The sun is shining, it looks to be a beautiful day. Finally, a day without a monsoon. Yes, I am aware monsoons aren’t native to Mississippi. However, given the amount of rain the past few weeks, I am surprised the catfish aren’t climbing trees. My yard looks like one of the swamps I hunted racoons in as a young adolescent with my father. Oh, the times we had hunting coons.
While growing up in South Mississippi, it was nothing to see multiple coons out at night. My brother, father and I would usually hunt on the weekends. We went to church on Saturday and Sunday, but after church we would pursue our hunting passion. Our dog Becky, was a Black & Tan, and shehad the coldest nose in Forrest County. It made no difference how long the trail had been cold; Becky could find it. We had a blue tick hound named Susie who could bay a treed coon like none other. Many nights they took us through the Mississippian version of a jungle, straight into the deepest parts of the swamp. This is where we met our match, in the heavyweight form of a 50-pound racoon.
I am sure some people may think I am jesting when I say the coon weighed in at 50 pounds. I’m not.
My brother and I were sitting in the back of the 1977 Datsun pickup we all crammed into when we went hunting. My dad was quietly listening as the dogs were seeking the coon’s hideaway, when all of a sudden they treed the coon. We tore into the woods in search of the dogs. In less than a hundred yards, I was in water up to my waist. Cypress knots were jutting out of the water, and Susie was trying to climb the tree to get at the coon. Both dogs had their necks craned back looking for the racoon. My dad had the light and several other men joined in shining lights looking for the coon. When all of a sudden, the coon makes an appearance at the top of the tree. The dogs went nuts. It looked like a bear, and in the darkness, you could hear muttering coming from various people.
“Boys, it looks like we treed a bear!”
“Hit the coon squaller and let’s see what happens.”
My dad blew into the squaller and the coon started down the tree. About halfway down the coon decided it would take the express way down and leaped down. It landed on Susie’s head and shoved her under the inky water.
“Boy, grab that dog and pull her head up!”
I shoved my hands under the water and felt around until I touched Susie’s collar. I grabbed and pulled. Susie broke the surface of the water, but the coon refused to let go. Becky joined the battle and soon both dogs were giving the coon/bear the what-for. After a prolonged battle in the middle of the swamp it was over. We leashed the dogs, grabbed the coon and made our way back to the truck. When we got home, we weighed the coon, it was over fifty pounds. Without a doubt, it was the biggest coon we had ever seen, I still have not seen it’s equal.
It seems like it happened only yesterday, but in reality it happened over 35 years ago. I have no idea why this memory surfaced this morning, but I’m glad it did.
21 January 2020