Baxter Black: On the Edge of Common Sense 11-14-11
November 14, 2011
A retired Ohio farmer named Phil told me this story of the best coon dog he’d ever seen. I believe it, of course!
The dog was a blue tick hound that his father had trained. His dad was such an excellent trainer that he didn’t even have to go hunting with Blue, the dog would go by himself! Dad would put two hide-boards out on the back porch – two medium or two large or two jumbo. He never used the small size hide-boards because ol’ Blue would always let the small ones go. He knew next year they would be bigger. Just before dark Blue would come out from under the porch, look at the size of the hide-boards and the next morning there would be two coons to fit, lying on the porch.
One night some friends stopped by to listen to the dog run. They could hear Blue running across the hill, makin’ the timber ring, when all of a sudden he went silent and didn’t make a peep for maybe four to five minutes.
“He must have lost the track,” said one of the men.
“Nope,” says Dad, “He was just runnin’ across posted ground!”
Blue was so well trained and so smart he would chase the raccoons around through the woods until he spied a tree that was leaning just enough that he could climb up and take care of the coon. Sometimes more than one. Then he would whip out his Barlow knife he carried on his collar and skin them out. He’d pick up the first one, throw it up in the air, run under it and it would land on his back like a saddle.
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He’d carry the other one home in his mouth.
The only thing he couldn’t do was sharpen his skinning knife. He couldn’t hold the knife with his paws because his toenails were so worn down from running and when he held the knife in his mouth his ears flopped down and he couldn’t see! Blue was so proficient with a knife he would hold it in his teeth, peel his lips back like a jackass eating briars and reach up with one toenail, open that Barlow knife, skin a coon right quick and not have a nick in the hide.
Dad sent away and got Blue a mail order course on ventriloquism. He got so good at throwing his voice that game wardens from three counties ran themselves ragged trying to catch Blue hunting out of season.
Alas, they lost ol’ Blue due to an unfortunate set of circumstances. Mom always did her ironing out on the back porch. One day, as she was ironing, Dad came home with a brand new ironing board for her and set in on the porch. They visited, caught up, and then went in the house completely forgetting about those two ironing boards. They were left out all night. They never saw ol’ Blue again!