THE LAST NIGHT OF THE SEASON
By T. R. BENNETT
The end of the coon-hunting season of 1920 came on Friday, December 31st. I had sent word to Cal and Bud I would be able to get out, and Friday morning found me filling up the old Gas Wagon. Nine A. M., friend wife in the car with a couple of hot bricks at her feet, to keep the cold away, found us started on our 55 mile run, which we made in good time without any trouble of any kind.
(Now, if any of you do not want to read the ravings of -a crazy man, here is the place for you to start reading something else, as that same wife says I am plain crazy to want to run around the woods all night, but then she does not appear to hold it against me very long). We spent the rest of the day visiting, at least my wife did, for I had worked Thursday night and laid down about 4 P. M. to get a couple of hours' rest. Cal and Bud had arranged with three other friends to go along, but at the last minute Cal was not able to get away until 10 P. M. so we had to change our plans somewhat.
We were going to hunt about 12 miles out in the country, so we decided to drive Patsy and Mac with their dogs, Bob and Ring, out early and meet them later with the rest of the bunch, which would consist of Cal, Bud, Botch, Paul and myself, with Queen and Spot, our dogs. On the way out with Patsy and Mac, there was quite a discussion as to whether the hunting would be any good, as it was pretty cold and freezing right along, also as to the best place to start hunting. Patsy and Mac decided to hunt down the creek bottom and when we came out, we were to hunt up the bottom.
Finally arriving at our destination, we let them out and with our best wishes as to a good time, also as to where they would find the gas wagon if they got through hunting before us, we headed back to town where we had a couple of hours to kill, which we did by talking of previous hunting and fishing trips.
Cal finally arrived and when we were all ready, Cal went to get Queen, and discovered she was gone, someone had opened the door of the kennel and taken her out, so we were rather stumped for a few minutes as to what to do. After talking it over for about 20 minutes, I suggested we start and pick up Botch, and just hunt with Spot, which was about the only thing I could see to do if we were going to have a hunt. This we decided to do but Cal was worried about Queen and in order to get his mind away from it, I advanced the theory that someone had seen Bud, Patsy, Mac and myself starting early in the machine with Bob and Ring and himself going to town dressed up had decided we were not going to use Queen that night and took advantage of the golden opportunity to have a good hunt themselves, which I am glad to say proved to be correct, as she came home the next morning all tired out.
So from now on Spot will share undivided all the glory of the hunt. Arriving at Botch's place, we found him ready and quickly started and 20 minutes later found us going in the woods. We had not been in the woods 30 minutes when Spot started talking and we knew then we were going to have some fun, as he works nothing but possum and coon. As the weather had moderated considerably since early in the evening it made fairly good tracking. In a few minutes he was out in the woods and across the road into a small, brushy bottom with a small run coming down it. After he had worked all over the bottom for the best part of an hour I expressed an opinion we would find a possum at the end of the trail. Bud said it was a coon, as a possum would not follow the water like this trail did. He finally got it worked out across a pasture into a cornfield and then came back down in the bottom and across it and up a small hill, back down into the bottom again and started down the run. By this time the trail was warming up good and he was making good time and we were trying our best to keep within a reasonable distance of him but the going was hard on account of the brush. Finally we heard him saying I got him up a tree, where we arrived in about 10 minutes all out of breath, when we proceeded to look him over.
Cal was carrying the shotgun and when Botch said, "I see him," about the same time Bud and I with our lanterns said the same thing. Botch held his lantern for Cal to take a shot at him to convince him that he had no business up that tree, but it took the second one to start him down to where Spot was waiting anxiously to show him what he could do to him. After the second shot Botch said, "There he comes," when Bud and I said in the same breath he had not moved. It then began to dawn on us that we had more than one coon.
In the meantime Mr. Coon had hit the ground to fight it out with Spot, in which fight Mr. Coon quickly came out second best. After making his kill Spot circled the tree and was off across the country as hard as he could go, and how he was talking, the sweetest music you ever heard. As soon as he started I quickly shined the tree to see if second Mr. Coon had decided to leave while Spot was having the first round with coon No. 1, but he was still there, perched up high like a gallery god. That only meant one thing, three coons on one tree. Oh, Boy! Some coon night.
By this time Spot was put of hearing entirely and we held a council as to what to do. We decided to shoot coon No. 2 out and wait for Spot to come back to us, and leave coon No. 3 for seed which we proceeded to do. After getting coon No. 2 we started in the direction Spot had taken and after walking about a mile we met Spot back trailing and put him on the chain and headed for the gas wagon about two miles away. Arriving there, we could see the lights of Patsy and Mac coming up the road. When they got up to where we were we wanted to know what kind of luck they had, but they could not show a thing and were tired out. We proudly showed our two coon and told them that we knew where there was another.
Right away they spruced up and were not half as tired, as they had been just five minutes before. The result was we put water in our radiators and drove up to where we had met Spot.
Leaving the car, we all started over across the fields, all but Bud and Paul, as they were tired. (Paul is only 10 years old but is some night hunter, as he has hunted with Cal, Bud and I for the last three years, so he can be marked down from now henceforth as an unregenerated coon hunter).
Spot immediately took up the trail we had pulled him off and away he went with Ring and Bob. In about 10 minutes they all said, here he is. We quickly got over to where they were. Spot had put him up a snag of an oak. We could not see him so Patsy went up to see if the top was hollow. After getting up Patsy said, "He is here." There was a small depression in the top and Mr. Coon was lying in there.
We decided to hold the dogs and give Mr. Coon five minutes' grace, when we were all ready we told Patsy to perform his part, and Mr. Ringtail was on his way to the ground. When he left the tree it was a hard job to hold the dogs, but we did not care whether we got the coon or not just so we had a good chase. By the time Patsy got down and got his boots on Mr. Coon's elapsed time was up and what a lot of music those dogs made fettling away. It sounded better to us than ousa's Band. Mr. Coon had headed back to the woods where he had been first treed but he never reached there. He did not put on enough gas. The dogs got him in the middle of an open field and it was all over when we reached him.
This ended the hunt and the season, which we all noted was one of the best nights we had ever put in, and a glorious finish. We all headed for home, tired, but happy.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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