Chili, Cornbread, and Coons
You could feel the excitement in the air as kids and adults gather around the tables to share a meal of chili and cornbread, plus all the fixings. Wide eyed youth listened to tall tales told by several volunteer guides and dog handlers of past hunts. Many stories ended in an eruption of laughter, indicating the saga may have been slightly exaggerated over the years. Nonetheless, it created an elevated anticipation of what may be in store for the rest of the evening. Over 40 youth , including several girls, were matched up in teams of 5 to 7 hunters, introduced to their guides, and learned the names of the hounds they would be hunting. It was noted that the Black and Tan dogs provided by Team Elk-O-Zar (Lanagan, MO) are some of the country’s best, as they have won multiple state and national competitions. The departure sent the young hunters in varies directions, and most of them did not know where they were going, or what they would experience, as 80% had never been coon hunting. Dads, moms, grandpas, friends, and families ventured into the woods under near-perfect weather conditions and moonlight in hopes of the dogs striking a coon scent. The groups began to trickle back to the meeting center at the designated time. The first team arrived with beaming smiles, energized laughter, and eager to display their accomplishment. Soon another team arrived, followed by another and more coons, until they all returned. Each team mirrored the other’s enthusiasm. The room again filled with animated laughter, adventurous stories of the night’s events, and had the resemblance of a homecoming. Most important, it was filled with impressionable memories for the young to be passed along to the next generation, just as the tradition of coon hunting has done over hundreds of years.