A problem that may arise here is that two men may strike the same dog. Since every man is supposed to know his own dog's voice like he knows his wife's, this is ticklish. Ten or 15 years ago, "when coon hunting had a rough name," as one hunter puts it, two men claiming the same bawl might have fought. But today one man will make a semigracious concession. "If another man jumps in on my dog," says Everette Endsley, "that's his chance to take. If he can call my dog better than I can then he's welcome to it." But you know Everette won't like it.
After the striking comes the treeing. The handlers head out in the direction of the bawling dogs. Along the way they speculate on the type of coon they are dealing with. "He been crawfishing up and down that creek," one may say. "and they running back and forth following that feeding trail." Or, "They got an old ridge coon goin'. Them ridge coon're long-legged coons. He'll run like a deer."
Maybe one dog still hasn't opened. "Gerald, where's your dog?" somebody may say.
"I guess he fell in a well," says Gerald, listening.
"He might not like that coon, you reckon?"
"He might not," says Gerald, "if he does, he'll let you know."
There is no telling where the coon's trail may lead. "A dog running a coon would be no race at all right out on the highway," points out Everette's cousin John Henry Endsley, who won the World Hunt in 1964 with Sailor Jr. "I can outrun a coon myself. But a coon can get through a fence where a dog has to slow down. A coon can run up the side of a tree and a dog has to stop and check to see whether he stayed up or jumped down and ran on. A coon can make the walking rough."
Then some dog may begin to chop and its handler will say, "I'm gonna hafta tree old Rebel." Or old Rowdy, or old Girl. The first man to call tree gets 100 points on the card, and so on, just as in striking.
Usually all four dogs will be found together at the bottom of a mighty oak, chopping and jumping up and down and chewing on the bark. The question is, is there a coon in that tree?
If coon eyes shine, well and good. All the points on the card count plus. But the coon may be up inside the tree. In that case, if the hole in the tree is low down, the hunters may get down on their hands and knees, after pushing the dogs away with some difficulty, and peer up inside with a flashlight, or poke up with a stick. This is a good time for stories about the man who started messing around in a tree like that and a whole hive of bees took off up his shirtsleeves, or the time someone shot a coon out by disassembling a .22 rifle, reassembling it inside a hollow tree with the muzzle up and pulling the trigger. But many a cavernous or heavy-leafed tree refuses to yield a glimpse of a coon. In this case no dog makes points.