Doc had escaped his busy Omaha practice and met his friend Stevo west of Eustace for a little sport.
“Ever hunted coon on one of these?” Doc asked as he jumped two mules outta the back of his pickup stockracks.
Billy and Festus were sensible mules who could handle most anything. The two hunters saddled up, sheathed their rifles and released the hound dogs.
It was good and dark by the time they set out across the open fields. The dogs were soon shiftin’ and sniffin’ through the creek bottom, checkin’ the brush and cottonwood trees.
Pretty soon they set up a racket down through the draws and off they went with the mule riders in hot pursuit. It wasn’t long ’til the howls turned into a baying chorus. They had the coon treed.
Dismounting, they tied up the dogs and mules. The hunters turned their attention to a big elm tree. “Willya shine the light up there, Stevo,” asked Doc. The coon sat on a limb 20 feet up. Doc brought him down with one shot.
It was a good-sized boar coon with a thick pelt. Doc put a slip knot around the coon’s hind legs and dangled him from the saddle horn.
They reorganized, released the dogs and were just fixin’ to mount up when the coon came back to life! He bit Festus’ flank!
Festus broke into 17 pieces. He went buckin’ and squealin’. The saddlebag burst open scattering sandwiches, skinnin’ knives, bullets, snuff cans, ear muffs, gloves and toilet paper into a tornado-like updraft. A canteen whizzed by Stevo’s head. He hit the ground.
Festus tore up half an acre of underbrush as Doc held tight to the halter shank. Festus managed to kick the coon and knock him out. He hung loose as the spooked mule danced around and Doc tried to calm him down.
“Bring my gun and shine the light!” yelled Doc. He locked in a cartridge and was tryin’ to aim the shakin’ rifle when the coon struck again.
Festus bogged his head, brayed like a donkey and run flat over Doc. The hounds were circling the whirling dervish, barkin’ like house dogs and gettin’ kicked on a regular basis. The coon loosed his grip and swung straight up. The loop around his feet came loose and slingshotted him into the night sky.
Festus and the dogs slowed to a walk down the creek a ways. Doc picked himself up and took off behind them.
Stevo shined his flashlight around the scene. It looked like someone had drug a battleship through the woods. He picked up the salvageable litter and, as an afterthought, guided his beam into the tree above him. Two yellow eyes reflected in the flashlight. The coon sat in the crotch lickin’ his hind foot.
Stevo cocked an ear and listened to the ruckus on down the creek. He glanced back at the coon, gave him a salute and switched off the light.
Baxter Black is a cowboy, veterinarian, poet and humorist. His website is www.baxterblack.com.