Hunt Report Final Four at Orangeburg
Posted on 01/10/2012 in Coonhounds.
Each year the Grand American Champion is determined via a one-hour late round hunt off on Saturday night. The players in this cast are those hounds that had posted one of the four highest combined two night cast win scores. Immediately following Saturday nights deadline the field was quickly set. The honorees this year included three Treeing Walkers and one English. Check out the following hunt report below.
Final Four at Orangeburg - From left to right - Billy Lively with Little D, Andrew Bing with Bingo, Brian Squires with Sailor and Mark Looney with Dan.
An ‘Ole Swamp Coon Crowns a Champion
by Allen Gingerich
The three non-hunting judges selected included Greg Covington, who also served as the guide, Elliot Shuler and Josh Livingston. Covington is one of the local farmers blessed with some prime coonhunting spots bordering his farmland in the Orangeburg area. He took us approximately 12 miles west of the fairgrounds where we pulled off a back country road and drove down a lane alongside a picked cotton field. We followed this roadway for several hundred yards to what looked like an awesome spot. With a full moon hanging overhead and temps at a very moderate 48 degrees the cast of Grand American celebrities were cut into a beautiful tract of timber lined with several running creeks throughout.
Before the first minute was even up yet; the undeniable song of coonhounds on a hot game trail disrupted the night cap of an old farm rooster in the distance. Sailor was called struck first followed by Little D and Dan. Soon Bingo was also declared struck for last position. Several minutes later Sailor was declared treed for first tree followed by Dan and Little D. Bingo was eventually called also and the cast proceeded in their direction. They were treed merely a hundred yards to the left of where they had been cast.
Upon arrival at the tree we found only three of the four. Bingo was not there and was minused. After Sailor’s handler had used his first two minutes of sole shining time as requested the judges quickly found the coon on the opposite side of the tree. This gave Sailor a great starting advantage with 225+ over Dan and Little D tied with a score of 125+ and Bingo with a negative 25.
After leading the dogs several yards away from the tree the judges held up the cast and started the eight on Bingo. In a matter of several seconds he was heard opening another hundred or so yards from the cast. The three hounds darted off in his direction where Sailor and Dan were soon struck back in. Shortly thereafter Bingo was called treed with Dan and Sailor following suit. Little D, who was now shutout on Bingo’s tree, opened and was declared struck. He was trailing away from his cast members however. The cast headed towards the treed dogs stopping several times along the way until the five had expired.
Sailor turned out to be MIA at this tree and was minused his tree position. After throwing a light in the tree it quickly became obvious that there was nothing on it. At least not on the outside but there was an obvious hole on the side of the tree. Meanwhile, Little D was getting further and further away with his track. This left the handlers wondering, I’m assumed, if it was worth the gamble to wait around several more minutes until they could squall? Or; would it be in their best interest to get turned back loose as soon as possible? Nonetheless, they chose to take the circle points and get turned back loose.
After cutting back loose both Dan and Bingo wasted no time getting struck back in again. But now we had dogs scattered in all directions with merely 30 minutes of hunting time left over. The cast moved closer towards Little D to split the difference between all dogs. By this time Dan had circled back around in the direction of the tree we had just scored but continued trailing deeper and deeper. Much deeper.
Finally, Little D fell treed in the opposite direction and was called as such. The cast headed down a cleared roadway towards him stopping along the way to listen for the other dogs. Dan sounded like he was trying to get hooked as we neared Little D. Unfortunately, the closer we got to Little D and considering the “better than average” volume he had on tree it became very difficult to even hear Dan. However, just before moving on in to Little D Dan could be heard obviously treeing, although faintly, and was called as such.
With hunt time running down things were about to get very interesting. At least from a spectator’s perspective and you consider all dogs still had a shot at winning the Grand American at this point. Upon arriving to Little D he was on a small persimmon. Unfortunately for his camp, it didn’t take but a mere gander to see that the coon was not or no longer there. Scoring Little D’s tree hadn’t taken much time at all so we were back out on the roadway before Dan’s five was up.
Little D was recast again. He quickly turned back around and headed right back in the same direction where he’d been treed and struck again. Bingo could be heard continuing to work ahead of us and to our left with Dan being straight ahead. With seconds winding down on Dan’s tree time, Sailor was called treed in that same direction. The cast moved towards their direction but stopped for the last thirty seconds of the hunt time. Three minutes after hunt time expired and while still on the way to Dan and Sailor Bingo located a tree and locked down on it. Unfortunately for him the tree could not be scored and his placement in the hunt would hinge on the two hounds yet to be scored. Even then, mathematically, he still had a chance to win considering the rules in effect for this non-licensed hunt.
As previously recognized, we had a distant walk to get to Dan and Sailor. As we neared closer it became obvious that only one dog was treeing. Dan was in fact found treed alone pretty as a picture with hind legs buried to his flank in swamp water glued to the side of a big oak. When his beam of light hit a certain crotch in the big oak revealing “the perch of choice of a native swamp coon” Judge Covington announced “heree iz”.
To summarize, this was a great cast of hounds and handlers alike resulting in a great hunt. The English hound; Big River Dan won this cast without question and as in the case of many champions before him - he earned it. In this specific case a prestigious win that earned him the distinguished honor of Grand American Champion!