Two hundred to hunt AKC Fall Classic
10/1/2008 9:38:29 AM
Salisbury, NC Ė Anyone that has attended Southeastern Treeing Walker Days in the thirty-five year history of the record-setting event knows that thereís just nothing quite like it. The crowds each February are phenomenal, rivaling if not exceeding those of the Grand American held the month before and growing by the year.
When AKC went looking for a parent club for coon huntingís largest breed, the Treeing Walker there really was only one place to look. We contacted the Southeastern Treeing Walker Association and the rest is history.
Understanding that the Southeastern wasnít built in a day, the SETWA wanted to start their signature AKC event with a one-night hunt. We settled on the fall as being the best time due to the Southeastern being held in the late winter, early spring slot. The AKC Fall Classic, held the first time in October of 2005, became the event that the Southeastern would build from the ground up just like they did with the Southeastern and their strategy is paying off.
David Gardin of Norwood, North Carolina handles the guide network for the Southeastern, an all-important job handed down by North Carolina coon hunting legend Max Summerlin under whom David apprenticed in his rise to prominence as an event manager in the Tar Heel State and nationally.
I was invited to the annual meeting of the Southeastern board in January in Orangeburg and we discussed the prospect of increasing the AKC Fall Classic to a 2-day event. I committed to the added purse and the board committed the proven team of event professionals that comprise the SETWA board to the project. Gardin immediately volunteered his services to handle the entries and guides and the deal was done.
Iíll admit I was skeptical when Gardin suggested ďadvanced entries onlyĒ knowing the propensity of coon hunters to wait last minute to decide to go to a hunt. But I also know that if advanced is the only way to enter, a certain number of hunters that are paying attention to the ads in Cooner and online will do so and once they submit their entry fee, at least 90 percent of them will show up and hunt.
I got a call this morning from David and from SETWA President Randy Hall to say that we will have 100 or more entries each night at the AKC Fall Classic this weekend. Two hundred entries at an event thatís now in itís fourth year demonstrates the skill and patience this group has to insure that an event has the kind of foundation it needs to last.
Iím sure there are those of you out there that wish you had been paying attention, especially with the opportunity to hunt for the $4500.00 added purse and the special prizes from Garmin, Tri-tronics, K-Lights and others up for grabs. A one-hundred dog AKC money hunt with a $30 entry fee pays $75.00 to each and every cast winner. Thatís strong!
If you missed the deadline this year, keep in mind the first weekend in October next year. Like Southeastern Treeing Walker Days, with a group like this behind the event, itís destined to grow and grow and grow.
There will be several vendors on the grounds this weekend in Salisbury and the weather is going to be fall-like and perfect for hunting or just visiting. It will be a great time to come and fellowship, take in the Bench Show at 2:00 PM on Saturday and stick around Saturday night to see gets the big bucks.
Iím looking forward to seeing you there. Iíll be there on Friday and Lyndell Price will join me on Saturday.
Photo: Top and Center - Crowds at the 2007 Southeastern Treeing Walker Days. Bottom - The 2007 AKC Fall Classic Winner.