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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.