"Bawl on track, chop on tree is your perfect dog," says T.K. Chilcoat of Ash-down, Ark., who is president of the Saline River Coon Hunting Association. "But some dogs may bawl on tree. If I had a good coon dog and he meowed at the tree like a cat, and I could hear him, it'd be fine with me."
When the coon is treed, it is time for the pleasure hunters to get off the log, douse the fire, button up their heavy coveralls and strike out through the brush, brambles, creeks, bogs or even rivers between them and the tree. The hunters locate the coon by making coon-squall noises while shining lights up into the tree. Coons are smart, and will scrunch up in the crotch of a limb and even cover their eyes with their paws, but unless the leaves are too heavy or it is an old den tree—a hollow tree inside which coons live or hide—the coon's eyes will eventually shine in the light.
Then the coon may be shot, or one of the hunters may shinny up and shake it down for the dogs. But if the coon has run a good race it may be granted a reprieve and the dogs will be pulled off and led away to strike another trail. For it is pleasurable just sitting on the log and saying, "There goes old Brumby," or "There goes old June," and telling about the time an old rough coon ran for four hours, perhaps back and forth through the corn when the roasting ears were just coming out, or up and down a railroad draw as the hunters sat listening, the coon passing near enough that they could hear the patter of its feet.
A business hunt brings people and animals together on only slightly different terms. The first step is for the owner of a distinguished dog to place an ad in American Cooner. There will be a picture of the owner holding up the tail of a stiffly posed redbone, and another picture of the same dog barking its head off at the base of a tree. The text might run something like this:
"AT STUD. Elvidge's Red Marvel. I have owned this hound just one year and have the names and addresses of 94 men that have bred their females to him. Boys, there must be a reason. Marvel is a beautifully made hound; tight cat feet, big-headed with long, wraparound ears and the most beautiful redbone coat you will ever see. His daddy was Louisiana Bugle and his mother was Far Cry Ann.
"Red Marvel has been straight on coon from a pup up. He is good-natured, a gritty kill dog, and will take any water a coon will cross. Boys, this Marvel dog has a tenor bawl that will make the little hairs stand up on the back of your neck. He is not mean or fussy in any way and he trees with a machine-gun chop that will drown out the average dog.
"I may sound enthusiastic about this young hound and I am. Come on down and I will hunt with you any night except Sunday until you are satisfied Marvel is all I say. If Marvel don't show you coon eyes, then I will buy your gas.
"RED MARVEL'S STUD FEE IS $125.
"I want to say that Wayne Sudduth and his brother Worley were down here hunting last month with their dogs Red Girl and Rose, and I have never met any two finer sportsmen. Wayne, you and Worley are always welcome at my house to hunt or visit.
"A.O. ELVIDGE, Rt. 1, Box 5, Furnis, Tenn."