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Barking Up the Right Tree

Full Cry March 2012 CoverFULL CRY – Hello. I hope you all had a nice Christmas. Mother Nature has been exceptionally cruel for me even though it is the month of December, but I know it could be a lot worse. I hear of a lot of bad weather in other places and mine probably is mild along side that. It’s rough for me not to be able to get out there and hunt the way I want to. Now take December off the subject, there have not been enough decent days for me to get my work done and hunt too. It seemed to me that 2011 was against me. Each time I planned to hunt the weather got in the way. I just don’t remember a year like the last one.

I had plans to do some fly-fishing and trot lining like I used to do. I also wanted to do some more deer hunting from my portable deer stand but, as I said, very little got done.

I made a long bow and it was too strong for me to pull. I’ll never get one made in time now. Well, maybe I could get one done before February is over.

I know you readers are going to think, “He’s too old,” or “Hey! Don’t be so lazy.” If I went, say in the morning, they say 16 degrees with some windchill factor around 8 to 10 degrees at daylight. Oh well, maybe I have turned into a fair weather hunter after all, (Ha, ha.)

I’m going to tell you a true story that happened to me one time. I’m going to call it.

Good Deeds are Rewarding

My story begins back in 1975 when I took my wife, Donna, and daughter, Tina, who was a few months old to Fayetteville, Arkansas to pick up supplies. The supplies were for a roofing job that I had contracted. I was driving a 1969, 3/4 ton, Dodge truck and I had it fully loaded and was on my way home, but still in the city. We stopped at a red light and a fully loaded school bus hit the truck from behind at about 25 miles per hour. It knocked us about 50 feet through the intersection and up against the right curb. My head went backwards into the rear window, busted the window out, and cut the back of my head open clear to the skull.

Donna’s knees slammed into the dash so hard she was in bad pain. The baby became airborne in her baby carrier. She wasn’t injured but Donna and I were. When I got out of the truck to stop the horn from honking, it had stuck, a lady met me with what looked like a dishcloth. She placed it on the back of my head and I held it tight to stop the breeding. Donna had the baby and the ambulance started loading us up. I went into shock and couldn’t stop popping my teeth together and trembling all over and Donna had trouble walking. We were in the hospital for a short time. Donna had some injuries to her knees and legs, I had a  sprained lower back and my head hurt from bashing out the back window.

I had to be on disability for two years so I was forced to sell my roofing and remodeling business so someone could take on the jobs I had contracted.

They recommended I walk for exercise so I took to the woods with my Bluetick coonhounds. I couldn’t lift or jump; if I sawed wood I had to do it squatted down or on my knees. I could not stand up to chop or use the chainsaw. I was limited for two years.

Our only income was $200 a month from my personal liability insurance policy or what else I could catch to sell and the Bluetick pups that I sold occasionally. It was all the income we had to get by.

I came up with the idea to open up a shop and repair small engines. I knew nothing about small engines. I had overhauled a couple of car engines. I made plans to get some schooling in small engine repair, and I did that and started changing my shop around and getting my tools ready to do business.

I had a very good friend and his name was Walter Grimes. Walter ran a small engine repair shop here in Bentonville where I live. Walter had fixed my mower a time or two but we had been friends for several years.

I came up with the idea of going to work for him and not charge him for my labor. He was good at what he did and was fair to his customers. Walter was in his eighties and the work had gotten very hard on his health. I knew that he had run his shop well over twenty years. He seemed to know the tricks to repairing small engines.

I went to see him about my idea. I asked him how he felt about having help in his shop. Right off he said “Oh no, I can’t do that!” I asked, “Why not?” He stated, “I’m not able to do it; I couldn’t add labor with my parts.” I told him, “I have no plans for you to pay. My pay will just be learning your techniques.”

Walter laughed and said, “When will you be able to come to work?” He was beside himself, in other words excited. He said, “I have never heard of a deal like that.”

We made an agreement that I would work for him for four months free of charge and not hold him responsible in case of injury. He said, “Let’s settle it all, you come in for lunch.” I did and we had mashed potatoes, gravy and sweet corn that he grew. He said that it was his candy corn. It was a great lunch and the corn was sweet as candy. We had a great time for the next four months. I worked five days a week until lunch for four months straight.

I learned a lot in small engine school, but I learned real expertise from Mr. Grimes. Much of what I learned from him was not in the book. I will always be thankful for the favor he did for me and he made the same remark several times to me. He said, “You came to me when I really needed someone, but I didn’t realize it.”

His business increased and it was all we could handle. Walter passed on a few years ago, what a great guy! I ran McCoy’s Small Engine Repair for seven years and it was a successful business.

Thanks to Mr. Walter Grimes, I sure do miss him. Last month my friend Don Cope said to me, “Max, my doctor said that I need to exercise for my better health. I would like to  help you cut wood just as a friend, no charge.” I have been thinking about that ever since. I thought it was a strange thing now happening to me. Two weeks ago, he met me and we went and got a big trailer load of wood, no strings. I thanked him and he said, “You are welcome.”

Don and I have been friends for a short time. We are both 74 years old and have about 95% in common. We have had many different experiences through our lifetimes. I feel like I have lived three different lives and I imagine he feels the same way. Don just has to be a great guy. We have not had any misunderstandings and have gone on one fishing trip already. I think we might be good for one another. “If we live long enough.” We plan to fish using my johnboat this spring.

Now to end this story, I appreciate Don’s help, it feels like good deeds are really repeating itself. Matt Jordan of Bentonville, AR, took a nice, seven-point, buck opening day November 12, 2011. Matt is a good young hunter age 11. His .223 rifle brought the big whitetail buck down in the early part of the morning.

Matt is the son of Mark Jordan, a very fine gentleman and is in law enforcement. I recognize him as my friend. I have a lot of friends that are in law enforcement. You all will be reading about these two guys in the near future. Mark is training a young dog on squirrel and is having good luck with it.

Mark came by and left a picture of Matt, his rifle and the sevenpoint whitetail buck. Way to go, Matt! Be careful and continued success with your hunting.

I would like to congratulate John Sheppard for his 200 pound whitetail buck he took near Metalton, AR. I have just become acquainted with John. He has a deer camp near the Kings River.

He has running water, a small waterfall by his cabin. There is plenty of deer on his property. John hunts from permanent tree stands and is enjoying himself in his later years. I think I am a little bit jealous, (Ha, ha.) I enjoyed visiting with him the other morning.

I received a letter and Christmas card from my old time friends, Joe and Larraine Meurer, Kerrville, TX. I always enjoy their cowboy Christmas cards through the years. Joe is like me; he likes to get outside and doesn’t like to be in the house when it’s cold.

Their pecan crop suffered because of the hot weather in July just like mine did. I have a nice pecan tree thirty feet high but it doesn’t produce like it should. I guess the hot weather did it to my tree also. It caused mine to be small as theirs did. When Joe and Larraine started writing to me their granddaughter was in grade school, her name is Jennifer. Now, she has two children at six and four years old. Jennifer is going to school to become a registered nurse. I’m proud to hear that Jennifer is doing well. Thanks for the letter and the great cowboy Christmas card. You all take care. Thanks for reading Full Cry and my column.

I still have a supply of gourd seed free; just send a self addressed, 4″ x 9″ envelope, with a stamp on it. I’ll get them in the mail right back to you. I have about forty gourds at this time drying. I have a gourd sitting on my pool table right now that is shaped like a goose. It’s hard to get one that sets up in that shape. I am going to open up the bottom, take the seed out, and get the seed ready to plant this spring. I have several different kinds of gourds so if you have one in mind you might mention it in a note and I’ll see if I have one that might produce just like you want, but I can’t guarantee it. Sometimes when they grow up beside a fence, they have a longer neck on them, but if they’re down in the vines, the neck may curl in any direction; in fact, it might not have any neck at all.

I was down on the Illinois River looking for arrowheads when I found some wild egg shaped gourds. I brought about a half dozen home and will get the seeds out of them. They are about the size of a hen’s egg and some are shaped like a tennis ball and are perfectly round. They were different and I thought that I might try growing a few of them. I am finding out that gourds are not easy to grow. You can’t just throw them down and think they will grow. Sometimes they come up, sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes they get nice and viney, but they abort the bloom at the last before forming the gourd. I will send instructions with your free seed samples. If your seed doesn’t grow or come up, I’d be glad to replace the seed.

Another picture is about one of my grandsons, Trenton and Santa (Forrest Lane) together. Forrest was doing some free service for McDonald’s at Centerton, AR. They hit it right off and it held up his work for quite a while with a big visit. I don’t think either one have met a stranger.

Forrest taught second grade for quite a while and then went on to teach in college, both teachings together totaled thirty years. He gets along perfect especially with the young children. In college, he taught science and horticulture. Forrest Lane lives near Gravette, AR. I have known him for several months and he is a very nice guy. He did a perfect job of being one of Santa’s helpers. I see and talk to him and his wife quite often during coffee.

I was proud to see Trenton and him having a big visit. I couldn’t have found a better Santa to introduce Trenton to. Trenton is only four and he is really in on these Christmas holidays.

He will never forget this Santa! After knowing Mr. Lane I will be able to understand more about my pecan growing hobby. I have learned quite a bit already, if I would have known that he knew all about the pollination part of growing the nut it would have helped quite a bit. “You never know enough about anything.”

Sorry, back to whitetail deer hunting: I just got word by several different sources that a guy by the name of Hickey killed a 30 point non-typical buck in Southwest Arkansas. They say it could be the biggest non-typical whitetail buck ever on record for Arkansas.

My good friend, Seth Cobb, Fayetteville, AR, took a six point whitetail buck with his muzzleloader this last season. You all probably remember Seth when he was reading the Full Cry magazine one evening as he thumbed through the pages to “Barking up the Right Tree”, got to reading my column regularly, and decided to write. He was on his first stretch in Iraq while serving in the United States Marine Corps. We began to write regularly, he came home and got deployed for the second hitch. He continued to write and by the time he got his second term, we knew each other without ever meeting. I worried, I think, more than he did about losing his life. He made it through! We hunted deer and squirrel and I got acquainted with his wife Morgan and held his young son last year. He’s a good American and friend; Morgan is a great friendly lady. I just found out they are going to have a daughter next year. Through our friendship, I have been lucky to meet and hunt with Seth’s brother Brian.

Brian and I have been hunting turkey for a couple of years. Brian is a great guy and we hunt well together. Brian lives in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife Summer and little boy Mitchell. Summer is very nice to talk to and I enjoy talking with Mitchell. He is over one-year-old and is a smart little boy to communicate with. I enjoy visiting with Brian’s family before and after our hunts. We plan to hunt turkey again together in the spring. Brian put in for a permit for both of us for this next spring hunt. We’ll also hunt deer on the 26th of December. Brian just got back from hunting elk in Colorado and came home with a nice six by six, congratulations Brian! In my opinion, elk is the best wild meat to eat; delicious is the word!

I am enclosing a picture of his big elk. As you can see, it’s a good one. There is a lot of good eating there. We have a gallon of stew meat simmering on the stove at this time, but it’s not elk, it is deer meat and very good to eat also. It is not quite as good meat as elk, again that’s only my opinion.

My daughters Tina, Lena, and my immediate family had a great Christmas. My grandsons, Trevor and Trenton, and I ran into a  little problem while looking for a Christmas tree. Each year we take the four-wheeler and while visiting, we ride out the back roads looking for a nice cedar tree. We got hung up in the middle of a brush pile and I was unable to manipulate it out of there.

The front end locked up and I didn’t know it. The kids jumped off and the thing would just stand up on the back wheels. I thought it was going to throw me off. The three of us had to pick it up to get it out of there. We also had to hold the front end up and push it like a wheelbarrow to move it and get it to the trailer and load it up. I still haven’t found out what is wrong. We did manage to get a tree, get it home, and decorate it.

We did manage to have a good Christmas also, so in spite of all the bad luck, we made it through. Everything turned out good.

I received a call from Joe Leler, Clinton, AR. I hope I spelled that right, Joe. Joe runs Beagles on rabbits and a one year old Mountain Cur on squirrels. He said they took over 100 squirrels last year. He and my friend Kirby Bell used to visit about rat terriers.

Joe told me about winning the Champion Calf-Roping in 1972. Joe was trying to get information about a Mr. McLeod in Texas.  I wrote about McLeod last month, he was thinking about moving to the city of Clinton and hoped to meet new coon hunters. I lost the note on Mr. McLeod and don’t have the city where he lives or his address or phone number. Mr. McLeod if you are reading this, why don’t you call Joe at 501-253-8940. He has a big piece of ground and will welcome you to Clinton and show you where the raccoon is running. I’m sorry to lose the information I needed to communicate with you two guys.

I received a Christmas card from my niece and a big letter. Her name is Tabatha McCoy and lives in Torrington, WY with her nine year old daughter, Hailey. She is in security and plans on working with the state probation and parole. She and Hailey have been hunting coyotes with her dad Loy McCoy. Loy and I are very proud of her the way she is following us in law enforcement. Hang in there, Tabatha; you are cut out for that type of work.

I want to thank the following: The folks who wrote, made phone calls, sent Christmas cards, all of those who bought my country, western and gospel CDs, you all have been very kind to me in 2011 and before, thanks for reading my column. Have a very Happy New Year!

I’ll talk to you all again next year in “Barking up the Right Tree!”

By Max McCoy, Sr., 4577 Southwest Regional Airport Blvd., Bentonville, AR 72712