See also the Jun '07 entry Doesn’t A Coon Coat Look Good?
I began to participate in this sport in the late 1960’s during my frequent visits to my parents’ home on Oil Creek. My father, Coleman Jeffries, had started to coon hunt with a couple of his coworkers on the railroad. While I had enjoyed hunting squirrels, deer, groundhogs, and rabbits, I had never hunted coons. I was invited to go along a couple of times, but I declined the first invitations. After a little persuasion and hearing of some of dad’s hunting tales, I decided to go along. I don’t remember any of the details of that first hunt, but I must have enjoyed it because I never missed an opportunity to go coon hunting after that night.
Most of the time, the raccoon or raccoons will hear the hunters and dogs as they move into the area and will retreat to a safe tree to wait until the danger has past. When the dogs move into the area, they will detect the scent of the raccoon and somehow establish in which direction the animal is moving. The dogs will then bark or bawl in their own particular way and continue to make “hound music” until they follow the raccoon to the tree in which it has found refuge. When the dogs reach the tree where the raccoon has hidden, they will (if they are good hounds) sit or stand at the base of the tree and bark until the hunter arrives. The hunter will then search the tree with his light until he finds where the raccoon is hiding. Sometimes it can be very difficult to find the hiding place especially in late summer and early fall when the trees still have their leaves. Often the only way to find coons is by seeing the yellow reflection of their eyes in the light.
If the raccoon season is open, sometimes the hunter will dispatch the coon by shooting it. When the coon falls from the tree, the dogs will immediately attack the raccoon and shake it vigorously unless they are restrained by a leash. The dogs are petted, encouraged and congratulated by their owners and any others present and then led well away from the tree to begin the hunt for another raccoon. Some dogs develop the bad habit of returning to the tree even after being led several hundred yards away. That makes it necessary to return to the tree to retrieve the dog! Most coon dogs cannot be “called” off a tree but instead have to be led away.
One of the methods that I have heard used to cure a hound from trailing deer is as follows: buy a billy goat, and with a chain about 6 feet long, tie the collar of the dog to a collar on the goat and allow the two animals to live together for a couple of weeks. It is said that the scent of the goat is so similar to the smell of a deer that the dog will become so turned off to that scent that he will never trail a deer again. And, I am sure that the goat butting him from time to time during the ordeal helps the cure the problem also!
A method I have heard of that is used to cure or break a dog from running foxes is a little different. A two level cage is built big enough for a dog to live in. One-half inch chicken wire is used to separate the lower level of the cage from the upper level. Then the coon dog trainer needs to obtain a fox and confine it in the upper level of the two level cage over the dog in the lower level. After a week or so of the fox’s defecating and urinating on the dog, the dog will become physically ill when he smells a fox! I am told by a reliable source that two hunters did this many years ago. One night they took the dog out of the bottom of the cage to take him hunting and they were both bitten when they attempted to return the dog to the cage after the hunt. It was not reported if the dog ever ran a fox again.
I Still Reminisce
Michael Vincent Moran