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Q & A
Posted on 03/06/2014 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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“Yes, I See It” – “Oops, That’s Not a Coon”
Cast A: All dogs are declared treed. The cast starts shining and right away they see eyes in the tree. All cast members agreed, “Yes, we see it.” However, after they had all agreed they saw it, one member throws a bright light up there and sees it is a possum instead of what they thought were coon eyes. Since they all agreed they saw it, is it considered scored and over with regardless?

Cast B: Three-dog cast. Two dogs are left in the cast toward the end of the hunt. Both dogs fall treed but are split from each other on separate trees. The three members shine Dog A’s tree. After a little while, the judge says, “Here-ee is”. The second cast member comes over and says, “Yep, I see it.”

The third cast member comes over and throws a bright light up there and says, “That’s nothing more than a knot on the limb, it’s not a coon.” After taking another look, the second cast member agrees that it is simply a knot and not a coon. Can a cast member change his mind after initially having said he sees it?

A: Most of us who have hunted long enough have been in situations like those described where at first glance your initial thought was, “Yeah, I see it,” and verbally say so. Upon further examination, you realize it’s not what you initially thought it was after all. The basic question in either situation is; can a handler change his initial scoring vote after having verbally said something to the effect that he or she saw it?

To be fair in scoring situations properly as they should be scored, like the situations described above, UKC maintains that a tree is not considered to be officially scored until majority of the cast members are satisfied with their vote. This doesn’t mean you can vote one way at the tree and then vote another way at the clubhouse. You must obviously make your decision at the tree. If we were to allow plus points on off game or knots on tree limbs simply because of initial first reactions or petty technicalities, then something is terribly wrong.

Coons That Can’t Be Scored

A caller recently was describing a high-scoring cast in which he recently participated. He made it a point to assure me that he personally saw every coon, even though he was not the cast winner. Following that, he told me that he wasn’t sure if the way they had treed them was exactly right or not. Upon further questioning, he described one drop where the cast saw a coon cross the road and go up a tree. Allegedly, the cast, which is now down to one dog and two cast members, walked the dog up to the tree, unsnapped him, struck and treed him, and let him tree for five minutes. The reasoning this was thought acceptable was because the scorecard did not prohibit it.

Then, while working an event the next weekend, I was asked when it became permissible to score a coon in a live trap? I was thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. Apparently this was done at a UKC licensed hunt recently. A live trap is not a place of refuge for a coon, and coon cannot be scored in live traps. This has been printed in the Advisor several times over the years. You have to delete those points. It would be convenient, though, to be able to place coons in live traps at all my hunting spots. You could rack up a really good score that way, couldn’t you?

Scorecard historians will remember when the scorecard said in Rule 1 that hounds must be free cast in search of wild game. I can’t remember when it was removed from the scorecard, or why. Maybe because it’s so darn obvious that can’t turn your dog loose at a tree that you know is harboring a raccoon.

At any rate, preceding Rule 1 is a statement that refers to the Coonhound Advisor column as official interpretation of UKC rules and policies, so let’s make this official right now. All hounds in UKC licensed events must be free cast in search of wild game. That means no enclosures, that means no turning loose as in the example above, that means you can’t score coons in live traps or in a cage behind someone’s barn, it means you can’t score dead coons, it means you can’t turn coons loose for the dogs, it means that the coon must be seen in the tree your treeing on. It’s always been permissible to turn loose on coon crossing the road so, for the time being, we’ll stick with it.

All this should go without saying, but, believe it or not, I’ve had to deal with every one of the situations mentioned above in the last couple years because someone said it wasn’t prohibited in the rules. Now it is.

Retrieving Dogs During a Time Out

Q: Timeout has been called during the hunt. Who, if anyone, may assist the handlers in retrieving their hounds?

A: The idea that only the handler of the dog may retrieve the dog without assistance from any other cast member(s) is a misconception. Helping a cast-mate retrieve their dog during a called time out is certainly encouraged when needed and is simply a form of good sportsmanship.

The one thing to keep in mind is that a handler in the cast assisting another cast member in the retrieval of his dog, even though his dog may already be in the box ready to continue, would also fall victim to Rule 6(f) should the hour expire before returning to the designated spot. A lot could be discussed on this topic, but it’s one that simply requires common sense and one where sportsmanship will go a long way.

Authority of a Scorekeeper

Q: This next question comes from the state of Texas, where a Master of Hounds is concerned about the authority of a scorekeeper or the misconceptions thereof. How about a little clarification in this regard?

A: Rule 11(a) references the non-hunting scorekeeper. It states that {Scorecards to be carried by judge (or non-hunting scorekeeper if all cast members agree) and must be scored in plain view of all.} First, it must be agreed upon by all cast members to allow an individual, usually a spectator or non-hunting guide, to write down the scores as they are called. A scorekeeper does make it easier for some judges in allowing them to concentrate more on what’s going on with the dogs in the woods and not be caught filling in strike and tree calls when there’s something going on that might require the judge’s full attention.

A non-hunting scorekeeper has no more authority in the cast than any other spectator on the cast. A scorekeeper may not help shine trees nor do they have a vote in voting situations. They have no say so as to how anything should be scored. If the scorekeeper has any questions such as close strike or tree calls, they would refer to the judge of the cast to make that decision. The scorekeeper simply writes down scores as they are given them; nothing more and nothing less.

Water/Place of Refuge

Q: The dogs in a cast run a good track and start treeing or baying, and eventually they are all declared treed. We walk in and find the dogs are on the edge of a river baying from the bank. No tree or hole there, they’re just looking out across the river baying. The river is a good 100 to 200 yards across. It is deep, wide and roaring with spring rains. Can this be considered a place of refuge since it seems impossible for a dog to even try to swim across under these conditions?

A: Anytime dogs tree other than on a tree, and in doing so are holding the game, it is considered a place of refuge; unless of course, they have the game caught on the ground. Understandably, it seems next to impossible for any dog to swim across the river as described, but a body of water, whether it be a lake a mile wide or a river that has a current too strong to cross, will not hold the coon; therefore, may not be considered a place of refuge. UKC maintains any bodies of water are considered part of the terrain regardless of width, current or otherwise. In your situation, the rules allow no other option other than minus the dogs. Sounds like the coon won this one!