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SIMPSON: Hunting is serious business

No doubt about it. Country boys take hunting seriously. A coworker told me a story that illustrates the point.

It was in a rural community south of Atlanta where my friend saw an old beat-up pickup truck pass by. It was driven by a fellow dressed in camouflage clothes. He had his weapon hanging on a rack in the back window. Sitting beside him in the passenger seat was his coon dog. His lady was riding in the bed of the truck leaning against the spare tire.

Of course, this is none of our business, but isn't your curiosity aroused about this man's priorities? Was his dog more important to him than the lady?

This hunter was en route to the woods and was serious enough about putting meat on his table to bring with him a dog bred for hunting. From the look of things, the dog must have had a higher pedigree than the female riding in the back and out in the open. Well, maybe not, but to my friend this arrangement looked strange indeed. Ladies were No. 1 in his book.

The hunter had that determined look like he was going to trap, snare, chase, stalk or shoot some wild animal before end of the day. He didn't want any distractions.

From outward appearances the observer felt like maybe the lady had insisted on coming along and the hunter didn't mind so long as she stayed in the background.

In my youth, we had coon hunts and sought meat for our table during the Great Depression. Never in my recollection did any of the ladies of the house have to ride in the bed of a truck to a hunt. After all, important as the dog was, he couldn't cook the meat, lend moral support or look as pretty as one of our family females.

In fairness to the hunter, and not offering an excuse for his choices, maybe he wasn't going to the woods for meat. Perhaps he was on a varmint kill or was seeking a trophy. Maybe he was just training his dog.

Could it have been the lady was a smoker and he didn't allow use of tobacco in his truck cab? Maybe he was on a public service mission to shoot an outlaw animal, needed the dog for tracking, and was protecting the lady from harm.

All of this speculation isn't answering the question about why the lady wasn't riding in the passenger seat next to her man.

Come to think of it, that dog may have deserved a seat of honor. After all, he is the one expected to pursue, bring down, and retrieve game. That lady may have been an observer by choice. Maybe she had a soft place in her heart for all animals and was glad the dog was there to assist the hunter.

Our resident expert on coon hunting was Jerry Clower. He liked to tell us about hunting coon at night, running the animal up a tree and then shaking him down into a pack of howling dogs. I doubt this sport had great appeal for many ladies.

If the truth be known, the real reason that a dog was riding in the cab with a dedicated hunter is because sometimes silence can be a plus before the chase and dogs don't talk a lot.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.