HONORING A COON HUNTER’S BEST FRIEND   Leave a comment

The south is full of traditions and none is more honored than the relationship between coon hunter and their hounds.

If you are in the area it is an interesting side trip to stop off at the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area near the Natchez Trace Parkway. Within the area is the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard. Admission is free.

Dedicated as a burial site for coon dogs it is the only cemetery of its kind in the world. Only coon dogs can be buried at the site and nearly 200 are so interred. Reading the grave stones gives one a look at the relationship between man and hound as well as a history of coon hunting in the south. The grave markers range from commercial made stone to personal messages carved in stone and wood that show the sentiment shared by houndsmen.

Key Underwood, a local hunter, began the tradition of the coon dog memorial when he buried his 15-year old dog named Troop in an area where they had shared many hunts. He placed a headstone on the grave and chiseled the dates of Troop’s birth and death. It was far from his mind that he might start a tradition of a last resting place for coon hounds.

As other local hunters lost their dogs, they began to add graves. Legend has it that on a still fall night one can still hear the bugles and barks of the residents as they hunt again in spirit. Several national champions as well as some not so good coon hounds are all together in this resting place.

Each year on Labor Day weekend, many coon hunters migrate to the area with flowers for the graves. The event now involves bluegrass music, barbecue and a liar’s contest. The event is free.

To get to the cemetery travel 7 miles west of Tuscumbia, AL on US Highway 72, turn left onto Alabama Highway 247 for 12 miles. Turn right and follow the signs.

For burial information, (coon dogs only) one can contact the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau, PO Box 740425, Tuscumbia, AL 35674 or check their website at: Colbert County Tourism.org.

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