Full-moon raccoon hunt

A little over a month ago I was duck hunting on Sportsman’s Lake in Clark County when I had the pleasure of meeting 16-yearold Eric Cerven who was also duck hunting.

Eric was hunting by himself but had his German wirehair “Ruger” along and I was very impressed at his apparent motivation and hunting skills for such a young man.

I mentioned Eric in my column and ran a photo of him and shortly after that Eric contacted me and thanked me for what I wrote. That text started a “coon hunting” conversation that has resulted in dozens of texts and this week two separate nights of raccoon hunting in the Owen area.

Sunday, Nov. 13

High 60, Low 34

Two important parts to this week’s column: I know very little about raccoon hunting and until tonight really did not know Eric. Our plan was to meet at 10 p.m. at the Mobil station in Owen and that is where the adventure would begin.

Eric is a quiet but determined young man who is excellent at coming up with a plan. First, we would drive out to some private property that was made up of a harvested corn field and rolling forests that runs along the Popple River.

Eric would be hunting with one dog tonight which is a walker named Cooper. Eric purchased this lightly started hound last summer from Keith Doering of Wittenberg.

Another part of this story that is really big is Eric’s coon hunting mentor who is 60-year-old Chet Riptski. Chet is a retired Clark County highway worker and an avid hound hunter and mentor to young hunters.

Chet helped Eric find Cooper as Chet was worried that someone might sell Eric a hound that might not be the quality of dog that Eric would need and be paying for. Chet is also the vice president of the Dairyland Fox and Coon Club.

So, tonight was the brightest moon since 1948 and it created some really unique situations. One, Sundays are a very big social night for the Mennonites who have a very solid population in this area.

Many of the roads are gravel and with the bright moon we could see lots of people just hanging out in the fields.

Anyway, back to the hunt. Cooper, it would appear, treed a coon almost immediately in a tall white pine. Wise coons know to tree in pine because they are very hard to see from the ground with a spotlight.

We had to give up on that coon and so we tried a few other properties and had no luck. Eric was concerned that it was too bright out for raccoons to be out and about.

Monday, Nov. 14

High 61, Low 38

The drive back to my home near Necedah was nuts late last night. Deer were everywhere and even the toothpicks that I put in my eyes did not want to keep me awake. When I pulled in the driveway, I fell asleep in my truck.

Tonight we hunted with Eric’s younger brother, Craig, who is 15 and has a walker named “Spicey” who just came out of heat and may be having pups, with Cooper being the dad.

Chet would have his walker, named Gutsy, along and it was really cool to watch three guys and three dogs work various properties in an attempt to harvest a raccoon.

Basically, the dogs are let loose with GPS collars attached to their necks and also a light that is on the collar. A hand-held GPS is watched by the hunter and that is how you can tell where the hound is, that is unless the hound lets out a bellow, saying that it is either on the trail of raccoon or has one treed.

Every hound has a different voice and its own unique sound that it makes for each part of the hunt. It was really cool to see how motivated Eric was and how important it was for Chet to see that the Cerven boys become good houndsmen.

After about our third or fourth hunt and many walk-ins on false alarms, I think it was Cooper or maybe Gutsy that started bellowing that it had treed a coon that was 660 yards from where we were standing.

This time it was no false alarm and I watched Eric drop that coon from a good 35 yards with one shot from his 22-rifle.

The Cervens have 10 beagles, a few coonhounds and at least one bird dog. They fish in Canada, ice fish in North Dakota, and hunt deer and lots of other critters that have fur or feathers. I like to see that!


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