An excerpt from forthcoming book “Seneca Seasons: A Farm Boy Remembers”.
We were now down on the Kettle Hollow floor, next to the small stream that started several miles to the southeast, near the Reed farm, and coursed its way to the Mississippi River, some five miles distant. We walked nearly to the fence that crosses the creek bed and separates the Scheckel property from the Sutton farm.
In the distance we hear Browser baying and barking, mostly barking. But we liked to think we have a coon dog, so we settle on baying. The sound comes from up on “the bench”. It is one of two easy paths up and out of Kettle Hollow, still on the Scheckel property. There was a much older road there.
That road is overgrown with brush and small trees, but quite discernible. We scramble up the hill with Browser’s baying guiding us. Pitch dark, stumbling, sand had washed down this abandoned road, so the going was tough. And off to our left was a very deep ravine, always in back of our minds.
We’re up on the bench now, nearing Browser, Dad’s flashlight catching a glimpse of him jumping up and down. Ole Browser had come through again! He’d treed a raccoon. Dad shines the flashlight up in the tree, a search pattern back and forth stroking, and sure enough, about 20 feet off the ground is a raccoon, sitting in the crotch of a mid size oak tree, the leaves mostly gone as this is late October and there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees.
Dad hands the flashlight to Phillip.
“Keep the light right on that coon”, Dad admonishes Phillip.
Dad loads a single .22 caliber “short” in the breach of the rifle. It is the smallest bullet for that gun. A bigger bullet would be a “long” and a bigger bullet than a “long” is a “long rifle”. Dad would not buy anything more than a “short”.
We had heard that Dad was a good shot. His brother, Arnold, told us. “I saw your Dad hit a rabbit on the run, got him with one shot as he jumped over a log”. Well, that was good enough for us boys. An uncle’s testimony has to be worth something, we thought.
“Bring the flashlight closer, Phillip” Dad said. Dad wanted the flashlight beam to be in line somewhat with the gun sights. Dad shoots, misses, the coon moves a few feet further up the tree, partially hidden behind a limb. This is one cagey coon!