Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A High Mountain Holler and Silent Coon Dogs

My life in appalachia high mountain hollers and silent coon dogs

This high mountain holler used to echo with the deep mouths of trailing coon dogs; the woods rang with the whistles and shouts of the dogs’ masters who tagged along after the chase on cold winter nights.

The holler lies silent now. All in the name of posted signs and progress.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    February 3, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    There isn’t any shortage of hunters in my area, but there isn’t any shortage of eejits calling themselves hunters, either. Rude and ignorant is a bad combination is most things, but especially in things involving firearms, I think. I worked for years with some real hunters and outdoorsmen, who had respect for the land and for the animals they hunted. I sure wish all hunters were like that.

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    February 2, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    When I was a young Minister on the eastern face of the Blue Ridge, the young guys used coon hunting as an opportunity to get out of the house for an extended period of time, to be with the boys, and to drink a little too much. Their wives wouldn’t let them go coon hunting on saturday night…they would never make it to church on Sunday.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    February 2, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I still give the local people permission to hunt on my mountain acreage. Everyone hunts responsibly and is respectful of the land in return. And I don’t post it, so anyone is free to walk about or hike through.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 2, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I think native Appalachian people should be declared an endangered species and allowed to roam free in their home range as others with that classification are. Are we not to equal of the red wolf, the sicklefin redhorse, the pigmy salamander and the eastern woodrat? Should not our governments allow us to revert back to a lifestyle that had served us well until they attempted to make thing better for us by turning us into the same lemmings as the rest of the country?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 2, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    We have more raccoons that you can shake a stick at! Of course it is the official TN state wild animal…so we have to love the little masked critters….
    Some folks used to let their dogs run at night…just to hear them tree a coon. The hunters have disappeared around here. I don’t think young boys are interested in coon, fox hunting anymore. There are a few squirrel hunters around about…
    We used to have registered Red Bone Hound….we got as a puppy…She was prettier than a copper penny…
    Hence, her name was “Penny”…she only got to go hunting a couple of times…during a training session with some other dogs…Her howl around our place was enough to keep the raccoons away back over the ridge…Due to work schedules we didn’t get to hunt her after she was grown…but she was a good pet…
    Thanks Tipper,
    We don’t post our property…Most that want hunt deer on the ridgeline…usually ask first!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 2, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    When I was just a boy I loved to hunt Deer in Rainbow Springs above the Nantahala Lake. The Power Company decided to sell off thousands of acres to the public. Rich guys gobbled it up and the first thing they did was to Post lots of the land, mainly to keep folks from hunting. I seen people take Zippo Lighters out of their pockets and light those paper Posted Signs and walk off. It’s a thousand wonders the woods didn’t catch afire. Most of those Posted Signs are gone now!

  • Reply
    William Roy Pipes
    February 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Daddy told of going possum and coon hunting as a boy and sometimes treeing a skunk. “A skunk skin was worth a quarter so we skinned it out.”
    I said, “Didn’t the skunk spray you? Didn’t you smell bad? What about school the next day?”
    Daddy said, “We just went on to school as usual. We needed the quarter. Everyone smelled bad.”

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    February 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    How funny, but not in a ha-ha kind of way. This was exactly what I thought of when I read your “Desperado” post the other day. Not coon dogs per say, but the culture and the lifestyle that is being increasingly (and contentiously) pushed out in my neck of the woods- all in the name of progress. Whose progress, I wonder?

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    February 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Tipper: this all brings back memories of my redbone hound “trouble” . out here in the cascades of Washington state. we did more lion hunting, our “cat a mount” as some call them. than coon hunting. the coon are so thick out here there was no game in it. my dog went on to win the wa. state feild trials championship. oh for the old days. regards k.o.h.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Somehow, your description of the coon dogs now silent and signs on property that once provided open sesame for hunters brought to mind the words of this hymn (maybe no relation, other than what comes to mind when we remember “how things were”):
    “Change and decay in all around I see;
    O, Thou who changest not,
    Abide with me.” -(words by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847 in hymn “Abide with Me”, set to tune “Eventide” by composer Wiliam Henry Monk, 1823-1889).

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 2, 2016 at 10:00 am

    And a person was known for the quality of his dogs…

  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I went out with the coon hounds and possum hunters many times as a kid. Someone else carried the lanterns and flashlights so I was constantly tripping on vines, briers and limbs. It was still fun to be included with the bigger boys and men so I tolerated it.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 9:28 am

    That is a gorgeous photo. It gives me a feeling of relaxation. I bet it was an exciting time when the coon dogs were returning from a hunt. Signs usually have a purpose, often a warning.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Not sure if that’s progress. I guess “in the name of” qualifies that pretty well. I’ve always liked the sound of a pack of hounds on a race, and there’s nothing prettier than a bird dog working a covey. The dogs seem to have enjoyed the hunt as much or more than I did. Now, unfortunately, there seem to be more yapping lap dogs than working dogs.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    February 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Tipper: It is too sad to even admit that we are over run by the ‘outside’ world! Fancy places built on our mountain tops have destroyed the serene views. We use to just sit on the front porch and talk about those ridges on a warm Sunday afternoon. I will never forget telling my Daddy that I finally made it to hike Standing Indian Mountain.When I was a child he was the person who walked with me and taught me the names and uses for so many plants, bark and trees! Guess that is why I am now THE GARDNER in THE GARDENS OF EVA!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    February 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Good poetry, Tipper.You do have a way with words. You all be blessed!

  • Reply
    Henry Horton
    February 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Loverly photo. Do love winter’s Carolina Blue skies. And they are, i swan, unique. Had a pack running the ridges and hollers here the last couple o nights.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 2, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Tipper–The only posted signs I remember as a boy hunting in Swain, Jackson, and Macon counties were scattered ones on the property of seasonal residents. With local folks, all it took was polite knock on the door and “Can we hunt rabbits on your property?” and permission was invariably granted. Sometimes landowners would ask you not “to shoot my birds (quail),” but that was it.
    Of course the flip side of the equation was politeness, maybe offering them a couple of rabbits, or for places we hunted regularly, some fruit or maybe even a ham at Christmas.
    Sadly, a lot of the common sense and hospitality of yesteryear seems to have vanished. Much of the problem lies with city folks moved to the mountains who don’t understand traditional ways such as hunting, but there’s no denying that slob hunters, poachers, and those with no respect for the land have loomed large in the changes as well.
    The end result, in my view, is a great loss.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 9:09 am

    The coon hunters I gave permission to “cross the signs” became disrespectful, forcing me to add more signs. I loved to hear to the dogs chase the coon, but they never sounded as happy as a Beagle chasing a rabbit.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 2, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Ah yes, “Not My Mountain Anymore” as Barbara said. Among Appalachian folks there is a deep strain of viewing the mountains as a ‘commons’ open to all even though technically owned by someone else. I’ve puzzled over that sense in myself. We gathered game, fish and wild foods from wild lands without any sense we were taking something that belonged to someone else. A big reason was because we had lots of National Forest but the attitude was not restricted to just National Forest lands. There were limits of course. We would not have thought of taking wood or stones or such. I’ve wondered if it was a holdover from pioneer days and open range days.
    Now that attitude is going away, it seems. No Trespassing signs are un-neighborly and counter to the culture. And I’m doubtful that those signs going up are caused by bad people doing bad things. I think they are much more about land owners wanting exclusivity; the gated community idea.

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    February 2, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Growing up in rural Georgia, listening to coon hunts was a regular pleasure. Old George Evans and his sons lived beyond our land, across the Southern Railway tracks and Cotton Indian Creek and the swamp and my father and I would enjoy listening to the baying hounds. My father could distiquish the “voices” of individual hounds and give a near play-by-play of the progression of the tracking/chase. We were rabbit hunters with a pack of beagles and I never went on a coon hunt but I heard the description of many sitting on George’s porch during our weekend visits.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 2, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Signs are for information, like when to plant and a bump in the road but they’ve been taken over by the restrictors and naysayers. I guess it’s just signs of the times.
    Lovely picture.

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