A Good Night to Go Out

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

given them the slip!”

Right then Ellie let out a long, loud, dying bawl. “There it is!” hollers Roz. Ellie further confirms that she has found the right tree with two more bawls followed by a consistent, double-chop. (A “chop” is a short, loud, consecutive bark that continues until the hunter reaches the tree.) I can see that the kids are anxious to start heading toward the tree where Ellie is proclaiming victory.

“We better wait for Maggie to back her up just to be certain,” I say.

It doesn’t take long. Maggie, more methodical and calculated, falls in right behind her with a single locate and immediate chopping to let us know she agrees with Ellie.

“That’s it!” announces Wyatt. “Both dogs are locked on tight to that tree!”

We listen for a while as the excited barks of both dogs echo through the air in perfect harmony, dominating the night atmosphere. It is the crescendo to the musical that began earlier in the evening. Our hearts are beating fast, not from climbing a hill this time, but from excitement.

“We better get over there and see what they have,” I say.

Hide and Seek

We move ahead, picking a path through the timber with our lights showing the way, following the increasing sound of the dogs. We cross a small creek in the bottom of the hollow and start up the hillside where the dogs continue to proudly announce their successful conclusion to the race. “There they are!” says Wyatt, being the first one to approach the tree. Rozalyn and I are close behind and find both dogs reared up on the tree and chopping with every breath.

I take some time to praise the dogs while Roz and Wyatt search the tree for any sign of a raccoon. The dogs are treed on a big white oak. Branches go in every direction and reach high into the night sky. I join Wyatt and Roz in their effort to find the coon in the overhead branches.

We methodically search each branch and analyze every bump that looks out of place. Then I see a lump that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the branch that I’m searching. As I continue to study that lump, the outline of an ear becomes evident, then the black from a ringed tail seems to emerge from out of nowhere.

“Here he is!” I holler, bringing the kids to my location. The

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