40 years of Southeastern Treeing Walker Dog Days

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Southeastern Treeing Walker Coon Dog hunts and shows have returned to the Rowan County Fairgrounds for the 25th year in their 40 years of competition.
The hunt and show here are known to coon dog lovers all over the nation, according to hunt coordinator David Gardner of Norwood.
He plans three nights of hunts and two shows for judging the dogs.
He says Salisbury is one of the better locations in the state for the hunts and shows because Interstates 85 and 77 form a good crossroads for those coming to the show.
“This show is the biggest hunt in the country that is put on by one club,” he said. “We run everything from the fairgrounds. Most places have several clubs come together to stage different parts of the event but we do it all.”
On Thursday night, 118 dogs entered in the Allen Shoe Memorial Hunt. The late Allen Shoe was a Kannapolis native known for his involvement and dedication to the sport. Friday night, 300 dogs were entered in the hunt and 300 have been entered for tonight’s hunt.
Gardner describes a hunt “cast” as a grouping of four – a judge, a guide and two hunters who go out with their dogs to tree a raccoon. They acquire state wildlife licenses for the out-of-state hunters. No guns are allowed on the hunts, so no animals are to be harmed. As the dogs trail a raccoon, “their voices are longhorn like barking” but when they tree a coon, the dogs’ voices change to a “chopped bark.” Part of the judging is just how well the hunter knows his dog’s voice (bark). The dog with the best total points score is the Southeastern Grand Champ.
Salisbury will also host the state championship on April 19 and 20.
Randy Hall, organization president, is expecting 7,500 to 10,000 at the show today. He adds that most of the people coming to the three-day event stay in local motels in Salisbury, Concord and Mooresville, creating a large economic impact to the region.
Retired Faith Elementary Principal Bob Shives is the local coordinator. He has arranged for the East Rowan High School baseball team and some of the other East teams to run the food vendor concessions again this year as a fundraiser for the athletic programs. Sixty vendors have gathered this year to sale supplies needed for dogs and hunters alike.
A popular item in the vendor booths is the LED lights that hunters wear on the tops of their caps while out hunting at night.
“I started hunting with a carbon light and now you have a 24-volt LED light. That is the biggest improvement in coon hunting technology,” Tom Trout said. “Ninety percent of the hunters use the lights now. Coons are odd creatures sometimes. While sitting in a tree sometimes they will look down at a white light and sometime they will not. Sometimes they will look at a green or amber light and then you can see their eyes in the dark.”
John Thompson from Fort Gay, W.Va., explains while sitting with his son’s dog, that he and son Jonathan have been coming to Salisbury since 2004 to the hunt. They are going to hunt and show with their 6-year-old dog, “Three Rivers Extreme.”
A small sampling of hunters shows that they travel long distances with their dogs for the hunt and show. A few states represented are Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.