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Nite Hunt Telemetry and Master of Hounds Checklist
Posted on 12/03/2013 in Coonhounds.

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New Tracking Telemetry Rules

It’s no secret that 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 anyone checked the nite hunt rules they 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:
      o Telemetry or handheld device of “tracking only” systems may be carried and powered on during the hunt.
        o A dog must be heard opening before a strike or tree call may be accepted.
        o Handheld devices 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.
          o Controlling device rule violations may result in suspension.

        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” then it will only help themselves considerably. For instance, the following items remain intact regardless of any telemetry use.
            o The judge or majority of the cast must be able to hear a dog before a strike call may be accepted.
            o A dog off deep in the country treeing must be heard before a tree call may be accepted.
            o Even though you’ve pinpointed the location of a treed dog, the dog(s) must bark every two minutes.
            o It must be obvious to the judge (determined via ears or eyes) that a dog is split before assigning split tree points.
            o A dog quitting its track is still subject to the eight minute rule that is kept open by any dog in the cast.
            o 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.
            o 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 ease 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.