Jerry Cook, left and Mel Malone release their dogs, Chief and Dan, Saturday night to begin an official one-hour American Coon Hunting Association hunt. The goal is for one of both to tree a raccoon and stay at the tree for at least 5 minutes. The winner is determined on a point system based on the dog's behavior throughout the hunt. Chief was the winner.
On my post Sunday, November 30, I had mentioned about the hunters getting out of the woods Saturday so that a coon hunt could begin. Our hunting club was packed with trucks all over the place and I did not realized that this was going to take place until one of the hunters told us. That's when I met Kate at the camp house who was with the Post to take pictures of the event. There was a big writeup about the coon hunt in yesterday's Vicksburg Post. The big prize is the big brag - and a big ring!
While many area hunters use dogs to drive deer into the open - hoping for a trophy - Vicksburg coon hunter Mel Malone and his dogs have their eyes on a bigger price: the American Coon Hunters Association World Championship.
"It's the granddaddy of them all," said Malone, president of the Three Rivers Coon Hunter's Association in Vicksburg and ACHA hunt director. "There's a lot of bragging rights involved, and the big thing is getting the ring. It's like a Super Bowl ring."
The ACHA World Championship - the oldest of four raccoon-hunting titles in the country - will come to Vicksburg for the first time in its 62-year history in late February. About 200 coon hounds from across the country are expected to be entered in the three-night hunt - which is one with out gunfire.
It's just to find the best coon hound, and it's very competitive. No animals are harmed, in fact, the dogs are penalized points if they catch a coon on the ground," said Malone.
For anyone who hasn't witnessed a coon-hunting competition, the idea is pretty basic. With a judge on hand, a cast of four dogs is released into the woods and win behavior-based points. The goal is to pick up the trail of a coon and trap it up a tree for 5 minutes. The hounds can lose points for barking up the wrong tree, abandoning a tree with a coon in it before time elapses and other infractions.
The competition will be headquartered at the Vicksburg Riding Club grounds on U.S. 61 North, while the half-dozen evening hunts will take place in Warren, Yazoo and Sharkey counties, as well as Madison, Richland and Tensas parishes across the Mississippi River.
Vicksburg was chosen because of the abundance of public hunting lands in the Warren County area, as well as the attractions in the city. Competitive coon hunting has been on the decline in popularity. In its heyday in the mid-1980's, as many as 700 hounds would be entered in the world championship. However, the demographics of the typical coon hunter are changing and this year's world championship hunt in Vicksburg - the farthest south it has ever been - will help the sport regain some popularity in our great outdoors. Charming, Just Charming!