When he went coon hunting for the first time at age 17, Carl Edwards became hooked on the serene feeling of being out in the woods.
As he continued with the sport, he sometimes hunted with someone else.
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Many times, though, it was just him and his dogs.
“It’s nice when you’re out there. You’re out there by yourself, and nobody is around, nobody to bother you, no women bossing you around or anything like that,” he said, smiling. “It’s just nice being out there. I just love it. When I’m out in the woods, I love it.”
Sixty-five years later, at age 82, Edwards still hunts a few times a week.
As Father’s Day approaches Sunday, the Crothersville man said he plans to spend time with his family at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell. He said he enjoys going to places like that because it’s another reason to be outside.
That night, he said he might just head out to the woods with his dogs.
“I don’t know whether it’s a disease or a sickness. It’s one of the two, because I can’t quit,” he said. “When it starts getting dark, I want to go. Usually, three nights a week, I’ll run the dogs anyway, and sometimes five, and sometimes seven. I can’t get over seven out of the week.”
Edwards’ interest in coon hunting later rubbed off on his daughter, Michele Teipen, and she went along with him every once in a while.
But his wife, Lil, and son, Andy, never got into it.
“We’ve been married 63 years, and probably 50 of those years, he has been in the woods. That’s the truth,” Lil Edwards said.
After graduating from Crothersville High School in 1951, Carl Edwards landed a job at Arvin Industries in Seymour.
Some of his coworkers talked about going coon hunting, and Edwards thought he would give it a try.
“I remember the first time I went, I thought, ‘Man, that was a lot of fun,’” he said, noting he helped catch three raccoons that night. “Boy, I thought that was something. There’s just something about it. You get such a kick out of it, and it gets in your blood.”
He didn’t have his own dogs at first, so he went along with his co-worker and friend, Roger Fields, who had a few dogs.
They hunted raccoons, squirrels, rabbits and birds. They also liked going mushroom hunting and fishing.
While heading into the woods, Edwards used a kerosene lantern for lighting and later used a wheat light.
About 10 years ago, Garmin came out with a tracker, which allows a hunter to track where their dogs are, what direction they are going and what they are doing. The dog wears a collar with an antenna on it, and it also comes with a shocking collar, but Edwards said he seldom uses that.
Before the tracking technology came along, Edwards said he could remember spending all night in various types of weather walking around looking for his dogs.
In training the dogs, Edwards said he usually starts them out in the woods when they are 6 or 8 months old.
“You get them out four or five coons, and they know what they are out there after, and they like them,” he said. “I’d start hunting them by themselves. If they are going to make it, they keep getting a little better.”
Edwards said he has had all kinds of hunting dogs, but mixed breeds seem to be the best. He currently has four dogs, Redman, Rowdy, Penny and Mack. Two are more than 11 years old.
Edwards often hunts in bottoms areas, averaging a couple of hours at a time.
“When he was younger, he would stay out there until like 1 or 2 (a.m.),” Lil said.
“Sometimes, 4 or 5,” Carl added.
The raccoon hunting season goes from Nov. 8 to Jan. 31. Then from Feb. 1 to Oct. 24, it’s running season, where you only can let the dogs run after and tree the raccoons — they just can’t be killed.
The most raccoons Edwards killed in one night was 19. For a raccoon hunting season, the most he killed was 76. Combining both seasons, he ended one year with 147.
“I’ve only caught over 100 three times in my life,” he said.
At one point, Edwards had arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees. The surgeon told him within five years after that, he would have to have both knees replaced.
Time passed, and he found himself not being able to sleep at night, and he could hardly walk. He finally gave in and found a doctor in Columbus to do the knee replacements.
Ever since then, he has had no pain or issues sleeping.
Through all of that and some other health issues, he still found a way to get outside to hunt.
“That slowed me down that one year, but I went ahead and hunted,” he said.
In 1988, Edwards retired after working for 22½ years at American Can Co. in Austin.
Out of high school, after spending some time at Arvin Industries, he quit that job one day and landed a job at U.S. Shoe Corp. in Crothersville.
In 1957, he was drafted by the Army during the time of the Vietnam War. He did basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri before moving on to vehicle maintenance school.
Edwards nearly was sent to Germany during the war, but another physical revealing high blood pressure prevented him from doing so. He then spent the next 5½ years with the Army Reserve.
Growing up, Teipen said her father was always there for her and her brother.
“Dad worked a lot of second shift at American Can,” she said. “He always took his supper breaks to come watch me run track. Normally, he always had me a Hershey candy bar because he knew I would get nervous and weak before a race.”
Besides hunting and fishing throughout the year, Edwards also liked spending time ice skating with the family in the winter. That was when they lived on the south side of Interstate 65 in Crothersville.
“In the winter, Dad, Andy and I would go to the top of the bridge and sled all the way to our driveway of our house,” Teipen said. “Dad was an excellent ice skater, and when the river would get strong enough, we would skate from the bridge out in the country to the Jackson-Scott county line bridge. Our ankles would ache for a week, but Dad never hesitated to try it again.”
No matter how many hours or days Edwards worked, he always provided for his family and spent time with them, Teipen said.
“Dad worked long and hard hours and put in a lot of weekends to provide for us since Mother didn’t work. She cooked and cleaned, and Dad did the rest,” she said. “When Dad found extra time, he was in the woods coon hunting. He would sell the hides to make extra money.”
Any time someone in the family or a friend has a problem or needs help doing something, Edwards is there, Teipen said.
“He has always been the go-to guy,” she said. “He has helped many, many friends over the years and asked for nothing in return from any of them or any of us.”
Teipen said her father is a “very unique and special person.”
“He has always been a perfectionist in everything he does down to the smallest of detail, but his humor sets him apart from anyone else,” she said. “Dad can make you laugh no matter what the situation is. I think that’s what I love about him more than anything. He’s a very special part of my life, and I wouldn’t have traded my 55 years with him for anything.”
Teipen said it’s impressive how her father can still get through the woods and walk up and down the hills to coon hunt, especially with two new knees.
Edwards said he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“As long as I can walk, I’ll probably hunt,” he said.
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Name: Carl Edwards
Education: Crothersville High School (1951)
Occupation: Worked at Arvin Industries in Seymour and U.S. Shoe Corp. in Crothersville before being drafted into the Army in 1957; after a combined six years in active duty and reserves, he later worked 22½ years at American Can Co. in Austin until retiring
Family: Wife of 63 years, Lil Edwards; children, Michele Teipen and Andy Edwards; three grandsons; two great-grandsons; and a great-granddaughter