Saturday, March 10, 2007


For some reason, I grew up wanting a coon hound. It might have been from reading, and then seeing the movie, "Where The Red Fern Grows", or it might have been in my blood since one set of grandparents grew up in the Ozarks of Missouri. For whatever reason, I wanted one.

In the Texas Panhandle we have a few raccoons, but they usually live in the attic of some broken-down farmhouse or barn. They are definitely not a critter that attracts a lot of hunters in our neck-of-the-not-woods. Running coon hounds is unheard of. If people have hunting dogs, it is usually for hunting birds, or possibly for running coyotes.

Some years ago we moved to Nebraska. We lived in a house that overlooked the Republican River Valley in the south-central part of the state. There were actually trees there that grew naturally instead of having been planted by someone. There were deer and other wildlife in substantial numbers. One day we even had a bald eagle perch in the tree at the end of our driveway.

People in that part of Nebraska also have hounds. So, I bought a redbone coon hound. I named him Bo. It probably should have been bonehead, but it wasn't.

I never trained Bo to hunt coons. He had a natural instinct for it. I raised him alongside a chocolate lab named Cocoa which we still have. I had to keep Bo and Cocoa in a pen because if they were out, they were hunting.

I loved to hear him baying when he got scent of some kind of game. He might be a mile or more away, but you could hear him baying off down toward the river. Calling him did no good, because when he had a scent, he had a one-track mind. I think when his nose smelled coon his ears must have stopped up.

Immediately upon letting the dogs out of their pen, Bo's nose would go to the ground. He would work back and forth until he picked up a scent. It might be a rabbit, or a 'possum, or possibly a raccoon. It didn't matter. When he came across one, he would beeline on the trail of whatever it was until he caught it, or lost the scent. He didn't bay on a cold trail, he'd just follow it. He would bay as it became a warm scent. If he caught a scent that crossed the highway, look out, because he was going without looking. It didn't matter whether a fleet of trucks was coming, or not, he had his nose to the scent, running as fast as he could to catch whatever made it.

I could tell a lot of stories about Bo. Most of them would revolve around him getting out in the middle of the night and treeing a coon, or catching an opossum, or something else. He woke us up many nights in full voice. We frequently awoke to find fresh offerings on the porch with a tail-wagging Bo standing over it saying "look what I've done!" I loved it, but my better half used to get a little irritated.

When we moved back to Texas, we brought Bo with us. We rented a house in town until we could find a place to buy. Bo wasn't too good in town. The neighbors didn't appreciate his baritone at 2:00 a.m. One day we came home to a note on the door from the local officer informing us that Bo's midnight serenades would have to stop. So, I move the dogs to my workplace that, at the time, had a big yard where I could keep them.

One morning I came to work to find that someone had let Bo out during the night. Apparently he had found a scent and headed across the highway. I'm sure that he never knew what hit him.

I miss Bo. But, the Panhandle is really no place for a coon hound. We still have the lab though. Cocoa must have learned a lot from Bo because she constantly brings us offerings that she lays on the porch of our country home. They are a not-so-nice reminder of Bo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aww, I miss Bo. I have to look everytime we see dogs to see if they have coonhounds. I sure want one someday.