I was invited to spend an evening with two coon hunters who enjoy the Lanesboro area’s woods and fields.
What began as a mutual interest years ago has grown into a seasonal ritual for two good friends enjoying the sport of raccoon hunting with their hound dogs. Those animals have earned their spots as respected teammates of the weekly adventures, and have made an important contribution to the men’s families.
Luther Olson, Lanesboro, and Mick “Mack” Macken, of Rochester, have more than 75 years of hunting experience between them and the two are full of stories galore!
“It’s all about the dogs, you just enjoy listening to them,” smiles Olson as he began explaining why he hunts raccoon. “It’s not the taking of the animal, that’s the least of it. It’s seeing what your dog can do”.
“When those dogs tree a coon and sound off, your heart just starts a pumping,” agreed Macken. “It’s just great being out here with them.”
Olson hunts with “Pig”, a 10 year-old half Walker, half English hound dog that he’s had since it was two. He is also starting out a new dog, “Lou”, a 1-1/2 year-old Red English female. Mack tracks with a seven year-old female named “Sadie”. Each dog has a particular howl or bay when letting its owner know a track has been found. When a dog has actually treed a coon, he will give a “locate”, with the dog’s bay changing again to let it’s master know the tracking was successful.
With the three animals involved in the hunt, the mixture of the deeper bay of “Pig”, the higher, crisper pitch of “Sadie’s” call, and the softer, slightly hesitate bay of “Lou”, there is a fervent, passionate melody that echoes through the woods, carried by the moist night air. The sound is both stimulating to the hunter and soothing to the soul as one makes their way through the woods toward the dogs.
The hound dog . . .
It is not uncommon, say the two trackers, to pay $1,000 or more for a good dog. They have seen prices run as high as $3,000 to $4,000. In any case, these “good” dogs are naturals at their job. Olson noted a handler can create a “man-made” dog, but the quality will never be as high or consistent. Both men agree the most important attribute of a quality dog is his/her ability to be consistent.
“Strike (finding the initial trail), track, and tree eight out of ten times is good consistency”, stated Mack.
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