Caz Skinner knows how long he will be a coon hunter.
“I could do this forever,” he said on a humid Sunday afternoon, as he pet his coon dog, Rip. “I could do this for the rest of my life.”
As Skinner and others are quick to point out, raccoon hunting -- more commonly called coon hunting -- has lost its popularity over the years and is now largely misunderstood. But a group of Middle Georgians are hoping to change that, as they are featured on a national reality show about the sport.
On Sunday, a film crew scattered throughout the Bibb County yard of Scott Reeves, a coon hunter with a local group. After four days and nights of filming, the crew wrapped up Sunday with a cook-out at Reeves’ home near the Twiggs County border. Families were spread throughout the yard, as children played and dozens of dogs waited for the hunt. It’s exactly what producers wanted for the show, which will be called “Bloodline Barons” and is set to launch in late August on the online network My Country Nation. Reeves knows an original producer of the reality show, and the executives decided to bring their show to the Macon area.
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“The Macon area is very representative of the cultural landscape and demographic coon hunters are within,” said Steve Webb, a partner with Georgia-based Seriously Southern Entertainment, which is producing the show. “We wanted to find an area that captured the flavor of it.”
The show follows the hunting group, depicting both the personal and competitive side of coon hunting -- the good and the bad. One videographer is leaving Macon with a bump on his head and a smashed camera after filming a hunting competition. On Sunday, producers interviewed a local sheriff’s deputy about hassles coon hunters encounter, specifically stolen dogs.
The competition, contrary to popular belief, is a bloodless one. To put it simply, dogs do not kill the raccoons, just find them. The sport and the point system is complex, but, in vague terms, competitors get points based on how quickly their dogs smell and find raccoons.
“It’s misunderstood by people a lot,” said Previn Blalock, of Newnan, one of the coon hunters featured on the show.
Local competitors hope the show not only clears up those misconceptions, but also brings new interest to the sport. Coon hunting was popular through the 1980s, but it has faded as fewer young people take up the sport, Reeves said.
“I’d like to see (the show) bring this sport to the forefront, make it cool again,” he said.
Still, some young people are taking up the sport, mainly because their parents teach them to love it. Blalock’s son, 10-year-old Jayce, is learning the sport. “It’s fun,” Jayce said. “I like going with my dad.”
The younger Blalock stood in a circle of three generations of coon hunters -- along with his father and his great-uncle, Thomas Blalock.
“I started out rabbit hunting, then possum hunting, then coon hunting,” Thomas Blalock said. Now, his coon dogs “are part of the family.”
Thomas Blalock brought his nephew, Previn Blalock, into the sport at age 7. Now, decades later, Previn is teaching his own son.
“Coon hunting is one of the oldest sports -- George Washington introduced coon hunting,” Previn said. “Why not give coon hunting respect?”
As he leaned against a truck, petting his black and tan dog, Fort Valley resident Caz Skinner said he knows what it’s like to be born to coon hunt.
“The fellowship between man and dog is just old school,” he said. “It’s just bred in my blood.”
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.