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Posted on 04/15/2013 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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New Club Packet. Clubs interested in being approved to hold UKC licensed events should contact our office. We then will send out a New Club Packet. In this packet you will find everything from ideas to help your club be successful, by-laws and many other helpful items. It is essential that you look over all this information and fill it out accurately and legibly before we can even start the approval process.

One thing many new clubs fail to do is to register as a non-profit corporation in their home state. This letter reminds clubs that this is a very important step to avoid personal obligations on the part of the officers should someone file a lawsuit against the club.

The application requires a GPS address for the club, directions, membership, and club officer information. It is important to us that you have a strong officer base and a large enough group of members to support your club in its UKC licensed events.

Also included is a sample Club Constitution and By-Laws. This is a required document that your club must have. It states the club’s name, purpose, policies, procedures and a host of other vital information. Many clubs opt to use this sample constitution and by-laws in its entirety, which is fine, or your club may want to write their own. Either way, take the time to read the constitution and by-laws in the packet so you have an idea of what yours should look like.

Also included in the packet is “10 Sure-Fire Steps to a Successful Club.” It is pretty self-explanatory, and very helpful to the members and officers of a new club.

The New Club Packet includes a Conflicting File Report for New Clubs Form. You should make every effort to put down every club within 40 miles. UKC policy dictates that we cannot schedule two events within 100 miles of one another, but when we see several clubs in a 40-mile radius, it raises a red flag. If you do your due diligence to fill out this sheet, you will see how many opportunities (or lack thereof) your club members have. We also use mapping software that allows us to pinpoint every club within 100 air miles and that shows us how many real-world driving miles it is. You as a club officer should have a good idea of what other clubs are in your area.

New Club Requirements. With the requests for New Club Packets, we often get asked, “What do you look for in a new club?” There isn’t one specific thing we look at for a new club, but rather a set of questions we ask, which include:

1. How many members does the club have?
Without a strong membership base a club cannot sustain itself. Not only do you need people to participate in your events, but you also need people who are willing to work. It’s not an easy (or money-making) job making sure everything is taken care of at a club, but it’s absolutely necessary. You should not rely on the participants of your events for guiding, judging, etc. Your club should be fully prepared to handle these responsibilities if at all possible.

2. How strong are the club officers?
UKC won’t be able to tell by looking at names; however, we can look at the officer listing and get an idea if they are being over worked or not. There are five offices listed on the officer list. If we see those five positions split between two different people, it’s a sign that the club could use a stronger membership and might not be ready yet to hold UKC licensed events. Also, if a club it only has two officers, it could be an indication that the whole show is run by two people. Is the club the Community Coon Club or Bob and Joe’s Personal Coon Club?

3. Where does the club meet?
This may sound like a small thing, but we want to know where your club is going to hold its events. We do not knowingly approve clubs that either meet in another UKC approved clubs’ facilities (unless it’s a case of emergency), or if their location is someone’s house. We would hope every club could find a reasonable place to meet in their immediate area. Some states may be harder than others to find a meeting place, but every effort should be made.

4. How many clubs are within 100 air miles?
Every so often we get a club application that shows about three clubs within 100 miles. Most often this is way underestimated. Just yesterday we ran an application like that through our software and found that they had close to 70 clubs within 100 miles. Even if a club has great officers and great members, we will not be able to find them dates when the region is already saturated with clubs. Sometimes we find a club has four or five active clubs within 40 miles. New clubs wishing to establish in such areas are seldom approved.

New Club Probation. For the last couple of years, we did away with the New Club Probation but found most new clubs tend to take on too many events in the first year. Because of this we, have re-implemented the New Club Probation status.

These items should help every approved club to be successful during and after their first year. First, a new club can only hold three UKC licensed events in the first year. If you have a Nite Hunt and Bench Show on the same date, that is considered one event, not two. Many times clubs are ready and willing to hold as many events as they can, but they fail to realize the work events are for their members, officers and customers. By being limiting to three, they will not overload or burnout their membership.

Second, clubs will have to use a UKC licensed Master of Hounds for their first three Nite Hunts. Notice we do not say for the first year, but for the first three hunts. It doesn’t matter if it takes a year or three years to have your first three hunts, you have to use a Master of Hounds for all three. By making this requirement, we ensure that someone who has experience at UKC licensed hunts is there supervising and offering constructive advice. If your club has someone who would like to become a Master of Hounds, this would be the perfect opportunity to watch and learn or even do apprenticeships if they have already passed their Master of Hounds test. Each Master of Hounds may have two apprentices at each event, so take full advantage to get your new Master of Hounds ready. This would also be a great opportunity for a club member to learn the responsibilities of being a Hunt Director and how to fill out the Event Report paperwork, should you need one in the future.

After the first year, we will do an evaluation of the new club to see if they are still doing well. Most clubs that get approved and make it through their first year are up and growing in a great way. This is just another opportunity for us to see what further steps we can take to help you have a successful club.

If you have an interest in starting a new club in your area, or you want to make your existing club more successful, feel free to give us a call. We will be glad to answer any questions you might have and may offer some useful tips that clubs have found to add to their success. Also, we encourage new clubs to ask other successful clubs what things they do that might benefit your club.

Q: The other night I was drawn on a three-dog cast. When we got to the woods we realized there were two dogs with the same owner on the cast. Later, the Master of Hounds stated he missed the fact the two dogs were drawn together. What can be done in this situation? Should we have scratched one dog that shouldn’t have been in the cast?

A: If you look in the Official UKC Coonhound Rulebook under the Master of Hounds/Hunt Director Guidelines, you’ll see that it is a requirement that dogs with the same owners to be separated when at all possible. This isn’t something the handlers can opt out of or decide not to follow. Master of Hounds and Hunt Directors should pay close attention to ensure two dogs with the same owner do no draw out together if it is possible.

In this situation, though, the Master of Hounds made an honest mistake. We hate when it happens, but we all make them from time to time. If the mistake had been caught at the clubhouse before casts had actually gone out, one of the dogs could have been moved to another cast and a third dog could have been put on this particular card.

Since this mistake wasn’t found until after all the casts had left the grounds, there wasn’t anything that could have been done to rectify the situation. We’re not going to scratch a handler who had no part in any wrong-doing just because of who owns the dog they are handling. If it’s a big enough concern, the cast could have gone back to the club and requested a Non-Hunting Judge be sent with them. Remember, though, that would just be a request and the Master of Hounds has no obligation to place a Non-Hunting Judge on a cast he or she doesn’t think needs one.

Notice that we also say that multiple entries should be separated “when possible”. At some events it may not be possible to separate multiple entries. If there are only enough dogs for two casts, and one owner has three dogs entered in that category, two of them are going to draw out together. Owners aren’t required to scratch a dog just because he has more dogs than casts available to separate his entries.