crosshairs on her chest as she walked within 40 feet, stopped and looked directly at me with head up high. “A perfect shot,” I thought. Then with one jump, it took her into the heavy thicket and she was gone.
It was a sweaty afternoon. I had to spray myself real well for ticks and chiggers before I entered the woods. The smell was in my nose continuously all evening. I noticed several deer tracks, and that the hawks were squirrel hunting also. I hear that a hawk will kill 65 squirrels per year on the average. I would say they have made a big dent where I was hunting.
I noticed signs of rabbits, groundhogs and armadillos along my way. I saw only one person and he was doing some hill climbing with bis jeep.
Just at dusk I could hear three deer snorting and blowing back in the timber a ways; and I heard five squirrels barking back in the distance too far to see. It was too late to shoot anyway. Now that is the truth of a typical hunt. I have lived long enough to expect these things, that’s just hunting. I treasure the day anyway; many people my age are not even able to go outside their homes. All in all it was a successful hunt.
My driving time from home to the hunting area and back was spent listening to songs recorded of me singing on CD’s. I’m always checking to analyze mistakes; this allows me to do a better job next time. There is always room for improvement. The doctor told me three years back that I would lose part of my voice in one year and wouldn’t be able to carry a tune. I set out as a hobby and to show the doctor up by making a total of twenty volumes made up of fourteen songs each before that happened. So far, it is two years past my deadline, I am on my seventeenth volume and still singing. I like to sing the old tear jerking songs most of all.
Larry Cook called me from West Virginia. He stated that he had not hunted coon since he was a boy but really loved the time when he did. We had a great visit. I appreciate hearing from Larry.
This is the year for the wild rabbits. They are thicker than ever before. I guess it’s the dry season we are having. We see six to eight at a time at our place. We are in a drought and the garden growers are in a heap of trouble. I have some gourds growing and two tomato plants. Oh yes, some radishes! I saw it coming and for once I was right.
When I first started this column I was worrying about the hay and wood that I had to get in for the winter. Well a few things have changed as I am writing this column. I now have twenty-one rick of wood cut. It took me three weeks to cut it and three weeks to get over my tiredness. The woodshed will not allow another stick of wood and I have one rick stacked on the ground.
I mentioned the hay but since then I have the hay in for the winter. Now these two items are far ahead of schedule. Usually I’m still wondering about when and where these two things are going to get done. I have to get four big bails of hay each year for four months haying for the mule. He can eat one bail per month.  December, January, February and March are the months that I have to make sure I have before winter starts.
The blackbirds and robins are fighting for the one who gets to take a bath first. We try to keep three gallons of water in the birdbath for them. They take their baths and then the little birds get their chance. They are fun to watch and seem to enjoy it very much also.
My dog Zipper is doing fine in her retirement. She’s getting up there in age, but she still keeps a sharp eye and good ears to let me know if humans or animals are getting close. I can lie in my bed and tell the difference. She has won several ribbons, trophies and some dog food on the bench through the years. Her bench show days are probably just faint memories in her mind. She’s a good dog and I will take care of her to the end. I forgot to say that she is a registered rat terrier and she is a good looking dog and proved it on the bench.
Yesterday most of our family was sitting in our back yard, Lena (daughter) was watering the mule, my (grandson) had his little shovel and the big wheelbarrow and was moving dirt and dumping it. My wife of 40 years, Donna,  was just sitting in her easy chair just resting, enjoying her retirement. I was looking over my finished work on the riverboat. Trevor my fourteen year old (grandson) was trying to get a black snake out of the tool shed by way of the BB gun or any other way it took to remove it.
Then all at once my rat terrier Zipper began baying under her doghouse. I hollered at Trevor to come as I thought Zipper had his black snack bayed under her doghouse. Trevor said, “No, I think she’s baying in her doghouse.”
I said, “Get where you can see and look in there.”
He began to holler out, “It is a big coon!” (Raccoon)
I thought, “Oh no!” Zipper lives in a chain link pen ten foot by ten foot with an automatic feeder and plenty of water continuously. We caught Zipper and held her back. The coon was mean and a cantankerous rascal and he let us know it. This pen is four feet high with poultry netting on top. Trevor and I had to stay bent over or squatted down to be there with Zipper and where the coon was held up in her doghouse. It was not easy for the old one almost 75 years old. The coon would not come out of the four by four doghouse. He stood his ground. Zipper got loose and went in after him, boy what a fight! This went on for about an hour; the coon was about three pounds heavier than Zipper that is my experienced guess anyway. The blood was flying and there was no stop in that rat terrier. Several times I had to pull her out, and she was give out and she would go get in her two and a half gallon drinking bucket and wash off. Then like a bullet she would zip by and tackle Mr. Coon right where it hurt him most by the throat.
Zipper refused to give up but both were give out and she was poked full of holes and had an open cut under her throat.
This coon had been feeding on a big mulberry tree on the east end of my property. I have never seen a mulberry tree that loaded with berries before. The coon I guess wasn’t satisfied with all the mulberries he had to eat, but decided to take a stroll by Zipper’s pen and figured out a way to get into her pen. He did that and had spent three days in her pen. I knew about how long he had been there by his dropping and what he had been eating. Also I noticed the automatic feeder was getting emptier all the time. He had taken over Zip’s doghouse, and was eating store-bought feed and drinking her clean water. Zipper had to sleep on top of her house and put up with her visitor. I’m sure she had stayed mad for the whole three days. She was really upset and was planning to get that coon out of there while she had some help. She decided to let us know that she had a problem with this old boy, and she was going to get some help to get rid of him.
Her courage and smartness was above and beyond any regular rat terrier in my way of thinking. She flat gave him a fight for her life or his.
The squatter was unable to keep what he had acquired and he lost out for intruding. I’m sure he wished he had never met up with the dog called Zipper.

By Max McCoy

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