The UKC Squirrel Dog World Championship was a good event for all of the hunters entered, but it was particularly spectacular for Chris Gilmer of Delight, Ark. Three dogs that he owns or co-owns placed in the top 10 during the two-day event early last month in Tell City, Ind. Two of those dogs took the top two spots: Mountain Cur Sniper’s Raging Thunder earned the title 2013 UKC Squirrel Dog World Champion, handled by John Stuart, and Sniper’s Red Bud, another Mountain Cur, came in second, handled by Chad Murphy.
United Kennel Club Program Manager Paul Frederick, who was in Tell City for the event, enjoyed seeing Stuart handle the winner as he’s been a supporter of the UKC Squirrel Dog program since the beginning. “It’s great when one of the good guys in the sport wins something like that,” Frederick says.
The championship win was further distinguished because Sniper’s Raging Thunder is only 14 months old.
Although the UKC Squirrel Dog World Championship is now in its sixth year, this was its first time in Tell City, where it was hosted by the Perry County Coon Club. “The club there is used to putting on big events,” Frederick says, so putting on one for 42 dogs was no problem at all. “They did a great job. I don’t think anybody had to drive more than 20 or 25 miles from the club to go hunting.”
In addition, the squirrel population was cooperative. “I think they’d been scouting them out,” Frederick says, of the club members. “They were trying to put on the best event they could. When a club goes to that much effort, you can really tell.”
Along with good blocks of relatively nearby private land to hunt on, the weather helped contribute to a successful first round of hunting, Frederick says. “It was in the mid-60s during the day and sunny. It had rained earlier in the week, but had dried up quite a bit. Anytime you have good weather, everything likes to get out and run around [including squirrels]. It had kind of been a long winter, and we kind of got a break.”
The combination of great weather and good scouting allowed all 14 casts, or groups, of three dogs and three hunters that went out on Saturday morning to return after 90 minutes of hunting with plus point cast winners, meaning that at least one squirrel was treed. “That’s amazing,” Frederick says, and that record held up over both days for every one of the 21 casts. “Usually you figure out of 21 casts, two or three wouldn’t tree game.” For UKC events, game is only treed; no animals are actually caught or shot.
In addition to the top two dogs, eight others were ranked third through 10th:
- Treeing Cur High Point Johnny Cash owned by Seth Graham of Greenville, Ohio;
- Treeing Cur SQCH (squirrel champion) Jewell’s Tree Top owned by Tim and Jeff Newell of North Vernon, Ind.;
- Mountain Cur Extrememe 20/20 Hummer owned by Gilmer;
- Mountain Cur SQCH Down & Dirty Dixie owned by Brady Foster of Dalton, Ga.;
- Treeing Cur SQCH Roarks KY True Blue owned by Sonny Roark of Hillsboro, Ken.;
- Treeing Cur NITECH (nite champion) Wall’s Little Red Rose owned by Carlos Wall of Edinburgh, Ind.;
The UKC’s five cur and feist breeds are eligible for the championship – Mountain Curs, Treeing Curs, Black Mouth Curs, Stephens’ Curs and Treeing Feists – as well as any other UKC breed that isn’t a Coonhound. The championship was elimination style with all 42 dogs going out for the morning round on Saturday, then 12 plus point cast winners heading out in the afternoon. On Sunday morning, the four cast winners from the previous afternoon went out in just two casts. Finally, Gilmer’s two dogs hunted together to determine the champion.
Frederick says a “few more dogs” were entered this year than last. All dogs had to be pre-entered, but that’s something that might change in 2014, he says, allowing hunters to sign up on the grounds. While only curs and feists entered this year, “hopefully one day that will change,” he says. “People who want a squirrel dog, they’re going to get a cur or feist.” However, there has been some interest from a few Terrier owners, as well as those of the East Siberian Laika, a Northern Breed designed to tree its quarry.
It was “just a great event,” Frederick says. “The hunters loved it.”
To see a video of the highlights of the championship, click here.