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Rule Change Clarifications
Posted on 12/18/2013 in Full Circle.

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With the recent rule changes for the Hunting Beagle format, combined with what seems like numerous other changes, there won’t be enough space to include everything in one article. The next several Full Circle articles will be dedicated towards the effort of rule change clarifications and all that’s new for 2014 in the Hunting Beagle format.

Conditional Entry

Ever heard of it? If you’re familiar with the Performance Pack or Coonhound programs, you’ll likely already know what it is. How about this, have you ever dragged yourself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, made a couple egg sandwiches and boiled a pot of coffee for the road, loaded up a couple hounds and all your gear, stopped and filled up with gas on the way to a Beagle trial only to realize when you get there that you forgot your dogs’ Easy Entry™ Card? Yeah? Not anymore. Enter the Conditional Entry!

A Conditional Entry is a simple loophole when it comes to requirements of showing the dog’s Easy Entry™ Card or Registration Certificate when entering the event. A Conditional Entry does come with a fee of $5 in addition to the entry fee that is paid to the entry taker. The entrant is simply required to give as much accurate information as possible. If you don’t know your dog’s UKC number, don’t make a wild guess. Leave it blank. Instead try to give the dog’s full registered name, including the registered owner’s name along with city and state. There are no other requirements other than giving the most accurate information that you can. Period.

Past experience suggests that it may take a little while for everyone to catch on to the Conditional Entry option. Matter of fact, it can be downright frustrating for the participant if the entry taker or worse yet, the event official, is not aware of any such option. In the event they look at you like you’ve lost your marbles, get your new rulebook out of the glove compartment and politely ask them to review the new Conditional Entry policy under the “Entering Dogs Section”. (While you’re in this section, also check out the option for entering non-registered dogs without single registering the dog on the day of the event. More on that in another article.)

Past experience also suggests that some officials or entry takers misinterpret the term “provide the most accurate information possible”. Some may think the participant has to show a copy of the dog’s Registration Certificate or Easy Entry™ Card, or have the dog’s information written out in a note. Any such copies or notes are not required. It is not the responsibility of the entry taker, the official or the club, to provide the most accurate information possible. Bottom line - they take what information is given them. The club must record any Conditional Entries taken on the Event Fee Worksheet and submit those fees taken to the UKC with the Event Report.

Club Hunt Time Options

All clubs will now have the option and designate their hunt to be 60 or 90 minutes. Two hours is no longer an option for any hunt. The reason for this is because of a new rule where hunt time will be called during the hunt on more occasions than in the past. More on that under Handle Dogs = Time Out (below).

Club officers will need to specify the time preferred (60 or 90) on their Confirmation Form when confirming the event. Any events not noted when confirming will default to a 90-minute hunt.

Clubs still have the option of deciding a separate hunt time period for their Registered Winners Pack on the morning of the event. The time period for a Winners Pack may, but does not have to, match the time period designated for the rest of the hunt. Winners Packs may be 60 or 90 minutes and must be announced/posted on the morning of the hunt.

The same is true for Elimination Style events. The host club makes that choice. Because WQE’s are part of the World Championship, the UKC sets the hunt time period for them. All WQE’s will be 90-minute hunts. The only exception could be events like the ELIMINATOR that are also qualifying events.

Handle Dogs = Time Out

A significant change that affects hunt time is noted in Rule 7(g). Although significant, it is very simple. Whenever dogs are ordered to be handled time out is now called immediately. Under the old rule in 7(c), time could not be called unless it took 10 minutes to move to a new area. So whenever dogs were ordered to be handled, the clock continued to run even though the dogs were no longer eligible for any scoring. With the new rule, time will only be running while the dogs are actually competing.

The addition of this rule change is what brought about the change to reduce hunt time from 120 minutes to 90 or 60 minutes, per the club’s discretion. Both are good changes and should work out well. FYI: several tests were done during the World Hunt where the clock was stopped every time the dogs were order to be handled. In those two-hour hunts, all three tests resulted in being within only a couple of minutes of being 90 minutes where the dogs were actually competing. The other 25 to 35 minutes were actually spent retrieving dogs.

Judges Tip of the Day: Consider using a countdown timer. It will be a much easier way to keep an accurate record of hunt time used and remaining. Most smart phones have that feature and are the ticket!

Veterans Casts One Dog per Owner Only

Entry rules for Veterans Casts have changed just slightly. Age requirements (55 or older) remain the same. The new policy allows an owner to enter no more than one dog in a Veterans Cast. That includes any co-owner partnerships. In other words, there may not be two dogs in the same category’s Veterans Cast where the registered owners or co-owners are the same.

Example: Patch is owned by Allen Gingerich, Todd Kellam and Paul Frederick. No other dog, whether owned solely or co-owned by Allen, Todd or Paul, may be entered in the Veterans Cast. Not in same category anyway. If Patch was entered in a Veterans Cast in the Registered category, Todd or Paul could enter one of their Champion dogs in a Veterans Cast in the Champion category. (Using these three fine gentlemen might not be a very good example to use considering they all have several years left to ripen where age requirements are concerned. At least two of us do.)

Split Tracks

Many handlers will agree that one of the most inconvenient scoring situations in the Hunting Beagle format is split tracks. Debate and discussions on this very topic have been ongoing for years, yet there’s probably not a perfect solution, even when you consider ten different proposals.

The most recent rules committee members were a great example of the variation in opinions when it comes to split tracks; however, they all agreed that if we do make a change it needs to be as simple as possible. If it works better than past split track rules, fantastic. If not, we’ll consider other options at the next rules committee meeting.

The new rule specific to split tracks is now found in Rule 7(h) under TIME OUT as follows: {If judge declares split track all dogs to be handled and any un-scored points are deleted. If working split tracks in same general area, judge shall give dogs a short period of time to reunite before declaring split track.}

Fairly simple, yet requiring to declare a split track every single time dogs hop around on split tracks when there are several rabbits in the immediate area they are working might quickly lead to it becoming aggravating and disruptive? For that reason it is imperative that judges not be too quick to declare split tracks. Instead judges need to consider giving the dogs the opportunity to reunite, if you will.

First, there should be no question as to the dogs obviously being on split tracks. Next, unless the dogs are trailing in different areas and the likelihood of them getting back together shortly is not going to happen, only then should a split track be declared immediately and time out called. Usually a brief breakdown on the part of one or the other will quickly result in them reuniting. Hopefully, that might happen. And if they do get back together - no harm, no foul - and you’re rocking on. Otherwise, when dogs split up on tracks, declare it and fetch ‘em up.

The new procedure for split tracks might bring a few other scenario concerns.

1.) Minusing a dog(s) that left its split track and joined in on the other track, when a split track was not declared.

Rule 4(b) states so much as, if it is visually evident that a dog quits a track that is being worked, then it should be minused. Further, Rule 6 (q) states that on second offense, such a dog would be scratched, providing the remaining dogs circled and scores on that rabbit. These rules shall not be applied or considered when it comes to dog(s) briefly on a split track, but then reuniting as a pack, when a split track was never declared. You’ll see that Rule 4(b) has an addition to reflect such. Really, those rules should never come into play where split tracks are concerned because if dogs are in on split tracks in different areas, then the judge has no choice but to declare a split track immediately. If the dogs are possibly on split tracks in the same general area, and you’re giving them a short period to reunite, you’re basically going to forgive them for switching tracks. Otherwise, you’re opening a can of worms that is better off left alone. Of course Rule 4(b) will still apply to dogs visually seen quitting a track that does not involve split tracks.

2.) After the completion of a circle two rabbits were seen in close proximity of each other ahead of the trailing dogs. Both rabbits were marked for a line. Before the dogs get to the line there is a breakdown. Next thing you have dogs picking up both tracks simultaneously and the cast becomes split with dogs coming through on both marked lines.

In the event you have dogs coming through on both lines; score them accordingly and with the time allotted for each dog to score on that line(s). After they scored or are no longer eligible for line points 1) declare a split track 2) call time out and 3) handle them all.

3.) A dog in the cast is independent to the point that it will not hark into dogs opening on trail, yet the dog is not showing any signs of working up a track elsewhere. Instead, the dog is more intent on continuing to search for its own track and when it does find one the result is “time out”.

A dog might in fact be so independent to the point of disrupting the hunt. Requiring time to be called after several such occasions by the same dog should result in the dog being scratched from the cast per Rule 6(t). Like all situations, it is paramount that judges use sound judgment and common sense.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the day and the dogs you’ll have hunts where you have more splits than others. On those hunts where you have numerous splits the new rule might get a bit aggravating; however, it was felt by the Rules Committee that this procedure is worth giving a good go. The truth is we can all poke holes in most any Split Track proposal. My thoughts are that so long as the hunters give it a good chance, and follow the guidelines above, it will be like most anything else that involves “change”. It will take a little time getting used to and then we won’t even think about it anymore. I doubt this will be the last time we discuss this topic in a Full Circle article, but for now I hope it eliminates most concerns and questions.

That’s it for this month. Be sure to check back next month for other changes.