I have some wonderful memories of coon huntin’ when I was a youngster. There was nothing quite like a crisp, cool, late autumn night, joining up with a bunch of the neighbors to follow that melodic cadence of, “the best coon hound in the county.” Of course it made no difference which neighbor I’d joined up with, because we were always following, “the best coon hound in the county.”
As far as I was concerned, the worst coon hound in the county would still have howled out a tune that would have carried through the still night air like Gabriel’s horn and, after all, it was as much or more about the socialization of good friends as it was about the hunt, anyway. My job was to carry the light and try to keep up with the older kids and men who carried the guns, but the best part of the evening was always just sitting and listening to the dogs while the old men would interpret to us youngsters as to what was going on. Of course, there was always hot chocolate for the kids and some strange smelling clear liquid for the men – something that seemed to put more spring in their step and allowed them to hunt well into the wee hours of the morning.
Yes, all those old, stored-away memories hadn’t been tapped for more than 40 years – until last week – when I went coon huntin’ once again.
My wife, with help from the old matriarch barn cat, had just weaned off the latest litter of mousers in our garage. Since we don’t have a dog anymore, Judy had confiscated the canine self-feeder and filled it with dry cat food. The kittens, their mother, the old tomcat, and most other cats within a two-mile radius had learned that the feeder was always full and the garage door was left up enough to allow them constant admission to the smorgasbord. But, the past few mornings had found our garage in total disarray with everything turned upside down and knocked around. It could only be raccoons.
Judy vowed to catch the little bandits in the act and did just that at 3:00 a.m., the first morning of her coon hunt. She awoke me from a deep sleep at that early hour to inform me that she had trapped the varmint in our garage by lowering the door before he could escape.
“Well what do you want me to do?” I asked in a half-awake fog.
“Get your gun and shoot him.” she shrieked, “I’m tired of buying cat food every other day.”
I tried my best to clear my head before explaining that a shotgun blast inside the garage would most certainly do more damage than a bag of cat food would cost. Agreeing, she opened the door and watched the masked criminal escape.
The next night, Judy had a better plan. She would once again trap the critter in the garage, but this time, I would strap on my coon huntin’ headlight and stand outside the garage door with my shotgun and execute him as he ran out.
The coon was an early visitor that night with my wife waking me at midnight. I grabbed the light and shotgun and went out the front door wearing nothing but my underwear and house shoes. Unfortunately, between the time I had gone to bed and the coon hunt, the wind had shifted to the north and a cold rain had begun to fall. Ice-cold precipitation dripped off me as I waited for the garage door to raise. When it did, a half-grown coon scurried out and sidled along the edge of the house. Trying to avoid blasting a hole in the side of the house, I pulled the gun to the right and missed, causing the terrified coon to run up the nearest oak tree in the yard.
“There he is! There he is!” my wife began howling, as she hurried to the base of the tree. Once there, the sash of her robe was caught by the wind and began wagging back and forth, behind her, just like “the best coon hound in the county.”
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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