Redbone Coonhounds were bred by hunters that wished to create a superior coonhound that at the same time looked good. Many of its characteristics as a hunter have allowed the Redbone to become an extremely enjoyable family pet, though its hunting urge is still very much present. Indeed, these dogs take to the hunt with an almost unequalled fervor, often exchanging the neighbor's cat for a raccoon that needs to be chased up a tree.
The dogs can be well-adjusted in an apartment setting, as long as they are given plenty of exercise; this is fortunate, as many people who own dogs today are not farmers and do not have large estates on which the dog can roam. People in the southern US that do have farms, or at least access to large areas of land where hunting is permitted, are delighted to take their Redbones on the hunt and report that the experience is extremely rewarding.
When the hound is still a puppy, it is introduced to the types of animals that it will be asked to hunt. Usually, something that smells like the hunted animal is used; in some cases, the pelt of the intended prey is presented to the dog. Coonhounds have been traditionally used to hunt raccoons, though they are often used to hunt mountain lions, bears, coyotes, bobcats and other large mammals. To begin the hunt, they are taken to the woods on a long lead, given a verbal cue and then released. The dogs dash off in search of a scent and once they find it, chase after their prey and begin their characteristic baying (the sound that hounds make when they've caught a scent and are on the hunt); Redbones have a pleasant sounding bay.
The coonhound has been trained to chase a raccoon up a tree and hold it there if it first sights the coon on the ground. Once the coon is up the tree, the dog stands up on its hind legs, supporting itself against the tree, and makes distinctive sounds that coon hunters collectively call chopping. A coonhound has such a sensitive nose that it will know if a raccoon is already hiding in a tree and will immediately set up position to keep the raccoon in the tree. Once the hunter arrives, he will shoot at the raccoon to either kill it or get it out of the tree so the dogs can kill it. Shooting raccoons is tightly regulated, as is all hunting activity in America. If you are raccoon hunting as part of a Nite Hunt competition, you can't even carry a gun along with you on the hunt, as there is absolutely no shooting of raccoons.
The Redbone Coonhound has fulfilled the dreams of its breeders, having become an extremely versatile and adaptable breed, excelling at different hunting scenarios and on different terrain. They are an extremely agile and well-balanced breed and do equally well when found on rocky and/or steep ground as well as fenced country land; amazingly, they are also very gifted water dogs. They work equally well alone and in packs.