Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

25-Years for State Youth Coon Hunt at Webb Center

The formula and successful idea for getting youth involving in the heritage of hunting came way back in 1994. That’s when David McKee with the S.C. Coon Hunters Association and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources began a partnership that is still going strong in 2019. The 25th Anniversary State Youth Coon Hunt on February 24 in Hampton County celebrated sportsmanship during the hunt and honored the organizers.
A key point of the rules of competition is that no raccoons are killed, and that guns are not allowed at the hunt. Coon hunting stresses another partnership agreement, the one between a hunter and his coonhound. Involving youth with outdoor sports is admirable, but educating them about dog handling and dog ownership can also be just as important. These responsibilities include keeping a coon hound ready to hunt via feeding, watering and training the canine, and all are lessons that can be applied down the road of life.
The youth hunters must hunt in regional qualifiers in order to be selected to compete in the state hunt. A points system administered by judges in the field scores how a hunter identifies their dogs bark when they strike a coon trail or bay and tree a raccoon. There are two age classes at this hunt including Juniors age 12 and under, and Seniors age 13 – 17.
Another key point of this competition is the Sportsmanship Awards that are very meaningful, and are awarded when one competitor helps another with any issue that occur out in the field during the hunt. For instance, these hunts are conducted under the cloak of nighttime darkness, and if someone’s hunting headlamp torch quits working while in the middle of the Webb Center woods they will need some friendly help to continue their hunt.
At the end of the Senior competition is was Jace Shuler of Orangeburg taking home the first place trophy after hunting with his dag named Jim, winning a $500 scholarship. Brain Smith hunting with his dog named Ranger finished in second place and Abby Amaker hunting with her dog Duce finished in third place. The Sportsmanship Award for the Senior division went to George Agner and his dog named Rascal.
In the Junior Division, Sly Stone of Johnsonville and his dog named Bo took home the first place honors. Second place in the Junior division went to Nick Smith hunting with his dog named Bella, and third place went to Hunter Seymore hunting with his dog named Jake. The Sportsmanship award in the Junior division went to Caleb Smith hunting with his dog named Hoss.
All of the youth hunters are able to stay at the overnight facilities at the Webb Center, and prior to the hunt David McKee was recognized for his leadership. “This has been a great joint effort,” said McKee. “Keeping these kids hunting and keeping them in the woods, so they can have the same opportunities we did is the goal.” McKee was presented with a rocking chair for his 25 years of dedicated service as President of the S.C. State Coon Hunters Association.
Participants and their families and mentors participate in other activities such as a coon hound bench show photo op and a .22-rifle shooting competition. Fellowship during the barbecue dinner is enhanced with fundraising raffles and the drawing to decide the hunting casts for the night. A cast includes the hunters, judges and other hunt supervisors that go into the woods for the coon hunt.
The South Carolina State Coon Hunters Association supports the Grand American in Orangeburg each year too. They are raising awareness all year round in South Carolina by sponsoring a S.C. Coon Hunters vanity license plate that is available from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. Proceeds from the sale of the license plates fund their scholarship program, and for more information contact David McKee at 803-528-9050 or visit www.sccoonhunters.com on the Internet.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (377 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com