Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Are ya crazy or what!

  How many of you have ever been coon hunting? Well I was fortunate enough to have been many times when I was younger. I happened to be neighbors with ole Bill Back, and friends with Brandon, one of his sons. So when they went hunting Brandon would ask me to go along with them. Some of the best times, and memories I have as a kid was running up and down the creek banks in the dark, listening, and following the bays of Duke and Luke as they tracked a raccoon. Duke and Luke were Bill's coon dogs. They were blood hounds that Bill had trained to smell, and track the coons. They would chase one many miles if they had to until they would finally run the raccoon up a tree, and then they would stay at the base of that tree and bark and howl so that the coon would stay up in the tree, until we got there.

  Those were the only two coon dogs I have ever been around, but to me ole Duke had to be one of the best ever, that dog lived to hunt, and nothing else. After going hunting with them as many times as I got to you got where you knew the difference between  their barks, and it always seemed that Duke would get on the trail first. There was several times when we would get to where they had the coon up a tree, and Duke would be climbing the tree trying to get the coon. Now, your probably saying, that's ridiculous dogs can't climb trees, but I'm tellin ya that this one could! I remember one night Duke and Luke had a coon up a tree, and when we got there Duke started climbing  the tree, and then he walked out on the branch that the coon was on. Duke approached the coon, and got him around the neck, when he grabbed the coon they both fell out of the tree, and into the creek below. After what seemed like several minutes Duke's head finally broke the surface of the water, and he still had that coon in his mouth. Ole Duke swam to the bank and layed that coon down at Bill's feet. Now I don't know who looked more proud ole Bill, who looked like a proud father who's son had just scored the winning touchdown, or Duke who had just scored the touchdown. Like I said the best coon dog I have ever seen.

  Anyway, one evening Brandon came down to the house and asked if I could go hunting with them that night, and after getting permission we went up to his house, and Bill told us to load the dogs. I don't know how they knew, but those dogs knew we were going hunting. They were jumping around, and barking, I don't think I ever even got that excited Christmas morning! So we loaded Duke and Luke into their boxes, and waited. Finally Bill told us it would be a few minutes before we left because we were waiting on someone else to get there. In a few minutes a car pulled up, and a man that neither Brandon or I recognized got out and came over to where we were. Bill introduced us, but time and age doesn't help me remember his name. However, I do remember he was a new preacher in town. I'm pretty sure he was the new Lutheran, or Baptist preacher.

  Bill had decided that the best spot to find our quarry was along the creek South of town, so off we went on our little adventure. When we got to the place that Bill wanted to start the hunt, we unloaded the dogs and started off. I do remember the preacher telling us his life story as we walked along the creek while Duke and Luke searched for a scent. I know he told us that he grew up in a city, and had never really participated in  a lot of outdoor activities growing up. Brandon and I just looked at each other and smiled. About that time the dogs picked up a trail, Bill took them off their leashes, and off into the darkness they went. We all knew that this city preachers education to the country was about to begin!

  I know dogs can run awfully fast, and after just a few minutes those dogs sounded like they were a couple of miles down that creek already. Typically when the dogs get after a coon the coon will do one of two things. They will either run to the first good tree they find and climb it to get out of trouble, which makes chasing them pretty easy because you don't have far to chase them, or they will try and outrun the dogs, which of course leads to a longer chase. Bill, Brandon, and I knew from the bays and barks of the dogs that this one was gonna be a runner, it might be a long night. Every so often Bill would stop, turn off his flashlight, and listen for the dogs to see if they had changed direction, and to see if we were getting any closer. From the sounds they were still chasing the coon, and moving away from us, so on into the night we went.

  After a couple of hours the preacher started asking questions like how far had we come, and how much longer till we caught up with the dogs. So we knew he was getting tired, Brandon and I knew that if he couldn't go on that one of us was gonna have to stay with him and take him back to the pickup, and then we would miss out on catching the coon, and neither one of us wanted that. It didn't matter how far you had gone, or how much farther you had to go, once the dogs were on the trail you stayed out there until you got the coon, or until it got away. There wasn't no going to the house resting, and then coming back out in the morning. After awhile Bill told the preacher that he could tell that the dogs had the coon in a tree just from the different sound in their bays. I'm not positive but to this day I'm pretty sure I heard the preacher saying a prayer of thanks. So after what seemed like a couple more miles of walking we got to where the dogs had a big ole coon up in the top of a cottonwood tree.

  We all stood there looking up into this tree wondering how in the world we were gonna get this coon outta that tree, and listening to the preacher gasping for air. We knew that there was no way Duke could climb that tree. It was way to far up for us to shake the branch and knock it off. Brandon and me started looking for rocks that we could throw up at the coon to try and knock it off the branch it was on, but before we could start throwing any rocks Bill said to wait a minute, he had an idea. Now ole Bill pointed his flashlight up into the tree at that coon, and asked the preacher if he wanted to get a stick, climb up the beam of light up there, and knock that coon out of the tree. Well, that preacher looked at the coon,  then  looked up at that beam of light, and then he looked at Bill and said "Do you think I'm crazy or what?  I'll get half way up there and you'll turn that durned light off!"