Tracks Through the Thicket

| December 25, 2008

A story about hunting raccoons near Turnersville, Texas in the 1970’s

(I will have to try and recreate this as the original was lost in the ether of cyber funk.)

The back of the land was a place loosely bordered by cedar fence posts and sagging barbed wire. I would make my way back to the fences and beyond, holding my Remington .22 pump like a vial of nitroglycerine, so as not to get a scratch or ding on it anywhere. There I would take my aim on hapless birds, rabbits and armadillos, not in a blood sport way, but just so I could see them closer up. I wanted to stop them just long enough to get a good long look, and unfortunately they became stopped forever. It made sense at the time, and there was no real counting of kills, or taking of meat or trophies.

Eventually,[ppw id=”133614625″ description=”Raccoon Hunting” price=”.10″]

two of GW’s nephews heard I was wanting to go along on a Raccoon hunt with them. I was just eleven, and they were something out of the McMurtry’s “Last Picture Show”. JS and RS were high school football stars, big and fleet of foot respectively. They were the stuff Friday Night Lights, old school, were made from – tough, hard working and hard playing country boys. The idea of hunting with them was beyond fantastic.

I think I waited all day for the night to come. It was a chance to go out when I would normally be going to sleep, and stay out until who knew when. There were no dogs. This was going to be a spotlighting affair, and far from some idealistic novel, this was about the classic high school boy’s need … need for money. You see, it turned out that Raccoon skins were being bought in town for an average of about 18. dollars per skin. If Daniel Boone, on TV, needed a new coonskin cap, who was I to deny the McGyver of the 1700’s? Heck, if it weren’t for old Dan’l, I would never have known what animal tracks were.

We took off into the cold, headed out the back of the land like I had done so many times, but this time we just kept going. Through thickets and clearings, single file with our huge flashlights (the ones with the single big battery) and maybe a Coleman lantern as well. We would alternately light the trail – to keep from falling, and the trees – looking for eyes. It wasn’t long, and I was so turned around that I stuck extra close. Just the fact they were so much bigger than me made it hard to keep apace. They never tried to lose me though, and finally, after a few skins were under our belts, they talked me into shooting one.

Now, I had never come close to killing or being eaten by anything this angry, and be assured an injured Coon can get … angry. They were good shots, so when they sighted and shot, it was usually followed by a thick, thwack and thud when they hit the bed of leaves on the ground around the trees. We were into some big trees now, down in and around creek beds. The trees had mostly big limbs that would shelter a Coon, but not snare one on the way down, and down they did come. When my turn came, I immediately realized my disadvantage. I can’t remember what I was thinking, but I didn’t have my Remington with me. Maybe their guns just seemed so much better, and maybe they were. However, I was unfamiliar with the sites, and after about five shots into the V of a tree holding the Coon, they were beginning to enjoy my misses, and coach me – all at once – as to how to hit this masked mad Coon. By now that tree has died of lead poisoning, and I did it. Finally, down he comes. My first coon, and I can smell the money, or is that a gut shot?

A complete Raccoon is not much good to anyone. We were only interested in our furry friend’s coats, and to make them our own meant skinning a Coon. Now, I may not have grown up in the biggest town in Texas (Edinburg, TX pop. 18-thousand at the time), but by the standards of Turnersville, Gatesville or Pancake, I was a city boy, and they knew that much for sure. So the carcass of a skinned coon was suddenly brought back to life, lipless, lidless, earless and in a permanent death snarl. It didn’t really scare me, but it wasn’t the prettiest thing to behold either.

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To Be Continued – Part Three — And They All Fall Down

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Life Observed, OFF TOPIC, On The Road, Paid Reading Content

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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