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2020 Grand American Coon Hunt won by Treeing Walker

The Final Four at the 2020 Grand American.

The 55th annual Grand American Coon Hunt came to Orangeburg over the weekend of January 3 – 5. The weather always seems to play a role in the coon hunting, and 2020 was no different from heavy rain Friday night, followed by lots of wind on Saturday night. The Grand American serves as a kick-off to an entire year of United Kennel Club (UKC) sanctioned events, and it attracts scores of coon hunting enthusiasts from around the country. At the end of the Saturday night hunt-off, a coonhound based out of S.C. was declared the Overall Hunt Winner for 2020.
The format of coon hunting on Friday night and Saturday night produces a Final Four of top coonhounds, who then compete in the early hours of Sunday morning to determine the overall winner. A three-year-old male Treeing Walker coonhound named PR Hypersonic Wipeout Danger, beat out the other three competitors in that final cast. The winning owners are Bruce and Christy Rabon from Galivants Ferry, South Carolina and the handlers are Patrick Cribb from Whiteville, N.C. and Ernest Jordan III. The Treeing Walker breed of coon hound was by the most popular at the Grand American in 2020, finishing as the top dogs in most hunt categories.
The second-place coonhound on Saturday night was a four-year-old Treeing Walker named PR Mountain Valley Shorty, handled by Jonathan Long of Taylors, S.C. Finishing in third place was a seven-year-old female Treeing Walker, GRNITECH GRCH PR Eastridges Tar Heel Tina, handled by Anthony Hammonds from Kingsport, Tennessee. The fourth-place finisher was a four-year-old male Treeing Walker named GRNITECH GRCH PR The Tree Slamming Judge, handled by Franklin Card of Johnsonville, S.C. The dog Judge and handler Card combo, won the Friday night hunt cast, vaulting them into the Final Four hunt competition, while the other three entries qualified on Saturday night.
The headquarters for the Grand American is the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, and this is where everyone comes to register a dog for hunting, or maybe to stroll past the vendors selling hunting gear. A two-day bench show allows coon hound enthusiasts to compete in the indoors, with lots of trophies being awarded to youth, women and pro-dog handlers. The coon hunt culture does a good job of recognition when it comes to participation. Not everyone can indeed be a winner, but they do a fine job of honoring the heritage and traditions of their sport.
Coon Fest is the title given to the fairgrounds during the Grand American, and the venue is packed with like-minded people there to talk about coon hunting. Plenty of food and souvenir vendors are on hand, but so are outfitters with every conceivable piece of equipment that a coon hunter requires. Helmet night lights, waterproof boots, briar proof chaps, GPS trackers and of course dog collars and leads.
Coon hunting magazines are prevalent, and the sale of coon hounds is robust. The Grand American is the place to either get a new coon puppy, or to sell some finished hounds. This is also the place to learn about any new developments, such as the formation of the Carolina Sporting Dog Association to represent hunting dog owners at the statehouse in Columbia with a lobbyist. Meanwhile, the South Carolina Coon Hunters Association notches another year of leadership to plan and execute the Grand American.
After decades of high quality coon hunting in the Orangeburg area, the Grand American is a staple for many outdoorsman who wouldn’t make plans to be anywhere else on the first weekend of any new year. The fact that 2020 was the ‘double-nickel’ milestone for this coon hunt brings the future clearly into focus, and only higher expectations and turnouts will be expected in coming years. A parking lot full of pick-up trucks each year is a testament to the respect and loyalty the Grand American holds, and the fact that both the younger crowd and the older veterans coexist is telling about the optimism for coon hunting to continue as one of the most popular pursuits in the outdoors.

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

Jeff Dennis
Jeff Dennis, Contributor (386 Posts)

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