December 5, 1968

Last night I went coon hunting with six of the hill kid’s. They let me take Morgan along even though he didn’t know how and was consistently on the wrong trail–one of a squirrel or rabbit. But within a few hours with his blue tic pedigree, he learned and began to fit in. Of course, I too was a novice and was astonished at how each boy knew his own dog’s bark and could tell if it was on a cold or hot trail.

A certain bark would get us all running in the dark with flashlight beams darting about helping us see our way, going full speed towards the dogs, with branches hitting us in the face. And then there it was, a coon high up in a tree with the dogs circling the trunk, jumping and yelping. There was only one gun, a .22 rifle. One of the boys, whose turn it was, aimed and fired. The dogs kept barking as the coon fell to earth. Each of us held our own dog, while the shooter’s dog finished the job dropping the coon when it was dead. Then everything got quiet and the dogs went off in search of another. I left after three coons. The boys got seven that night and none of them came to school the next morning. I marked them absent from my class.

James Benning was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in 1942. He has been making films since 1972 and has created numerous art installations.