UKC World Nite Championship

American Cooner Nov 2011 CoverSince the 1970’s Larry Wilcox of Michigan has been a dedicated supporter of the English hound. He has hunted them diligently from that time and bred them with only one goal in mind – continue to better the breed.

Now his efforts have paid off – not only were there two English hounds in the Final Four of this year’s UKC World Nite Championship, but one of them was his and won the entire event!

Even though Larry Wilcox had never coon hunted until after he graduated high school, once he went with a friend from his first job – he was hooked! It was the English hounds that he went with that night and from that moment on it has been English ever since for him! Larry may not have ended up with that particular line of dogs, but they definitely showed him what he wanted in a coon dog.

It would actually be ten years later that Larry would get the English male who would be the foundation for the dogs he hunts now – Sangamon River Cloud. “Ron Thomas of Michigan knew Bill Crandall in Indiana who had Cloud, who originally came from Illinois.

Cloud was Coin bred on top and Silver Creek on the bottom of his pedigree. When I got him, I changed his name to Thunder Cloud.” It has been a good run with this line for Larry.


Larry made his eighth generation cross off Cloud when he crossed his male Gr. Nt. Ch. Taebo onto Gr. Nt. Ch. Lady’s Brandy. From that he kept the pup he called Gun. He liked the young male right from the start. “Gun just had a good personality as a pup. He was happy all the time and loves being your buddy. He sits next to you in the truck and loves to lick your face. He is just a good dog who I guess turned out to be a pretty fair one also.”

Gun’s abilities were as nicely developed as his disposition. “He was the High Scoring English on Thursday night of English Days in 2009. He also made Grand Nite Champion at two years old. Last year, he was the High Scoring Grand Nite Champion and Overall High Scoring Dog on Saturday night.”

It was also last year that Larry bred Gun for the first time. “I’ve only bred him once a year ago, but he’s been bred three times this week,” he chuckled, “I had a good one out of him from that first litter, but he died. He had a rock in his stomach and it killed him. I don’t even know how he got it because he had a concrete run. He must have swallowed it out in the woods. I don’t know how the rest in the litter turned out, but I liked mine.”

After the week he’s had of people wanting to get a piece of such a winning stud, it looks like Larry is going to get a good look here soon at how Gun reproduces!

Now at four years old, Gun has done something to really help with Larry’s goal of breeding his English to keep bettering this breed that stole his heart from the start – his eighth generation Gun won the 2011 UKC World Coon Hunt! If this doesn’t prove that hard work, dedication, effort and devotion pay off – nothing does!

Larry reflected on how the run went for him and his beloved buddy, Gun. “In Wisconsin, Gun won his casts. He was a double cast winner Friday and Saturday. He ended up being the fourth place High Scoring Dog and was also the High Scoring English.

“Then on Thursday in Glouster, Ohio he was the Hi-Scoring dog. Thursday was when I got my lucky break.  That night after you win your cast, you have to go back out and hunt by yourself. Just before we had to go back out a hard rain came. I had a young guide who pulled up the radar on his phone and saw that just fifteen miles from the club it wasn’t raining. He took me there where I treed a coon and didn’t even have to get wet! I wish I was better at names because I’d definitely like to thank him. So many people came in completely drenched and didn’t do well because of the hard rain. If he hadn’t checked his phone, I may not have done so well. I don’t have radar on my phone and probably
wouldn’t know how to operate it even if I did!”

Things continued to go well for Larry past that lucky break though. He got another one the next night when circle points would make all the difference. “On Friday, I won my cast and didn’t have to go back out. The Top Three automatically advanced to Saturday night and the bottom three had to go back out. They hunted it off for the wild card spot on Saturday. I had a tie score for third place and the circle points broke it so I was automatically in.”

The big moment had arrived on Saturday. Larry and Gun now had a one in four chance of winning the World title and the English breed of hound had a 50/50 chance of having another World Champion to add to their breed’s achievements. It was a dream come true for Larry if either of these odds panned out. He had spent his whole coon hunting career enjoying this breed and wanted nothing more than to see it do better as a whole and for him to help with that by doing his individual part. Both of those aspects were represented in that Final Four as he and Rory Cowles’ Gr. Nt. Ch. Big River Jesse Lee with his handler, Jason Reisert, headed out to the woods.

They would be going up against Gr. Nt. Ch. Smith and Strang’s Lone Pine Track Girl being handled by Randy Smith and Jeff Barnes’ Hissy Phitt, handled by Eric Piatt. The Walkers in this Final Four were top females of their breed and ones that have come from a long line of good dogs.

Their owners and handlers were ones who had the same goal as Larry – promote their breed in general and have a breeding plan that would do that. It was a Final Four that had many years of dedication behind each hound heading to the woods. Larry Wilcox’s moment to shine had come and now he was going to have to hope that all the circumstances played out to his favor. He had done everything right that he could have to this point, but now his fate lie in the means to the end for that last cast! Luckily from the very start, it was in his favor.

“The first time we turned loose, I got a break with first strike and first tree on a coon and that put me ahead a bit. One dog in our cast got away from the pack and treed off game. It was scratched so we were down to three dogs. We recast and the other dogs took a minus; that put me ahead a little more and let me lay back to play defense. On the third or fourth tree, I got second strike and first tree on another coon and that really helped. On the last drops, I played it safe. I took my strikes as they came and laid back on my tree points.”  It was on the end of the hunt that it all hit Larry.

“There was a lot of emotion for me at that last tree. It is truly indescribable how I felt. I have waited a long time for this and when it was there – it was a great feeling!  Here there were two English in the Final Cast and I know that for us to have two in it comes from so much devotion from the people behind the breed. What made me fall in love with the English was their wide open strike, good tracking and tree power, but I really like seeing them revert back to being more of a track dog because I personally never liked a tight-mouth dog.

They are just good dogs and had what I wanted in a coonhound. That’s why there are so many different breeds and dogs out there because we all like something different.”

Another thing all these owners and handlers had in common, beyond their dedication to their breed and program to improve their line in it, was their standard of conduct. “We all had a lot on the line and yet everyone on the cast were such gentlemen. It was a wonderful cast and we had good guides and judges.” There was nothing negative to taint this win for Larry which made it even more special to him.

The UKC World Championship came down to four hounds that had many, many years of dedication behind them. Each of these participating hounds also had a group behind it that has worked hard to create breeding programs that helped each of these dogs shine. For Larry, the individual support that he has given to his breed and line goes beyond him though. It starts with his wife, Linda, and their family. They have seen what these dogs mean to Larry and stood behind him in his quest to promote the breed and improve his line of them. However, the support he has been given also extends past his home and family.

“I have so many friends over the years that have helped me get to this point. I hate to begin naming them because I am afraid I will forget one. However, there are two people I really have to say ‘thank you’ to for their part in this success. One of those people is Charles Garris. Charlie is one nice guy. We live 300 miles apart, but we talk on the phone two or three times a day. Charlie and I have females together and he
raises all our pups.”

Charlie would also be the connection for Larry to the next person he wanted to show his gratitude to – Bill Porter. “Bill lives in Ohio not too far from Charlie. He has a lot of knowledge when it comes to starting dogs and used to work for a dog trainer. He is really good with young pups. He took Gun when he was about five months old and also another Grand Nite Champion male that I have and got them running and treeing for
me. He did a wonderful job in just a short time.”

All of the hard work and effort in many different areas have paid off. Larry Wilcox is now the proud owner of the UKC World Nite Champion Gr. Nt. Ch. Wilcox’s Thunder Top Gun. Not only did he get this prestigious honor, but he also brought home a trophy that is definitely of World Class size, along with a World Champion ring and coat, hats to promote his win and hound, an Owens dog box, a Blazer Coon Light, a Marshall tracking system, and gift certificates from Clinch Mountain Outfitters. These were all donated from another group of people as dedicated to our sport of coon hunting as Larry and his fellow participants.

Now that he has hit a huge benchmark in his time with the English and sport, what is Larry’s direction for the future and Gun? “My goal is the same as it has been all along: promote and help the English breed any way I can. Hopefully Gun will do his part in the next couple years. We did a great thing by having two English dogs in the World Finals and we want to keep our breed on top. I am going to be selective about who we breed Gun to and do my part to get those pups in good hands.”

Larry has spent a lot of time with Gun in the last year and put everything else in his kennel on the backburner because of the potential he saw. “I have an eight month old female that I like and several Nite Champion females that have a lot of potential for greater things. However, I have devoted the last year strictly to Gun. It takes a lot of one-on-one work to get a dog going right. You also have to have that time with them so you know what they are doing and how to call them.”

Everything that Larry has done to this point of time has been the right steps to the ultimate outcome – a World Champion win for his stud dog! Larry’s loyalty to this breed and his dedication of time to Gun have all paid off for him and his Thunder line of English hounds. It is with great honor that American Cooner shares his story as we wish him a heartfelt congratulations on this truly prestigious win!