The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the S.C. Coon Hunters Association are hosting a series of nine youth coon hunts around the state starting in October and ending in February.

The hunts will serve as regional qualifying events for the State Championship Youth Hunt and are designed to teach ethics and sportsmanship through low-intensity competitive events. The top two hunters in both age groups (six to 13 and 14 to 17) and the sportsmanship winners in both age groups will qualify for the annual South Carolina Youth Raccoon Hunting Championship, scheduled for March 4, 2017, at Webb Wildlife Center in Hampton County.

Competitors are allowed to hunt in as many youth coon hunts as they choose and all events are free of charge. In accordance with competition hunt rules, no raccoons are killed during the competition and guns are not be allowed. Each potential participant should contact the sponsoring clubs for information regarding specific hunts, and they are also responsible for bringing a coon dog. Competitors need to be able, with minimal assistance from an adult, to acknowledge when his or her dog strikes and trees. Winners are determined based solely upon the dogs’ abilities to strike a trail and tree a raccoon. The hunt awards points based upon the order the contestants interpret their dogs’ barks to identify when the dogs "strike" the raccoons’ trails and when their dogs have "treed" the raccoons.

For more information on the youth coon hunting series, call (803) 734-3609.

Youth coon hunt locations, dates and contacts:

Oct. 15, 2016 – Darlington, sponsored by Black Creek Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Harvey Drawdy at (843) 610-4096. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Nov. 5, 2016 – Edgefield, sponsored by Red Hill Houndsmen Association. Contact: Wayne Agner at (803) 215-9911. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Nov. 12, 2016 – Saluda, sponsored by Saluda Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Will Deloach at (864) 992-8804. PKC sanctioned event. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Dec. 10, 2016 – Heath Springs, sponsored by Lancaster County Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Joel Henson at (803) 283-7815. PKC sanctioned event. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Dec. 17, 2016 – Georgetown, sponsored by Hell Hole Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Floyd Lambert, at (843) 264-8093. UKC Youth World Qualifier hunt. UKC rules apply. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Jan. 14, 2017 – Bowman, sponsored by Orangeburg Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Doug Shuler at (803) 682-0418. AKC Youth World Qualifier hunt. AKC rules apply. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Jan. 28, 2017 – Norway, sponsored by Norway County Coon Club. Contact: Mark Whetstone at (803) 682-3011. ACHA State Youth Qualifier Hunt. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Feb. 4, 2017 – Newberry sponsored by Whitmire Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Roger Enlow at (864) 923-5431. Bench show at 4 p.m, hunt at 6 p.m.

Feb. 11, 2017 – Ridgeville, sponsored by Summerville Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Ed Kimmons at (843) 873-0279. Bench show at 4 p.m., hunt at 6 p.m.

Feb. 25, 2017 – State Championship Hunt* - Webb Wildlife Center, SCDNR. Contact: Jay Butfiloski or Patty Castine at (803) 734-3609. *Hunters must qualify at one of the regional hunts to participate.