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Calling Time Out is a Majority of the Cast Decision!
Posted on 07/09/2014 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Q: The other night we had a situation where three dogs were running a track. The judge’s dog had not opened. The judge kept looking at his handheld (telemetry) and as soon as one of the dog’s located on a tree he immediately says, “My dog is getting close to a road and I’m calling time out!” The guide asked the judge where his dog was at. The guide told him there is no road there in the direction he said his dog was in. Still the judge insisted his dog was near a road and that he called time out.

Of course, the other three dogs all ended up treed with a coon right after the judge called time out. We handled our dogs at the tree and went back to the trucks. While we waited on the judge, we talked about how there needs to be some more rules in place to keep this from happening. Don’t get me wrong, I think telemetry use is good for certain things but when the judge can easily call time out and keep other dogs from scoring, that’s bad. Could changes to telemetry rules be made to keep this from happening?

A: I don’t see the telemetry rules as the culprit of the problem at all. The problem lies within the protocol that was used in this situation for calling time out. The judge alone called time out? The Nite hunt honor rules do not give a hunting judge the authority to call time out on their own. Rule 7 clearly states that when a hunting judge is used; {majority of the cast may call time out in accordance with the following}. The following goes on to list that a dog(s) getting on highway etc., as being one of the situations that time may be called for.

When the judge saw, by virtue of his telemetry, that his dog was getting close to a road, he may have asked for a vote to call time. When the guide suggested there was no road there I’m pretty sure no other cast member would have supported a vote to call time out, and you would have been able to score the three dogs that treed a coon. Remember: calling time out is a majority of the cast decision – every time!

Unfortunately, it sounds like no one in the cast, including the judge, was on top of the time out rule. Otherwise, someone should have spoken up and followed the procedures to correct/reverse any questionable ruling to call time out. This is possibly another good example of why it is important that clubs use only those individuals that have a good understanding of the rules and are unbiased and trustworthy. Those are three key ingredients when it comes to judging in nite hunts. It sounds like this judge was lacking at least one or more of those ingredients.

Being at the Tree in Five Minutes

Q: I’ve been on casts where after a dog has been declared treed, the judge will not allow the cast to move from where the dog was declared treed until the five minutes is up or all dogs are treed. I know the rules state that the cast should try to be at the tree when the five is up. I’ve had judges get upset when you mention anything about the rules in this regard and I’m not one to make a big deal of it. But when you make several trees throughout a two–hour hunt, you stand to lose a significant amount of hunt time by the end of the hunt because of it.

A: You’re right. It can make a difference by the end of the night. I’ve been there as well when it might easily have made a difference in placement at a major event. A little frustrating thinking about how we easily lost 15 or 20 minutes of hunt time on the way back to Richmond. Especially when we had a fifth coon treed three minutes after hunt time expired!

Rule 11 (a) clearly states; {If at all possible be at the tree within five minutes}. It goes on to say; {If handlers are so far from the tree that it takes more than five minutes to get to the tree, they are to start walking toward the tree but stopping periodically to let other handlers see if their dog is treeing. Judge is not to let any handler keep holding him away from the tree just to let dog get to tree after five minutes are up}. I’m not sure how we can add anything to make it any clearer than what is already written in the rules. It’s a fairly simple matter in that you try to be at the tree when the five expires. It’s not a matter of the judge deciding whether or not the cast will try to be at the tree when the five is up, if possible. The rules dictate that and it’s simply the judge’s responsibility to make that happen, if possible.

When it’s not possible is obviously when the cast is more than five minutes (walking distance) away. In that case the judge is to have the cast start walking in the direction of the tree but stopping along the way to allow other handlers to listen for their dog, if needed. If there’s an issue where the judge needs to stop and listen for the purpose of possibly needing to make a call on a dog that is moving, or things of that nature, then by all means the judge has that authority. What the judge doesn’t have the authority to do is make the cast wait until the five is up before starting to head towards the tree, when there’s no good reason for waiting or stopping otherwise.

With that said the judge is in charge and is responsible for keeping the cast together and walk a pace attainable by all. Rule 6(s) puts the judge in a position to have to scratch any handler not staying with the cast. It’s not acceptable to have one or more of the cast members arriving at the five minute mark when it is not physically possible for all members to be there at that time.

Hunt Time Expired Treeing but Not Declared Treed

Q: During the last two minutes of hunt time Dogs A, B and C are declared treed. The hunt time expires before Dog D trees. When the cast arrives at the tree all four dogs are at the tree and treeing. The tree is scored as a slick tree. How would you score Dog D on this tree?

A: Any dog that is struck in but not declared treed when hunt time expires is treated as if the dog was trailing when hunt time expired. This remains true even if such a dog is handled at a tree. How the tree is scored has no bearing on how to score Dog D, when hunt time had expired. Rule 5(e) takes precedence and Dog D receives deleted strike points.

It is not uncommon to hear a difference in opinions on how to score the dog in question. That’s likely because of Rule 4(k) which states; {dogs treeing but not declared treed when judge arrives will be awarded next available tree position and minused on off game or slick tree}. It’s probably a good thing to score dogs in this manner because if we were required to determine whether or not Dog D was treeing before or after time expired we might open a whole new can of worms.

If this ruling seems difficult to digest let’s change the scenario just slightly to this. All dogs are trailing and no dogs are treeing or declared treed when hunt time expires. Now the hunt is over. Before you can handle the dogs all four are treeing and you handle them on an obvious slick tree. Are you going to score this tree and award them next available tree points and minus them all? Probably not. The dogs are not eligible for scoring on the tree because the dogs were not declared treed before hunt time expired. The same theory applies to any dog or dogs not declared treed before hunt time expired regardless of any other dog that is eligible for scoring on the same tree.