Reading the article in Mountain Xpress promoting Coon Dog Day in Saluda [“Free Barking: You Won’t Get Hounded by a Lot of Rules at Coon Dog Day,” July 5], I found myself drawn back in time to a haunting childhood memory, forever etched in my psyche, [of] when my father took me along on a raccoon hunt with a group of his buddies. I was absolutely horrified by all the barking and chasing, not to mention the perverted enjoyment of the hunters as they watched the poor, terrified raccoon desperately try to escape the bloodthirsty men and their hounds at her heels.
The relentless mob of hunters and their trained dogs ended up chasing this trembling innocent up a tree, where she fearfully struggled to climb as high as possible, understandably frightened for her life as she attempted to cling to the ever-narrowing tree trunk—the dogs wildly baying all the while from down below. Finally, after they had apparently squeezed all the laughter and “enjoyment” they could out of watching their terrorized victim caught in the glare of their flashlights, rifles were raised and gunfire ensued.
There was to be no escape from the stinging bullets that pierced her body high up in those branches that dark night. As she fell to the ground near where I was huddled in my own disbelief and horror, I remember crying while staring into her sad, fading eyes as her warm blood soaked the ground, and the hounds and human slobs closed in. I will never be able to erase this disturbing nightmare from my memory.
Recreational hunting is a pathetic and inexcusably cruel tradition that deserves to die. Saluda’s annual Coon Dog Day Celebration places this atrocious, bizarre behavior on an undeserved pedestal. Please do not support such glorification of senseless cruelty and violence with your attendance or your dollars next year, or ever. Remember, no one is free when others are oppressed. Go to www.fundforanimals.org to find out more.
— Kayla Rae Worden