Saturday, April 10, 2010
Not Hunting Wabbit! ...
Lamar Beefeater and Luther DooLittle had been chomping at the bit all winter long to go spring "coon huntin'" ... or as it's commonly called by those who never participate ... raccoon hunting ... which involves the pursuit of some hapless, unlucky raccoon by one or more semi-intelligent coonhounds, under the direction of one or more even less intelligent coon hunters ... in the woods, in the dark and at times sans a gun ... now I'm not saying that folks who hunt raccoons are of diminished or lesser intellectual capacity than individuals who don't ... but in this case, Lamar and Luther did at times cause one to pause and wonder if they even had the smarts they were born with.
Now for this particular hunt, guns were forbidden in the woods because it was still a week prior to opening of official coon huntin' season ... however, hunters could take hunting dogs into the woods in order to get in some practice chasing and treeing the masked critters ... hounds would get on a raccoon's scent and chase the bewildered Procyonidae until it reluctantly climbed up a tree to escape the annoying harassment of the cacophonous canines ... during open season the hunter would shine a bright light up into the tree to locate the angry and frightened beast and eventually blast it with a rifle or shotgun ... but when guns aren't legally permitted and a coon is treed, the hunter restrains the frenzied coonhounds on leashes, climbs the tree and shakes the coon out onto the ground so the dogs can get a quick look and a whiff, thus enabling them to experience the thrill of victory ... the humiliated raccoon then ambles away weary and worn, albeit basically unscathed ... and the hunt concludes.
So that evening just after sunset, Luther DooLittle borrowed his daddy's Dodge pickup truck and headed over to pick up his pal Lamar Beefeater along with Lamar's beautiful Bluetick coonhound named "Blue" ... then he and Lamar drove up DooLittle Hollar so Luther could borrow Grandpa DooLittle's old Redbone hound named "Leon" ... both dogs were bred for hunting ... barking, whimpering and tugging on their leashes until nearly choking themselves, hardly able to contain their excitement in anticipation of that first spring hunt ... no sooner had the boys stopped the truck at the edge of the treeline and unhooked Leon and Blue from their leashes than the eager hounds sprung from the truck and hit the ground running already on the hot trail of a coon ... the boys barely had time to grab flashlights and take off in pursuit of the pursuing dogs which could now be heard somewhere off in the distance having already treed something ... finally after nearly an hour of crashing through thick briers and brush they caught up with Leon and Blue which were baying and barking and snarling nervously beneath a huge fir tree.
Lamar anxiously shined his light up into the tree but could make out nothing, it was pitch black up there, although they could hear the sound of heavy, labored breathing coming from the very top of the tree ... "climb on up there and shake that ol' coon out onto the ground so we can get after another one" Lamar demanded of Luther ... "you do it!" Luther replied ... "let's flip a coin, the loser climbs" suggested Lamar ... well Luther lost as usual and began his ascent up the tree while Lamar held the flashlight ... just as Luther pulled himself up onto the last limb stout enough to support his weight Lamar yelled "see anything?" ... Luther answered "not a thing, just blackness, lots of black ... shine that light a little to my left" ... by the time Lamar's light had illuminated the 300lb. black bear sitting there beside Luther on that tree limb it was too late ... Luther saw the bear's huge paw coming toward his face at a high rate of furious velocity, but had neither time to react nor the means to successfully do so ... Luther somersaulted out of that tree striking nearly every limb during his rapid descent before landing face first on the rocky ground and hard tree roots at the base of the mammoth conifer ... the landing was a bit softer for the bear however, it came to rest on top of Luther then scurried off into the darkness ... just as Luther began to regain consciousness Leon and Blue ran over for their customary visual and olfactory inspection of the fallen creature, neither of which turned out to be a pleasant experience for all concerned ... needless to say the boys made the one hour jaunt back to the truck in less than ten minutes flat ... Luther then made the executive decision that there would be no further coon hunting until the arrival of open season ... when they could carry guns!