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Q & A
Posted on 09/09/2013 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Q: On a Grand Nite cast the other night, all four dogs are declared treed. We proceed to score the tree and find an opossum. All four of us saw it. We continued to look and two of us found a coon. The other two could never saw the coon. How should this be scored?
A: We really have two different situations at work here. First, we have an opossum. In Rule 6 (k) we read, “In Nite Champion and Grand Nite Champion casts, for running, treeing, or molesting off game during hunting time including time out periods prior to the expiration of hunt time.” There is no doubt an opossum has been seen (since all four admit to seeing it) so that is not really up for debate.

UKC has long held the position, though, that if off-game and a coon are seen in the same tree, we should give the dogs the benefit of the doubt. This is why the cast continued to shine even though they were in agreement that an opossum was in the tree.

In order for a coon to be scored though, it must be seen by the majority of the cast. Rule 3 (a) “Points will be Plus: when dogs strike and tree and coon is seen: (1) by non-hunting Judge, or (2) by a majority of the cast when hunting Judge is used.”

Since there was not a majority who saw the coon, or to plus the tree, the coon is, effectively, not there. We also cannot circle the tree. In Rule 5 (a) (Circle Points), we read: “When dog strikes and trees up a tree or a hole in the ground where there could be a coon and no off game is seen.” In this situation we cannot plus, we cannot circle, we have no choice but to scratch the dogs that were involved.

Q: Dogs A and B are both struck. Dog A obviously falls treed not too far from the cast. The handler doesn’t tree Dog A so I, as the judge, start the five minutes in accordance with Rule 6 (q). About a minute into Dog A’s time, Dog B comes in and trees with him. What should I do? Should I start a separate time for Dog B if he isn’t declared treed? What if Dog B is declared treed? I’ve just never had this happen and would like to know.
A: Rule 6 (q) was implemented to force handlers to either declare their dog treed when it obviously was, or be scratched. Most often it is referred to the “stationary rule”, which can be misleading. The rule was not intended to be used on holes or culverts, but rather when the Judge was positive the dog was, in fact, treeing, but the handler refused to declare his dog as such for whatever reason. The dog can be stationary (i.e.; in a hole, culvert, or brush pile) and not have Rule 6 (q) applied to them if the dog is not treeing.

Whenever you are using Rule 6 (q) on a dog, that dog must remain in the same location for a period of five minutes. Once Dog B comes in, no matter how long Dog A’s time has been running, a new five minutes must be started on Dog B. Once Dog A’s time has run out, he can no longer be treed and is subject to being scratched if he is found on a tree. If the time runs out on Dog B as well, the same rule applies.

If Dog B is declared treed before the five minutes is up on Dog A, Rule 6 (q) stops being applied to Dog A. If Dog B is declared treed after Dog A’s five minutes is up, then Dog A will still be scratched if he is found on a tree.

Q: The other night my dog was declared treed. It sounded like he was closer, then farther away. We couldn’t figure it out. We finally got close enough to see he was treed in a road culvert. About every minute he would get out of the culvert, run across the road, and tree in the other end of it for a while, the whole time barking treed. One guy on the cast said he should be minused for leaving one end or the other. Is this correct? Should I receive minus?
A: This is a situation we will probably hardly ever see in a Nite Hunt, but we should know how to handle it if we do.

We need to keep in mind, when minusing a dog on the tree, they only get minused for two different things: milling, and going back on track. The dog in this situation is doing neither. He’s not milling around, just being happy he’s a dog. He’s not leaving the culvert trying to get back on track. He is probably trying to get closer to the coon’s location in the culvert by switching sides, but I’m not qualified to speculate on how a dog’s brain works!

However, this dog should not be minused his tree points for going back and forth over the road and into the culvert. He is definitely showing treed and has not left or gone back on trail.

Respecting Landowners
We all know how much more difficult it has become in the last few years to find, or retain, places to hunt. There are many different reasons for this. Many people are moving out of the city and into in the country. Some people may not believe in our heritage of hunting and do not allow it on their land. Some folks probably feel fiercely protective of their land and do not want strangers on it. Others may be concerned about insurance and liability issues by having people out stomping around in the woods in the dark.

One reason we hope landowners do not have is because of the disrespectful actions of coon hunters.

Imagine being in their position. You probably have a little land and might even hunt. You’ve probably seen or read Where the Red Fern Grows, but know little else about coon hunting. You are lying in bed at two in the morning and, all of the sudden, there are several big, loud, dogs in your yard barking at something. You may have some sort of stock or a pet who lives out there you may be worried about. You go out, only to see several guys with all sorts of lights and other strange equipment you know nothing about out in your yard looking into one of your trees!

As coon hunters, we know what it’s like to be on the other end of this situation. How you handle it right now will likely determine if you can ever hunt there again. I’d say the majority of the time I’ve been in the situation, the landowner has been pretty reasonable. We can’t blame them if they aren’t.

Imagine you are guiding a cast and something like this happens. Perhaps you have been hunting this place for a while and never had any problems. How would you feel if one of your fellow cast members loses the privilege of hunting this spot for you? Probably not very happy, right?

Here is the bottom line: we need to help our guides and show some respect for the landowners whose land they hunt on. This guy has probably been cultivating a relationship with them for years and now, because of someone else’s bad behavior, might lose their spot. If a guide says not to drive in a field, don’t do it! If they want to walk around a fence instead of through a neighbor’s backyard, do what they want!

A good rule of thumb is to treat the land you are on like you want someone to treat yours. Do you want someone shining a 28 volt light through your kid’s bedroom at three in the morning? Do you want someone shining your property from the road or hollering for a dog in the middle of the night? I’d say no.

Are we still going to lose hunting ground? Unfortunately, I’m afraid so, but by showing each and every guide and landowner respect, we can do our part to help. Maybe if we all took time to thank our guide and show them how much we appreciate them, more guides would be available at our local clubs.