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Hunt Test Program Changes For 2012
Posted on 01/15/2012 in HTX = Coondog.

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As we have mentioned in this column many times, the UKC hunt tests were never meant to compete with nite hunts. They were, from the very beginning, designed to appeal to a different category of hound enthusiasts. Sure, there are those who enjoy both formats, but from the beginning, the hunt test was UKC’s effort to give a wider range of houndsmen a wider variety of activities to enjoy with their hounds.

One of my visions from the day we first started working on the hunt test project was a scenario at the local coon hunting club where, just like in the good ol’ days, all of the area houndsmen would gather for a full day and evening’s worth of coonhound related activities.

It just seems like in recent years the separation between bench show crowd and nite hunt crowd has been more pronounced. And where have all the pleasure hunters been hanging out? In some cases, they are still at the club playing cards and telling stories, but in many cases they are at home waiting for dark to pleasure hunt with friends. It is my hope that the hunt tests would be one more step in bringing the whole coonhound community together for a more unified support of: a) the local coon hunting club; and b) the sport of coon hunting in general, and the legislative interests of hunters and dog owners. The clubs and the sport will benefit from more support.

Immediately prior to launching the hunt tests, there was some concern as to whether or not a highly successful hunt test could possibly interfere with the nite hunt activities by way of competing for guides/inspectors. Choosing to err on the side of caution, it was decided that we would, for the time being, not allow hunt tests to be held on the same nite as a club’s licensed nite hunt. Times change.

The hunt tests have not shown that they are going to draw a crowd large enough to interfere with the average club’s nite hunt entry. It’s time to see whether or not participating clubs can benefit from the additional support that a successful hunt test can offer. Support via memberships, support via kitchen sales, support via raffles and other fund raisers, support in terms of help with club duties, etc. Beginning January 1, 2012, it will now be a club option to schedule a licensed hunt test to be run on the same night, and in conjunction with, a licensed nite hunt.

In theory, adding a hunt test to your nite hunt schedule should be self-sustaining. Most of the people who show up to have a dog inspected should be able to guide locally. A high percentage will also meet the requirements for being eligible to inspect. In theory, it brings more people out to your club on a day that you already have the clubhouse up and running. In theory, it gives a bench show participant a reason to stick around and turn a dog loose that night. It gives older club members a coon hunting activity to participate in rather than playing cards. It gives a young hunters a one-hour hunt option and a basic introduction to having a dog scored. It just makes sense on so many levels we have to try it.

It may not work for every club, but that is the beauty of at least giving clubs the option and ability to control their own destiny to some degree. If your club could use some additional support, give it some thought. In theory, it looks good.

Good luck in 2012!