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Tree My Dog: Vocabulary of the Raccoon Hunter

You don’t have to spend much time around a raccoon hunter to figure out the sport has its own vocabulary. Some of the colloquialisms are self-explanatory, but those who don’t know the difference between a bluetick and a deer tick should read on:

Strike – When a hound finds the first raccoon scent trail after being sent into the woods at the start of a hunt.

Open – The howl a dog lets out when it strikes a track.

On track – When a hound is trailing a raccoon.

Warming him up – When dogs start to close in on a coon and become a bit more excited.

Chop mouthing on a run – The constant “arw arw arw” barking a hound makes while on track, usually a sign they are right on a coon’s tail. When silence separates the barks, the dogs are working the track.

Track straddler – A dog that works directly over the track with its nose down, barking constantly.

Locate – The long bawl that a hound lets out when it trees a raccoon.

Smoked that dude – When hounds quickly tree a coon after running a trail hard and fast.

Tree my dog – What a handler says during a hunt competition when they hear their dog locate. Points are awarded to the first dog to both strike and tree.

Turning it over – The chop and “ow, ow, ow” that follows a locate and continues until the handler arrives at the tree.

Blowing the acorns out of the tree – The incessant barking of a dog with a treed raccoon. Of course, since the handler has no idea if the coon is in an oak tree until he gets to it, some simply say their dog is “blowing the top out of it.”

Tree in a hole – When a hound runs a raccoon into a beaver den or other hole in the ground rather than up a tree.

Squall – A call used to imitate a raccoon fight and coax a raccoon out of a tree-top hiding spot.

Deer race – When a dog takes up the track of a deer.

Cornfield race – Dogs following raccoons through a cornfield during the summer running season, when scenting conditions are often perfect and raccoon numbers high.

Ahead of the race – The rare occasion when a dog runs a raccoon past its handler, allowing them to see the animals in action.

Slick tree – When a handler makes it to his treed dog and doesn’t find a raccoon.

Cold track – An old track that is losing scent, making it difficult for dogs to follow. The opposite, an extremely fresh track, is referred to as “a smokin’ hot deal.

Layup – Raccoons that have been in a tree for long enough that their track is gone but the dogs still catch their scent in the wind.

Brick wall – When dogs follow a track that hits a dead end.

Dozer pile – A pile of brush on the ground, often left behind when draws are cleared for farming, in which hounds sometimes tree a coon.

Nice mouth – A dog that has a pleasant howl … or at least one that’s pleasant to a houndsman.

 Jerry Spech handles Colonel and Thor, two of his five bluetick coonhounds, at the base of  a cottonwood tree, with a treed raccoon. Eric Fowler/NEBRASKAland Magazine
Jerry Spech handles Colonel and Thor, two of his five bluetick coonhounds, at the base of a cottonwood tree, with a treed raccoon.
Eric Fowler/NEBRASKAland Magazine

About eric fowler

Nebraskaland Regional Editor Eric Fowler was born in Hastings, graduated from Ogallala High School in 1988 and completed his Bachelor’s at Chadron State College in 1993. After six years as a writer and photographer with newspapers in Chadron and Scottsbluff, he joined the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in 1998 as Publications Editor and has been a member of the NEBRASKAland staff since 2001. Fowler spends as much time as he can in Outdoor Nebraska. When he’s not photographing wildlife, landscapes or people enjoying the state’s outdoor resources for the magazine, he’s enjoying them himself while hunting, fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking or camping with family, including his wife and son, and friends.

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