The 2019 Pup Shoot Out Final Four. By PKC National Youth Director; Amy Thomas
For these young hounds, they are about to experience one of the biggest moments of their young lives. Their natural ability paired with an early start of success in the woods has brought them to tonight’s Final Four in Lula, Mississippi. Before the sun comes up tomorrow, one pairing of talented hounds and handlers will be awarded the new truck co-sponsored by PKC, Purina, and the Isle of Capri Casino. Let’s take a moment to get to know these hounds and handlers better before they start off their big night!
Backwater Sling Blade
Owned and handled by Shane Johnson
A lot of people like to go to the casino to celebrate their birthdays. Shane Johnson will be spending this birthday weekend at the Isle of Capri Casino, but there has not been much game playing. Shane has been busy playing the odds on his four year old Backwater Sling Blade to win him a new truck for his 22nd birthday tomorrow. Right now he has a one in four chance to have that happen – not a bad way to celebrate!
Blade is off of PCH Mellon Creek Joe Collector and CH Tequila Good Time Harley. Shane has had him since he was about six months old. He talked about how he came to own him, “I asked Danny Raper if he knew where a good Super Stakes cross was and he gave me the number of the guy who had Blade. He had not been messed with much so I bought him and got him going. What I like about him is that he was just naturally independent. He stays out of trouble and when he trees, he usually has a coon.”
Since having him, Shane placed second with Blade in a Pro Classic last year and won a few early rounds in the Super Stakes. However, this is Blade’s biggest accomplishment so far. Shane said, “Besides getting a truck ticket, Blade has not been pushed hard in the hunts.”
Though Shane has been competition hunting since he was around fifteen years old, this is his first time to the Isle of Capri Casino for this event. Things started off well for Shane and Blade’s maiden trip. On their first round Friday night, Blade and Shane drew out with The Boogie Man handled by Justin Butt; Moore’s Alley handled by Mark Maginn; and Mtn Top Slow Talking Bo handled by Randy Lester. Blade won that cast with 125 plus points.
Shane shared how that beginning round of the night went for him and Blade, “We cut loose and Blade came treed and sure enough it was slick. Luckily, he treed two more times and had coons for 25 and 100 points. The other dogs got into some trouble and that put me through.”
With one win in their pocket, Shane and Blade were hoping to continue their winning streak as they headed out on their late round. This time they found themselves heading out against Combo handled by Doug Blackwell; The “Wicked” Speed Shifter handled by Alvis Coffman; and Weeds Wipeout Super Freak handled by Carl Weed. Blade won that round with 125 plus points again.
Shane described how that late round went, “We cut loose and the two dogs Shifter and Combo treed quick, but it was slick. Then Freak treed and Combo backed. It was slick also. We made three more slicks between the dogs. Blade was struck, but never treed. He got into some water and was beating and banging around in it. With ten minutes left in the hunt, he got out of it and treed. He had a coon.”
Now Shane is one day closer to his birthday and one cast closer to having a new truck! When asked what he feels Blade will bring to this last round, Shane replied, “I feel that he will give me 100% and stay by himself. Hopefully, he will continue to do what he has been doing and that is staying out of trouble and having a coon when he trees.”
It is going to be an exciting night for Shane. Before he heads out to start things off, he had some people that he wanted to mention, “I want to thank my dad, my mom, and my girlfriend. They are always really supportive and never hold me back. I want to thank Danny Raper. He takes me hunting and always gives me pointers on the rules and what to do in a situation. Also, I want to thank the good Lord for letting me follow a dog in the woods and do what I love to do.”
No matter how things turn out tonight, Shane has experienced a birthday weekend that he will never forget. He is hoping that tonight allows him to have the best birthday present ever – a new truck!!! Good luck in having that wish come true!
Pickin Up Styxx
Owned by Monroe/Edwards
Handled by Chris Simmons
Chris Simmons showed up to the Isle of Capri Casino’s Pup Shoot Out prepared! He had a life jacket on Pickin Up Styxx as soon as she came out of the box. He knew that Mississippi was flooded and he and Styxx were not about to let that stop them from giving it their all this weekend. Chris and Styxx are the second hound and handler team from North Carolina in tonight’s Final Four. This is going to be an interesting night because Chris and Dillon have grown up together and every one of our Final Four participants has a good sense of humor and is ready for some fun! That is the perfect type of cast for Chris to be part of!
The odds for Styxx look good as she has already proven her ability to win big and was crowned the 2018 PKC Female Pup Leader for her successes. It was Kyle Bragg and Chris Simmons who handled her for most of those wins to earn her that big honor for her owners and tonight it is Chris who is hoping to add a truck hunt win to this nice female’s resume.
Four year old Styxx is off of PCH Wipeout Zeb 3 and PCH Many Bawls. Styxx has done well at many of the major events that she was taken to. She has had two early round wins at the Nationals and two early round wins at the World. She has had two or three wins at the Palmetto Jamboree and two or three wins at the Foothills Jamboree. Styxx also won two casts at the Springs Super Stakes. Now she is hoping to add three cast wins to her list at this year’s Pup Shoot out!
Chris has enjoyed being one of the handlers to help Styxx reach her potential. He talked about what it is about Styxx that he likes, “She aims to please. She is a busy dog that is always trying to get a coon treed. Whether she is slick, trees a possum, or whatever, she is going to jump on your chest and want to be petted up like she had a whole sack of coons. I have a seventeen month old son and at the house when you let her in, she knows that she is going to have her ears pulled and she is going to be rode like a horse. She just heads straight to him and licks his face. She has one of the best personalities you can ask for in a hound.”
Chris is also happy to be in this spot because of his longtime friendship with one of her owners Cliff Monroe. Chris and Cliff have known each other since 2005. Over the years, the men have worked well together and with those who they have also paired up with during that time such as Kyle and Mark. Chris talked about his role, “I am the behind the scene person on the dogs. I just hunt them and take them to the hunts. I like to see Cliff being able to get the recognition that he deserves.”
Now Chris is about to see if he can bring home a truck for this group of dedicated coon hunters. It will all depend on how Styxx performs in this upcoming cast and hopefully she continues the same performance as she has given all weekend. In the early round, Styxx would start off the night with a nice score. Styxx drew out against Clover’s Red Hatch handled by Jon Fulk; Insane Maggie handled by Kenny Treash, and Davison Smoketown handled by John Berkley. Styxx would win that round with 450 plus points.
Chris described how that first cast went for him and Styxx, “We drove to Batesville, Mississippi. I was there four years ago and I knew it would be hilly. We had two awesome young guides. They took us to a very good spot. Sis, the black female, struck first and then Hatch. Styxx opened about 500 yards to the left. No dogs went the way they were supposed to go. Styxx treed first and she had a coon. They treed Sis and Hatch. We went and scored them and they had a coon. At this time, I was behind. I knew that we had covered a lot of ground already and was not sure she would be able to get her score up. We got up on top of a ridge and heard that Styxx was treed with Maggie. We had to split their points; it was the fair thing to do. Unfortunately when we got there, they had a den. We recut off that ridge. In a little bit, Styxx struck and for the first time in a very long time, the six caught me. I went down to 50 plus and had really thought about pulling out since we were really close to the truck. I asked the guide if he could drive around if we got in there and he said, ‘No’. I asked if for $100 if he could piggy back me out and he said he could try. Styxx treed and Sis backed her. They had a coon. I had 250 plus, but he was still beating me. We recut. They took Maggie to truck at this point and Hatch was still at large. We had sixteen minutes and Styxx was on a bad track. I did not think she would be able to pull it out. With under two minutes in the hunt, she treed and she had a coon. That advanced me past the black dog. We had some of the best sportsmanship and jokes and fun on that cast that I have had in a long time.”
Though their score would not be as high as their first cast, Chris and Styxx would still manage to pull of the win for their late round. It would be a very strange round indeed! This time they headed out to the woods to hunt against Wipeout Hottie Dottie handled by Bobby Lowe; Stanley’s Wipeout Dozer handled by Eric Stanley; and Hillbilly Ying Yang handled by Jake Brasher. Styxx would win this cast with a mere 50 plus points, but that was all she needed to earn them that second cast win of the night to get them into the Final Four!
Chris talked about how this interesting cast went for the two of them, “I have known Bobby for a long time. He usually packs a good dog and he is a good handler. Chuck Henson guided us to a beautiful spot, but our dogs did not perform well. We cut loose and they struck and ran a Sasquatch for 45 minutes. Everyone took minus. Dottie finally decided to tree and Styxx located, so I treed her. As soon as the locate came, I knew that I was in trouble. Ying Yang was at large. When we got to the tree, Dottie, Dozer and Styxx had all been treed in there, but only Dottie was there. We got there and Dottie jumped up on Bobby and let us know she had it. Then judge found it in about ten seconds and it was an opossum! I told Bobby that his dog did a good job; it stayed tree and had the meat, which was something the other three had yet to do. We recut and Dottie and Dozer got treed. We got to them and they were in some water. Dozer grabbed the coon when we get there. Dottie was about five foot from him split treed. Dozer killed his coon. Dottie stayed on her tree and had a coon. That is a stay put pressure tree dog. She had never been handled during that and she never left. At that time, Styxx was treed through country. Styxx had a coon and that gave me my 50 plus. We recut and Dottie showed us that she could tree another, but she went back to same tree. When we got there, there was a coon in the water chasing two domestic ducks. All any dog had to do was tree that coon and I was beat. It just played in my favor. Styxx treed again with like five minutes left to go and that was a den. The whole time I was just waiting for the other dogs to tree that coon. We all knew that Dozer was in the water working a track. It was not the prettiest hunt, but Styxx and I were the successors”
Styxx has looked pretty good in each round so far and caught some lucky breaks. Now she is going up against three other hounds who have also had an outstanding weekend and luck on their side. Chris talked about what he feels going into to this Final Four, “Me and Dillon grew up together and were raised within ten miles together. We have pleasure and competition hunted against each other our whole lives. He used to always come in and get some of my mom’s pie. I told him today it was time for him to grow up and get his own pie. It means a lot to hunt against a lifelong friend tonight. I am proud of what my dog has done and glad to make it to where we are. I do not care if I get first, second, third or fourth!”
As the two head out to see if Styxx will continue her winning streak, Chris had some people that he wanted to mention, “First of all, I want to give thanks to God. I also want to thank Cliff and Lisa and Mark for their friendship. Most importantly, I want to thank the love of my life who is at home with my little boy who is trying to understand why I am away from them. You just hope that you win something when you have family at home without you there.”
Styxx is known for giving rides in the Simmons house. Now she has a chance to take Chris’s son for a different kind of ride – one in the back of a new truck! It is about time to see how things turn out for Chris and Styxx! Good luck with your final round!
Owned by Wishon/Allen
Handled by Dillon Bradshaw
There is a fifty percent chance that the winner of tonight’s truck will be driving it home to North Carolina. Dillon Bradshaw is hoping that he and History’s Icon will be the ones to earn that honor. Dillon is a well experienced handler who has had his share of big wins in several registries. When he sets his mind to something, you can bet that he is going to give it his all. This year’s Pup Shoot Out is a perfect example of that!
However, there is another side to Dillon that goes beyond his drive as a handler and that is his loyalty as a friend. Dillon has been good friends with Larry “Worm” Wishon and having Icon do so well at this event is homage to that friendship. When asked how he came to handle the three year old off of C CH Sun Making History and Little River’s Insane Lacy, Dillon replied, “I hunt with Larry all the time. Larry is one of the hardest hunters that I know, but it is hard for him to keep up on a cast and I am trying to help him out. I was the one who ran Icon to get the truck ticket and Larry said since I got it with him, I should be the one to hunt him here.”
Though Dillon has won many events, this is only his second time at the truck hunt. Icon is making his debut run here a memorable one also. Dillon is also pretty happy to know that they also have another ticket won on him for next year too. Icon has proven to be a nice competition hound in the making. Dillon shared some of his successes so far, “He got in a Pro Hunt and they split it. He is in the Top Sixteen of the State right now and he has won like $6,000.”
Dillon knows a good coon hound and when he shows up with one, people know that he is packing something that can win big. Dillon shared what it is about Icon that he likes, “He is a real good strike dog. Most of the times he is by himself and he has a coon 90% of the time.”
Icon and Dillon quickly made their presence known this weekend when they ended up drawing an early round that would truly be a shoot out of young dogs with high scores. They drew out with Power Trip handled by Dustin Weed; Rough Mtn Wipeout Little C handled by Trey Hewitt; and Vogel’s Jewel handled by Charles “Sluggo” Payton. At the end of this cast of coon treeing, Icon ended up as the top winner with his score of 575 plus.
Dillon talked about how the action packed cast went for him and Icon, “We cut loose and Icon had 100 strike. The dogs blew up treed like 80 yards in front of us. Dustin’s dog treed the coon and Icon backed him. I played it safe and just treed him for 25 points. Then Jewel and Little C split treed 60 yards left handed. They had a coon too. Dustin had 175 plus, I had 125 plus, Sluggo had 75 plus, and Trey had 125 plus. We cut back loose and Icon went to the left by himself and I struck him. Icon treed again with a coon. We pulled off that and recut. Icon struck back in within 30 seconds and treed. I played it safe again and let him tree a bit before I treed him. Little C was also treed with a coon and so was Sluggo’s dog Jewel. Icon had a coon. Trip treed again and he had a coon. We cut back loose again. Icon got struck for 25 points. Then Trip made a slick. We were on a hill and Icon treed and then Jewel treed. Then Dustin treed his dog and I treed Icon. Little C got treed as we were on our way to Dustin’s dog. Trip had a coon, Little C had a coon, Icon had a coon, and Jewel had a coon. We scored on 11 or 12 coons on that cast.”
Icon and Dillon had made it out of a very tough first round, but they were far from being finished with the night. There was still one more win that was needed to get them into the Final Four and they still had to earn it. In their late round, the two found themselves drawing out against Snot handled by Owen Shelby; Mary’s Lone Pine Buddy handled by Shad Gregory; and Once in a Blue Moon handled by Greg Lewis. This time Icon would win his cast with 200 plus points.
Dillon shared how this round went for him and Icon, “We cut loose and I struck Icon for 100 points. It was hard to hear where we were with the airplanes going up. Icon had crossed the highway and was still running. Buddy struck for 75 points, Snot struck for 50 points, and Moon struck for 25 points. Buddy treed for 100 and Moon back him for 25 points. The dogs crossed a slough and we could not get to them. We had to go around. When we got there, they were slick. Snot came by us and took minus. Icon was treed at that time, but the best thing to do was to call time out so no one’s dog got hit. It was a lucky break for me because when I finally got around there, Icon was slick. We had to drive all the way back around and walked back in 500 yards and sent the dogs to left. Icon struck for 100 and Buddy struck for 75 points. Snot struck. Their dogs got treed, but it was a slick. Finally the planes stopped and we could hear again. Icon was treed. When we got to him, he was on a bush with a coon. We walked the minute and cut. Moon treed behind us. We walked to Moon and at that time, Snot withdrew. Moon was slick and they quit with like nine minutes left to go.”
Now it is coming down to the last cast of the weekend and Dillon and Icon are going to have to give it their all. Dillon discussed what he felt Icon will bring to this Final Four, “I hope to get that truck. If I ever had a young dog with a chance to win it, he has a chance. He is acting pretty good. He had gotten really sick in November after running the race and getting another ticket. He got walking pneumonia and almost died.”
No matter how things turn out, Dillon is appreciative of all the support that he has in this sport. He wanted to take this moment to share some of his gratitude, “I want to thank Worm for letting me hunt his dog. I also want to thank my girlfriend for not raising cain about all of this hunting I do. I want to be sure to mention my buddy Loom who also hunts for Larry. He and Larry keep this dog going in the woods seven nights a week. I also want to tell Chris ‘Good luck!’ Styxx is a pretty nice dog. As far as people I have drawn in the hunts, Cliff Monroe who owns Styxx is probably one of the most honest guys I have ever drawn.”
It means a lot for Dillon to be heading to the woods with one of his good friends and to be handling the hound of another of his long-time friends. Dillon has won many things in his time competition coon hunting, but bringing the truck home to North Carolina would definitely be top on his list of accomplishments! Good luck!
Owned and handled by Kenny Manley
There is nothing that could make you feel more “fancy free” than driving home a free truck from the Isle of Capri Casino! Kenny Manley is hoping that is exactly what he is going to be doing before the night is over. He is depending on his Walker female Fancy Free to keep up her winning streak so he can experience this! It was by pure luck that they were called up at the last minute to be able to play this weekend and when you are at a casino – luck is what you need!
Fancy is one of the youngest of the hounds headed out tonight. She will not be three years old until June. Kenny has owned her since she was just a pup. Kenny is just a simple, no nonsense coon hunter and Fancy comes from a local line of good hounds. She is off of Reno’s Treeing Lilly and CH Cook’s Jake who goes back to SCH My Only Reezen.
A long time coon hunter like Kenny knows when they have something special and he knew that he had that in Fancy. He talked about what it is that he likes about her, “I just like her. She is a different creature. She likes having the coon when she parks. Most of the time she is on a coon or den most of the time, but she can miss every now and then just like the rest of them.”
This is Fancy’s biggest competition accomplishment so far in her young life. In addition to earning her truck ticket, she has also won an early round at the Super Stakes and she recently took third place at the Tennessee 4-Wheeler Youth Challenge with Kenny’s son Isaiah handling her. She may be young still, but Fancy has shown the Manleys that she is a good solid coon dog that just keeps improving with age.
Kenny has only been to the Isle of Capri Casino once before and did not expect to be there this weekend. He was caught off guard when the call came late Thursday afternoon. Luckily, he was able to pack up and head to Lula, Mississippi at the last minute. The luck would continue once they arrived. Fancy and Kenny started off their night facing off against Miss Liz handled by Blake Dale; Carolina Red Hot handled by Adam Lowry; and Morris’s Packa Punch handled by Connor Morris. It would come down to a battle to get the most points on the scorecard for Fancy and Punch, but Fancy would have the edge with her 300 points and get her first win of the night.
Kenny described how that first cast went for him and Fancy, “We cut the dogs and the Liz female struck in for 100 points. Fancy and Punch got out of there and went to where we could barely hear them. Connor struck Punch and then I struck Fancy. The Red Hot dog struck in where Liz was for 25 points. I heard Fancy fall treed and I treed her. Connor fell in right behind me and treed Punch for 75 points. Liz treed next to us for 100 points. I thought the Red Hot dog was there, but I had only heard him strike and had not heard him tree yet so I was not sure. We went to Fancy and Punch and when got there, the Red Hot dog was with ours. Fancy had a coon, Punch had a coon, and the Red Hot dog took minus. We started to Liz and we started the six. We cut the dogs and Fancy and Punch got struck back in for 25 points. Punch snatched a coon right in front of our face and did a nice job. Liz and Punch were on same tree. The six caught me and I took 25 minus. I did not mind because then it would open up again and I could get struck back in for more. The Red Hot dog got treed with a coon too. They cut and Liz went back to same tree. Fancy barked three times and I got her struck in for 75 points. Then she blew out. The English dog struck. Connor got Punch struck in for 25 points. We were walking and Liz was withdrawn with like 20 minutes left to go. We were walking away from our dogs and I had to get to where we could hear mine. Fancy was about 7/8 in there. Red Hot and Punch treed. Connor treed Punch for 100. Then Red Hot was treed. I wanted to get to where I could hear mine, so I wanted to get to their dogs quickly. We got to where theirs were and there was an opossum on this sapling. The English was on a tree next to it. Punch had left and took minus. Connor was still winning until then. I asked myself, ‘What would Gene do?’ I knew Red Hot could not win. I asked him to handle his dog so I could listen. He did and with 30 seconds left in the hunt, I treed mine. She was on a big hickory den and the coon was on the outside in the fork.”
Fancy had punched her way to the top in her first cast, but she still had a fight ahead of her to earn her second win for the evening. This time, Fancy would battle it out against Wipeout Woody handled by Jeff Wilson; Boogaloos Girly handled by Neil Walpole; and Wipeout 3 Zone handled by Joshua Sparks. Fancy won this round with 150 plus.
Kenny shared the details of that late round, “I think that Girly struck in for 100 and Zone for 75 points. I think mine squeaked on the ground. My Garmin was dead and we could not fix it. Zone treed for 100 points. He caught a bad break and was up a little tree and it did not touch the den next to it, so he took minus. Girly treed. Fancy and Woody were not struck in yet. As we were going to Girly and her tree, I could hear Fancy in there. I was lost without the Garmin. It is how I hunt around home and I was a nervous wreck. I thought it was her, but Zone was barking again. We were trying to get to where we could get back in for 100 and 100. Zone barked and Brad struck him and I struck Fancy. He treed Zone and then I treed Fancy. Some of us went to Fancy’s tree and the others went to Zone’s tree. We walked 20 minutes on a steady pace to Fancy. When I got to her tree, the collar started working again. She had a coon. Girly had a circle and Zone had a coon. Woody still had not struck. Fancy had 150 points. We walked a pretty good ways and only had 15 minutes left in the hunt. Girly treed for 125 points in front of us. When we got to that tree, it was a den. We pulled off and Woody was treed. However, he withdrew since he could not win. Fancy would have had to make a mistake for him to win. I left her at large and I won with the 150 plus.”
Now Kenny and Fancy are heading out to the Final Four. When asked what he hopes Fancy will bring to this last cast, Kenny replied, “I hope the coons are looking down. We are all here to tree coons and I hope she has one more than the rest of them. Some of these other guys have much more experience handling then me; I just hunt. Tonight is just going to be fun. I enjoy this and when I am not having fun anymore, I am done.”
Luck has played a big part in Kenny’s weekend and the casts that he has had so far. He is hoping that it continues to hold out as he heads out on tonight’s Final Four. Before doing so though, he wanted to take a moment to mention some people. Kenny shared, “I would like to thank the guys from our local clubs who hunt with us all the time. I also want to thank my family for all their support. I want to thank old Darrian Martin for putting up with me and helping me get mine trained right. I would also like to mention that all the judges and guides have done a great job. We drove through about 300 yards of two foot water on our way out and I was worried, but they did a great job. I cannot believe that we did not get into any big water. It was not even over our boots. It was just excellent hunting. I also would like to ask everyone to pray for the Wax dog that did not get to come. I am just very thankful to God for allowing me to be able to be here.”
Fancy got Kenny’s son close to winning a four wheeler this past December. Now she has Kenny close to winning a truck. This Fancy Free female has brought a lot of enjoyment to the Manley family and the memories that she is creating are priceless. However, being able to put the value of a brand new truck behind those would be nice! Good luck tonight!
The dogs, owners and handlers listed herein have won a prestigious PKC Truck Hunt in the years indicated.
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