Youth coon hunts sponsored by the S.C. Coon Hunters Association and participating clubs and chapters began in October and will continue throughout the winter, culminating with the State Championship Youth Coon Hunt hosted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
The next two hunts are in Orangeburg County. Dates, locations and contact information are:
• Jan. 13 – Bowman, sponsored by the Orangeburg Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Doug Shuler; 803-682-0418.
• Jan. 27 – Norway, sponsored by the Norway CHA. Contact: Mark Whetstone; 803-682-3011. (ACHA State Youth Championship)
The championship hunt is scheduled for March 3 and will be held at the SCDNR's Webb Wildlife Center in Hampton County.
The club-sponsored hunts are all qualifying events for the state championship and are designed to teach the participants ethics and sportsmanship through participation in low-intensity competitive events. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded at the State Youth Championship for the first-place finisher in each age group. Two additional $500 scholarships will be awarded based on participation in the qualifying youth hunts listed above.
Competitors are allowed to hunt in as many youth coon hunts as they choose, and all events are free of charge. No raccoons are killed and guns are not allowed.
Each hunter is responsible for bringing a coon dog to the hunts, and needs to be able to acknowledge when his or her dog strikes and trees. Winners are determined by the dogs’ abilities to strike a trail and tree a raccoon. Points are awarded by judges based upon the order that the contestants interpret their dogs’ barks to identify when the dogs "strike" the raccoons’ trails and when their dogs have "treed" a raccoon.