Strong family support and a good dog helped Coleton Dunlap, 13, of Frazeysburg, win the Professional Kennel Club Youth World Championship this past weekend.
The seventh-grader at River View Junior High School and his dog, Silver Creek Champion Buck Creek Stella, took the event in Salem, Ill. PKC is the largest organization in the U.S. devoted to coonhound registration and competitive raccoon hunting, according to its website.
Along with a plaque, Dunlap received $4,000 in scholarship money, giving him $8,300 in winnings for college.
He is ranked 12th in the nation in the PKC youth standings and 9th in Ohio in the open class standings. This qualifies him to compete in the PKC national and state championships in the spring.
He thanked his family and God for being behind him. His parents, Chuck and Dana Dunlap; sister, Grace Dunlap; and friends, Clay and Dakota Stephens, were withColeton at the championship.
“It definitely boosted my confidence. It gave me a warm feeling inside whenever I went out on a cast (group hunt),” Coleton said. “It’s a nerve-wracking thing, because you’ve got so many people out there watching you, but knowing they’re there and they’re going to love me no matter what I do, it really helped. It really made me push to win.”
Coleton has been hunting with his father since he was 8 or 9, he said, and competing in tournaments since he was 11. Chuck also competes, and Coleton’s uncle, Don Dunlap, has won three hunting world championships.
Chuck trained Stella’s parents, but Coleton only has had the 6-year-old treeing walker coonhound since February.
“Whenever we got her, it seems like she hadn’t been hunted in awhile and she kind of lost the will to live. I spent a lot of time playing with her and we soon developed a bond. She started liking me and doing well for me,” Coleton said. “I really like her because she has a coon whenever she trees and she can really drive a track.”