Quilting, Farming, Variety

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Hunt

It was beginning to seem more like winter every day. The white oak had lost most of its leaves and on some mornings the chickens' watering pans were covered with a thin layer of ice. Old Pudge, the hunting dog, lay curled up in a ball next to the back door, out of the wind. The air had the smell of wood smoke coming from the pot-bellied heating stove.
Daddy started hunting at night now. He took down the carbide lamp, cleaned it, and filled it halfway with small gray carbide pellets. When he added water, the pellets sizzled inside the lamp, forming a gas that ignited when he put a match to it. He clipped the lamp to his cap and it gave enough light for him to see how to get through the woods.

Pudge wagged his tail and barked, excited to be going on a chase. He was a fine dog; Daddy had been offered $100 for him, but good coon dogs were hard to find. A good dog meant there would be more hides to sell; 35 cents for opossum hides, and skunk hides brought $1.00 each. Raccoons were the animals Daddy liked best to hunt because their hides brought $2.00 to $3.00 each.

Uncle Dewey came after dark with his hounds and the two men left, the dogs straining at their leashes, eager to be freed. At the foot of Turkey Mountain, Pudge picked up a coon's trail. He let out a shrill bark and Daddy turned him loose. The men walked carefully through the thick undergrowth of briers and vines. They heard the dogs in the distance. Daddy recognized Pudge's bark; he was treed!

When Daddy and Uncle Dewey reached the dogs, they were barking with every breath, at the base of a big sweet gum tree, and clawing, trying to get to the animal overhead. Daddy aimed the light from the carbide lamp up into the branches of the tree; the animal turned one eye to the light. "It's a coon alright! A coon will always turn one eye to the light! Get him Pudge!"

He raised the gun to his shoulder, took aim, and fired. The coon ran to the other side of the tree and jumped. He ran; the dogs gave chase again, hot on his trail! The coon took refuge under a rock ledge along the creek. "I believe we've lost this one; we might as well head on back home."

The next morning, Daddy skinned the two opossums he had killed the night before. He stretched the hides over boards and hung them on the wall of the smokehouse to dry. Two hides meant only seventy-five cents, but the excitement of the hunt had been worth much more.

Daddy and the hunting dogs

Thank you for the comments you have made about my stories. Some have suggested that I put them in a book. Well, actually, they are from a book I wrote for my grandchildren, titled, "In the Shade of the White Oak". I wanted the kids to know what life was like for us in the 40s and early 50s, the first ten years of my life. Right now they aren't too interested in the stories; older people, who remember these things, have seemed to enjoy it though. Other parts from the book may be found under the label "family". Charlotte


  1. I do so love your stories and find them very well written. You're right though, not many interested in our stories now. I am confident they will someday though. BTW I got my little school desk at the Magpie out on the West end of town before the Westside Flea Market. Not a whole lot in there but a lot of cute stuff

  2. I love to read your stories, Charlotte.
    You are from the days that my mother grew up in. Your right, as a young person, my mothers life seemed too distant to be interesting, but now that I'm older, I love reading stories like yours. It makes me think of my mother and grandparents. Thank you for sharing.

  3. That's such a special picture of your dad with the dogs; I know you treasure it.
    How wonderful that you've written a book for your grandchildren. Trust me: one day it will be among their most prized posessions!
    Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  4. Your stories bring back memories of my childhood that I hadn't thought of in years.
    I remember carbide, it sure has a gnarly odor. My Dad had a carbide welder and I seem to recall a lamp too.
    It's interesting learning about the pelts. I know it must've been alot of work skinning and curing out the hides to sell. I really admire our Fathers and forefathers (and Mothers and Foremothers)

  5. I enjoyed your story. My dad never did coon hunt that I know of, but I think some of my uncles did. I didn't want him to, but my son went through a spell where he liked to coon hunt. I'm just one of those who hate to see things killed.

  6. Oh sweetie, does this bring back some precious memories in this old Ozark Farm Chick.

    My daddy purchased a pair of male coon hound pups. One mornin' shortly after breakfast the pups were raisin' cane. Daddy jumped from the breakfast table yellin' "They've got somethin' treed!" We all laughed when we saw 'em barkin' at the steamin' leftover oatmeal Mom poured off the porch.

    Daddy was later offered $100.00 each for his Oatmeal treein' hounds...the day before they got run over on the highway. OUCH!!!

    From the wonderfully chilly hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa, ya'll have a blessed and beautiful day.

    'Sure enjoyed the read and visit over here.

  7. I do love your stories! Thank you for sharing them. My daddy wasn't much of a coon hunter, but he loved his hound dogs for squirrel hunting. We had squirrel and dumplings a lot when I was a child. I wonder what my dad would think about all the squirrels that run all over my back yard!

  8. Oh how I love these wonderful stories. I am absolutely sure that your book will be treasured by your family. I've been trying to get my Mom to write down some of her stories too. No matter how many times I hear them, I can never get them just right.
    Thank you so much for sharing yours.

  9. What great memories! I love old family pictures!

  10. Another good story, Charlotte. And, well done. You had a childhood very different from mine, so I am enriched by your tales.

  11. I love your stories. People don't share stories anymore and that saddens me. They are all too busy texting.

  12. Loved this one too : ) Reminded me of my Papaw and his coon dogs.

    I'm so glad you've written down the stories for your grandkids-that is super!

  13. I'm enjoying your stories, charlotte. I love to hear about the earlier times. I used to sit and listen to my grandmother tell me stories from her childhood. Thanks for sharing them with us.