Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
We are going on a UKC (United Kennel Club) coon hound night hunt or field trial.
Kalamazoo, Mich., is the headquarters for the United Kennel Club that recognizes the seven coon hound breeds.
Back in the late 20th Century (that sounds old), you won trophies as well as points to elevate your hounds’ standings toward being a grand night champion.
You still earn points to earn the name “champion,” but the trophies are replaced with cold, hard cash. You get paid back a percentage of the take, of course, by how well your dog scored. To make night champion, you need a total of 100 points and at least one first-place win.
Trucks started pulling in with hounds in their dog boxes voicing their excitement. They knew what was about to happen from the lessons they learned as puppies.
Handshakes from Max Cosby, Dwayne Carpenter and Roy Nuel were very hardy and the look in their eyes told many stories without saying a word.
Dwayne Carpenter’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Renee, said with great pride, “I coon hunt with Grandpa and we even ride mules when we hunt the old Doc dog ‘cause he really gets out there.”
It cost $15 to enter the hunt. Ten dogs have to be entered to get a full championship point. With three dogs, 3/10 of the money is paid back with the dam and sire can get 10 percent of the take. Rockville holds about seven hunts a year.
Max Cosby still hunts English dogs after 45 years, although another passion of his is running beagle dogs in rabbit hunting field trials. He is second to none, having won a national championship and third place in the world hunt.
Team Harley has just pulled in with many nods of the head and pointing from other hunters knowing they are going to be hard to beat. They cast the dogs to hunt — with four per cast — with each category competing amongst them.
Our cast was made up of one Walker dog, one Bluetick and two English hounds. John Chaney with Harley, Pete Thompson with Bird, Jim Lundy with Chrisy and Randy Jones with John. Tracey Insley was the “judge.” Tracey is a longtime member of the club and if you need any info on club events, give Tracey a call at (765) 592-0125.
On the first turn out, the dogs hit the woods running, startling a coon in a matter of minutes. They stayed in the timber and the coon did not have enough time to get in the cornfield and picked a den tree for refuge. Three dogs honored the tree with one of the English dogs treeing separate about 100 yards off to itself … unfortunately a coon was not spotted in that tree either. The dogs on the first tree received circle points because of holes in the den tree. The one English dog received minus points for having what we call a “slick tree” or no coon in the tree.
Second turn out, again, it only took minutes to strike a coon. Trailing a short distance when two dogs treed and two took another truck trailing away. It was music to my ears listening to those hounds, remembering many of my own past hunts and good old dogs. Yes, the first two had their coon setting in the top of the tree. They received plus points. The other two hounds were making every toe push a little for they were about out of hearing.
It was getting late. Seth and I had another event early the next morning so we thanked everyone and started for the truck. Yes, coon hunting is still alive and well, being a wonderful sport for outdoorsmen. Treat yourself to a night out at the Rockville Coon Hunters club.
Kenny Bayless can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.