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Number One Unwritten Rule
Posted on 06/04/2014 in Full Circle.

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Number One Unwritten Rule

Q: What is the number one unwritten rule relative to Field Trials?

A: Whether it’s Hunting Beagle, Performance Pack, Large Pack, Small Pack, Fast Track, Split Track, or Hacky Sack; if it’s a competition, the number one unwritten rule is: READ THE RULEBOOK! You might be surprised what you learn.

We find that a lot of times hunters get their education on rules via clubhouse chatter or their hunting buddies. That’s all good and dandy provided the information is accurate. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not. For whatever reason a lot of hunters do not take the time to read the rulebook. In the field when a rule debate comes up, how many times do you see the judge turn the scorecard over and read the specific rule that applies to the situation at hand? Probably not many. The matter typically goes to a quick vote followed by someone placing a question mark on the card to take back to the Master of Hounds.

Personally, I keep several different rulebooks in my briefcase to read through periodically during spare time when traveling. You might be surprised, even after ten years of being closely associated with rules, how many times that I’ll read things I may have forgotten about.

Criteria of Qualified, Selecting Judges and Honor Rules

Q: What if it’s the Judge’s dog?

Comments: That is a question that comes up a lot in regards to hunting judges, and it’s one we also discussed at the seminar. We stressed the importance of selecting qualified individuals to judge. The criteria of “qualified” must always come with more than having a good understanding of the running rules. The three must have credentials include: having a good understanding of the rules, being unbiased, being trustworthy.

On page 42 of your current Hunting Beagle rulebook you’ll see the title of the running rules is, “Official Hunting Beagle Honor Rules”. Therefore, another important credential is that the judges “honor” the rules, as applicable, in every situation. Period. The three listed credentials are a must. One without the other is no good.

Starting on page 53 of the rulebook (MOH/HD Guidelines) you’ll find references on how judges should be selected. The days of drawing four dogs to a cast and then selecting or having the cast decide which one of the four will judge is an unacceptable practice. That method must be a thing of the past! There is a far better drawing system that is so much better for the club, the official, the hunters and the sport in general. Select the number of judges needed for each category and stick them to the scorecards first! This method, provided the club selects qualified individuals with the credentials required to judge, assures the club a much better hunt for everyone involved, not to mention, fewer questions and issues. You’ll hear some officials suggest this method takes too long. What? It doesn’t take any longer than any other! If we can do it at the Nationals with nearly 400 dogs, I’m convinced it will never be too much trouble at any other hunt. Refer to the rulebook for more information on this drawing method.

A: Back to the question. “If” event officials consider the comments above: if the judge struck the wrong dog, then the same rule is going to apply to his dog as all other dogs. If it’s the judge’s dog not hunting, he’s going to start the clock as quickly as he would for any other dog. If it’s the judge’s dog that was off the line too far, he’s not going to award his dog speed and drive points. When there’s a split track, he’s going to put the cast in a position to score the first track, even if his dog is one of those trailing on the opposite track. And he’s not going to allow any of the other handlers to stall about scoring the first track regardless of which track their dogs are on. The list goes on and on.

Finally, the UKC cannot fix judging issues alone. We need the club officials to be on board and help us in this effort. When following the guidelines, and when those selected as judges meet the three most important criteria, you’ll find that problems on casts are diminished significantly. And most “what if it’s the judge’s dog” questions are eliminated!

Carrying the Bark

Q: For the purpose of declaring dogs struck, at what point, if any, are dogs no longer accountable for any previous barks made?

A: There are two situations where a dog is no longer held accountable for any previous barks made. They are as follows: whenever time out is called and all dogs are ordered to be leashed simultaneously; and whenever a dog(s) is verbally called by the handler, as instructed by the judge, to a different area. Note: Otherwise dogs are responsible for their barks, no matter the distance(s) between.

Research shows that UKC’s position on this topic has seen a couple of slight variations throughout the years. It’s not a topic or a rule that is found anywhere in the rulebook. However, it makes good sense to be consistent with all other UKC hound and hunter type events whenever possible. The two items listed are consistent with other hound and hunter-type events when it comes to carrying barks. It is also what judges and handlers shall go by in Hunting Beagle events.

Handler’s Role After Dog is Scratched

Q: If a dog is scratched or withdrawn from the cast does the handler play any further role in the cast?

A: Refer to page 42 under Hunting Judges Rule 3. {Any cast members, though scratched, retain all voting privileges.} This rule is very straightforward and easily understood that a handler does in fact retain all voting privileges and remains an active part of the cast where handlers are concerned, even though their dog is scratched from the cast.

Note: The only exception is where a handler is scratched from the cast for unsportsmanlike conduct, drinking or stirring up trouble per Rule 6 (e). In that case, the handler shall no longer have any voting privileges or play any part in the cast.