by Max Brantley
Thanksgiving week is upon us and I had to skip out early yesterday to get family at the airport. More due today. It's wonderful.
Wonderful, too, is this comment that Blog reader Zarathustra added to the item about a new wildlife management area down in the piney woods of Calhoun County. I thought I'd highlight it for those who missed it:
I have fond memories of coon hunting with my uncle Buck Poole as a 9-year-old in those woods. Cold? Damn it was cold and I was too young and stupid then to be there. We'd hunt with a group of men he knew and listen to the dogs baying in the distance until they treed a raccoon.
I remember the dialogue of these guys sharing a pint speculating on the progress of "old Red," or "lady bitch" leading the pack across the swampy mess. Barbaric I suppose is dog hunting, but I wouldn't trade the experience now.
Buck was a blacksmith and coon hunter by profession. He claimed to have lived in a hollow log and only eaten corn bread and buttermilk until he was 12. He'd shoe horses by day and hunt all night. The pelts were stretched and sold to the "county man'" and he'd sell the carcasses to poor folks living on the levee. One of many lessons I learned from Buck is that if you sell a coon carcass, leave one of the back feet on it so people know it's not a cat.
There's still a big square stain on my childhood bedroom wall where I left a coon skin up until the hair fell out.
A little more brush with greatness is that my great uncle was Bear Bryant's first coach at Moro Bay. I just remembered too that Buck captured the razorback hog Arkansas lost to LSU in an early '60s Sugar Bowl.
I haven't hunted in 35 years but I still use the same Savage .22 to shoot varmints that Buck would let me carry, clip removed, during those cold wonderful nights as a child in South Arkansas.