Category: Animal Fiction


Chapter 3 Drunk Hunter

Coon hunting is exiting stuff. Heady, thrilling, daring and
Plain wonderful. You can't know until you've been out there in the black night yourself with one of those smelly, nasty varmints up a tree. They look at you with their beady, black eyes screaming at you to come and get them. Hoo Boy, do I!
I can smell the stench their little feet leave in the grass behind them. I can pick up their urine in a big wind and follow them through the trees and the dry creek and the fields of cattle. Nothing smells like coon. I used to roll in it when it got really ripe, savoring the perfume until Bubba tied me up and sprayed cold water from a hose over me. You know how much I hate water, especially when I'm in it.
After a few of these hoseings I stopped rolling in it and enlarged my hunting to include squirrels and chipmunks. I tried chasing rabbits but they’re too fast. Squirrels take less energy. Chipmunks take a lot of digging. But I feel I am doing a service to humanity getting rid of as many as I can. There's no law that says a dog can't enjoy his work.
I got into a routine, adjusting to ordinary life. Every morning I woke with the sun and did my stretching to get ready for my exercise. I'd lay real quiet under the big oak tree and wait for my first squirrel of the day. Soon enough he'd come inching down the tree looking around for me, getting braver every minute. Whoopee! Off we'd go, with his bushy tail swishing and swaying, and me nipping at his heels. Most of the time he would escape up a tree. But sometimes, oh Lordy, Lordy, I'd get him and I’d bury him. I always buried squirrels. Otherwise, Boss Lady Brunell would find them and scream at Bubba. It never helped me to have her make work for Bubba.
As the sun got higher and hotter, people started coming around the big house. I had to quit chasing varmints for a while to do some guarding. This meant anyone coming into the farm had to get the ëscare-and warn’ treatment. In a way, it was almost as much fun as chasing squirrels. I loved to yell loud, rude stuff at them and watch the big guys get scared. HA! None of them would step away from the protection of their cars or trucks. They were terrified of my teeth. I never could figure out why some big, strapping man with a four-wheel truck that could flatten just about anything would be afraid of sweet little me. But they were. It was energizing and gave me lots of motivation. What a great high! After they were reduced to jelly, Bubba or Boss Lady Brunell would give me a signal to back off. I’d follow, watchfully, at a distance until they had entered the house. That was out of my domain.
Sometimes, if the visitors really pissed me off, I would chew on their tires. I got a hamburger dinner for chewing up the tire on a car belonging to someone from the IRS. Boy, what a great story! One morning, really early even for me, this wimpy-looking guy drove up in a nothing sort of car. Real quiet. I was resting under one of the bushes with the sweet-smelling purple flowers, when he pulled up out front. Right away I knew he was a stranger. Everybody who knows his way around here uses the back door. Anyway, he looked scrawny and pale as if he’d never been in the sun. He kept sidling his eyes around and looked sneaky. Right then I knew he was a bad'n. Hoo Boy! Waiting for my chance, I lay very quiet with my face in my paws, hoping he wouldn't see me until it was too late. He started up the stone steps to the columned verandah and I dashed to get between him and the car. In low tones I told him what a slime-bucket he was. I kept my tail still to show him I meant business. He turned all shades of red, white, and blue, ran to the front door, got behind the screen door and frantically banged on the heavy wooden front door. He screamed for all he was worth. Anywhere else he would’ve wakened the dead, but not Boss Lady. She sleeps late as she parties until the wee hours of the morning. Rarely have I seen her before noon. Her bedroom is next to the front hall and looks out on the verandah. She’d have to be deaf not to hear all the banging and yelling. She eventually staggered to the door, half-asleep. I wish you could have seen it. Boss Lady didn’t have a stitch on. Just her high-heeled, black, satin slippers. My guy practically lost his lunch!
What was I doing all this time? I couldn't attack him and I was beginning to lose it. I mean really, not pretend-like. I attacked the tires on his little, nothing car until I got a hole in one of them. This was not easily done, I tell you, and it really hurt my teeth for the rest of my life. But it was worth it to see the wheel go down with a flat tire. He screamed, “You owe me some new tires.” Boss Lady was cool. Without batting an eyelash she said, “Call your insurance company. “He shoved some papers into her hands, ran to his car and drove off with the tire flapping. The pats I got were wonderful. She even spoke to me. “Sam, if you were a man I'd marry you. You have set the United States government back 10 years. That pip-squeak tax collector will never be back.” I only had to do it to him once because he never came back.
When the sun was high in the sky that meant it was noon and that meant dinnertime. I really had to watch because there was no warning and if I didn't get there on time, certain obnoxious visiting dogs from the big house would eat it. Sometimes it would rain on the food and make it wet and soggy and completely unappetizing. Dinner usually consisted of crunchy little nuggets smelling like the cardboard box I slept in. It tasted better than it smelled.
The early afternoon was spent napping in the cool grass around the house. I couldn't allow myself to go into a deep sleep because I was on duty. Trucks brought things to the big house during this time. One truck came every day to bring little bits of paper and I loved to go after it. The driver wore a uniform. I hate uniforms. He was another one of those nervous types and that got to me. His truck had sides cut out where the front door should be and I could see him really well as he left his seat. I loved to stare him down. After all, the afternoons were a little boring with nothing around to chase. He stopped coming up to the house after a while and left it all in a box by the road. By the time the sun started to dip, the squirrels came out again looking for food and I got a few good chases in before dark. Nothing extraordinary, because I had to save myself for the night hunts: raccoons, rats and the occasional groundhog or possum made for interesting evenings.
One night my trainer, Don, came to see Bubba. They decided it was a perfect time to do a little hunting because there was a full moon to see by. I was raring to go. “Afore we go, how ëbout a quick one,” said Bubba. Don quickly agreed and they sat in Bubba’s house licking their hands and drinking out of tiny, cups while I waited patiently outside, for them to get started. Every once in a while I would hear, “Har, har, har, that’s a good’n.” Or, “pissed me off it did.” Meanwhile, I sniffed at Don’s truck tires. I could tell he had a lot of other dogs around him now and I knew some were bitches in heat. Not that I was interested in sexy stuff since I had been neutered. The smell of Doberman is very distinctive and there had definitely been a few of those. I guessed he was teaching other dogs at the school.
The moon was high when I got my first whiff of coon. It was Ole Pig, the meanest father of them all. I wanted him; I wanted him bad. I gave a howl and started for the door expecting for my buddies to grab their guns and dash after me into the darkness. I was out and running and halfway across the yard, when I looked back and saw them coming. They were unsteady on their feet as if they were half-asleep. I could barely see the flash of Bubba's white T-shirt as he drew his hunting jacket around him. I could hear Don's low chuckle that I loved, rolling across the darkness. Now what, I wondered, as they staggered toward me drawing in big gulps of air. They are making too much noise to bag anything, I thought. Then, they came to and gave themselves a good shake. They followed me through the broodmare field and I could hear them shhhing each other and giggling.
Anyone who knows anything knows that if you are going to trudge through a broodmare field at night, you do it carefully. Most of the mares had already dropped their foals early in the spring so between them and their babies, there were plenty of “horse buns” everywhere. I had my nose on alert; I didn't want to come out on the other side smelling so strong the coon could tell when I was a mile off. But not my human hunters. Mad Dog Maddess (Don, you remember) slipped in a pile of buns and fell in another as his shotgun went off with a thunder. “You friggin idjit,” and lots more of the same came out of his mouth. He could cuss for hours and never repeat himself. I figured if I heard this, all the game animals had too. I gave up and went to see if I could salvage something of the chase. I found them sitting in a pile of horse buns, laughing and yelling as loud as they could! Hunting without humans and their shotguns wasn’t as much fun. It was great to shoo the coons up a tree and wait till the guns knocked them down. I stretched out on the grass and waited for either one of them to tell me where to go from here. I really didn't see the humor in it. All I saw was the waste of a great night of hunting. As for my friend, Don, I sincerely hoped Darlene was a dog.
There were many great nights with my two friends. Nights where blasts from their shotguns not only got the raccoons but wound up in me as well. I was having so much fun I didn’t notice it until I got back to my bed. After a while they became something to bite at to pass the time, souvenirs to remind me to get out of the way.
Bubba used to tie the coon tails to the stick on his truck. I had something to yell at the dogs along the road as we drove around. I was very proud of those tails because I had trailed them, treed them and waited while the guns did their job. The hunters got the tails and I buried the rest.
I tried deer hunting but they were too fast. With duck hunting, you got wet. The humans expected you to joyously jump in the freezing cold lake, swim heroically out to the waterlogged carcass, grab it with your mouth, swim triumphantly back and drop it at their feet. Now, I ask, is that insane? What dog in his right mind would want to do it? I thought about Celia and wondered if she really was having a good time. Her thing was not for me. Give me a furry, fat, smelly coon any day. The hair on my back rises just thinking about it. And think about it I did. All through the long, cold, winter nights, lying in my bed next to the heater waiting for spring.

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