As the day comes to an end, the skin on a coonhunter’s back begins to tingle. Adrenaline begins to rush through their veins. Even more excitement is knowing that his son will be able to go on this warm September night. The coonhunter grabs his lights and collars and looks at the boy and asks, “Are you gonna help me load the hounds?”. The boy stood up from watching Mickey Mouse and says “Yea!!” full of excitement. He gets his boots and hat and comes outside. Down at the pens theirs a lot of excited barking for the hounds know what’s coming. “What hounds do you wanna take, Cam?”. “Let’s take ol Luke and Tinker.” I grab the leashes and snap the leads on the hounds. Cam takes Tinker as she is his puppy and a lot smaller than Luke.
The dogs know what to do, as they jump onto the tailgate and await their tracking collars to be put on. We say goodbye to mom and we are off for another night chasing Raccoons. Each hunt with Cam always requires a stop at the gas station for a Hershey bar and a sprite. Once we get that important business handled, we drive to our destination. I pull up to the turnaround on the National Forest and Camden is jumping to be unbuckled as he likes to help turn the dogs loose. We get the dogs out of their box and I tell them to heel. The dogs listen, they know not to go until we tell them to. Once my hip waders are on I look at Cam and tell him to send them dogs hunting. He runs to the edge of the woods and says “ Get ahead dogs!”.
At this point the two meandering hounds turn into blue flashes as they take off into the woods. We sit on the tailgate talking about school and small things until we hear the deep voice of Luke declaring he’s found a Raccoon’s scent. A moment or two later, the higher pitched sound of Tinker as she joins the race. The dogs follow the scent of the Raccoon giving the “trailing bark”. I tell Cam to listen closely to learn the different sounds the dogs’ make. Pretty quickly comes a deep long dying bawl from Luke followed by 2 more as he rolls over into a steady chop bark declaring he’s got the quarry treed.
Tinker checks the tree and then she follows suit treeing. Cam is excited as he’s ready to get to the hounds. We trek through the woods taking the path of least resistance to get us to the hounds. They’ll stay there as long as needed but it’s hot and we don’t want them to overheat.
Upon arriving at the tree, we begin searching for the raccoon’s eyes. It’s a big oak tree and still has a lot of leaves on it so I swap my light to a red glow. Camden is helping look as well. He’s excited to see the raccoon in the tree. A few blows through my squaller and the raccoon looks right at us. I pick Cam up and show him the two glowing eyes in the tree. He’s excited and begins praising the dogs and petting them. They know they’ve done their job tonight. A few hollers and a heel and the dogs are done. We praise them one more time and begin our trek back to the woods.
The dogs follow as they know it’s time to go home. As we arrive to the truck, Tinker immediately loads up get into her side of the box. Luke’s a little more stubborn. He still wants to go hunting but a little a scolding and he hops right up too. Back in the truck, Camden wants to call his mom and granddaddy to tell them about the hunt. They both listen to him tell the story and brag on him and the dogs.
Once off the phone, I know what’s coming as his excitement fades to silence. Before we are home, he is fast asleep in his seat. We arrive and I carry him to bed before putting the hounds up. Once they are in the pen and fed. I recap on the blessings of health, my son, and a couple of good hounds to help create fond memories for me and my boy.