Grandpa, Coons and Sharp
and I walked quietly for about five minutes as we entered the woods. We didn't hurry because Sharp let us set the pace of the hunt, unless he found a scent or heard coons talking. He would check the woods in front of us and circle back occasionally to check our location and direction. After about 10 minutes in the woods, we came upon a small watering pond. I walked down to the pond to check for animal signs or anything else of interest. Grandpa refilled his pipe. The sides of the pond had begun to freeze, and the dirt was too crusty to reveal fresh animal prints. I walked around the pond but didn't turn up anything worthy of note.
I was startled back to the hunt by Sharp's clear, strong bark. We walked slowly in his direction. I wanted to hurry, but Grandpa advised a slow approach because Sharp wasn't too far away, and it gave him a chance to verify the tree. Given time, Sharp would abandon a treed coon or squirrel if the tree had a hollow spot in it. He knew all the trees around.
We kept up our slow pace until we saw Sharp circling and looking up into a medium size red oak. As usual, old polite Sharp had stopped barking, which allowed us to look carefully without unnecessary commotion and the potential to scare our game. After about one minute of looking, Grandpa said in a hushed voice, "There he is, Tommy." He pointed to a spot where three of the larger limbs came together at the trunk. The moon and sky were so bright that I didn't need Grandpa's flashlight to see the coon.
"Let's see if that new gun is as good as you say," said Grandpa. I aimed, but the coon had flattened against a limb, and I couldn't get a head shot. So I circled the tree until I could finally see the back of his head. I aimed carefully and squeezed the trigger. In the night air, the .22 just made a light crack. Nothing happened.
"Hold on ... give him a chance to fall," said Grandpa. "He's angled in a resting position."
About a minute later, we saw movement. Then, the coon released his grip on the limb and dropped to the ground. Of course, old Sharp had been quietly watching the whole time.