Back in the mid-1960s, raccoon furs hit an all-time high. A well-handled, large raccoon brought about $30 from the fur buyer. Well-handled meant skinned, fleshed (most or all the fat removed) and placed on a stretcher to dry. Anything that you left for the fur buyer to do, you were docked on price.
Of course, everyone wanted a coon dog back then. Some would even pay thousands of dollars for a pup that had a good bloodline. Back then, I acquired a young female Walker, and she trained very easily. Of course, I had a friend who had a good dog, and he allowed me to hunt with him and his dog.
My dog was running and treeing raccoon before she was a year old. In fact, I caught and sold 80 raccoon that season. When I received my fur check that year, I thought I had died and went to heaven. Of course, if one had a good dog, everyone wanted to hunt with you. If it wasn’t to train his/her dog, it was for the money.
At that time I ran into a senior citizen I met in a barbershop in Marseilles. His name was Rance Thomas. After swapping a few hunting tales with him, we decided to go hunting.
We pulled into what is now a campground called Glenwood Farms. This was all timbered with a large creek running through it. This was an ideal place to tree a raccoon, so we turned the dogs loose. It didn’t take long, and my dog barked treed.
Right after we shot the raccoon out, the road we came in on lit up with red lights and sirens. It was our new police chief. He held us there until the game warden showed up. The new chief asked what we were doing shooting at night. We explained to him that we were raccoon hunting. The chief said that we couldn’t hunt raccoon at night. We might shoot someone. Rance, being quite a comedian, immediately replied, “If he’s up in that tree with that raccoon, he should be shot.”
The game warden finally explained to the chief that we were perfectly legal, and we collected the dogs and went home.
Illinois and Fox rivers have improved for channel catfish. Inside bends and holes have been producing a few nice fish. I did see some nice ones taken at Allen Park near the bridge.
Cooling-lake action has been fair at both Braidwood and Heidecke for catfish and bluegill. Some nice crappie have been caught near the boat ramp at Shabbona. La Salle Lake has been king, with catches of 100 fish in four hours. That is, many bluegills, channel catfish and some hybrid stripers. Most of the lake has reached 70-80 degrees, which is ideal. Despite what some say, the fish are very good eating.
• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.