Authors note: Thanks to all who sent comments and opinions concerning last week’s column on the Second Amendment. That turned out to be a great discussion with many valid points offered. I tried to reply to everyone but if I did not get yours answered just send an e-mail to me and I’ll respond.
With the arrival of January many hunters are in a sad and deprived state because deer hunting in the Northern zone is over and the end is in sight for the Southern zone. Take heart however, because there are other possibilities out there in the next couple of months and the pursuit of raccoons is an entertaining option.
Georgia’s open season for hunting raccoons started back in October and continues on until February 28. If you like to hunt with dogs this sport offers an enjoyable evening in the woods and you can get plenty of action in our part of the state. You also have the option of taking the raccoons once they are treed by the dogs or just passing them up for another trip.
The best way to learn about this sport is to go with one of the many veterans in our area. It’s not terribly complicated but for the most part the key elements are good lights and trained dogs. The dogs are the biggest problem for most of us because without them you are fishing without a pole. The basic procedure is to turn the pack loose in an area you have chosen and let them do the work. If they get on the scent they will let you know with their frenetic baying.If the dogs tree a raccoon that beautiful baying and yelping sound will hit another level. The owners of the dogs will know exactly what each sound means and will even know the sounds of their individual dogs. When the dogs have treed a raccoon your work begins because then you have to get to where they are and that can mean traveling on foot over rough ground, swamps, etc.
If you think 'coon hunting might be to your liking and are interested enough to begin a serious search for coonhounds, here’s a quick rundown on the top breeds according to the experts.
— The American Leopard Hound is a breed brought to North America by Spanish Conquistadors and crossed with native Mexican dogs. These dogs were originally brought to the United States to hunt bear.
— The Black and Tan Coonhound was developed in the southern United States. It’s ancestry goes back to the American Foxhound, Virginia Foxhound and probably the Bloodhound. They are bigger than the other breeds and were the first breed of this type to be registered (1900).
— The Bluetick Coonhound is probably a descendent of English quick foxhounds and began as a breed used to hunt big game. Blueticks were first registered as an American breed in 1946.
— The English Coonhound is typically recognized as the breed with the most history. Its roots (as are most of these breeds) go back to the English Foxhound and was first registered in the United States in 1905.
Additionally there are some other breeds that are just as well recognized and registered in the United States. They include the Plott Coonhound, the Redbone Coonhound and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.
You can learn about any of these breeds online with a simple search or from the purists of the sport. Specifications concerning any characteristic of these dogs are included along with a complete history of the breed.
There are a couple of other points to remember. Raccoons can be carriers of rabies and if they have the disease they will exhibit aimless wandering and lack of coordination or they will display aggressive behavior that can include attacks and self-mutilation. If you see an animal that shows these symptoms you should report it to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.
The natural habitat of raccoons is deciduous and mixed forest lands and that’s good news for most Georgians because that’s what we have an abundance of. There are no shortage of places to go in our immediate area and a lot of land owners are willing to allow hunting on their property if approached in the right way. If you are in the market for a new and exciting hunting excursion consider catching up with a local hunter who is already involved in this activity and check it out. You might just get hooked on the sights and sounds of the sport.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports will appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.