2016 PKC World Championship - Top Six Interviews

Day by Day Cast Matchups and Results from the 2016 PKC World Championship in Salem, Illinois October 24-29, 2016.

Moderator: Eddie Simmons

Jerry Moll
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PKC Name: Jerry Moll
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2016 PKC World Championship - Top Six Interviews

Postby Jerry Moll » Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:55 pm

By PKC National Youth Director; Amy Thomas

"It has been a long week for some with trying to qualify and then not only getting in, but trying to survive Friday night to make it to this point. Right now, only six are left standing out of the best competition that can be seen in PKC coon hunting. The circumstances fell in their favor, their dogs edged out the rest, and now these six hounds and handlers are hoping for one more round of success!

There is no doubt that this year if you add up all the winnings of the hounds and handlers left for the Heads Up casts that this is some elite competition. We can find some very familiar faces and well-known, big winning hounds heading out to see which will make it into the Final Three. We know that is a Walker who will win and the odds are in favor of a male. However, you never know if our one and only female left may be treeing coons while the others are still marking their spot. One thing is for sure and that is that these hounds area all well-bred, high quality coon dogs with excellent handlers behind them".

Now let’s take a closer look at these gentlemen and their possible World Champion hounds:


Slow Talking Duke
Owned by Shabel/Carroll, handled by Mike Carroll


One can say the even years in PKC have been good to Mike Carroll and the Slow Talking hounds. Actually it is his wife Susie who said just that when Slow Talking Duke won the Super Stakes this year. It seems that Mike’s success always come in those years. Now in addition to his Super Stakes win, Mike is two casts away from seeing if his Slow Talking Duke can bring the big win home to South Carolina. Mike knows that having the youngest hound out of all those joining him tonight puts him at a slight disadvantage, but he also knows that in coon hunting that if the good Lord is looking out for you than anything is possible!

Mike has been hunting in PKC since the middle 90’s and he has been behind several Slow Talking wins. Though he has never won a World Championship, he did get to this point in 2014. At that time, it was him and Slow Talking Blaze who made it to the Top Six. It is pretty exciting that two years later, Blaze has two pups in tonight’s Heads Up cast with Duke and Festus. That is quite a statement for the Slow Talking line. They are also two of the three Gold Champions in a lineup of Platinums that they have to compete against. However, after tonight, they might be in that elite group themselves!

Two and a half year old Duke is not only the youngest of these six competitors, but he also has been hunted the least amount of time. Mike bought him back when he was fourteen months old. He had belonged to a member of Mike and Susie’s church who did not have the time to put into a young dog. Duke has only been hunting about a year now, but boy what he has accomplished in that time frame. Duke won his Super Stakes division, won a Pup ticket, and finished second in the South Carolina State Race, only to lose out to his brother Festus.

Mike shared what it is about Duke that has helped him bring him to this level so quickly, “Duke is easy and has a good handle. He has a good mouth and hunts good. He is accurate and is just a really nice young dog. I love him.”

Mike also has been involved with this line for a long time and that also helps. He talked about the Slow Talking line, “When I got Duke, he was not doing anything, so I guess he is just a natural. There is a lot of luck involved in breeding also and I do not think anyone has it quite figured it out. When I raise the litter and keep one, I hunt a lot and have a lot of experience to look at what needs to be done to help them. You can tell if dogs have not been worked the way they should. However, these dogs are smart, accurate, and honest and that is three good pluses going for them.”

Another plus that Duke had going for him this week was getting in on Monday. Duke made things easy on Mike by getting in on that first night of this event. Duke would start off in a coon treeing contest on his early round. His 300 plus points edged out his competition which all had scores in the two hundred range. Duke would then get Mike their second win and won his late round cast with 175 plus. Mike talked about that night and some other big news, “On both of those casts when the hunt was half over, I was behind and came back. I was down 425 in the early round and 375 on the late one, but both times, he treed coons and brought it back. Also, after that second round, Roger Shabel bought half of Duke.”

Roger has had his eye on Duke since his win at the Super Stakes and it looks like he finally got to buy a piece of this young, but big winning hound. With being already qualified for Friday night, Mike and Duke stayed in Salem and had time to enjoy the rest of the week and conserve their energy.

When Friday rolled around, it was time for Mike and Duke to get back to work. In the early round on that night, the two emerged from the cast with 275 plus. The closest score to them was 100 plus. That would be the first victory of the night for the Slow Talking Duo! In the late round, the young hound would find himself going up against an already proven World Champion when he drew out with W CH Wipeout 3 Dee owned by Crowson or Moreland and handled by Ryan Crowson in addition to Tree Pickin and Robbie Stoud. Duke was very consistent with his earlier performances and won that cast with 200 plus. Mike shared how the week had been to get them to this point, “I think he has treed nine coons in the four cast and had two slick trees.”

Now that they are approaching the Heads Up cast, when asked what strengths he feels Duke will bring, he replied, “I do not know if he will. Mine is the youngest one out there and has only been hunted about a year of his life. I will just call him for what he does. He is about a second strike dog and gets by himself I can only hope that the first dog has a den and he has a coon.”

Before heading out, Mike did have some people he wanted to mention, “I want to thank my wife Susie for being behind me. I also want to thank Mike Engle and Rocky Nichols for helping me train dogs. I also want to thank my preacher Barry Philbeck for being one of my biggest supporters. I also would like to give a special thanks to everyone who has been behind and supported the Slow Talking line.

Two years ago, Mike Carroll was in this same position Blaze. This time there are two Slow Talking hounds off of Blaze also in it. I guess you can say that there is “too” something special about those even years for this line that Mike has invested so much of his life into. Now he is about to see if they can take their luck with evens and head to that odd numbered round!


Tree Smokin Festus
Owned by Rupert W. Smith III
Handled by Ernie West


Ernie West is not only hunting a hound off of Slow Talking Blaze, but he also has a special connection to the number two. Out of the forty years that he has been coon hunting, Ernie has only been to the PKC World Hunt two times. The other years were spent coaching ball for his son. Children grow up quickly and that time was well spent, but now that his son is in college, Ernie has the chance to see if his training of another athlete is about to pay off. On this second trip to Salem, Illinois, Ernie has found himself in the Top Six of the World Championship and that is because of Tree Smokin Festus owned by Rupert Smith.

Ernie met Rupert through a gentleman at the Grand American. That is a hunt that Ernie has had the pleasure of winning twice! He won with Carolina Hard Rock and then again with Yadkin River Chubb. Now Ernie has another big winner to campaign with Festus. In that time, Ernie has made Festus a Gold Champion. The two recently started their PKC resume by winning the South Carolina State Race. Just as we see tonight, they had some tough competition with Mike Carroll and Duke following up right behind them in second place. These two men have hunted quite a bit against each other with these two dogs and they both came to handle them through an unorthodox way.

The story behind Festus is quite the interesting one and Ernie talked about it, “An old country guy named Steve Nance had bred a female to Blaze and raised Festus from a pup. Steve hunts seven nights a week, but he does not care a lick about competition hunting. I was on the same federal land with a dog that I was struggling to get going and I would hear a dog night after night treeing. I knew it was a coon dog when I heard the rifle cracking each time. That dog was Festus. When I saw him posted for sale on Facebook, I called Rupert and told him that if he did not buy him then I was going to. We bought him. Festus was a totally different dog then than he is now. He was more like a wild dog because he had never been socialized or come to town, he was just hunted. I messed with him every single day and let him sleep in the house until he got used to me. Now he follows me around. This is going on my second year of handling Festus”

Needless to say, when asked what it is that he likes about handling Festus, Ernie started out by saying, “He is one of the most accurate dogs that I have ever seen in my life. He is very independent. He does like to be tight mouthed on the ground and will give maybe three barks.”

Things did not start off easy this week for Ernie and Festus. The two arrived on Sunday with Russell Vincent and Riverbend Gauge. Ernie talked about the rough start they experienced, “Both my dogs River Bend Gage and Festus have been sick since Sunday. They still are feeling rough. Russell hunted Festus on Monday and Tuesday while I hunted Gauge. On Wednesday, I told Russell that we needed to mix it up and that I needed to hunt my old dog. Wednesday night was two of the best casts that I have ever been on and not because I won, but because I met some of the best people. If I am not having fun, probably nobody else is either.”

Festus got qualified that night. On Wednesday’s early round, he emerged as the winner with 125 plus points. The closest competition to him in that round was 50 plus. Then Festus went on to win his late round with 150 plus.

In Friday night’s early round, the odds increased for Festus and Ernie when they drew a three dog cast. They won with 125 plus. In the late round on Friday, Festus drew Traders Dempsey Dog owned by Finley or Steadman and handled by Randy Steadman and Weeds Mr Doc owned and handled by Dustin Weed. With 200 plus, Festus edged out Dempsey by 25 points for the win. Friday night was not an easy win for Festus either, Ernie discussed it, “He almost got scratched for not hunting. We walked across a field and you could tell someone had already been there hunting because there was a path beat down. If Festus hunts with babbling dogs, he will come back in and check in with me to show me that it is not him. If someone has already been in a spot, he will just hang around like he knows that it has already been hunted. They put the fifteen minute warning on him. We walked away from him. That was when he got off into the woods and treed a coon. He had another one at the end of the hunt, but I did not tree him in on it.”

When asked what it is that he feels will be a strength going into tonight’s first cast, Ernie said, “If we get in good hunting, Festus has the ability to tree coons with any dog in the world. He is not a quick strike dog, but after the first one you usually strike in for 25 points anyway and now it will be for 75 points. I am really, really confident that when he trees and we shine, you are going to see two eye balls looking down.”

When asked if he had anything to say to his fans out there, Ernie said, “I have to mention James Atwell with Nite Time Hunting. I have to take care of him because he takes care of me. I also want to mention my mother, Janis West. I called her last night. We lost my dad five years ago and my dad packed me everywhere in the world. When I started competition hunting, he would say he would not get out of the rocking chair to go to one, but he took me to every hunt when I could not drive. I called my mom because I still want to call him. I also want to mention my family Celeste and Dustin. They always say to me, 'You hunt every night and it never happens'…maybe this year it will happen."

Ernie is about to see if he and Festus are going to be advancing on to the Final Three or not. No matter what, Festus has shown that he is another chip off the old Slow Talking Block!


Thousand Dollar Bill
Owned by William E. Cochran
Handled by Coy Sullivan


Not only do we have two Gold Champion half-siblings out of the Slow Talking line in this Top Six, but we also have two full Platinum Champion littermates out of the Wipeout line in this top showing. It is easy to say that Thousand Dollar Bill has truly lived up to his name about eight-five times! This Platinum Champion is sitting at around $85,000 in lifetime earnings. At only six years old, he has a good shot of topping the Lifetime Money Earning’s list and a World Champion win would definitely boost him into that range. With a seasoned handler like Coy Sullivan behind him, it is safe to say that his odds are looking good.

Coy began coon hunting in high school and then slacked up a bit. It was in 2004 that he really got back into the sport. Though Coy has won a lot in his lifetime with different hounds, such as the Breeders’ Stakes, the Super Stakes, the Breeders’ Showcase, and a truck, winning the World is something that he has not experienced yet. He came close in 2012 when he placed second with American Express and tonight he is just five dogs away from claiming the victory with Bill.

Thousand Dollar Bill has proven himself to be capable of winning. Coy shared some of his successes, “He won the Pro Division the first year he got in. He has won the Breeders’ Showcase Open Division and his division in the Super Stakes. He has also been in the Final Four of several Pro Hunts. Bill has gotten in the World Hunt. In fact, he has gotten in the past three years, but this is the first year that we got through the third round. I usually only carry him to major hunts. If we go to a week-long hunt, he will usually get us in.”

Coy has been handling Thousand Dollar Bill going on three years now. Every bit of the money won on him outside of about $5,800 has come from having Coy as his handler. Coy talked about what it is about Bill that he has enjoyed so much, “He makes it look easy. He is usually by himself. He is a powerful dog, who does things quick and usually has a coon when he trees. You can always count on Bill and you cannot ever count him out. He has gotten better with age and is not as hyper. When he was younger, he would beat himself in a cast.”

On Tuesday night, Bill and Coy got qualified for Friday night’s Semi-Finals. They would take the night on like gang busters! Their early round brought in a score not often seen in PKC with 800 plus points!!! Not only did they start off on fire, but they went on to win their late round with an impressive 475 plus points.

The early round on Friday would also be quite the coon treeing contest. There would be scores of 425 plus and 225 plus on the score card, but the top score would be the 550 plus that Bill and Coy brought in. In the late round, Coy and Bill would draw out with Ward Mountain Misty, owned by Waters or Reynolds and being handled by Tim Waters and Halftime Ruby, owned by Hamilton or Meyers, and owned by Wes Hamilton. It would be by 25 points that Bill would win that round. Bill had 200 plus to Misty’s 175 plus.

Now Coy and Bill find themselves in the Top Six joined by his littermate sister, Jessie Jane being handled by Billy Bell. This is not the first time that Bill and Jane have been in the Finals together. Coy and his dad Mark have also had to compete against each other with these two high-powered hounds. Jane is about $1,000 ahead of Bill in lifetime earnings and luckily since both dogs are owned by William Cochran, they will not have to square off in the Heads Up cast. When asked what he felt that Bill was going to bring into this next round as a strength, Coy replied, “I feel that he is where he needs to be and as long as he keeps his head on straight, it is hard to beat him. He has had his mind on treeing coons and I just hope he keeps it up. You do not ever know and you have to get the breaks. We have treed several coons each night. We treed on eleven the night I got in.”

When asked if he had any fans that he wanted to mention before heading out tonight, Coy shared, “I told my fiancée a month ago that I had as much confidence as I ever had in the way that Bill was looking and doing. She and my mom are on their way up now that we are in tonight. My dad and his wife are coming up to support us and so is Brandon Glass. Brandon has been staying with me and hunting.”

This ’10 model off of Zeb 3 and Georgia Cyclone has had his name in the headlines before and tonight could take him to a whole new level of achievement with a World Championship title. Coy knows that he still has two casts ahead for him and Bill, but he knows that just being to this point is something special. He stated, “When you get up and all the motels are cleared out and you are still here, it is a good feeling. I hope to God everything keeps looking good. All we can do is keep rolling and we are just going to keep rolling.”


Cabo of Mayhem
Owned by Strickland or Dunlap
Handled by Jeff Ricklefs


Jeff Ricklefs put a gold ring on his left finger this past April when he married his longtime girlfriend Gwen and now he is two casts away from winning another ring for his right hand for the World Championship. Jeff has been pretty busy building a new home, but the time away to head down to Salem, Illinois has been worth it. In fact, if he wins the $30,000 there may be some additional items added on for the house that he thought he may have to wait a bit longer for. Jeff is about to head out to see if he can get one step closer to that big pay out.

Jeff Ricklefs has definitely established his name as a PKC handler. He has been hunting in the registry for about twenty-six year now. Though he has many big wins under his light belts, he has yet to win a World Championship. However, he has been in the Top Six before. This is his third time and he got to this stage with two females, Ruby and Kate. He has never made it to the Final Cast though. He is about to see if getting here with the newly turned six year old Cabo of Mayhem will get him into that last cast and all important round.

Jeff has been handling Gold Champion Cabo for the past four years. He talked about how he came to handle the hound out of Cabo Wabo and a direct daughter off of Lipper’s Stylish Rank, “I started handling Cabo through Greg Dunlap. We were looking for a dog and Shane Green found him for us in Oklahoma. Shane bought him and then Ryan Crowson and Johnny Moreland were in on him. We ended up buying all of him sight unseen. We told Shane to keep hunting him and then just bring him to us at the World. Shane brought him up here when Cabo was just two years old and he placed him in the Top Sixteen that year.”

After that, Jeff began handling Cabo. He discussed what it is about handling him that he has enjoyed (and what he has not), “Cabo is really independent and real good about having the coons. He is a big hunting dog. He is about to kill me down here right now!”

Cabo has not been in a whole lot of PKC events. He has done well in the ACHA World Hunt and placed both fifth and seventh. He also has won a lot of money in Invitational Hunts. Jeff talked about the successes they have seen so far, “Cabo has done real well in the Invitational hunts like the ones hosted by Russ Meyer, Justin Chism, Mark Hall, and Jason McCutcheon. In those, he has won over $60,000. If only that money counted towards things, but it has helped the pocket book out. We have not pushed anything real hard, but we already planned to run harder next year with this house being done. I went to the Nationals this year, but we are going to run the Pro Division next year.”

With the ways things have gone for Cabo and Jeff so far, it definitely gets the momentum building for next year. Starting off this World Championship on Monday night would turn out good for Cabo and Jeff. They started off the evening with a coon treeing contest. Cabo would come out of the early round with 500 plus points. The next closest score to them was 325 plus points and the lowest score was 250 plus. That was quite the cast. Jeff talked about it, “We treed eight coon that round. It was a real hunt.”

Not only would they would get qualified that first night and have a chance to rest up for their end of the week performance. They won late with 250 plus.

Early Friday night, Jeff and Cabo were the only hounds to come in with plus points. They came in with 150 plus. Jeff talked about that round, “He treed a coon right out of the truck. Everyone else took minus. Then he got through the country and got treed again, but I never had to tree him because they could not put the stationary on m because of the other dogs treeing in the cast. It was nerve wrecking though to have him in there treed and not calling him treed.”

Then in the late round on Friday, when the competition had whittled down even further, the scores looked good on the card when Jeff and Cabo returned to the club house. Cabo won with 400 plus against his competition Deeper South Molly, owned by Whiteaker or Cooper, being handled by Ryan Cooper and Trader’s Lone Survivor, owned by Finley or Anderson, and being handled by Jed Finley. He talked about that round that got him here, “I had 525 plus with 125 minus. That was an exciting cast. At one point, every dog in the cast had the lead at one point or another. I had to have a coon to win at the end and I did. We scored on four coons in that cast.”

Now Jeff is in the elusive round that he has never quite made it out of the other times he made it to this point. When asked what he felt the strengths are that Cabo will bring into this last night, Jeff answered, “Hopefully being accurate and having his coons. When you are Heads Up, you can only hope they have their coons. It is not as much about striking, but who has the coon and who does not.”

When asked if he had any fans that he wanted to mention before heading out tonight, Jeff said, “Just my wife, Gwen. She was not able to come down because we are about four weeks away from finishing up our new house. We have a lot going on.”

If Jeff can get through the next two casts and bring home the big check, you can bet that he will be calling Gwen to add on to that To-Do List for the house!


Backwater Homer
Owned by Jeff Barnes
Handled by Eric Piatt


Eric Piatt has been hunting on the PKC circuit now since 1992. He has spent over a decade in partnership with Jeff Barnes and together the two men have known great success in the registry. Eric has won a truck, a Super Stakes, and now recently the Pro Division. However, a World Championship is something where he has come close, but not quite close enough to add to his resume of success as a coon hunter. Now he is ready to see if Platinum Champion Backwater Homer can get that accomplished for him tonight.

Five year old Backwater Homer is off of Bone Collector and Bey Bey. Jeff and Eric have owned him since he was about eighteen months old. Coming into this World Championship, Homer has a little over $24,000 won. He accumulated this amount with some bigger achievements such as winning the Pro Division this year, placing second in the Junior Super Stakes, placing in the semi-finals in the Senior Super Stakes, and getting into the quarter finals of the Nationals.

Handling Homer has been a pleasure for Eric because of the strengths that the hound brings. Eric shared what it is about him that he has enjoyed, “Homer is independent, consistent, and accurate. When you turn him loose, he will go tree you a coon. I know it sounds easy, but sometimes it is not. He has a lot of drive and heart so he hunts hard and quick. He really is a no nonsense kind of dog that keeps himself out of trouble.”

That description of Homer is why the two have had such success this week. Homer made things easy for Eric by getting in on the first night. On Monday night, he won his early cast with an impressive score of 475 plus points. Homer kept the score looking good when went on from there to win his late round with 325 plus. He put on quite the performance that night and was not going to stop when it was time to get back to business on Friday.

The early round on Friday night would have Homer and Eric winning the cast again with 475 points. The scores would also look good for Coon Collector Slim who had 325 plus and Slow Talking Pace who had 300 plus. Homer edged them out with the 150 lead on Slim to make it down to the next step towards being in Salem, Illinois another night! In the late round Homer drew out with County Line Ruger owned and being handled by Logan Ray and Booger Hollow Annie owned by Bellar or Meyers and being handled by Alvis Coffman. Homer won with 200 plus.

When asked about his week and if any cast stood out for him, Eric said, “They have all been a good bunch of guys and judges. Scores were great this year. Friday night’s early round stuck out in my mind for the simple fact that the Slim dog of Sean Bacha’s treed a coon out of the truck for 200 by himself. Within just a few minutes of the hunt, he started out with a lead of 200. Then Homer went on and treed a coon for 200 points. When I turned him off that, he went 100 yards and treed another for 125 points, which put us in the lead. Then at the end of the hunt, he treed me another coon to seal it up. Having to battle back from being 200 points down really sticks out.”

With tonight being the most important one of the week, Eric was asked what strength he feels Homer is going to bring to it. He replied, “So far so good. He is staying consistent and doing what he normally does. Hopefully we can keep on that roll and finish things up.”

Even though it has been a great week for Eric, it has also been one that has brought up mixed feelings for him. Last month, Eric and Homer graced the cover of Prohound and with him in that picture was his family. This week he had to miss out on some things for his daughter that have been hard on him. When asked if he had any fans that he wanted to mention before heading out tonight, Eric said, “I would like to thank Jeff and PKC for the opportunity. I also want to thank my kids for putting up with all the aggravation of me being gone as much as I am. It is kind of bitter sweet this week because my youngest girl is a freshmen and plays on the soccer team. They made it to districts and played the semi-finals on Wednesday and I missed that. Today they are in the district finals and I am missing out on that. She is happy for me, but it still stinks. She told me not to worry because they would make it there again next year.”

Though he had to miss out on some family moments, coon hunting has been good to Eric Piatt and his family. He has come home from a coon hunt in a new truck and Homer just won the Pro Hunt division that allowed Eric and his family to grace the cover of Prohound with him. Now it is time to see if Homer can get them one step closer to making the front of that magazine cover again and allow Eric and Jeff to win their own big competition this week. One Piatt has already experienced that this week and now it is Daddy’s turn to see if he can too!


Wipeout Jessie Jane
Owned by William E. Cochran
Handled by Billy Bell


Wipeout Jessie Jane is our only female left standing and it is Billy Bell behind her. That is pretty fitting with the role that he has helped play in the cross that brought her and Thousand Dollar Bill into being. There is something special about being involved in a cross that seems to have produced magic and Thousand Dollar Bill and Wipeout Jessie Jane go back to his female and top reproducer Georgia Peaches. Now Billy has a chance to play another part in her extensive successful history by being two casts away from seeing if he can put a World Championship title on her for William Cochran. Jane is also the second of these hounds that is owned by William and that gives him a slight edge to have at least one player in that all important Final Three. It also gives Billy a chance to have a World Championship win on his PKC resume.

Billy has been handling in PKC since 1992 and he has never made it to the World Finals. He has been in in other registry finals, but never PKC. He talked about how hard of hunt that this event is to get in, “This is one of the hardest World Hunts ever. Look at the people and hounds in tonight. If you stack up handler and hound earnings, there is no weak handler and no weak dog. There is nothing below a Gold Champion in this Top Six. Mark Hall posted that if you look at the Top Six of this event, it shows what respect you have to have for this organization and what it takes to get into the Finals of its World Championship.”

Billy is here tonight and it all is because of Platinum Champion Wipeout Jane. Jane is sitting at around $86,000 in lifetime earnings coming into this hunt. She has won a truck, won in the Pro Division, and just seems to be able to make it easily into the finals of major events. Mark Sullivan took her to great achievements and Josh Watson has been handling her also for William Cochran. Billy just came on as her handler right after the Nationals. He talked about how that came to be, “Josh’s son is playing football and he knew that he would be big into that when the World came around. William called and asked me if I would want to handle her, but I have been handling for Roger Shabel and Gary Elliot and needed to ask them about it. Roger did not care because he knows that William and I are close friends.”

Billy talked about what it is that he enjoys about handling Jane, “She is a grandpup to Peaches and I raised her mother Clone. I understand these dogs. Barry and I worked hard to get this line going. I have always been a guy who prefers handling females and my dad was the same way. Jane reminds me a lot of Peaches. She is a good striking dog and can tree about any kind of coon. She can compete with the best of them.”

She has done just that this week. Jane got in on Monday night allowing her time to rest up for her Friday night battle against some top competition. In her early round, she had an impressive score of 350 plus. This took her to the next step and Jane went on to win late Monday night with 175 plus. She would be able to rest up and conserve her energy for the next big stage of this game on Friday night. However, Billy had an awful time of getting back to Salem for Friday night’s casts. He talked about this, “I went home, went to work and did not have to take any vacation days. It was nice because I got my time in at work and got to see my three year old and be with my family. When I was getting ready to come here, my little girl said, ‘I don’t want you to leave me.’ I told her that whoever wins this, gets a gold ring. I told her if I win it, I will give her that gold ring. Then she told me to go and get it.”

In the early round on Friday, Billy and Jane were the only ones to come is with plus points. They won that cast with 250 plus. Billy talked about that round, “On the first drop, I had 75 strike and she and Soldier Boy got in the ground, so for the rest of the night we got back in for 25 points. Then she treed a coon and then got another one before the night was over.”

In the late round on Friday, Billy and Jane drew out with B&G’s Den Tree Doug, owned by Burdine or Goains and handled by Ryan Jones along with Nowhere’s Sun, owned by Marshall or Carvill and handled by Tom White. Jane won with 200 plus. Billy talked about the pressure of this cast, “Ten minutes out of the truck, she was 200 points on a coon. I was in the lead from start to finish. It is just as hard keeping that 200 too.”

When asked if any cast stuck out for him, Billy said, “Every cast had good people, good guides, and good judges. I have had no complaints. I have told a lot of people that this is a marathon for you and your dog. To get ready for it, you have to be prepared for it. It is just as mentally draining for the handler. It can be hard going on all these rounds and thinking about what you need to do and when you need to do it at the precise time.”

When asked what strengths he felt Jane was bringing going into this Heads Up cast and possibly the Final Three, Billy said, “She is pretty much going to go out there and get a good strike and find a coon yonder. She has done that for four rounds and has won every cast with at least one coon. It takes that consistency. I hope that we will push her all the way through. How these three cast get drawn out changes the whole game. The possible World Champion could have beat one of the other dogs, but not the one it drew.”

There is also the possibility that both Billy and Jane could find themselves in that Final Three with Coy and Bill. This would not be the first time that they have gone up against each other. In the first hunt that Billy put Jane in, that happened. He talked about that and that possibility tonight, “The Tennessee Classic was my first hunt with her and I got into the Finals with Coy. Coy wanted to hunt it off and we did. Jane won that night, but I do not know how tonight will turn out if they both end up in the Final Three. These dogs have been phenomenal and Bill has really come into his own. If either one of these win it, it will put them in striking distance of all-time money earners. I knew they were close and with this they are like a Pro Hunt win away from doing it.”

No matter how things go, Billy has a fan club out there rooting for him. He said, “I know my wife Stephanie and daughter Aubrey are hoping for that gold ring. There are hundreds of people I could mention because where I grew up in West Tennessee were some tough coon hunters who helped me get to where I am. One person I do want to mention is my dad, if I could win this, I would dedicate it toward his passing. He would have been tickled beyond belief.”


Now the time has come to see just who will emerge from the Heads Up to go on to the Final Three. Then it will be all eyes on the Play-by-Play to see who the 2016 PKC World Champions will be. There is no doubt that this is some elite competition and no matter how it all turns out there is going to be one top-notch handler and hound accepting the plaque and check of $30,000!
Please prepare yourself and your hound. Hunt the dog, read the Blue Book, and your Good Book!
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