Coon-hunting boy, dog earning gold in contests
Judd Koshko of Schell City is an 8-year-old who already has three coon-hunting competitions under his belt.
Judd placed first in the United Kennel Club sponsored and sanctioned Black and Tan Days 2013 Youth Championship Hunt, held Saturday in Flora, Ill.
Judd and his black-and tan-coonhound, 'PR' Fricken Pib Dearman -- Pib for short -- hunted on four consecutive nights of the competition and have won two other competitions.
One more first place win puts the dog in the night champion category of coonhounds. Paul Frederick, the coonhound programs manager for the United Kennel Club said Judd is now qualified to compete in the big youth nationals event that will be held in July in Ohio.
"It's not unusual" for a boy Koshko's age to win a competition, "but it's still great when it happens." Frederick said. "The kennel club encourages children of all ages to get involved in the sport."
As a sixth-generation coon hunter, Koshko is involved. He has been hunting with his father, Walt, since he was 3.
Still bashful and squirming a little in the kitchen chair of his family's Schell City home, he did agree to let a reporter do a little probing into his life.
Sandy haired and full of smiles, Judd said he likes coon hunting because he gets to be outside, and he likes that the dogs tree the coons. One of his favorite parts is the gear that goes along with the sport. He likes his briar proof waders the best because they keep him dry, and he doesn't have to worry about thorns when he's out there in the woods in the dark.
Judd won some gear for his first place finish Saturday. In addition to a big trophy, he got three dog leads, a bag of dog food, two caps and a $100 gift certificate from Concky Dog Supply.
As much as he likes winning gear, Koshko said he favors most the money the big wins bring. He'll probably spend the money on coon-hunting gear and fishing tackle.
Judd said he likes beating the bigger children, too.
Two classes make up the youth competition in the kennel club system. Children ages 8 to 12 make up one class and ages 13 to 17 comprise the other. Teams can compete up, but not down.
Judd and Pib competed against 26 other dogs and handlers in the older class. His closest competitor was 12 and several of the other placing competitors were 17.
When officials announced him as winner, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, according to his dad.
The boy is very modest about the win, but acknowledged he likes "showing off" his dog. He likes the time he gets to spend with his dad and friends, too.
They treat him like one of the gang, he said.
Dad is proud of his boy. He said the one condition he put on attending the competition was that Judd get straight A's in school. He did, too.
He said all the work was worth it.
Judd's dad is also trying to teach Judd about some of the finer points of competition hunting. He is trying to get him to realize how important the clock can be during the contest.
For instance, if a dog trees a coon and the hunter calls him off too soon or the dog "breaks tree" before time is up, the hunter loses points. That's simplified but it points out that it's not coon hunting like you would normally think of it.
His dad also is trying to teach Judd a little about breeding so he knows what makes a good dog. Koshko and his dogs are well known in coon hunting circles for his animals' exceptional bloodlines and performance.
Although they are coon hunters at heart, Judd and his dad like to do a little deer hunting and they fish too. Mostly on the Osage River near Schell City. Koshko said he likes catfishing the best.
When he's not hunting or fishing, Judd has some calves he is raising to enter in the Bates County Fair this year. He said the calves are a lot of work but thinks his Holstein mix and two Angus calves have a good chance.