Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Mike DiSalvo
I had always thought you ran behind the hounds while they were chasing the coons. I found out you just walk along listen to the hound music and only move in when the dogs gives you the short chop-chop-chop of a tree bark. Sure makes it easier and more enjoyable than the ideas I had of running pell-mell through the brush and woods at night.
Unfortunately I was not present to witness the events in the second half of this story and have to relate them from a second source, Arnold. However I can easily see and hear the events in my mind.
My Grandfather had a good friend by the name of Ralph. Ralph was a big time coon hunter and had an exceptional well-trained young Walker named Buck. Ralph was at Pop’s, my Grandfathers house one night while Arnold and I were tuning our traps and getting ready for the season. We all started talking and Ralph asked if we had ever been coon hunting. Arnold said he had gone once or twice upstate in the mountains of Pennsylvania with a friend of his. I told him I had never gone but wanted to go. We made a deal with Ralph we would take him and his son trapping with us if they took us out coon hunting. He agreed and told us to meet him Sat night at nine there at Pop’s to go coon hunting.
Saturday night we met Ralph at Pop’s and piled into his truck. Since it was only late October we decided to just run the dog for practice and some personal enjoyment. Although the season was open, we knew the pelts would be very blue and unprime. We drove down into Beaver Valley and stopped at a nice farm Ralph had permission on. It had several cornfield bordered by woods, and brush. Ralph got Buck out and turned him loose on the edge of a cornfield. It was a good night, but the first coon holed up in a den tree. We took Buck away from the tree, gave him some water, and moved down about a half mile and let him go again. After fifteen minutes he barked treed. Another danged den tree! After getting Buck off the tree and calming him down, we went about half ways around the field to another woodlot. After only five minutes Buck barked treed, this time we saw the coon way up in a huge oak tree, we called off the dog and continued. As we were headed back to the truck Buck treed another small coon in a crab apple tree, the lil fella was quite scared. We just told him to grow up some and headed to the truck All in all we had a good time listening to the hound music and watching a good dog work.
Arnold, Ralph and Ralph’s son all went out coon hunting later in the season. I was unable to go, but told them to have fun. As it was the middle of November this was a real hunt. From what I understand they had good success early on, getting two coons by midnight and having some coons hole up in den trees. Now the farm they were hunting on has very big woods scattered throughout, however on one far side of the woods is a very upscale neighborhood. Now of course the next coon they hit runs straight for the rich folks. Ralph was cursing under his breath hoping the coon wouldn’t make it to the neighborhood.
Crashing through the brush like Tiger tanks, Ralph and Arnold could hear Buck barking treed right at the edge of the ritzy houses. Ralph was praying Buck was still in the woods, but of course Buck wasn’t. Arnold, Ralph and his son got to see Buck dancing under a nice maple tree in someone’s backyard. Now if it’s not bad enough that this is an upscale neighborhood and the Buck is making enough noise to wake the dead under this tree, he has also triggered the motion detection light.
Now here’s the situation, its 1 am, they’re trespassing in some guys backyard, the dog barking his head off, and now the yard is lit up like Christmas. Ralph is standing just inside the wood line yelling softly at Buck to come. Buck is looking at Ralph like “Hey I got the coon right there can’t you see him?” Ralph’s on the point of breaking down, yelling at Buck to come back. Buck was barking and jumping at the tree, because he can see the coon out on a limb. Finally Ralph had to go and drag Buck back into the woods by the collar. Buck kept on fighting him trying to get loose; he didn’t understand why Ralph wasn’t shooting the coon. Arnold meantime is having a fit of laughter at the whole scene. All I can say is they were lucky the homeowner was either away or a very sound sleeper.
Ralph claims that later in the season he and Buck did harvest that coon. Ralph said he recognized the coon because of its enormous size and the tip of its right ear was missing.