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New Telemetry Rules
Posted on 02/10/2014 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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This column is solely dedicated to questions and answers relative to the new Telemetry Rules.

Q: When will the new telemetry rules go into effect?

A: The new telemetry rules will go into effect on January 1, 2014 for all UKC Licensed Nite Hunts.

Q: So can I carry my tracking system and leave it on while hunt time is in?

A: Yes, the handheld of most tracking systems may be powered on and used at the discretion of the user during anytime of the hunt, provided it is not a disturbance to other handlers as outlined under Rule 4 of the Telemetry Rules. The only type of tracking system that is not allowed to be carried and used during time in is one that is also capable of controlling a dog.

Q: Where can I read about this new rule?

A: Telemetry Rules are available via several different avenues.

1. Refer to the last part of this column. The rules were also published in last month’s Advisor Column (December 2013).

2. Review and/or print them off of UKC’s website (www.ukc

dogs.com) from the Coonhound News Page.

3. Request a copy via email to Allen Gingerich at agin

gerich@ukcdogs.com or coonhounds@ukcdogs.com.

4. They are listed on the back side of the Master of Hounds Checklist that is included in each UKC Licensed Event packet. They should be posted at the club.

Q: If the handheld portion of the Alpha system is turned off isn’t it disabled?

A: It is UKC’s position that turned off is just that; “turned off”. It’s a momentary thing. Turn it on and you’re back in business. UKC’s definition of disabled is, the feature cannot function if or when it is turned to the “on” position. For the sake of an example let’s use my four-wheel drive truck. The accessible button in the cab allows me to turn on and engage the four-wheel drive feature. I can leave it turned off and the drive shaft is not engaged. By UKC’s definition, leaving it turned off does not constitute disabled because at any given time I can turn it on and enable or engage the feature. If I removed the driveshaft the feature would be considered disabled.

Q: If I lock my stimulation buttons does that constitute “disabled”?

A: No, it does not by UKC’s definition of disabling. See previous question and answer.

Q: The rule that applies to GPS trackers that also control, such as the Garmin Alpha, states they may be used if the controlling features are disabled which I take to mean the shocking prongs must be removed. But that still leaves the tone button feature which I assume would mean the Alpha still cannot be carried on the cast. My question is; can Garmin’s Alpha be carried during hunt time in the same manner as the Astro or not?

A: Rule 17 (controlling devices) states: {Any handheld device capable of controlling a dog (stimulating or toning), unless feature can be and is disabled while unit is in the on position, must be left in vehicle and may not be used by handler or spectators until dog wearing device is scratched and all other dogs are recovered for recasting.}

There are a couple of key phrases in that sentence, “capable of controlling” and “while unit is in the on position”. The Alpha is in fact capable of controlling a dog when turned to the on position; therefore, carrying this specific hand held unit would not satisfy Rule 17. While removing the prongs would disable one portion of the Alpha’s two separate controlling features, it would not disable the toning feature. In answer to the specific question; the current Alpha cannot be carried in the same manner as the Astro.

There have been several discussions and theories on how one can disable the controlling features on a Garmin Alpha. According to the Garmin Field Rep, most of those methods/theories are technically only one step removed from being enabled. Much like the four-wheel drive feature on your truck, it can be turned on and off as needed from the driver’s seat while the vehicle is in use. Remove the drive shaft going to the front wheels, however, and you now have a feature that is disabled and will not function.

Q: What is the current policy on handlers carrying the Alpha during the hunt?

A: The current policy is that the handheld may not be carried because of the capable controlling features. Just like any controlling only system, such as the Tri-Tronics Trash Breaker, the Alpha must be left in the vehicle. The only difference is that UKC has provided for the Alpha to be turned on and used during a time out.

Q: Has any consideration been given for the Alpha, as it currently is, to be carried during the hunt?

A: UKC would love to allow the Alpha to be carried; however, the toning feature creates our biggest concern in that a handler could, in fact, control another handler’s tone-trained dog during the hunt. While we are aware that the majority would not get involved in any such activities, it’s the ones that would use it as an advantage to benefit themselves that spoil it for everyone else. It’s easy to suggest that we deal with those who get caught in such activity. The problem is, how are you really going to prove they used it? A treed dog comes back to its handler once, twice, or three times during the hunt? The only thing you’re proving is that the dog came back. And having it happen one time to a handler that otherwise thinks their use should be allowed would very likely change their opinion on it in a minute. Regardless, the UKC is interested in continuous feedback from the hunters on this topic. The current policy on the Alpha is not one to create any hardships or unfair advantage to Garmin or any handler using this system. It is simply a policy that protects the other handlers in the manner as described. Another good reason to pay attention to the checklists read off by event officials for any changes, including should anything change where the Alpha is concerned.

Q: Why are the current Telemetry Rules not included on the scorecard?

A: The Coonhound Rulebook is updated every three years. As a result of the testing and homework done, we are fairly confident in the rules as published; however, we are interested in improving them and being able to do that should it become necessary to make adjustments. Not being bound by a rulebook allows us that avenue. Instead, we chose the route of this column, the UKC website and event officials as the source for those rules including any changes that might be necessary down the road. This is a good reason for handlers to pay attention to the Master of Hounds checklists because it is a good avenue for us to get the word out on any changes.

Q: The new telemetry rules tell us the do’s and don’ts, but what happens if a handler breaks one of these rules? Are they scratched?

A: Dogs may be scratched under the following condition. Telemetry Rule #4 gives the judge the authority to scratch a handler for not adhering to a judge’s warning when it is deemed to be interfering with another handler’s ability to listen for their dog. That rule was included mostly with regard to those using the beep, beep telemetry systems. The beeping noises could certainly become annoying and/or interfere with another handler trying to listen for their dog. Most GPS type systems have volume control or a mute feature that should allow the user to easily eliminate any system noise.

Otherwise, Rule 6(I) deals with controlling devices and gives the judge the authority to scratch a handler for using a controlling device during the hunt. Handlers must be aware that controlling a dog during a hunt, other than as outlined under Rule 17, is a barring offense and should be reported to UKC as a Misconduct.

Q: What about the handlers disabling the alerts that sounds on the handheld every time a dog stops or quits moving for a period of time when out hunting?

A: Muting those alerts would be a courteous move on the part of the handler. Otherwise, they would be annoying to other cast members.