The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina State Coon Hunters Association and the Greenville County Coon Hunters Association will sponsor a youth coon hunt near Greenville in Greenville County on Saturday, Nov. 17.

The winners in this event will qualify to participate in the state championship at the Webb Center in Hampton County on March 1, 2008.

For additional information and applications for the Greenville youth raccoon hunt, contact Fran White at (864) 918-5385.

Two age groups will be participating in the youth coon hunt, ages 6 to 13 and ages 14 to 17. Each youth is required to bring a guardian, and there is no application fee. Door prizes will be awarded to all participants.

The deadline for the bench show is 4 p.m., and the hunt begins at 6 p.m. Hunt is limited to 24 entries. Treeing contest and other events will be held after the bench show, and a meal will be provided free of charge for the youth participants.

Before the actual competition, participants will attend seminars on sportsmanship, scoring and hunter safety. Contestants are then divided into groups, or "casts," for the evening competition. Efforts are then made to group the participants within each age division with similarly aged contestants to further even out the competition within each cast.

Each cast consists of a judge and guide, and three or four youth hunters, each with a dog. Parents are allowed to follow along and observe from a distance, but each youth handles and calls his or her own dog.

In accordance with competition hunt rules, no raccoons are killed during the competition. Winners are determined based on the dog's ability to "strike" a trail and tree a raccoon. The hunt awards points based on the order of striking and treeing and the dog handler's ability to interpret correctly the dog's actions.

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