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New Tracking Telemetry Rules
Posted on 01/13/2014 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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It’s no secret there’s been a lot of discussion in the past year on the use of tracking telemetry during a hunt. Ideas of a less restrictive policy have been ongoing far longer. During the past year, several test hunts were held at licensed events, as well as numerous discussions by UKC with avid nite hunters. Reported feedback from test hunts suggest that hunters do, in fact, support a less restrictive telemetry policy, and that allowing their use is a great tool, most specifically and importantly, where safety to hounds is concerned.

Any negative discussion generally surrounds concern for handlers using telemetry to gain an unfair advantage or to cheat in some manner. Some do, in fact, make good arguments; however, we can also easily go overboard with implementing rules to guard against the crook to the point of the honest individual being left with unnecessary sacrifices. Why? A crook is a crook regardless of any written rule. Last time I checked, the nite hunt rules were based on an honor system. In other words, they are there but they still require the hunter to “honor” them. Before we get too carried away with pointing fingers at a crook, think about something as simple as we (considered as being honest) voted to circle a tree that we would have considered slick had it been a pleasure hunt or had our own dog not been a part of it? Where’s the honor in that? Sometimes this topic can hit a little closer to home than we would like for it to. Yes?

It’s time to use the resources available to us for the betterment of our hunt and safety to hounds. If you haven’t heard your hound in a good while, wouldn’t you be more at ease knowing where he was? If he’s in a neighboring barn or snooping around a home owner’s buildings, wouldn’t you want to know so that you can take necessary action, if needed? If the dogs are treed on the river, wouldn’t it be good to know which side? If dogs are treed in a big swamp, would it not be nice to see the best course of travel to and from? The list goes on.

The policy for telemetry use will have only a handful of rigidly enforced, yet simple, rules as follows:
RULE # 1. Under no circumstances may telemetry be used to determine the scoring of any dog(s).
RULE # 2. If, by way of telemetry, a handler deems dog to be in danger per an item outlined in Rule 7, they may ask for a cast vote to call time out. If a majority is not reached, the handler may withdraw the dog and retrieve it for safety’s sake.
RULE # 3. At no time may a handler demand the cast walk in the direction of a hound that has not been heard opening. The judge, or majority of the cast when hunting judge is used, may agree to walk in that direction.
RULE # 4. When considering the use of telemetry during the hunt, the handler may not interfere with any handler’s ability to listen for their hound. Handlers failing to heed to such a warning by the judge shall have their dog scratched from the cast.
RULE # 5. A Master of Hounds/Panel may not consider any debate that is based on telemetry use.

General Information: The handheld of GPS “tracking only” systems may be carried and powered on during the hunt. A handheld capable of controlling (stimulating or toning) a dog may not be carried or used during the hunt unless the controlling features are disabled and agreed upon as such by all members of the cast. Any handler found to be in violation of any controlling device as outlined under Rule 17 is subject to disciplinary action and/or suspension by UKC.

There are numerous situations that occur in the woods that might get judges in a pickle if they are not careful; however, using good judgment paired with the handful of specific telemetry use rules listed above will eliminate them. If judges quickly distinguish and/or disregard any debates of “my system says so and so”, it will help them considerably. For instance, the following items remain intact regardless of any telemetry use.
 • The judge or majority of the cast must be able to hear a dog before a strike call may be accepted.
• A dog off deep in the country treeing must be heard before a tree call may be accepted.
• Even though you’ve pinpointed the location of a treed dog, the dog(s) must bark every two minutes.
• It must be obvious to the judge (determined via ears or eyes) that a dog is split before assigning split tree points.
• A dog quitting its track is still subject to the eight-minute rule that is kept open by any dog in the cast.
• A dog that went back to the trucks and jumped in the dog box may be failing to hunt but the dog will only be subject to the clock for such when he is “seen” not hunting by the judge.
• A dog leaving tree is determined by the judge’s ears and is never based on the result of a telemetry system.

The bottom line is that handlers must understand that zero information based on telemetry will be considered by a judge or a Master of Hounds when it comes to any scoring debates. Instead, telemetry is only used for other purposes. Number one should always be for safety purposes and peace of mind. Other than that a cast may find their use beneficial when hunting unfamiliar territory, the last spot they could hear a dog trailing from or making their way back to the trucks.

No doubt, this new telemetry policy is huge and a significant change for the sport. If you have your doubts, give it some time and remember that 25 years ago they were saying hunting judges would be the death of the sport. If you’re in the majority that supports this change, use it as intended for the safety of your hound and to the benefit of your hunt.

Award Options at UKC Licensed Events
As times have changed, and clubs must find new methods to raise funds, UKC must reflect those changes. After much consideration, UKC has eliminated past restrictions on monetary awards for licensed events. However, the club must understand and be aware that there may be additional law and tax implications to which to adhere to should they be interested in awarding monetary prizes or conduct any Calcutta/Jackpot/Added Purse type activities at their event. UKC cannot provide any legal advice or information regarding any additional laws and/or tax implications that may be associated with such activities, and is not responsible for any complications that may arise. Clubs are responsible for ensuring compliance on their own, and must know that they proceed at their own risk with any such activities. The distribution of prize money is the sole responsibility of the club. The UKC will not enter into any disputes thereof.

Trophies or plaques are the most popular because they give winners a memento by which to remember that hunt. Clubs may also choose to have a Poor Boy event where no awards are given. Generally, entry fees are lower for Poor Boy events. If the club chooses to not give awards, they are strongly encouraged to note “Poor Boy” on the Event Confirmation form so it can be advertised as such.

The club may choose to pay back entry fees or some other monetary prize to their winners. In the event they wish to include an added purse in their award package, the club should include such notice in the Special Instructions section when confirming the event. Clubs are not required to give the same type of award for various events they may host on the same day.

UKC Slam events award monetary payouts based on the event fee and total entry. Clubs have two options for an entry fee ($20 or $30). Fifty-five (55) percent of the entry fee is paid out to event winners. In the past, an amount based on the total entry and fee was placed in the UKC Youth Fund as a part of the events recording fees. A revision has been made where regular recording fees now apply. Any monies that used to go to the Youth Fund are now retained by the Host Club. Payout breakdowns are included with all Slam Event packets.

Given these options, clubs certainly have the opportunity to be creative when it comes to awards and opportunities to raise more funds at their events, if interested. Most young or newer participants are tickled with any type of trophies to display at home, while the more seasoned hunter’s trophy room is already overcrowded and they would just as soon have a little cash return to put back in the gas tank. You may want to consider having the text on your trophies be universal to where they are not date-specific and can be used for any one of your events throughout the year. That way you could give your winner the option of a trophy, an entry fee refund (or some other amount of cash), gas card, free entry fee to a subsequent hunt at the club, etc. The list could go on and on.

If your club thinks they might draw a better entry if they gave out a cash award, then you have that option. If you’d rather stick with trophies, so be it. You do what best suits/fits the club and/or your participants. UKC considers clubs hosting their licensed events as the backbone of the sport. Without them there is no sport. In this day and age they need more available resources to keep their doors open. This policy change is geared towards that effort and allows them to decide what works best for them.