Tails of Hunting

January 2012 American Cooner

The ember to go coon hunting had begun to glow brighter in Rick as we walked from my old, battered hunting truck and into the woods he loved so much as a young boy. He had wondered what it would be like to coon hunting this then and now as an adult, he was about to find out. Patch would make it an enjoyable hunt for him which was my goal. I wanted to “hook” him on his first go round, not ruin him.

It was still early and I wondered if Patch would get a good track going or if she would have to wind some lay ups for us. That is the beauty of coon hunting – you never know what will happen when you turn a dog loose. Some nights are ones that make you remember why you started in the first place and other nights are ones that make you wonder just why you go out and do it. Definitely with a first-timer tagging along you wanted to have one of those nights that you enjoy also since they have yet to develop that dedication that keeps the tried and true going night after night no matter what the outcome of the hunt.

I knew though that being an unhunted piece of ground with a creek winding through it that we should have a good night for Rick to come along. It was an added bonus for me to have gained access to the spot even if for only one night and would keep me on my toes all evening as I did that mental inventory check list that seems to come naturally to coon hunters as we explore new terrain. “Water source – check. Good timber – check. Food sources – check. Trails – check.” This spot definitely held great potential.

I voiced my approval of the woods to my new inductee.

“You definitely had a good eye for spots as a youngin’. I think we will definitely come home with something to show for our hunt tonight. These are good woods and then when you add in that spring fed creek, it makes it a raccoon heaven.”

“Hey Jess, did I mention that we have trout in that stream?”

“Whoa boy … you got to pace an old man like me! That type of excitement could be too much on this worn out heart of mine! If we don’t tree a mess of coons tonight I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!”

“Really ‘cause a monkey could be handy.” Rick chuckled.

“Hey remind me to play a song for you when we get back on the road to head home.”

Even though it was early, with a spring full of trout and decades of being undisturbed, I had a feeling that Patch might put be able to run a really nice ‘wet’ track for us and make it not only sound good, but have an outcome that would leave both Rick and I fired up. She was ever so kind to oblige me at that time and let out her infamous screaming bawl.

“Well, Rick, it looks like we are going to get our night started.”

Patch was doing her job and actually doing it quite well with her optimum conditions. I knew it would not be long with how she jammed that track and the speed in which she was taking it.

“I don’t think you will be waiting long to see your first coon. With the intensity she is on that there won’t be a den tree at the end. In fact, we might have him go up someplace where he isn’t comfortable being so he should be easy to see and get out.”

“Jess, from the way you are talking I am thinking that it doesn’t always go this smoothly?”

“If it did Rick then everyone and their brother would do it. The bad nights are what weeds the boys out from the men … and give the rest of us the spots they’d be taking up.” I chuckled.

When we heard my old girl lock down, we started toward her. She had just gotten over the hill side from the creek and it wasn’t a hard stroll to reach her.

“This is about as good as hunting in a park Rick. You could be spoiling an old man like me. If you start getting calls about me walking my dogs in town after sunset or spotlighting in the local cemeteries, you will have no one to blame but yourself.”

“Ha ha so you think – huh?”

“Sure why not? If you want to avoid having to come investigate all the time, you could just bring me back here from time to time and it may alleviate my ‘issue’ I guess you could call it.”

We both chuckled and continued our journey to Patch and her coon. When we got there, it was exactly as I had figured it would be. I saw the coon walking in and Rick did also.

“Hey Jess – there he is!”

“Looks like you will get the chance to take your first coon and I don’t think that we’ve been in the woods twenty minutes. That’s the start to a beautiful hunt!”

“Are you sure you still want to knock him out with that pistol? I am close enough to the truck that I can go get my rifle for you.”

“Jess, I got this – I promise!”

“I’m sorry Rick it is just me. I am horrible with a pistol so I guess I just think everyone is too. You can knock yourself out big guy. I am just going to be quiet here and let the professional do his job.”

Rick unholstered his pistol and took aim. Then he stopped to ask me, “Where do you want me to shoot him? I kind of assumed the head, but thought I’d better ask.”

“So if I say the back paw furthest right toe – you could hit it?”

“Now I don’t know about all that, but I can put it whatever general area you’d like.”

“No, just take him out kindly. I am sure he wouldn’t appreciate it any other way.”

“All right, one coon coming right up.”

With that, Rick fired off his first shot.


And I waited for the coon to respond in someway…and I waited … and I looked at Rick who then looked at me looking puzzled.

“Okay, it is dark and a different target than I am used to – let’s try again.”


Poor Patch was treeing her head off waiting for her reward. After the second shot, I swear she looked back at me with raised eyebrows.

Still nothing …


And yet …


And that was when it came out …

“Buford T. Justice! Why I didn’t know that I was out with a celebrity.”

I am not even sure what archive of my mind that comment came out of, but it spewed out before I could even stop it.

Without even blinking an eye, Rick replied back, “No body, and I mean NOBODY makes Sheriff Buford T. Justice look like a possum’s pecker” and with that he fired off the shot that finally dropped our coon. He put his gun away, then looked up at me, smiled slyly and nodded his head.

With his reaction to my comment I knew that this would not be the last hunt that Rick and I would have and I knew that there would be lots of laughs tonight as we continued on and many more in the future when we ventured out again.