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 First Coon Island Trip 1983

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Posts : 18
Join date : 2007-09-12

PostSubject: First Coon Island Trip 1983   Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:11 am

First Coon Island Trip

Well about dark Randy-Mary and I loaded the old harpoon and launched from a boat ramp on cedar creek lake and headed for coon island. The water was perfectly still-no wind, perfect weather for coon hunting. It was cool but not cold.
We could see the island as a dark shape and the lights from highway 274 behind it forming a glow, a halo over the top of the dark island. We went to the left of a sunken ridgeline that extended ½ mile from the southeast corner of the island marked by lots of tall dead timber and right up to the island. I intended to land and build a fire but Randy wanted to circle the island so we did.
We discovered north cove, east cove saw a 13 pound swamp rabbit and came around to an old pier. I tried to pass around timber but the weather was too cold and the timbered ridge too thick and went too far out in the lake to circle or to go through, so we decided to stay there.
There was no pier for 10’ out from shore as it had rotted and caved in, so we had to improvise. There was predictably no firewood either but we found enough to get a fire going.
We got a good fire going had a drink of some of Randy’s whisky and smoked a joint and felt better. We kept dogs tied to let the island quiet down and let the coon start moving again.

By 10:45 the dogs started booger barking and we let them go.
They came back and stayed in camp till we went hunting about 11:15.
We walked north across an old grown up farm then through woods with really big trees including the biggest cedar tree I’ve ever seen.
It was four feet in diameter. Big old trees good coon woods I thought. Then Joe and Sue may started running a track.
They were excited and I ran to keep up. Then they were barking treed and I thought this is too easy! When I got to the tree they were on a den tree. We saw fresh chewing on the edges of the hole and coon scat under the tree. Identical to scat taken later from a dead coon,
so we called it a ‘sure enough den tree’ and went on.
It didn’t take 10 minutes till they were treed again.
I ran over and was the first one there.
A coon! I hollered, Randy and Mary came up and sure enough there was a fine coon about one year old. I took a rest and drilled her through the head with a perfect shot. Took her to shore and cleaned her out, put her on a heel stick and off we went to get another.
We tramped all around the island mostly in the center.
Dogs treed again this time in a big cedar. Since I couldn’t see into the tree I decided to climb tree and shake the coon out or just shoot him.
I unloaded .22 auto and tied it to my waist and started climbing.
I checked limbs on the way up and saw no coon,
as I got to the top something jumped on my head!
I yelled and ducked but it was only a swaying limb from the next tree over. Finally the top and nothing so I came back down.
Dogs swore there was something in the tree, but I finally succeeded in getting them started again. Joe swung wide and picked up another track, ran and treed again. This time I could see it, a very big squirrel and this was at 1:30 in the morning! I shot squirrel, cleaned him and we took off.

About then I came to mounds in the middle of the forest. They could have been Indian burial mounds as we knew a guy who used to come out to the island and dig up old Indian pottery and lots of it!
Joe Miller was his name and he would use a rocker with ¼” hardware cloth on the bottom, and dig up the sandy dirt.
When he had gone through the gravelly dirt looking for pottery shards,
he would take it out in the lake and dump it so he didn’t have to go through it again. Joe worked the island for years and found all kinds of Indian related stuff. The island, before the lake was built was a hill between two big creeks that came together on the south end.
It must have been a good fishing place and higher than the surrounding area so a good camp or village site.
There used to be lots of Caddo Indians here so these mounds were likely burial mounds I thought. But it was so dark we could only tell that all the surrounding land was flat except these mounds with small trees growing on them. Then we came out on top of a hill where an old set of pens and fences were still standing but very old.
From there we followed an opening back until it quit and we started descending into what we would later call:
“The thicket of death”.

The thicket was solid with sticker vines taller and thicker than I’ve ever seen. It got worse and worse with no end.
We couldn’t keep out directions straight either.
The dogs couldn’t even get through they would go around, several hundred yards and catch up. Dogs would tree and they would sound excited like they could see coon. But by the time we would get there… nothing. This happened three times and took us in circles for three hours, always in the thicket. I remember a smaller tree in the thicket and a giant oak that may have had a coon cause it had several big holes,
but was so big 6’ in diameter and so thick we couldn’t see much of it.
I figured that a grown and very smart and experienced coon had been climbing trees and jumping out thereby breaking his scent trail and taught these young dogs a valuable lesson.

Another time the dogs were barking excitedly at the shoreline,
we knew they were on a coon. They would walk out on a log and back again, run up and down the bank and back to the log.
Walk out to the end of the log and bark.
That old coon must have swam off from the end of that log and broke his scent trail when he heard the dogs coming.
Scent was real fresh but ended at that log.
We didn’t think to take a dog either way,
but we didn’t pick him up coming on down the shoreline so he must have gone around us and landed the way we had just come.
There were groups of doves in damn near every 6th tree 3-10 birds.
Every minute or so, all the time we were in the upland part of the thicket we would hear a “whoosh! Whoosh! And of they would go, at night!

I remember three slick trees had occurred when I said “lets start heading towards camp, and not knowing directions but being on an island. We picked a star and walked towards it till after about an hour we were exhausted and sat down and had a drink of water from my canteen. At this point I climbed a tree and saw water. We kept going and finally reached the shoreline. By now Gibson’s light was totally out of battery power. I could barely see a glow of puny light behind me and Randy started saying slow down, and me and Mary said come on more and more often. We had intended to follow the shoreline around to the right till we hit the pier and the boat. But we discovered that the thicket extended right down to the water. We could walk the shore for about ten feet then had to go inland for about one hundred yards to go around fallen trees covered with saw briars every where.
Eventually we got pretty good at it,
at one point completely surrounded by impenetrable saw briars,
I dove head first over a small seven foot tall cedar tree covered with briars and broke it down while Randy and Mary walked over my body and past. We crawled, pushed till we were bound in vines then put a foot on the mass, jumped over and continued till we were pretty tired and plopped down and built a fire, stacked up some wood,
took another drink of water and lay down.

I was falling asleep, it was 5:00am,
listening to Sue May mournfully yo, yo’ing in the distance.
I said she isn’t treeing but she has been in the same place for a long time. I’ll go check on her. I got up and walked up the hill and saw Sue May in a cage trap! It was 6’x3’x3’ and set for coon.
This cage trap was only 100 yards from the boat,
so I hallowed Randy and Mary.
We put out the fire and came on in to our original camp,
ate a sandwich and built another fire and layed down.
The dogs were dead tired, foot sore, and hungry.
They lay down and soon asleep-5:30 am.
I couldn’t sleep because the ground was so cold.
So I just sat up. I should have cut cedar limbs for a bed but it was already getting light. I sat by the fire while Randy and Mary slept.
And when the sun was up enough to see I went a huntin.

I walked down the shoreline and saw 25-30 ducks,
which had roosted along the shoreline.
They flushed way ahead of me. I shot at one with my .22 but missed.
I saw the place where we had cleaned the coon which I thought was nowhere near here. I heard 15 Canada geese take off from mid-lake.
Saw nutria and coon sigh everywhere but only the coon sigh was fresh. Several ducks had been eaten along the shoreline by coon.
About on the southeast corner of the island I sat on a log in coon gut cove and smoked a joint and headed back.

A swamp rabbit flushed and I broke his spine with second shot finished, cleaned him and walked into camp just as Gibson and Mary were getting up. We hung rabbit up on the meat pole loaded the old harpoon and circled the island before cruzing back on home tired but happy.

J. Winters VonKnife
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First Coon Island Trip 1983
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