An Essay

by Karen Peterson
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Thank you for sharing that wonderful story, Ms. Peterson.

I grew up here in Kentucky with a different view of 'coon hunting, though. On an early autumn night that felt brutal by comparison to the humidity of summer, I recall sitting by a fire watching the men spit into the coals and listening to the hounds baying far off in the woods. When the baying stopped and the bellowing began, I slid off Daddy's knee and took his hand. Through the woods we went, though it was as dark as pitch there. Cobwebs, catbrier (living barbed wire, or it might as well be), and whippy thin branches. The next morning I'd be scratched up but happy. Daddy would come and "beard" me awake and carry me on his shoulders into the warm kitchen to eat breakfast.

It was the same for rabbit hunting. Dad raised Beagles and trained them--I think I could do the training as he did, though it has been years since I followed him on the night sessions, and he's gone now.

Dad was a WWII veteran, and he taught all three of his children to shoot, to hunt, to grow a garden, and to make their way in a world unforgiving of fools. I miss him terribly. And on a cold night even now, I find myself stepping outside after dark, to see if I can hear the hounds' voices echoing ghostly up a dark hollow in the hills. His legacy lives on, yes--but there is only me left to tell the tale.