The Fall Guy

Kevin T. Herr

I worked with this guy for several weeks and we talked about guns and hunting several times. He never mentioned that he was a coon hunter until one afternoon in early winter. He said hey let’s go coon hunting. I kind of gave him a strange look and said, “What” coon hunting how do you do that? Now I came from the east coast and I have Pheasant and quail hunted. Goose hunted, deer hunted, trapped (muskrat) and pretty much all of that outdoors type stuff. But I had never heard of coon hunting. I asked him again Coon hunting how do you do that? He said it’s easy we have dogs we let loose, sit on the tailgate of the truck and wait for them to tree one. I waited maybe a second and said, sure I’m in. He told me to wear waders if I had them and to dress warm. Be at the house by 10:00pm.

I went home told my wife I was going coon hunting, ate dinner and headed down to his place. I arrived and he and his buddy were in the garage dressed with hip waders and hard hats with lights on them. He looked me over and said no hip waders and I said nope these boots that I have are water proof so I will be fine. He looked at his buddy and laughed. They offered me a headlight and off we went. Just like he said, we pulled up to this old barn dropped the tailgate and turned the dogs loose. They had lighted collars and I thought damn what a show watching these hounds run through the woods. After a few minutes they were gone we sat there shoot’ in the breeze when my buddy said, quite! I strained to hear what he was hearing and he said “Strike”.

Now they stood up and started buttoning up everything like here we go? I wasn’t really sure what to do so I button my self up and stood there quietly listening. A few minutes later more howling and barking then I heard my buddy say Treed! By this time my blood was pumping all of that baying and barking that settled into a nice steady chop went deep into my brain and triggered something primal. I loved it immediately I was hooked. We took off for what seemed like miles across bean fields, around corn fields, up hills, down hills, through water etc. (by the way 14 inch waterproof boots didn’t cut it). Finally to the tree we spent what seemed like forever searching for this coon from every angle. My buddy was making this crazy sound trying to locate it. We finally found it and were about to shoot it out when his friend said it’s too close to Jones’s house. We can’t shoot. I couldn’t believe it. I was wet, tired and all of the adrenaline pumped through my veins well damn. We took off back to the truck and I thought it’s over already? No we are going to another place the Orchard. We drove a few miles down the road the whole way I was pumped and ready to go, talking my friends ear off about how much fun coon hunting was. We cut’em again at the orchard and within a few minutes the hounds struck and treed. This time we knocked that ole’ coon out to the dogs and the fight was on. I didn’t realize it, but this part cemented this sport for me seeing those hounds battle it out with this big old boar coon was something else. The next day at work I sat at me desk and my buddy came around the corner on the cell phone and I heard him say to someone on the other end he looks alright. Then he pulled the phone away from his ear and said how you holding up old man? I said fine, I feel great when are we going again? He just laughed and kept talking to his hunting buddy. Later that week he showed up in the door way of my office and said you ready to run some fat off old man? I said when and where? He said my place tonight the same time. I’ll be there I replied.

I rolled into his place around 10:00pm (still no hip waders or light) he told me the headlight that I used last time wasn’t charged and I would have to go without one. I had a small flashlight so I wasn’t too worried. We went to a new spot that night, cut the dogs and waited I was pumped up waiting to hear those hounds open up. Bam! Strike! A few minutes later “Treed” was yelled out. I was the first one down the trail my friends following behind. (now I have to tell you the whole old man thing was kind off playing on my mind, I was in the Army and I thought of myself as being in pretty good shape) I was gong to show these good ole’ boys who was old. I started blazing a trail back towards the barking using only my night vision (you know without a flash light) I came to this one spot that looked like the way the trail went and I pushed forward. My friends were a good 50 feet behind me now and I kept thinking how do you like that these young bucks can’t keep up. The next step and I’m falling, I mean falling, rolling, going down, where am I falling to? Not sure. My mind was racing a mile a minute as I rolled down this embankment, splash into the water face down.

According to my friends I was doing the doggy paddle. I think it was more like the trying to figure out what just happened and where the heck was I? I finally got my bearings and stood up in what turned out to be about a foot of water. I could see my friends headlights clear up the side of this muddy hill and they were yelling “Are you all right”. I was embarrassed to say it but yeah I’m fine. I climbed back up the hill and just plopped down on the ground soaking wet and cold. My buddies were on the ground laughing. They couldn’t stop and either could I. We must have laughed for a solid hour. I heard the play by play over and over again, as the friend closest to me would tell it. All I seen was you there one minute and gone the next, by the time I got up to the bank you were doggy paddle’ in in about a foot of water. It turned out to be about 25’ drop off and the hence my new nickname “The Fall Guy”. That was about 2 years ago. I have my own Black and Tan, waders and a light that I never go anywhere without! We (they mostly) still laugh every time we get together to hunt. I guess it was pretty funny from where they were.

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