RACCOON HUNT IN OLD CALHOUN COUNTY, ILLINOIS
By HARREL J. HAVEN
Calhoun County is located in west central part of Illinois, laying in a wedge shape between Mississippi and Illinois rivers both rivers being dotted with small islands covered with heavy timber of original growth. The inland is very rough and hilly with lime stone bluffs affording many dens and hiding places for game. Anyway, the hunt I am going to tell about took place November 16th, 1920.
If we all remember right it was spitting snow, and rather cold. Our party consisted of one of the biggest hearted fellows in Calhoun County, Jim Peeler by name, and three good coonhounds.
We started about 8:30 P. M., driving out about two and one-half miles from town to the hills. Leaving the "Lizzie" by the road we climbed up to the top of a hill, crossed through a big apple orchard towards a heavy-timbered woods. Stopping for a little rest and to eat a few of those "Calhoun County Redeemers" (Ben Davis apples), our rest was soon broken up by a long bark from Old Queen. Just at the edge of the timber I said to Jim, "I guess we will have to skin a possum, soon," as that was what I thought it was, up in an apple orchard.
By this time Old Queen had begun to bawl a little quicker and louder. The other two now joined and the music began to have the old tune that didn't say possum. They went around to the far side of the old orchard and towards the river, but it seemed to be a rather difficult scent to run, that is, they didn't seem to straighten out so easy to be as warm a trail as it was. But those three dogs were not to be fooled by any of Mr. Coon's stunts for we were now sure what it was.
The dogs were now down at the river seeming to make a loss for a minute or two but our spirits were soon revived when Old Blue opened up some fifty or one hundred yards ahead of the other dogs. Starting back from the river to the hills again, along the opposite hill side facing the old orchard, the trail began to grow warmer and warmer, crossing the heads of small hollows running down from the hill. It was now that one who loves to coon hunt could enjoy the music of good coonhounds. Closing nearer on Mr. Coon and with some real sport, there 1 spoke Jim, my chum, "Queen has treed." It was true, but only for a moment as the old coon knowledge was beginning to try to put the dogs off and had gone up and marked the tree, and come down or went out a limb and jumped off. Soon the tree was circled by the dogs and found to only be one of Mr. Coon's tools for escape. They were soon off, towards the top of the big hill, coming down under the hilltop to the head of a big hollow. It was the trail’s end. The barking changed; it just seemed to say in words “ He’s here come on and help us get him.” Well, we started, with our thoughts running along the line of just how we would arrange for the fight. Over ridges, through thick brush, hollows and branches with still probably half a mile to go, we stopped to take a breath and to take our bearing on the spot. We soon arrived at the goal and to our dismay found the two young dogs standing back out forty feet from the end of a big Len wood log some four feet in diameter and hollow. Of course, we centered our minds on the log and getting down to listen and low in the hollow, could hear the old dog Queen down some forty feet in the log, barking like she was being killed. We were sure down in the mouth, there we were, a big log, and no axe. (A very silly thing for a coon hunter to do). It was too far down that log to get a pole in there to twist him out and smoke, it was impossible to get it to him.
We were standing around the big log lamenting over our hard luck, thinking it a total failure, when I took notice of the young dogs not coming up close to the log and trying to go in it too, but stood near a gum tree some twelve or fourteen inches in diameter, about forty feet from this log. The dogs seemed to say, "Why don't you look up this tree," which I did. Right up in the top, as plain as the nose on your face were three pairs of those green looking eyes. Well, boys, you can imagine how we felt I started to get ray 82 Colt's in action when Jim was, "You had better not 'take any chances with that, for if you get one crippled and down, the others will jump out and run away while the dogs are on the crippled. So the Winchester twelve was put in action and three coons were soon on the ground. We began to believe that the logs and trees were full of coon. The old dog came out of the log when we began shooting.
Arranging our coon together to carry, we started to the Lizzie, but Old Queen could not see it that way. She wanted to see that nothing was left undone. She was right back in the log. We finally succeeded in calling her out of the log and driving some chunks and rocks in the hollow of the log went on our way as we had enough for the night. It was then 2 A. M.
Next day we went back to the log, chopping a hole in about where we judged Mr. Coon was. When the axe hit the hollow, there was fully fifty gallons of water, which ran out. Evidently the old Mrs. Coon instead of Mr. Coon had got back in that water where the dog could not reach her the night before. A second guess in the log hit right near her so a shot from the 32 Colt's settled No. 4 coon.
I can't understand one going in that log and the other three going up a tree so close together.
Come on, brother coon hunters, let's hear from you in the old stand-by H-T-T, the best book I have ever seen. I don't depend on newsstands any more. Have my name on record at Columbus, Ohio, for one year.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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