Just Coon Huntin’

American Cooner, April 2012AMERICAN COONER – I remember many years ago when we possum hunted and treed a coon or two a year. We hauled the dogs in the trunk of the car, and when we turned the dogs out, we went with them. The dogs hunted out in front of you and you didn’t have to worry about where they were you — just hunt the direction you wanted to hun

Most dogs today have no homing instinct and have no idea how to get back to where they were turned out. Most go until they come to a house or a garbage can. Most hunters had dogs that could really run a track and tree dogs that actually had the game when they treed. Even the poor tree dogs were accurate.

When we started to get enough coon to tree regularly, we quit shooting possum out. Many times the dog would be working a coon track for awhile and cross a hot possum track and switch over and tree the possum. I love it when you’re hunting with someone and the dogs do a good job and are putting on a show treeing. Everyone is happy and bragging on how great they are doing, then you get there and they have a possum. That’s when the hunters go ballistic and start on the dogs. The funny thing is it’s the same thing they were treeing when they were so happy and bragging a few minutes before.

If you’re hunting for pleasure and the enjoyment of listening to the dogs, think how much more opportunity you would have for a successful hunt if you hunt for coon and possum. Possum are plentiful. They don’t run far and they’re easy to find when treed. Back when we were young, we hunted for possum and coon and we were so dumb. We thought we were having fun until we started reading and hearing about all of the great dogs and what coon dogs were supposed to do. All of those years of laughing, joking, wrestling and trying to see how could get to the tree first and who could climb up and shake him out first. We thought we were having fun just to learn that we were dumb and didn’t have enough sense to know what hunting really was.

I also remember hunting with others and having several strange dogs on the same tree and no blowing, growling or fighting to be heard. Most hunters didn’t make excuses for not finding the coon. He was either there or he wasn’t.

At that time, the dogs did tree were usually sitting under the game and you didn’t have to make excuses. The thing is you still don’t have to make excuses if you’ll be honest with yourself. The only game you can count is the one you could put on the ground and take home if you wanted to.

A good rule to go by is when a dog trees, you are supposed to get excited that he’s treed a coon. When you hear him tree and you get aggravated because he’s treed again or you are wondering if he even has the coon, you have a problem and may need to consider a change. There is a difference in a dog that misses and a liar and I believe a lying dog is like a lying man — they will never change. Once a liar, always a liar. As I’ve said many times, real track dogs usually have the game when they tree.

Gordon Gilroy, a name that represents pride, respect, friendship, truth, honesty and an image for all of us who knew him to strive to attain, was a quiet, unassuming man who would stand around unnoticed in a crowd. While everyone was bragging and blowing up their dogs and their breeding prowess, he would never say a word, even though he had dogs as good as any and bred some of the best dogs around.

I first hunted with Gordon in 1980 when he hunted with Yadkin River Jeff and as with everyone who met him, we formed an instant friendship. Many nights were spent in those Eastern North Carolina swamps and I never saw him back up or whine about how rough it was. He was always smiling and ready to go.

In the early 80’s, Gordon brought his nephew David with him and that led to another lifetime friendship. Gordon and David bred a female that David owned named Dinah and from this cross came the great Yadkin River Crowder. Crowder was one of the most impressive dogs around and was a top reproducer as well. You’ll see Crowder up close in the pedigree of many of today’s top reproducing hounds, and if Gordon had been the promoter that many of the stud owners of today are, Crowder and Gordon would probably be two of the top names in the sport.

Instead of bragging, blowing and seeking fame, Gordon chose to stand in the background and enjoy his hounds and hunting and let everyone else gather the fame and attention that he helped produce and so much deserved. Gordon passed away and left us with a deep respect for what he was and what we should all strive to be. Now David, the young man who Gordon brought to join our group of special friends those many years ago, is now bringing his son, Tom, and we keep rolling, friends forever, one for all, all for one.

I’ve been hunting with some good hunters and some good dogs lately. You can believe that we’ve been having a ball and even treeing a coon or two every now and then. All of my hunts include Curtis Sparks of Elkin, NC and Jason Dancy, Trap Hill, NC; two of the best friend and hunters a man could hope to associate with, along with Nathan Pardue with Bruiser, Chris Adams with LeRoy and Jimmy Quesinberry with Jack join us on a regular basis. All of these men and dogs are a pure pleasure to hunt with.

Larry Quesinberry and Larry Isaacs joined us one night and the fellowship was the best. Pete Barber and Steve Taylor have been treeing a bunch of coon and are hunting some fine dogs.  Steve won the Nite Champion part of our hunt the other night in 20 degree weather with 30 to 40 mph winds. Steve and Lilly have shown lots of hunters “where Henry hid the hen” as the old timers used to say. My good friend, Ralph Williamson, won the registered part of the hunt with Tony Martin handling.

I’ve heard from several sources that Ralph’s female is a nice dog and, of course, Tony is a top handler.  While at this hunt, my good friends and rabbit hunter elites, Jack Dobson and Ted Williams, came by from hunting in those brutal conditions. These are some dyed-in-the-wool hunters with top dogs, and as usual, they were packing the bunnies.

I went to Bennett, NC to visit my good friends, Buster Britt, Josh Robinson and David McNeil and I must say these guys are as tough as I’ve ever had the pleasure to hunt with. All of these hunters are leading a good, young dog that will tree a coon and impress you. When I say young dog, I’m talking about six to eight months old not these two and three year old dogs that many people call young. These guys are hunting what they call their old dogs that are only one and a half years old.

Buster has started and trained many good dogs over the years and I must say he’s one of the best and most consistent dog trainers I’ve know. Of course, he spends a lot of time in the woods and loses a lot of sleep. Many hunters say a man who is as successful as Buster is lucky but let me tell you these lucky hunters are dedicated and don’t get to watch much television; they don’t know who won the ball game and probably don’t even know how to turn a computer on. Being lucky takes a lot of work. Together in sports, Jim.

By Jim “Wildman” Meeks, 1643 Old Highway 21, State Road, NC 28676