How pleased I was to be invited to fish and hunt with Irving Palmiter, Bill Woodruff and other members of our church. Ice fishing on area lakes was great fun in the winter time when our farmers had free time. We watched our tip-ups, shelled and ate peanuts and made hot tea on our oil-burner stove. We pitched a tent out on the ice. And we did catch a fish now and then.
Ruffed grouse bunting and deer hunting were exciting. I did learn to hit grouse with a shotgun and I saw many deer while hunting with a bow, but never had a shot at a buck. Catching buckets full of smelt was one big adventure.
My life story in Alfred Station, New York isn’t complete without including Uncle Dreadful, the big, bugle-voiced coon hound who came to me as a gift from the Ag-Tech teacher from Pennsylvania who lived across the street from our parsonage. I learned from him that his family raised and trained coon hounds and I shared my interest and enthusiasm for coon hunting with him.
To my surprise, my new-found friend said he could give me a hound from his Pennsylvania family. Amazed at the offer, I quickly accepted and was thrilled to receive Uncle Dreadful into our parsonage family. The barn-garage made fine quarters for this huge canine. Fortunately, he did not howl much.
At the first opportunity–before the season on coons began–I took my hound into the field to see if he would run a coon. He did, and I was overjoyed. Of course I did not follow through to catch the coon. When the season opened, I invited my teacher friend to go coon hunting with me and Uncle Dreadful treed a raccoon that we were successful in catching. Back at home after the hunt I asked my friend if he would like to have the coon. He replied, “You keep the coon and I’ll take the dog”. He then confessed to me he believed the hound was ruined for hunting as a pup in training. Not so! He did not expect me to return the dog and I had number of successful hunts.
Paul Button was with me one night when our dog treed a coon and Paul climbed the tree. When he was well up in the tree, he shouted, “Boys, this tree is full of coons”! (One of them was climbing his leg). He dislodged them from the tree, one by one, and we brought four raccoons home with us.
Uncle Dreadful had one bad fault. If he crossed a deer track before a coon track, he would follow the deer beyond where we could call him back. On a few occasions I had to wait several days to learn from a newspaper ad where he was being kept. I hung a buck deer’s scent glands around my hound’s neck in an effort to break him of chasing deer. I don’t believe it worked.
I was guilty of one regrettable mistake from my coon hunting experience. Aunt Sarah and cousin Blondy Randolph gave me a beautiful muzzle-loading rifle that I had treasured for a number of years. In my enthusiasm for hunting coons, I traded the valuable rifle for a pneumatic pistol I could use to shoot raccoons in trees. Now the rifle would be worth a considerable sum of money.
Madeline recalls the night when a couple came to the parsonage wanting me to perform their marriage. I had just started out with Carlton Green to hunt coon and Madeline was able to call me back. I changed my clothes but did not remove the long Johns I was wearing. By the time the wedding ceremony was over, I was uncomfortably warm. Carlton and I did get on with the hunt.
Pastor Everett Harris was with me on one coon hunt when Uncle Dreadful struck a track and followed it a long time without treeing it. The hour was getting late and Ev got discouraged and went home without me. I stayed on to help my hound if he treed the coon but we were never successful that night.
As I recall, the pelts of the raccoons we caught were worth about $5.00 each. The total we received probably covered the cost of Uncle Dreadful’s food. How many ministers do you know who have owned and hunted with a hound?