Wisdom From the WOODS-Coon Hunting Myths

I just finished reading an article in the July issue of Coonhound Bloodlines by Sam Buff about competition coon hound hunts.
The article was about some complaints about the annual wild coon hunt that raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and was about correspondence from people who apparently knew nothing about wild coon hunting competitions. It made me wonder how many people who read this bit of Wisdom from the Woods might have the same feelings about the sport of UKC and other registration offices’ hunts.
These comments from people apparently feel that the dogs are turned loose on captive raccoons and the dogs are scored in some way as to how they fight and kill the raccoons.
This is about as far from the truth as it can possibly be. Here is how the wild coon hunts are conducted: First, entries are taken at the hunt headquarters and the dogs are entered in their class; Nite Champions, Grand Nite Champions, and registered dogs with no championship degrees. Each group hunts against their competition. After the entries are closed, the dogs are drawn out into “casts” that usually consist of four dogs. Sometimes there aren’t enough dogs to divide into fours, so they are placed in smaller casts, sometimes even one dog is sent to the woods with a guide and a judge to hunt by itself.
When the dogs are turned loose and time has been started, the first dog finds a raccoon track and barks and is called struck, he or she receives 100 strike points. Second dog gets 75, third dog 50, and the fourth receives 25. When the raccoon is treed, the first dog declared treed receives 125 points, second 75, third 50, and fourth gets 25. If the raccoon’s seen the points are plus points. If probably, points are circled and dogs are led away and released to find another raccoon. At the end of the time, the dogs and hunters go back to the hunt headquarters. The dog with the most plus points wins the hunt and any dog that wins its cast with plus points is placed according to their score, from second through 10th place. The dogs points which are awarded according to their placing is recorded at the registration office and when the dog accumulates 100 or more hunt points with a first place included is granted the title of Nite Champion. Five Nite Champion wins is required for the dog to become a Grand Nite Champion.
At no time is a raccoon harmed unless it chooses to try to outrun the dogs and is caught on the ground. During hunting seasons, no raccoons are killed during a licensed wild coon hunt. Hopefully this information will help people understand how wild coon hunts are handled and any other misinformation that is spread isn’t true.
I personally served on the Rules Committee for 13 years as they were reviewed each year for changes to be made to make the rules better or clarified sections to make them easier to understand and enforce.

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Paul Woods

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Paul is a lifelong area resident. His career was spent as a newspaper typesetter and columnist. He is an avid outdoorsmen and resides in Butler County with his lovely wife of 60 years, Elaine. Paul may be contacted at: paulwoodsoutdoors@yahoo.com

  • MaryEllen Schoeman

    So… the raccoons are “only” hurt if they run away? Because they should know enough not to run away from a pack of dogs, somehow? They run away, get caught, and get killed, but that’s not a “hunt”? You let dogs loose to chase raccoons and if the dogs catch them, they kill them. If they tree the raccoon and the raccoon falls, they kill it. They tree a mother raccoon and she is too exhausted or stressed to get back to her babies in time, the babies die. You can claim it’s not a blood sport as much as you want, but even without using guns (and it’s funny how much video you can find of people at these supposed “bloodless” hunts carrying weapons) the end result is death for the raccoon, either from the dogs, from injuries sustaining running/falling, from capture myopathy, or from exposure or starvation (in the case of the babies). Do you want to talk about how you train your dogs? Please, tell us all about how blooding the pups is such a humane practice. Tell us about roll cages. You’re so proud of your “sport”, stop trying to hide behind an accounting of how the point system works. You train your dogs to chase down and kill another living creature (or make it easier for you to kill it). That’s not a sport. It’s only a sport when both teams agree to play, and no one asked the raccoons.