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A Refresher Course on Rule 6(q)
Posted on 01/02/2013 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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After all those years that we struggled with the cumbersome interpretation of how to handle the situations where dogs were treeing and the handlers had no intentions of declaring them treed, Rule 6(q) is a basic and necessary requirement in accurately scoring hounds for their work on a nite hunt cast. Although this rule has been in effect for some time now, we do get complaints that some judges tend to abuse Rule 6(q) and want to apply it too soon or might apply it even if they think the dog(s) could very well be treed in a hole or someplace other than on a tree. Simply put, a judge should not apply Rule 6(q) in situations where they think the dog(s) are treed somewhere other than on a tree.

Here is a little refresher course on Rule 6(q). The rule reads as follows:

6. Dogs will be scratched
(q) If a handler fails to declare treed a dog obviously treeing (Judge’s decision) for a period of five minutes. Dog may be declared treed while the five is running but not after the five has expired. Judge must verify dog to be at a tree before it can be scratched.

Let’s break it down into its most basic components. First, the dog must obviously be treeing. That doesn’t mean tapping trees or trying to settle. The right to tree a dog should rest with the handler until it becomes obvious that the handler has no intention of treeing a dog that is treeing solid. This is the Judge’s decision.

Once 6(q) is applied, the dog in question must tree for five minutes. Judge this as you would if the dog had been declared treed.

• If you hear the dog bark off the tree, then the five is broken.

• If two minutes gets him, the five is broken.
• If another dog in the cast comes in and is declared treed, the five is broken.

No penalty is assessed. The application of 6(q) is simply ended in each of the situations described above.

At any time while the five is running in accordance with 6(q), a handler may elect to declare the dog treed. If the dog is declared treed, 6(q) is ended and you would start a new five minutes on the dog just as you would any time a dog is declared treed. In the event where another dog in the cast is declared treed on that same tree, 6(q) would also be ended. Start the five on the dog that was declared treed and normal tree rules are applied.

Okay, let’s say a handler still refuses to tree the dog, and the five minutes in accordance with 6(q) is running. When the five is up, the cast will proceed to that tree. If, on the way in to the tree, the handler asks to declare the dog treed and the five is up, that request must be denied. The dog cannot be declared treed (at that particular tree) after the five minutes of 6(q) has expired. Also, the dog must be seen on a tree before it can be scratched. Not in a hole, bulldoze pile, old barn, or any other place of refuge. The thinking here is that sometimes those tree barks may sound different enough to the handler of the dog that they know the dog is not “right”. Someone who does not know the dog may assume the dog is treed solid, when the truth may be he is not on a tree at all. That’s why the dog must be seen on a tree. When you get in there and the dog is on a tree, then the dog is scratched. If you arrive to find the dog trailing around or on a fence or something, back on out and let the dog work. There would be no penalty. If the dog is in a hole or place of refuge, the dog may be handled without being declared treed in accordance with Rule 5(a).

It’s the handler’s responsibility to tell the Judge when the dog strikes and when the dog trees. Competition events are about scoring dogs, and that means the good, bad and indifferent. Any opportunity to cut down on the number of “games” being played in between should be pursued. Rule 6(q) is one of those opportunities.

Deadline Extensions

Q: Does a Master of Hounds have the authority to extend the deadline for anything other than that described in Rule 10? What about a situation where the guide withdraws or scratches from the cast and refuses to continue guiding the cast when there is more than one cast member remaining? Can the deadline be extended in that situation?

A: Before we get to a direct answer why don’t we touch on a few different issues that may be relevant to this topic; even though a hunting judge scratches his dog or withdraws from the cast, he/she should continue to judge the cast. Yes, the rules state that a hunting judge may pass the scorecard to another member of the cast, but consider this: why do you think the club assigned you to judge in the first place? Is it because they know you are very knowledgeable of the rules and are an honest individual? Is it because they trust you to be straight up and score situations as they should be scored? Hopefully, that is the case and you will do your duty and continue judging the cast regardless. Yes, once in a blue moon a situation may arise where you might not have much of a choice. Only then should you consider passing the scorecard to another cast member. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable or don’t think you are capable of fulfilling the club’s expectations of you as a judge, then you should respectfully decline when asked.

The same goes for all members of a cast. Even though withdrawn or scratched from the cast, all members continue to have voting rights and should consider staying with their cast until the hunt is over. Whenever two cast members remain to finish a hunt and end up with a questionable score you might have been able to avoid any concerns or outright cheating, had you stayed. It’s no secret that most cheating situations occur when two untrustworthy individuals are left to finish the cast alone. Obviously, a hunter with a decent score at the clubhouse hates to see two people come hustling in last minute with a score that beats him. What if that individual sitting at the clubhouse is you? Would you not feel a little better had all cast members remained in the cast? As a former Master of Hounds and club officer, I know they appreciate you staying with your cast the entire hunt. Be assured that most club officers and members don’t like to see or hear negative issues arise at their events. Staying with the cast for the entire hunt goes a long way.

We may have gotten a bit side-tracked from the original question but in any event, the one and only situation where a Master of Hounds has the authority to extend the deadline for a cast is in a situation where only one dog remains in the cast and the individual has to go back to the clubhouse to get a non-hunting judge to finish the hunt because no other cast members stayed with him/her.

Identify Dogs Involved for Split Points

Q: All dogs trail out of hearing in the same direction. The cast agrees to head in their direction as quickly as possible, and if dogs are treed when they get to them, that all points would be split. When the cast gets within ear shot, three dogs, A, B and C are treed but Dog D is still trailing. By the time the cast arrives at the tree, Dog D is now also at the tree and treeing. Should Dog D be awarded the same split points since the cast agreed to split, even though it was not yet treed when the cast first got in position to be able to hear all dogs?

A: At the point and time when the cast got in position to hear all the dogs, only the dogs that were identified to be treeing at that particular time will receive split tree points. Also, at that point the five-minute tree rule would be applied and started. Dogs A, B and C would receive a three-way split for first tree position, amounting in each of the three dogs receiving 83⅓ tree points. Then if Dog D were to tree with them within the five minutes, it would have to be declared treed by the handler and receive last tree position of 25 points.

Coon Seen by Majority after Shine Time Expires

Q: This is a pretty good question and one that I’m going to guess most people are scoring correctly. It’s also one that a handler who might be “reaching a little” is bound to question just to see what kind of response the Master of Hounds offers. At any rate, let’s say that the handlers in a four-dog cast are in the process of shining a tree where two dogs were declared treed. With only 40 seconds left in the shining time, Handler A announces that he has located the coon. Handler B also sees it at that time. Shining time expires before Handlers C and D can get into position with A and B to see the coon. The judge remarks that although he does now see the coon, it cannot be scored because the majority of the cast did not see the coon within the allotted shining time. Handler A wishes to question this decision, insisting that only one handler needed to see the coon during the shining time and as long as the majority of the cast verified that indeed the coon was there, it could be scored. How do you rule?

A: First look at Rule 3(a), which says points will be plus as long as the coon is seen by the majority of the cast. It doesn’t say that everyone has to see it within ten minutes, does it? That’s going to be the point of the handler who is questioning the call. Then they might also insist that in Rule 8(f) where it states that, “no plus points will be awarded if coon is seen after ten minutes shining time,” that it only says the coon must be seen in the ten minutes and doesn’t reference the majority of the cast. Please do me a favor and instruct those handlers that it is UKC’s official interpretation of Rules 3(a) and 8(f) that the coon must be seen by the majority of the cast within the allotted ten minutes of shining time. You may reference the preface to Rule 1 and this column, but please hold your ground as this is a very basic premise upon which these rules were founded.