John's Journal... Entry 131, Day 1
THE COON-HUNTING INVESTIGATION
Researching What Southerners Enjoy Doing
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sportsmen have so much fun in the out-of-doors, and many enjoy no sport more than that of hunting coons. This report was filed by Mr. Wiggins with the federal government's Human Development Commission from his hospital room. Because of his condition, he had to dictate the report to his secretary, who promised to help him complete his work during his six months of convalescence.
The accident wasn't the fault of Big Red, Junior, Thomas, Bubba or any of the other hunters. And even though the dogs were partially responsible, I couldn't hold them at fault. If I hadn't had the loops and the leashes around my wrists, more than likely, neither of my shoulders would have been dislocated, neither wrist would have been broken, and my right forearm wouldn't have been fractured. The other minor scrapes, cuts and bruises also might have been avoided. Since the dentist capped my three front teeth, no one ever would know that most of them were knocked out.
My secretary has learned to understand me, even though my jaw is still wired together. But amidst this tragedy, I have gained the information needed for this report and feel I now have a better understanding and can make more qualified recommendations as to the funds that should be appropriated by the government for the recreational activities of the men of the rural South.
You may not know that our $500,000 study, funded by the Human Development Commission, studied the recreational activities of rural southerners. The government charged the study with making recommendations on how the culturally and financially deprived men of the South could more effectively use their leisure time to release stress, maintain their southern heritage and possibly improve their well-being, if not financially at least socially. For the first six months of our study, we did extensive research to determine what sport seemed to most typify the rural southerner. We amassed a lengthy list that ranged from cock fighting, an illegal activity, to dominoes, a game played on many southern courthouse lawns.
However, coon hunting seemed to be the most representative, since many of the Southern backwoods men participated in this activity at least two to five nights a week. Even in areas where cable television had penetrated the most rural communities, the men rarely remained at home to watch television but instead preferred an outing with the other men in the community to chase ringtails.
Feeling that first-hand information about this sport was pertinent to my evaluations and recommendations, I negotiated an introduction to the leader of the Pork Chop Knob Coon-Hunting Club. No one seemed to know his real name. He was only identified to me as Big Red. Weighing in at about 250 pounds and having played linebacker on his high-school football team until he was forced to resign from the team because of his 21st birthday, Big Red never graduated from high school but had the respect of all the other men. Bubba, who seemed not to be anyone's brother but simply was called Bubba for lack of a better name, was another coon hunter. He stood about 6 feet, 3 inches tall. Even though large of frame, Bubba was swift of foot and had the courage of a veteran matador.
Junior, a medium-frame, very-slow-talking man the group looked to for decision making, seemed to possess a wealth of knowledge that often sprung to the rescue whenever the group was at a loss for what to do. Although I don't know whether the man called Thomas had that name as his last or first name, he was the jester of the club. Always into some kind of mischief and constantly playing practical jokes, Thomas was a comedian. Even when the other members of the hunting club because angry with him, he quickly caused their anger to subside with his Leprechaun-like grin.