Grandpa, Coons and Sharp
The night was crisp and cold at Granny and Grandpa's farm near Steelville.
The year was 1973, and I was visiting for Christmas vacation. Earlier that day, I had been after Grandpa to go coon hunting in the evening. He thought it over for about half a second before agreeing it would be a good idea. So, after one of Granny's superb, rib sticking dinners (including milk from Fullbucket, even though she was nearly dry that time of year, string beans from the garden, roast beef and gravy), Grandpa and I readied ourselves for the cold night hunt. I bundled up with an old pair of Grandpa's long underwear, jeans, T-shirt, long sleeve flannel shirt, and then my lined coveralls, with warm gloves and hat. Of course, I also covered my feet with thick socks stuffed into waterproof leather boots. I was particularly proud to bring along my new Remington .22 pump rifle that Dad gave me for my birthday the previous August.
Both Grandpa and I loved to hunt, and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect coon hunting night. When we stepped outside on the concrete front steps, the dew had begun turning to frost on the grass, so it provided good scent for Grandpa's coonhound, Sharp. Sharp was fresh, full of dinner and excited for the hunt. There was virtually no wind, the moon was almost full, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We could see about half as well as we could in the daytime. The two huge sycamores by the house cast long shadows on the ground.
Our breath froze in the frigid night air. I had forgotten my stainless steel, waterproof match holder, so I rushed back into the old farm house to get it. On my way back out, Granny caught me for one last tight hug and smile, and wished us good luck. Of course, her hands were soft, and she smelled like the evening meal.
Grandpa was already down the cinder block steps and almost to the garage. Sharp sat patiently beside him, slowly swishing his tail, knowing what was to come. I started to rush down the stairs, but a word of caution by Grandpa, and my growing level of maturity (including my parent's trust in me to carry a gun), slowed me down and re-focused my attention on the loaded gun cradled in my arms. As I