John's Journal...

The Addiction of Coon Hunting

Remembering The Toughest Coon Hunter Alive

Click to enlargeEditors Note’s: I’ve befriended and hunted with some of the best coon hunters in the nation. I’ve changed some names in this week’s stories to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent and whatever reputations they may have left. An abundance of raccoons or ringtails as some hunters call them makes this species a critter you can chase all over the U.S. and parts of southern Canada. Be sure to check the seasons and bag limits in your area. Hunters have fun running their dogs year-round even if they can’t bag the coons.

With rippling muscles and an all-knowing look on his face, this judge was the supreme authority at the preliminary to the World Coon Hunt I attended a couple of years ago. I knew that a man who had spent so much time in the woods at night pursuing ringtails to become a coon-hunting judge had to have expert knowledge on whatClick to enlarge made tough coon hunters and tough coon dogs. The weak of spirit of body never should hunt coons. Long walks, occasional runs, battles with briars and thickets and sometimes a soaking up to your armpits are just a few of the hardships a coon hunter must endure to participate in this sport. When I asked the judge who was the toughest man of dog he’d ever seen in more than 40 years of coon hunting, he surprised me when he answered, “ The Lady.”

“Who’s the Lady?” I asked him. “Her name’s Ms. Vicki, and she’s on this hunt,” the judge replied. “She once judged the World Coon Hunt while eight months pregnant. On another hunt, a water moccasin bit her on the first night of a two-night hunt. She chose not to go to a doctor, but instead hunted the seClick to enlargecond night and won the hunt.” The judge described the previous night’s hunt when three of the four coon dogs in the contest treed a coon together. However, Ms. Vicki’s dog had chased a coon out of hearing range. After judging the first three dogs at the tree, the judge called time–out. Then he said, “Ms. Vicki, you have one hour from the time I say ‘go’ to find your dog and bring him back to me without being disqualified,” the judge explained. “I’ll send a guide with you. I know you’ve never hunted this swamp before, and I don’t want you to get lost.” The Lady smiled and asked if she could borrow a compass. When the judge said ‘go,” she sprinted down a nearby power line right-of-way with the guide in tow. Twenty minutes later, a lone light moved slowly up the right-of-way back toward the judge.
“At first, I thought the Lady had sent the guide ahead to get the dog and returned because she was tired,” the judge said. “But as the light approached, I saw the guide had returned, not the lady. I asked the guide why he had left Ms. Vicki behind in the swamps. ‘She said I slowed her down,’ theClick to enlargeguide explained with sweat rolling off his brow. With 10 minutes left before being disqualified from the hunt, Ms. Vicki appeared on the run up the right-of –way with a light bobbing on top of her hard hat. With two minutes to spare, the Lady arrived in front of the judge with her dog on a leash.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” the judge recalled. “She had cut-up and bleeding arms as through she’d fought a bobcat. Wet from head to toe, she blew like a horse would after running the Kentucky Derby. She told me she would have reached me sooner, but her dog treed a coon on the other side of the river. A briar thicket blocked the path leading to the edge of the river. She couldn’t find a way around the briars. So she crawled through them, swam across the river, retrieved her dog and crawled back through the briars again. She said if those briars had not blocked her path, she could have returned 15 minutes sooner. Then she told me, ‘Since I got back before my hour was up, let’s continue the hunt.’” The judge smiled when he said he never had seen a man, woman or a coon as gritty as Ms. Vicki, the Lady.


Check back each day this week for more about "The Addiction of Coon Hunting"

Day 1: The Pre-Game Coon Hunts
Day 2: Breaking In A Coon Dog
Day 3: Remembering The Toughest Coon Hunter Alive
Day 4: Having A Place Of Honor
Day 5: The Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard


Entry 428, Day 3