Posted on 07/09/2011 in Out On A Limb.
I bet a week doesn’t go by without someone asking me if UKC has ever thought of holding a World Nite Hunt for the Cur and Feist dogs. Well, it may be more like once a month but seems like once a week. Just so you can all see it in print, I’ll give you the official answer. Heck, yes, UKC would love to hold a World Championship for the Cur and Feist dogs on raccoon. Now the only question is … when?
I’m not going to be so quick to offer an answer to that. The holdup at this point is a genuine lack of participation in the coon hunting portion of the program, and a question of how much of a need is there for a UKC World Nite Hunt Championship? It does seem like there are more World Championships in the Cur and Feist community than in any other faction of dog sports. That’s obviously because there are quite a few smaller registries and each wishes to host their own World Championship and rightly so.
Another factor is that there are simply fewer people hunting Cur and Feist dogs than there are hunting Coonhounds and Beagles. I don’t think it’s fair to further assume that a higher percentage of Cur and Feist enthusiasts are strictly pleasure hunters than there are in Coonhounds or Beagles. The reason we have a 700-dog World Championship in the Coonhound Program is simply the result of a vast number of competition coon hunters. Still, the number of strictly pleasure hunting coon hunters is many, many times more than the number of competition hunters.
The same is true for Beaglers. UKC has a relatively young Beagle Program that is growing by leaps and bounds. We were the most recent of the major registries to start a Beagle Program and even though our World Championship entries for Hunting Beagles was a pretty significant 179 dogs last year, the number of guys who simply run Beagles for the pure enjoyment of just listening to them run is many, many times more than that. The point is, there are far more people who prefer not to enter competition events with their hunting dogs than there are those who enjoy entering competitive events. That is a fact.
Now consider that there are far fewer (but also a growing number) Cur and Feist hunters and that they are spread out over a bigger arena of more registries. And consider the fact that a relatively small percentage of them are competition minded. In my mind, that is what accounts for the relatively small entries you see being posted for World Championship events in the Cur and Feist community. Now consider that an even lesser percentage of those people are hunting at night with their dogs. Now how many dogs can you expect to enter a World Championship night hunt? 15? 25? More?
I can’t tell you how many dogs we would need to have entered before we would consider an event like that a success. There is no right or wrong answer for that. We all have a different number in mind when it comes to trying to decide if it’s worth doing or not. The truth is, we don’t license 50 raccoon hunts in the C/F program for the whole year. And with an average entry that I’m sure is less than five dogs per event (and probably closer to two or three), it just doesn’t add up to very many dogs participating. My concern with hosting a World Nite Hunt is that the program has enough dogs participating in it to warrant and justify a hunt of that type and be able to put on a quality and well respected event. When it comes time to get sponsorship prizes and all those things that make for a top quality event, it’s hard if you can’t post some decent numbers.
In summary, yes, UKC would be very receptive to a World Championship coon hunt for Cur and Feist dogs. It’s just a matter of when.