Rupert Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No stopping Lulu the feist once she’s on her prey

“Shut up and get away from there,” yelled my neighbor as I curiously searched under the scuppernong vines for the varmint that was feasting on our grapes and causing the yard dogs to bark continously as they had for the past hour and a half.

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I didn’t really know whether he was hollering at me, the yard dogs or the varmint but I realized that something had to be done in order to restore peace to our restive neighborhood.

The varmint that I was looking for early that Sunday morning happened to be in plain view in an elm sapling growing through and high above the scuppernong vines.  It was curiously watching me look for it. When first awakened by the steady barking I was sure that it must have been a possum (that’s an opossum to Yankees), but it was in fact a large she-coon (that means female raccoon.)

Had my household been the only one affected by this intrusion, I would have let the dogs bark, then tire and the varmint would have quietly slipped away later in the morning. But one of two neighbors had been affected and that meant action must be taken.

There are three ways to deal with a coon up the tree with barking yard dogs underneath.

The first way is the method previously mentioned but that was out of the question because my freedom ends where my neighbor’s begins — and my dogs were keeping my neighbors awake on Sunday morning.

The second way is to just shoot it out. I’m not one to kill a varmint unless for food or pelt and not having eaten or worn coon lately, I  wasn’t even sure the season was open.

The third option would mean squalling or shaking the coon out and letting nature take its course. Letting nature take its course meant that I would probably have a veterinarian’s bill as I’ve witnessed several large coon dogs get their rears whipped  and ears shredded by coons much smaller than this one.

But I “squalled “ (squalling is a noise made by mouth or call that imitates a mad coon and makes them crazy enough to jump out of trees into the middle of a pack of dogs)  and the coon immediately came down the tree where she met Lulu, the fiest-type yard dog, and company.

From that point all I know is there was a mass of she-coon and yard-dog rolling toward the ditch into the hardwoods and the most awful sound I’ve heard in some while.

Those who also have fine yard dogs need not think that the she-coon whipped all my yard dogs. Brownie, the 13-year-old arthritic lab type dog, moved so slowly that the fight was over by the time he got there. He’s not much for loud noises and excitement, anyway.

There’s no separating Lulu and her prey, I have learned. Previously documented accounts recorded her killing a six-foot snake. She has since shredded a copperhead with jerk that sent snake sailing through the air in two directions.

 I don’t know who quit first, but I’m sure both Lulu and the she-coon were equally joyous. Lulu’s mouth and foot were bleeding with cuts and puncture wounds. She was still proud enough to find me nearby while licking her wounds and looking for praise as the she-coon went through the treetops to escape the canines below.

The excitement had ruined my plans for late sleeping on Sunday morning and probably my neighbor’s late sleeping plans, also.

Every time I let nature take its course, it costs.