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Q & A
Posted on 12/03/2012 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Q: Four dogs on a cast are treed. After scoring the tree, the dogs are led a little distance away and released again. One dog opens and is declared struck in the vicinity of the tree that had previously been scored. The handler says he thinks the dog is on the same tree. The judge says he is not sure if it’s the same tree, so he starts the stationary rule. Five minutes elapse. The handler has not declared the dog treed. The cast finds the dog is in fact on the same tree that had been scored previously. How should the dog be scored? MS/IN
A: According to Rule 5(e), “No points … will be awarded when dogs return to a tree that had previously been scored, and cast may go to tree without dogs being declared treed, if majority of cast agree, when hunting Judges are used.”

Whenever the stationary has been applied, and the dog is not declared treed, the dog may not be scratched if it is found on a tree that has been previously scored. This interpretation is consistent with 5(e) which states that a dog does not have to be declared treed. In the scenario described, Rule 5(h) would apply and the strike points are deleted.

Q: In a four-dog cast, Dogs A, B and C are declared struck and treed. Dog D has not struck. The five minutes elapse and all handlers go to the tree. The dogs are handled, and one handler asks me if squalling is permitted. I replied yes. The handler of Dog D disagrees and says, “No, we can’t because one dog is still out hunting and may come into the tree if we squall.”

Being the Judge, I checked the back of the scorecard and told him it was my understanding the dog must be declared struck before it can be considered interfered with. If I am wrong, please set me straight because I want to be fair with everyone according to the current rules. BS/OH

A: You handled it perfectly. Whenever your decision is questioned in the woods, you, as the judge, have the good option of turning the scorecard over and show the rule that applies to the situation at hand. In your description of events, Rule 17 backs up your call in black and white (No squalling nor any action deemed to be interfering with dog[s] to be done during the first seven minutes unless all dogs declared struck are at tree and leashed).

Key words - declared struck and leashed. Handlers may not squall during the first seven minutes with any dog(s) that is declared struck is not at a tree and handled. The other side of the coin, is it’s quite common for a handler to suggest the cast go ahead and squall without regard to this rule. Usually, they’ll suggest “won’t bother my dog none”. Regardless, don’t get caught up in that trap. Rule 17 doesn’t allow it and neither will the Master of Hounds when it comes back to him, regardless of who agreed to allow it. It’s a rule violation and a scratching offense.

Lake or River/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? JV/TN

A: Any time 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 you described it, 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!

Declaring a Dog Struck After the Fact
Q: Dog A opens once or twice, but is not declared struck. Ten seconds later, Dog B opens, and immediately the handler of Dog A strikes his dog. He tells the judge he is not striking Dog B, but is striking the dog who had opened earlier. Is that acceptable? CS/OK

A: The first paragraph in the honor rules states a dog must open before it can be declared struck or treed. Rule 9 states handlers are to tell the judge when their dog opens and when the dog trees. This is interpreted by UKC to mean a call must be made by the handler when the dog is opening or immediately after a bark. This prevents a handler from holding off, then jumping in behind someone else for second strike when another dog barks later on. Or like in the situation described above, the handler of Dog A was quick enough to strike his dog before Dog B was struck.

In your scenario, the handler of Dog A did not have to strike his dog initially if it didn’t open more than twice after the first minute of releasing the dog(s). That’s all fine and dandy, but now after Dog B opens some time later, the handler tries to steal a strike position. Sorry, but that position was lost ten seconds ago unless Dog A opens again before Dog B is declared struck. Bottom line - you should strike your dog immediately when it opens and not wait until later when another dog in the cast opens.