Past and Present Coon Hunters
FULL CRY – It’s now the middle of November and this has been a different fall from those of past years. Old age has caught up with me. I am not complaining because the Lord has blessed me with years of good health. I’ve enjoyed my coon hunting plus lots of of other things.
Until this year, if I wanted to hunt all night, I could. Now I am too tired to hunt more than a couple of hours. During the day, I think to myself tonight I am going to hunt hard and think of all the places I’ll hunt. Come night time, it’s almost a chore to put my hunting clothes on.
I hunt a lot by myself and my wife, Cree, and others tell me not to go alone. My answer most always is you will come look for me if I don’t come back and that upsets them more.
One thing in my favor is I do have a nice dog I like and he handles well. He is 20 months old, and like last night, I took him out to hunt in front of my ATV. He treed a coon 100 yards off the road. It was in a big pine tree and I couldn’t find it. I got so dizzy from looking up that I fell and I could hardly walk. I called him and was hoping he would come. When I got to the ATV, there he was standing on it ready to ride. Now don’t think I didn’t praise him for that.
I told you we are doing away with the Bare Den. For years, Cree and I have had hunters from all over the United States come and stay with us. For several years they would stay in our home. In the ‘80s, I had a chance to get a 12×50 mobile home, and as some of you know, it is down over the bank from the house next to the creek. It is not real fancy but was usually clean, warm and dry. A stove, refrigerator and a microwave was available for their use. We never charged anyone for the use of it no matter how long they stayed, although we were more than paid by the friendship and fun we had.
Cree usually cooked most of the meals while they were here. I also must say all of them showed Cree and me a lot of respect and never caused any trouble. We feel we are blessed with the friends we have made during this time.
Many of you have helped make this a place to come and hunt and have fun. I can’t mention all of you but I must say Clay Crum and Wilburn Goble from Inez, KY helped us quite a bit.
I trained dogs for them for several years and they were here often. They would get us anything we needed to help make it a better place to hunt. I can’t begin to list the things they did to help us.
At first, they brought their dogs and had to tie them to trees. Later, they had dog boxes built.Now I have 15 dog boxes. We can sleep eight people well. They sent some carpenters to build a nice front porch so hunters could sit and tell lies. Ha, ha! They put in a C.B. base and brought hand-held radios so if some were out hunting they could report back to base. This was a lot of fun talking and listening to their dogs tree.
One night Renard Wright was here and Wilburn and Clay challenged us to see who would get the most coon in a four hour hunt. In two hours, Web called us on our radios and said they had a coon treed and it was hanging out over swift, deep water and they were afraid to shoot it because they may not be able to get it. They asked if they could count it if they didn’t bring it in. Renard said, “Go ahead and let them count it” because he figured we had several more coon anyway. Ha! To this day, Wilburn and Clay say they won but I also to this day say they didn’t.
One time they came pulling a dog trailer with several dogs in it. Web said, “Clay, unlock the trailer.”
Clay asked, “You have the keys?” After several minutes of arguing, I said, “I’ll get the bolt cutters.” I did and we finally got the dogs out.
One night it was raining and I always had a truck with a cap on to haul the dogs and hunters.
On this hunt was Weldon Greiner, Wilburn Goble, Clay Crum, Joe McGinnis and Jimmy Bailey, who is now deceased. On our first turnout, the dogs caught a skunk 50 yards from the truck.
With all the kicking, hollering and etc., I said, “Get back in with the dogs and I’ll take you to another place.”
We stopped at another place. They were still talking loudly saying “it stinks back here.”
I said, “You fellows stand here by the truck and I’ll walk 75 yards to start the dogs.” I was standing in the woods and those hunters kept getting louder and louder. I hollered back to not be so loud and they finally said for me to come back.
When I got the the truck, they were like a bunch of dying chickens with their heads cut off. Some were on the ground and others were standing vomiting asking if there was a hospital close.
I called the dogs back and came to the Bare den. Of course some wanted to go in but I told them they would have to take off their clothes first as I didn’t want that skunk odor in the Bare Den. I got them quieted down then got Cree up and she got pure blackberry juice to drink and they finally felt better. That skunk odor got to them.
One night several hunters were along and I said, “Clay, you come with me and the rest of you drive around on the other road,” which was a short distance. After we got out and the truck left, Clay said, “Why did you ask me to come?”
I said, “Not so loud because look at the house lit up there,” which was 300 yards away. “That fellow only owns two acres in this woods but he is a little strange. Two weeks ago a fellow came to his door and they got into an argument and he shot him but didn’t kill him.”
About that time the dogs treed. I said, “Clay, you shoot the coon. I’ll grab the dogs as soon as it falls and we will get out of here.” Clay isn’t the best shot (according to me) and he would shoot and shoot. That man who didn’t even own these woods started shooting. I am sure he was shooting over our heads but Clay still swears he could hear bullets close to his head. After that, Clay was not wanting to hunt with me very often.
One time Joe McGinnis brought his 16 year old son, John. At 2:30 in the morning, John and I were hunting alone. I asked, “John, how would you like to get a Big Mac and some French fries?”
He said, “Oh, yes. How far is it to McDonald’s?” I said “I didn’t even know of a McDonald’s around close.” I thought he was going to drop over. Ha, ha! Just then the dogs caught a coon on the ground and he was ready to go again but I’ll never forget John saying “let’s go and far is it?” Ha!
Clay Crum’s dad, Clayton, used to come some and he always wanted the top bunk to sleep in. About 1:30 AM, it sure was hard to get him down from there. I’ve had several calls telling me about their dogs and hunts. I appreciate all of you calling. I talk to Claude Thomas often. He tells me he is going to cut down on some of his work for the Cur and Feist club but will still write a column. Claude, you have done a good job but it’s time for you to sit back and let someone else take over.
There has never been a man do as much for the Cur and Feists as you have. You will be missed I know. I like to talk to Claude because when I talk about the good, old days such as hunting with a coal oil lantern and walking all night with a meat dog and some other things, he knows what I mean. You never hear him bad mouth or show jealousy like a few others do.
I’ve hunted with a lot of well-known big name hunters who were mostly good hunters with good dogs but not all. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity.
On this subject I must mention I have never hunted with Chuck Gaietto. We could never get together for a hunt. Maybe it was because when he did call I was sick or had another excuse. Ha!
Oh well, you have enough wins and trophies.
Now that I am older, I know for sure you will never get to say your dog blew Dick’s out of the woods. Ha! Chuck, the gentleman you are, I know even if you did, you probably would never mention it.
Our season came in at midnight last night. Tom Conner brought his good Cody dog out, and within 45 minutes, we took two coon. Tom had to drive an hour for home, so he wanted to quit and I was feeling bad and called it a good hunt and quit.
Claude Thomas just called me from his hospital bed saying he was in there with double pneumonia. Claude, we will say our prayers for God’s will in your life and healing and to also help you cope with your problem which I know isn’t easy for you.
Last night was one of those nights. I woke up at midnight. I got my hunting clothes on after Cree gave me a good talking to about going alone. She finally said, “Be careful and don’t stay too long.”
I got Rock, which is under two years old, on his first turnout but no track. On the second track, he treed 200 yards in front of me. I started calling him and in the top of a tree my headlight caught coon eyes. Then I could see him run up the tree which he seldom does. I could tell on account I had a red collar on him. He seemed to stand there not barking for 30 seconds then left. I am sure you hunters know how upset I was at him leaving the tree. I waited a short while then walked close to the tree. There I found a freshly killed opossum. I can only guess what happened. Did he pull the possum off that small sapling and figure that was something bad to do or was he plainly stupid for not staying at the tree with a coon in it?
Later I walked 100 yards away and it was down wind with the wind blowing 20 miles per hour. When he came to me, I stood still and he winded the coon and started barking some. I wasn’t sure what I should do but I did shoot the coon but didn’t kill it and it walked down the tree and he saw it. I finally got it out to him dead.
On the next stop, he treed up a big tree, but as before when I look up, I got so dizzy I would stumble and sometimes fall. I had to give up without finding the coon and came home. I am not sure what is causing these dizzy spells but it’s not fun trying to find a coon in a tree when you have to hold onto something to keep from falling.
Write, call or come see us. Remember, anger is just one letter short of danger.