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Declared Treed But Not Declared Struck, Babbling and Bells
Posted on 03/31/2007 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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December Advisor
Allen Gingerich

Scratch or Minus
Q: In a four dog cast, dogs A, B and C are declared struck. Dog D falls treed and is declared treed without being declared struck by the handler. Is the dog scratched for not being declared struck first?

A: Nowhere on the back of the scorecard or in the rulebook will one find a rule that allows you to scratch a dog that has been declared treed without being declared struck first. Before the last rule change, in most situations, dogs declared treed before being declared struck would end up in the back of the truck almost as quick as the handler could call the dog treed! Not because they were declared treed before being struck but rather, in most situations, because the dog had opened more than three times after the first minute of being released without a strike call from the handler.

A new rule in affect this year 4(j){on first offense failure to strike a dog before the third bark will result in those points being awarded and minused.}would apply in the scenario described above assuming this was the first time in the hunt that dog D had not been declared struck in time.

Dog D would be awarded 25 strike points and they would be minused. (assuming it was first offense) The handler would then need to strike the dog immediately, which may be followed by a tree call. If the handler of dog D was to once again tree the dog before declaring him struck later on in the hunt, it would result in the dog being scratched from the hunt unless he somehow declared the dog struck before the third bark. A dog must always be declared struck first before it may be called treed. If you were to ask any seasoned competition hunters if this had ever happened to them, more than likely the answer would be; yep, once!

Q: In my part of the country it is being ruled that whenever dogs are declared struck in the first minute they must open again within 15 or 20 seconds or they will be minused for babbling. I have not found any such rule to back this up. Could you give us some clarification on the one-minute rule and babbling dogs? BG/GA

A: The one-minute rule is merely a grace period where a handler is not required to strike a dog that is opening regardless of whether the dog be on a legitimate track or just loose barking. If a dog has a habit of loose barking or babbling when it is released, it gives the handler a little grace period to avoid from taking a minus within the first minute each time a dog is released.
The one-minute grace period and determining whether a dog is babbling are not related. Babbling is defined as, “when a dog opens three times or has been struck where no track is evident.” A dog may be mouthing on the lead before it is released and continues giving mouth until the handler has no choice but to strike the dog because the one minute grace period has expired.
If it is determined that the dog is still babbling or opening where no track is evident then it should be minused immediately. Same way for a dog that may open once or twice within the first minute of being released and is declared struck by the handler but the Judge determines either by actions of the dog or otherwise that the dog is opening where no track is evident, then it also should be minused immediately regardless of any time frame.
A dog might not open until after the first minute of being released and could still be minused for babbling. Although in most cases it would be highly unlikely to make such a determination when the dog may be a good distance away from cast members.
Minusing a dog(s) for babbling requires one to use good educated judgment. Therefore, when it comes to determining whether a dog(s) is babbling; using a time frame should not be used when making that decision.

Q: Last night, a hunter at our club wanted to know if he could put a bell on his hound. He is not a particularly experienced coonhunter but he is an experienced bird dog enthusiast and hunter. Our hunting area is plagued with coyotes. The gentleman says he uses bells on his bird dogs both as a deterrent to those who would shoot carelessly confusing a dog for a coyote and also to warn off the coyotes. The Master of Hounds said he views a bell as being a locating device. We looked in the rules and the advisor for anything on bells but only found rules pertaining to tracking collars and lighted collars. The Master of Hounds decided it was at his discretion and he asked the guy not to use the bell. The gentleman obliged and did not use the bell on his dog. For future reference, could he have used it in a UKC event if he wanted to? Emily; NY

A: The Master of Hounds did in fact make the correct decision by not allowing the hunter to use the bell on his dog during the hunt. A bell would be considered a locating device. Rule 20 exempts lighted collars as locating devices but not bells. How ironic; the Christmas season is here and we’re talking about bells in nite hunts. Merry Christmas to y’all and to y’all a good nite…… hunt!