American Houndsman Bob Rakow
Visit his site www.RockDove.com
Bob Rakow was born into a family where both parents were totally deaf. Perhaps this is part of the reason he literally loved hearing his hounds on the trail and at the tree. The youngest of six children, Bob was born in 1926 in Clyde, Wisconsin. During the difficult days of the Great Depression his mother told him that they could no longer afford to feed him—and that he should go and ask the neighbors if he could live with them. It was a cold winter night when 8-year-old Bob (with a little sack of clothes) knocked on the neighbor’s door. The Browns became his second family and Bob worked for his keep. He paid for his clothing and other personal needs by trapping skunks and hunting raccoon.
Following his service in the Navy during WW II he married his wife Marie who was understanding of his passion to hunt raccoon into the wee hours of the morning. Bob dairy farmed during the day and in the fall, and even early winter, managed to coon hunt about every night. His entire fifty years of raccoon hunting took place among the hardwood-covered hills and corn-stripped valleys of south central Wisconsin.
Over the years, Bob hunted raccoon with a vast variety of dogs. In fact, as a young man his first “coonhound” was a springer spaniel named Rusty. Rusty put up ringneck pheasants during the day and treed raccoon at night. Before he settled on blueticks his dogs included crosses and even a rat terrier and German shepherd who worked as a team. The terrier trailed and treed while the shepherd served as a kill dog.
In the early 1960’s Bob and farming neighbor Larry Weitzel went in together and purchased a female redtick from Arkansas. Kate was a good coon dog, but was later stolen off the chain. However, Bob eventually purchased a young Bluetick female that became the basis for years of future hunting stock. Queenie was trained from scratch and was taught to run only raccoon. Indeed, all Bob’s blueticks were trained to be straight. When they opened their mouth, you could be certain that they were running raccoon and nothing else. Although he never ran a dog in a night hunt or field trial, he was well known for having truly excellent dogs.
His favorite dog of all time was a bluetick male named Andy. Andy was a silent trailer who kept quiet on the trail, but barked with a great voice on the tree. He caught a lot of coon on the ground. However, Andy had a bad habit of climbing trees. One night shortly after he reached his prime he treed a coon on a steep side hill. Andy had climbed a leaning hollow tree and chased the coon right past the hole. He was literally treeing in the tree top. Bob tried to coax him down—but in the process of turning around Andy fell about thirty-five feet. His front leg was broken—and eventually it had to be amputated at the shoulder. Nevertheless, in time Andy was again able to hunt. However, due to his decreased speed he changed to an open trailer and began barking on the trail. He somehow learned that in order to put a coon up he needed to depend on his powerful voice rather than his speed.
There were other dogs as well—but Bob’s last dog was a well-bred bluetick named George. George started running and treeing his own coon at six months.
Due to health problems, Bob and his wife Marie eventually found it necessary to move from Wisconsin to Arizona. Bob had been a cigarette smoker for decades and the smoking had taken its toll. The Arizona climate caused his health to improve significantly, but his raccoon hunting days were now over.
In 1997 Bob and son, Tom, began answering questions regarding raccoon hunting on the Rock Dove Publications website www.rockdove.com. They soon began receiving requests for a book from their website readers. So, in 1998 they co-wrote a concise little booklet titled Raccoon Hunting Basics which is designed to help the new hunter get started in the sport. Raccoon Hunting Basics gives some basic information on getting your dog to tree, conducting a simulated hunt, and tips for keeping your dog on the right track. Since then a much more comprehensive audio tape called Raccoon Hunting Questions has also been developed.
In 1998 Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer. This time of illness resulted in his making a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ and he experienced great peace. Just days before his going to heaven he was still missing his hounds and the hunt. He left this world on August 22, 1998 in Mesa, Arizona. He is survived by his wife Marie, sons Tom and Kelly, daughter Deb, and eight granddaughters. Bob’s vast knowledge of how to train a dog to hunt raccoon continues to help both new and experienced raccoon hunters alike through the Rock Dove Publications website and his written materials.
© Copyright 2004, Dr. Tom C. Rakow USED BY PERMISSION
Return to Homepage