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Open On Track
Posted on 09/06/2012 in HTX = Coondog.

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A dog must open on track in order to pass a hunt test. That requirement is the second one listed in the standard requirements list on the Hunt Test Evaluation Form. Rule 4 in the Hunt Test Evaluation Rules further states that a dog must open on track at least once every eight minutes. Rule 5 (c) states that a dog which does not open once in eight minutes will be considered to have quit its track, and that dog will receive one standard fault. So the question is, where does it state how many times a dog must open before it can be considered opening on track?
I’m going to guess that most of you having read that last question and thought to yourself, “On or before the third bark,” didn’t you? The truth is I thought the same thing. I think it’s one of those nite hunt interpretations etched so deeply into our brains that we can’t help it. The good news is - that might actually be a good answer.

The rules do not address when we may consider a dog to be open on track. The reason that this is not more of an issue is because typically once a dog opens, it continues to open. What about the dog that opens twice and then falls treed? What about the dog that opened twice and then five minutes later comes walking up to the group of hunters? Could you, in good conscience, say that dog is an open trailing dog if you heard him bark twice in few minutes and then fall treed? Could you, in good conscience, say that a dog that only opened twice was committed to that track and needs to be penalized if he never made another bark in the next eight minutes?

The point is, because the rules do not specify when a dog must be struck, it becomes a judgment call to determine whether or not the dog opened enough to prove that it is an open trailer, or for us to say that a dog was definitely committed to a track and should be able to finish it. I think most of us want to hear a dog open more than a couple times on the ground, and the vast majority of the time they do. But if you inspect enough dogs, I would venture to guess that sooner or later you will need to use some judgment as to whether or not a dog opened enough to either meet a requirement or dodge a fault.
It’s called “judgment” for a reason. There are things that simply can’t be measured. You gain experience from hunting, and that experience allows you to develop opinions. In most cases, you will immediately have an opinion when you hear or see something. It’s not that hard. Use good judgment and give a dog the benefit of the doubt if you are not sure one way or another. But be honest. Have confidence in your ability to identify good hound work and faulty hound work. Take pride in doing an honest evaluation and you will gain respect from your fellow houndsmen and women.

Hunt Test-Imonial
I had been reading about the Hunt Test Program in the COONHOUND BLOODLINES magazine for a while and decided I would try one. I’m in my mid-sixties and cannot stand the heat due to a heat stroke suffered in 2009 in which I laid out in the woods for about 12˝ hours before I came to my senses and was able to make it back to the house. Thanks, to God Almighty, that I made it. So during the hot part of each year I cannot compete with the younger competition hunters as I feel I am slowing them down during the hunt.

This year (2012) I decided to do some traveling with my dogs and have been to Joplin, Missouri; Pittsburg, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Perry, Oklahoma; Flora, Illinois; and Palestine, Texas. While at Stillwater, I had the opportunity to hunt NITE CH GR CH ‘PR’ Black Burn N Tree Louder in an HTX hunt test. Dr. John Thornton was my inspector and guide, and did a good job at both. I call my dog Junior as he is a grandson of Kansas Junior and almost as large. During the hunt test, I called him treed with only a few minutes left in the hunt time, and we looked at his coon, so he received a pass.

The hunt test is not easy, as I have participated in two more but failed to receive another pass. I plan to participate in more of them. If my memory serves me correctly, on the first hunt test there were 12 or 13 dogs tested (most of which were Walkers), and only three passed. So, you see, it is not easy! There are several conditions that must exist to be successful and they are: a coonhound must hunt well alone; stay treed and be good about having the coon; and be a straight cooner.

I like the idea of using a utility vehicle for transportation during the hunt as it make the hunt much more enjoyable for older, physically challenged participants. Thank you, for this program. Remember - two strikes and you’re out!

Keep looking up!
Haskell Wright, Cleveland, Texas