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OUTDOORS: My happy years raccoon hunting with Maggie

About 35 year ago, I purchased a Treeing Walker coonhound from L.D. Anderson from Minooka, Illinois.

Anderson had several hounds and loved to coon hunt. Almost every other night after finishing working 11-7 at Caterpillar, we would take the dogs out and work them. Sometimes we wouldn’t get in until almost daybreak.

My dog Maggie was really progressing, and at about 8 months old she treed her first coon. I was so proud of her. I continued to hunt with Anderson for a few years after that, and my dog got even better. The second year I hunted with her, I caught 88 raccoons. Back then coon hides were worth between 20 and 30 dollars if one skinned scrapped and stretched them.

My fur buyer drove to my house back then and bought all of my furs, which consisted of muskrat, mink and raccoon. It was a lot of work to say the least. My weight was about only 160 pounds back then from climbing ravines and wading streams. The dog was also in terrific shape.

Soon after that, we started attending wild coon hunts. They consisted of a cast of three or four hunters and a judge.

The hunts were just like a regular coon hunt, but had some tough scores. A dog had to stay at a tree until the hunters got there, and when a coon was spotted the dog who treed first got the highest score. Scores were tabulated by first strike and first tree. That is, if a dog hit a track and opened up, the handler called it. When a dog treed, the handler also called it.

My dog made a night champion in eight hunts. Anderson tried to buy the dog back from me after that, but Maggie had become part of the family long before.

I averaged around 50 coons per year with that dog and finally bought another young dog. My son Brad showed that dog and won a bench trial with her at Coleta, Ill. That dog was also on its way to becoming a top dog until one night. Both dogs struck a coon, which led them across a highway. My old dog treed, and when we crossed the road I found the young dog dead lying on the road. To say I was heartsick would have been a understatement.

I continued to hunt Maggie for a few years longer until she became ill with cancer. After several surgeries, she could no longer hunt. She was still my pal, and she lasted another year before passing on.

I gave up coon hunting after that. After losing two dogs, I was heartbroken.

National Wild Turkey Federation News

The Illinois River Valley Longbeards will be holding their annual banquet. This will be on February 23 at the Marseilles Lions Club, 511 Commercial St., Marseilles. Doors open at 4 p.m., dinner after that. For more information or tickets, call Dave Hedlin at 815-228-4188.

LaSalle County Pheasants Forever News

Saturday, February 16, the chapter will be holding a Youth Pheasant hunt at the Seneca Hunt Club on Old Stage Road. Interested folks can call Chuck Eiben 815-488-1390 or Jeff Grubar 815-488-3545. Their banquet will be held on March 9.

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