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Grand American Coon Hunters Return to Orangeburg

When the New Year rolls around, and the weather turns really cold, then its time for coon hunters from across America to return to Orangeburg. The 2018 Grand American coon hunt will take place this weekend, January 4 – 6. The United Kennel Club (UKC) sees this event as the kick off to a nationwide calendar of coon hunt competitions. American Cooner magazine is the primary sponsor of this family-friendly event that draws large crowds to view the coon hounds and go shopping for the latest hunting gear.

Free to all on Thursday is the annual Coon Fest with live music, fairground food, door prizes and the chance to visit with folks that return year after year for the Grand American. The opening ceremonies are Friday, January 5 beginning at 10 a.m. in the Bates building. Nite hunts will be conducted both Friday and Saturday, with a hunt-off on early Sunday morning to crown the 2018 Grand American Champion.

The two-day bench show involves individual owners and their coon hounds on display tables where discerning judges score their presentation. The contest on Friday from 8 to 10 a.m. is for the registered dog competition, dual champions competition and Pairs. The contest on Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. is for Champions, Grand Champions and Overall Champions. A youth bench show will follow the Saturday bench show.

The ever popular treeing contest will take place at 1 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Enthusiastic crowds gather to watch each dog take some coon scent on its nose and then visually see a coon in a cage hoisted high up in a tree. The coon hounds bay continuously, jump up and down, and convey that they have every intention of getting hold of that raccoon. Of course no coons are harmed during the treeing contest, and it is a good way for members of the public to hear the joy of the coon hounds in full cry.

And if you like shopping for hunting gear and apparel, you don’t need to ride all the way to Bass Pro Shops in Savannah, the Grand American is a one-stop shopping paradise for camo loving outdoorsmen. If you need a warm coat, waterproof boots, or the latest name-brand clothing labels its only a matter of what your budget can stand. Every year I end up buying something that I didn’t plan to purchase, and in general these items are extremely useful back home.

The coon hunters at the Grand American are competing for some high end gear as well, with the Top 20 Cast winners receiving a cash payout based on the number of total entries. The First Place coonhound wins $1000, a tri-tronics collar, dog box, Bright Eyes light, custom jacket from Dan’s, and a Garmin tracking system. Second place wins $500, Bright Eyes light, dog box, Marshall tracking system, jacket from Dan’s and a gift certificate. Third place is good for $300 and a similar gear package, with fourth place paying $200 and some gear.

As many as 20,000 people will attend the 2018 Grand American, and the fairgrounds are well suited to accommodate all the extra parking needs. This is the 53rd year of the Grand American so the blueprint for success has been well tested and like any great competition, the unfolding of the action over two days serves to build the excitement that fans expect. Sportsmanship is always part of the winning equation during the field trial hunts, making this coon hunt an asset when it comes to our hunting heritage.

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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (327 Posts)

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