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Dave Richards
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Registered: Apr 2015
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Top Coon Dog

When was the first time you ever hunted with a Top Coon Dog, one that really opened your eyes? I remember my first time, I was in my early twenties and had a very good coon dog ( I thought ) when I got a call from a man I knew wanting me to go coon hunting with him. I agreed, but left my dog at home as I really wanted to see how good his dog was. Man, I was sure glad that I left my dog at home as his dog put on a coon treeing clinic, one like I had never seen before in my part of the country in thin coons. I had to work the next day, but hunted with him all night just amazed at his dogs performance. I later bought his dog and always used him as a measuring stick for every dog I hunted with. It was like watching Michael Jordan play with high school kids comparing his dog to every thing I had ever seen or hunted with before. Talking about the light switch turning on, it sure turned on that night with me. I have hunted over 60 years and only seen or hunted with 3 dogs including him that were truly Top Coon Dogs. I have owned a bunch of decent dogs, a few pretty nice dogs, but only 3 Top Coon Dogs. Dave

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Reuben
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Dave, in your opinion, what are the traits that separates the “Top Coon Dog” from the others?

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Reuben
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quote:
Originally posted by Reuben
Dave, in your opinion, what are the traits that separates the “Top Coon Dog” from the others?


Not trying to hijack the thread but adding to the “The Top Dog” thread…

Many times the hardest things to figure out turn out to be very simple once identified…

It took my many years to develop my theory but I do believe I am right…while the above average dog needs to have an above average brain and a fairly cold nose, but what separates the top dog from all others is brain power…this dog must possess a colder nose as well…of course all other hunting traits are very important to have but I pick these two traits as a must have…

Brain Power…I choose it as tops because this was born with it and that is what makes this dog special…and I choose it as tops because he/she uses the wind currents… this dog knows how and where to find game…knows how to find the hot end of the tracks quickly and this helps when game is scarce…also what keeps this dog at the top is the colder nose…the colder nose gives this dog the advantage in picking up coon in the wind currents or off of colder tracks sooner than later…these traits keeps the dog at the top…at least that is how I see it…

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wart
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Registered: Jan 2006
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Top dogs

The good ones just know how to tree raccoons they can tree them up or down they are one way track dogs etc. and most are born with natural talent .The best bobcat dog I've seen was a mt cur that could skip a feeder track out on dry ground other dogs couldn't tree he was just better it's the same with hounds and yes brains has something to do with it but not everything some of the smartest yard dog hounds are common in the woods go figure

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wart
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Top dogs

The good ones just know how to tree raccoons they can tree them up or down they are one way track dogs etc. and most are born with natural talent .The best bobcat dog I've seen was a mt cur that could skip a feeder track out on dry ground other dogs couldn't tree he was just better it's the same with hounds and yes brains has something to do with it but not everything some of the smartest yard dog hounds are common in the woods go figure

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Dave Richards
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Rueben

From my experience the Top Coon Dogs I have seen had a ton of brains. They had the nose to go with the brain and they had the drive to use both brain and nose. It takes all of these traits to excel. Some dogs have brains but lack the nose or drive to excel. The reason why top dogs are so rare is getting all of these traits in the same package. Next it takes a handler smart enough to see these things in a dog and careful enough not to hinder them in the training phase. The top dogs just need hunting they will do the rest. They seldom make the same mistake twice. The dog I mentioned in this thread could run and tree coons that other dogs could not even smell, he was deadly accurate. Hunting in thick or thin coons he could put on a show. Dave

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Reuben
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Dave, no doubt about it…an inexperienced dog handler could very easily ruin one of these dogs…

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Dave Richards
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Dog

quote:
Originally posted by Reuben
Dave, no doubt about it…an inexperienced dog handler could very easily ruin one of these dogs…


Rueben, you are exactly right. I suspect that in itself is the reason why a Top dog is not very common in that it takes both a dog with these qualities and a handler that nurtures these qualities. A bad handler can take the drive or desire out of a dog if not handled properly. Dave

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pamjohnson
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It was when I was in my teens. The dog was flawless and not just a night or two. Years. A 1st tree dog that just didn't make mistakes and made anything he was hunted with look sub par.
I don't think u fellows can really say for sure what it takes to make that exceptional hound.
I have seen a few over the years that were great ones since. Better idk. Can't say for sure. What I have seen is there exceptional in different ways that make them exceptional.

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Reuben
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quote:
Originally posted by pamjohnson
It was when I was in my teens. The dog was flawless and not just a night or two. Years. A 1st tree dog that just didn't make mistakes and made anything he was hunted with look sub par.
I don't think u fellows can really say for sure what it takes to make that exceptional hound.
I have seen a few over the years that were great ones since. Better idk. Can't say for sure. What I have seen is there exceptional in different ways that make them exceptional.



What were the differences that you saw? Surely what they had in common is their ability to be the best day in and day out…

I tend to pick apart every detail about an exceptional hunting dog…if nothing else I will develop theories based on past experiences and observations…it is a very interesting subject for me…thanks

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Reuben
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I made the first observation back when I had a litter of mt cur pups…one pup appeared to be laid back yet very observant about his surroundings…he watched his siblings for a bit but then he would get in the fray and was real athletic in how played and after a bit he would be off exploring on his own…I learned that while he appeared to be very laid he was very intense and aware…as a pup he could figure out the drags and led the pups on track…led the pack in the woods when hunting as well…

A trait not talked about that some great hunting/working dogs have is that aura or demeanor about them…it’s a distinguished and confident demeanor…it’s like you can see that this dog doesn’t need any help in getting the job done with confidence to spare…

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Dave Richards
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Rueben

I tend to agree with your assessment, they definitely stand out. I would think that different types of hunting like bear, lion, bobcat, coon, etc have slightly different angles in measuring the top dog. Speed might be better for some types of hunting, but the common denominator will be brains, nose and drive to excel. I HIGHLY value brains, but they have to have the nose and drive to go with the brains to be outstanding. I was hoping this thread would get some responses from those who have owned or hunted with a Top Coon Dog or even a Top dog in any hunting arena. Dave

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Dave Richards
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Top Coon Dog

I started this thread hoping to get some real feedback from other hunters who had owned or hunted with a truly exceptional coon dog. I love hearing about others experience and I love exceptional coon dogs. Let's hear about a dog or dogs that you guys have seen that just were exceptional. Dave

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Preacher Tom
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Been hunting for 67 years and I've never owned or hunted with a dog without faults. Had several that could tree coon consistently but they all had faults and all had a few bad nights. Just never saw a consistent Houdini.

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Dave Richards
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Preacher Tom

quote:
Originally posted by Preacher Tom
Been hunting for 67 years and I've never owned or hunted with a dog without faults. Had several that could tree coon consistently but they all had faults and all had a few bad nights. Just never saw a consistent Houdini.



What about one that was just heads above all the rest? One that left you amazed at their ability. They are rare as hens teeth. Dave

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Preacher Tom
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They must be. I can honestly say that some dogs have really impressed me one night or two but if I hunted with them often they had very common nights. My own dogs have had spells of looking awesome but couldn't maintain it for an extended period. Had on dog that started 26 tracks, made 26 trees and every tree had a coon in it. Not even a den in that string. Then he fell apart. Think it was medical/physical/mental. Spent a lot of money trying to figure it out but never did. Probably the best I've ever had but didn't last long.

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Dave Richards
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Preacher Tom

Thanks for your honesty, I know that Top Coon Dogs are rare and not many folks have ever owned or hunted with one. I sought and bought the best coon dogs I could find over the years as my first Top dog spoiled me. I have only owned or hunted with 3 truly outstanding coon dogs that operated the same night in night out and I hunted 5/6 night a week with these dogs. I expect most folks never hunt or see one that's truly exceptional night in night out. Dave

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Preacher Tom
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Dave, I have a question, did it ever get boring with a dog that could tree coon easily all the time? It's an honest question because I have asked myself if I didn't have some bad nights would I ever appreciate the good nights. I talked with an Arkansas Supreme court judge, retired, who was a coon hunter. He told me that coon got thick where he lived and it took all the fun out of it.

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Dave Richards
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Preacher Tom

Your question is a good one, one I was asked a few times before by some friends when I owned each of the 3 dogs mentioned in this thread. I can honestly say no it never got boring at least for me. I hunted hard during the times I was privileged to own those dogs and the certainty of having a good night every time was a thrill for me. I hunted in thin coon locally and thick coons on hunting trips and those dogs were a pleasure every night I hunted them. I was not a hide hunter, but thrilled at treeing a lot of coons without any distractions. I loved showing these dogs to other hunters and watching them be amazed. Some hunters were older in age and had never seen a dog like that operate. These dogs were the talk in my area. These 3 dogs were owned at approximately 15 to 20 year intervals, the first in my twenties, the 2nd in my 40's and the most recent in my late 60's. I had some decent dogs and a few pretty good dogs in between these 3 dogs and never had the satisfaction level with any of these dogs. I was spoiled with the 3 Top dogs and wished they all could be like them. I enjoy a good dog, but like you Said they have faults and just come up short in my expectation. At my age, I do not expect to run across any more as my hunting has slowed way down and I am not searching any longer. I still get excited when I hear about a dog described as such. Dave

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OLD TIMER
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Mr Richards--

In 68 years of pursuing the mask bandit, I have had some darn nice hounds that did a good job and have seen some nice hounds that I would have like to have fed. Also have buried some that didn't make the cut. Probably have had 5 that would fall into this group of top coon hound, but the one that would fit your subject line the best was one we had to bottle feed from birth because his mother died. At 7 months old he treed, along with his brother and sister, the biggest mask bandit I have harvested to this day. Weighed him on a scale at 56 pounds measured 53 inches from nose to tail. My dad kept the other two and I took him for 14 years. The day he died I carried him to that big oak tree the big bandit came out of and buried him at the base. At 9 months old guys that hunted with me used him as a check hound. Had the most brains, outstanding nose and when he treed, you were going to be skinning a very high percent of the time. I don't think in those 14 years he treed on more then 5 to 10 dens and if it went in a brush pile, he was small enough and gritty enough to pull it out. I hunted him with others and while theirs were working and loosing it, he would take it out of there and be treeing while they still didn't know what happened. Back in his time I had an enclosed dog box and one night a friend was with and we were driving to a corn field around a curve when old Spook starting going crazy in the box, so we backed up and turned loose and he went down the ditch, open and in a short time was treeing with the fur. Was born as straight as an arrow and proved that many nights but the one that stands out was a guy from work was with and we were roading him down a field road. He was working in front of the truck when a red fox jumped out of the corn rows and he just kept going. Before we got to the end of the field 3 deer jumped out and again he just kept hunting. My coworker said that with all the hunting he did with others, he never had seen that before. Another night he showed another coonhunter his nose and winding ability. We were roading him down a road and all of a sudden it looked like someone had grab his collar and he stood on his high legs with his nose in the air and took off a good 100 yards and started treeing. The hunter said had he not seen it with his own eyes he would never have believed it. He was the only hound I had at the time, I was a farm boy who just hunted after chores. He never had raccoon released in front of him, no roll cage, he was just hunted by himself. He was my buddy from day one and of ALL the hounds I have owned, he has been the ONLY one that has ridden up front with me.

As has been said--they're not born every time. But if you get one, the memories will last you a life time.

PS--IT NEVER GETS OLD
What does get old is when they DON'T do it right!

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Georgeb
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Registered: Jul 2021
Location: Tenn.
Posts: 253

Ive been lucky to have owned several what i called top dogs.If youd asked me what was a top dog in the 1970s id said A hound that wouldnt run a deer(very rare). A hard tree dog that wasnt ill on the tree (also very rare)and was a first tree dog.It was hard to hunt a deep hunting dog back then so handling
good was important. I rarely hunted by myself or hunted a dog by itself in the 70s.I was a kid. I owned one hound that fit this description and alot of culls.In the 80s and 90s a top dog was a independant stay put tree dog that would tree coons other dogs didnt know was in the woods,Not ill,straight,accurate,No reverse.I owned several top dogs during these years but i bought them .The best one was a 3 yr old blue english female.After hunting with her just one night i knew i had to have her but the price was just too high so i went home without her .The next day i scraped up the money and called the man and told him i was coming to get her.When i left the mans house he was about to cry and told me
i could hunt her 6 months and if i didnt like her bring her back.I called him in 2 wks and told him she was my dog.She was the rare kind of hound.I kept her the rest of her life until she was killed on the highway.She was bred twice and none of her pups made a coondog.Me and this man became hunting friends and best friends the next 15 years or so.He lived in a area that had alot more coons than where i lived .I drove many nights to his house and hunted.I miss him and those days.He always had a top dog .Anybody can buy a top dog if they have the money.They were rare but i worked alot and enjoyed the search for a special hound.In the 2000s and 2010s a top dog was a mostly silent on track ,hard accurate tree dog that treed squirrel in the day and coons at night.And hunted close.I hunted only mt currs the next 20 years.I raised and trained most of the currs i had.Had a couple special ones and several good ones.No more large areas to hunt on,crazy land owners and getting older put a stop to the deep hunting hounds.4 yrs ago i met a man that has a good stock of smoky river blueticks.I wanted to raise one more hound before im all over with and got a male pup.I cant say hes the best coondog ive ever had but hes my favorite.I wouldnt trade him for any dog ive had in the past back or anyone elses dog.I have a litter of 3 wk old pups out of him and a excellent female now.Looking forward to hunting one.Hope i can get the others in the hands of good hunters.Mr Dave you asked for feedback so here you go.lol.Its stormy and raining here so it was writing this or taking a nap.ha

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Dave Richards
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Old Timer/georgeb

Your post a are appreciated, this is exactly the reason I made this thread, as I wanted to hear others that have owned or hunted with a exceptional coon dog. Dave

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buff1978
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Registered: Jun 2023
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Had a dog back in the 80s.he was half Mt cur,1/4german shepherd and 1/4 black and tan. He was silent on track unless he was running more then one coon then he would open a few times.took me a couple nights to figure out what was going on.buddy was with me one night and ripper opened on track couple times and I said he's running more then one coon.guy never said anything till we got to the tree and 3 coon were sitting up there.HOW DID YOU KNOW THERE WOULD BE MORE THEN ONE COON IN THE TREE.TOLD HIM I GUESS I GOT LUCKY.i wouldn't consider him a top dog but he was way above average.had another dog that I had just bought couple weeks before season.opening night me and a friend went hunting and stoney treed 2 coon.i leashed him up and headed farther down the hollow we wanted to hunt.after about 100 yards I cut him loose about 5 minutes he was treed back in the direction he had treed the 2 coon.told my buddy to wait I'd go get him as I figured he went back to the same tree.when I got too him he was about 10 yards from the 1st tree on another tree with 2 coon up it.he had run across this track when he was running the first ones and was smart enough to go back and get them.this happened several times over the years with this dog.i considered him a top coon dog.

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Dave Richards
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buff1978

Enjoyed your response, I love hearing about others experiences with a really good dog. Memories are precious that is for sure. Dave

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Dave Richards
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Preacher Tom

Let me add a couple more comments to your question regarding getting bored hunting these top coon dogs. I NEVER got bored, but I must admit I was more than proud to show these dogs to anyone that wanted to hunt with them. It was fun to have guys bragging on these dogs, even though I tried hard to not brag myself, I still was guilty at times of bragging. I have been told it's not bragging if you can back it up. Lol. Still I really don't like to brag, I was just very fortunate to have owned such amazing dogs. It definitely was pleasing to hunt such dogs, but the first one spoiled me. He made owning other dogs not so much fun. Like I said these 3 dogs were years apart and I was searching hard all the time to locate and buy a Top Coon Dog. I came close a few times but the dogs just lacked the total package, drive or nose or brains that those 3 dogs had. Dave

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