Clermont is home to champion coon dog

A Clermont County coon-hunting dog named G&E Fightin’ Side has won the World Championship of Coon-Hunting.

Held last month at an area known as the Land Between the Lakes in Aurora, Ky., the World Championship of Coon-Hunting is an annual event that attracts thousands of raccoon hunters from across the country.

G&E Fightin’ Side, a two-year-old male Walker coon-hound, is trained and co-owned by Moscow resident Joe Gross and Newtonsville resident Scott Engle.

“It was my dream as a kid and I used to go on hunts,” said Gross. “Coon hunting is really in the blood. Most people become interested and involved at a very early age.”

G&E Fightin’ Side, named after an old Merle Haggard tune (G and E denotes Gross and Engle), defeated more than 1,600 dogs to take home the title this year.

“This is the Kentucky Derby of the coon-hunting world,” Gross said referring to the world championships. “There were thousands of spectators that came from all across the country and beyond, from Canada to Texas. This year’s hunt was extraordinary.”

G&E Fightin’ Side, and all coon dogs, compete in local hunts (there are many of these in the county) before qualifying and advancing to the world competition. There, after several elimination rounds, G&E Fightin’ Side earned enough points to win the world competition by being the first one to tree the most raccoons or to strike their track (scent).

The hunt ends with the raccoons snug and content in the trees they were chased into; no raccoons are harmed during the hunts.

“I bred G&E Fightin’ Side and trained her to hunt from birth,” Engle said. “The training is basically just getting the dog out there in the hunting environment and watching older dogs. Eventually, they end up training themselves; natural instinct takes over.”

Coon-hunts can last anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour and are usually held at night.

Gross and Engle, who are only two of the more than 180 members of the Southern Ohio Coonhunter’s Association, have already received numerous offers to purchase their champion coon-hound.

“We are declining all offers right now (one offer exceeded $25,000),” said Engle.

Engle said that coon-hunting is a very popular sport and that there were numerous hunters in Clermont County and all across Southern Ohio.

“Coon-hunters, like Joe and myself, love the competitive spirit of the hunt,” he said. “There are no better dogs and dog trainers in the world than right here in Southern Ohio.”

In addition to the World Championships in Aurora, Engle hunted another man’s dog in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) world hunt and won first place there as well. Another local pup (named Calvin Hayes) won the one-year old division at the same AKC World Cup.

“Impressively enough, two world champions and a one-year old super stake were bred, born, and trained right here in Clermont County,” said Engle.

G&E Fightin’ Side won a plaque, a cash purse, and the bragging rights; he will live out the rest of his now illustrious life hunting and studding.