Anyone can get in over their head, regardless of how good or experienced of a hunter you are. I have heard so many raccoon hunting stories. Some good, some bad and some that are just unbelievable to the point that you don’t even want to listen. But I didn’t hear the one I’m fixin’ to tell you. I witnessed it firsthand.
For a little background, Ole’ Dan, the dog we were hunting with was about nine or 10-years-old. When he was young, he won the high point Blue Tick Male category at the National Winter Classic out of 885 total dogs two years in a row. This was such a solid dog that, when he opened his mouth, you knew that there was a ringtail bandit fixin’ to run up a tree.
The grandfather of my 18-year-old son’s girlfriend at the time was talking to him at one of their family gatherings and telling Lane (my son) of his coon hunting days and that he had not been coon hunting in like 50 years. Of course, with the manners that I have bestowed upon him, Lane extends the invite to the woods sometime. Well, the grandfather said he had 1,500 acres of timber, and that the coons were eating all his deer corn and wanted them thinned out. So, they arranged a time and we met the next week to take him on a ring tail hunt to show him how good ole’ Dan was. Keep in mind that when you are talking to folks who know dogs and have been in the coon hunting woods, they are always reluctant when you tell them that you have a good coon hound.
After all the formalities of meeting and discussing the lay of the land, we cut ole’ Dan loose. He went only about 50 yards and struck, which means that he opened his mouth with a very loud tone to say, “Hey, I’ll have him treed in a minute or two.” Within about five minutes Dan is looking up with a long locating bark and then several short choppy barks to say, “Hey, where y’all at? I’m down here with the meat on the outside.”
After we drove over to the sight, we were only about 100 yards from ole’ Dan, but it was 100 yards up an extremely steep hill. When we arrive at the tree, Lane is there waiting on us and has the coon found and was excited as a 10-year-old. The coon was at least 35 pounds. I told him that when he takes the final shot, to make sure he had a good one and to shoot it dead. We didn’t want ole’ Dan to get hurt or have to fight the coon. So, I hold the light on the coon and Lane raises his .22 caliber rifle. Being the crack shot that he is, Lane pulls the trigger it appears that the coon is fixin’ to fall out dead.
Then it happens, the coon hits the ground and ole’ Dan goes in. But, all of the sudden, the fight is on. I was still thinking that the coon was dead, but I was wrong. The coon gets totally away from ole’ Dan and is headed down that steep hill. Lane throws me the .22 and follows them. By the time the grandfather and I arrive at the scene of the crime, the coon had ole’ Dan bluffed out and was standing on his back legs as if he was as big as a grizzly bear. I told Lane to ease in there and get a hold of his dog and I would put another round in that kissing cousin of a grizzle and end this before it gets completely out of hand.
I knew this wouldn’t be an easy task. With all of the confusion, noise and darkness, Lane made several attempts at collaring his hound, missing with every try and the coon turning on Lane a time or two. It eventually became a laughing matter. We were all laughing so hard because of the ill attempts and close calls with getting mauled by the tiny grizzly.
Finally, Lane jumps into position to grab Dan by the collar and missed yet again. But because Dan made a lunge, the coon lunged at Dan. Dan ended up the wiser and moved of the way completely, which left Lane’s right leg in the direct path of the charge. Lane instinctively tries to kick it away, but the bear’s cousin is on his way up the leg for an up close and personal introduction. The good and bad news is that we wear waders that are waterproof and briar proof, but they only come up to the groin area. Luckily, the coon settled in about half way up Lane’s thigh with a mouth full of waders, scowling and biting like a real grizzly. Lane stood wide-legged, throwing haymaker punches into the head of the coon with both hands. After about the sixth hit he looks up at me, still swinging with all his might and yells in the most high-pitched emphatic tone, “Dad, dad, do something! I can’t get it off!”
I hate saying this, because I have always been there for my son. I have always helped him with struggles, taught him to handle things on the farm, etc. But, without a hitch, I replied as loud as I could, “I can’t, son. I’m laughing too hard!”
At that instant this is where a good dog comes in handy. At that very moment, ole’ Dan swoops in out of nowhere and peels that ole ring tail right off his leg and finishes him off without any effort at all. I guess Dan thought Lane needed a lesson on how to fight a coon.
It was a fun night in the woods, none of us were hurt and we learned a lot of lessons. The coon never had anything but a mouth full of waders and we ended up treeing four more coons after the big fight. Lane was way more cautious at the tree and took better aim from that night on. Sadly, we lost ole’ Dan about a year later, but he will always be remembered as the best ever! I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how experienced you think you are, you should always be ready for the unexpected.
About the author
Will Jett is an experienced real estate broker, auctioneer and Realtree United Country Land Pro with United Country | Ozarks Realty and Auction Group in southern Missouri. He is also an experienced hunter and outdoorsman who raises Blue Tick Coon Hounds. He has over 28 years of experience in real estate sales, auctions and as a land surveyor.