Posted on 06/22/2016 in HTX = Coondog.
By Corey Gruver
As published in June 2016 COONHOUND BLOODLINES
This month, we will dive back into some more scenario-based discussions, and how to best handle these particular situations should they arise at a licensed Hunt Test.
Treeing Off Game
Last week, a gentleman who hunted Blueticks called up the office and asked to speak with me. I answered the phone, and in a very gruff-sounding voice he began to divulge to me what had happened to him that weekend at a Hunt Test not too far from where he lived.
Apparently, the Bluetick man had taken one of his finest hounds to a local club in the area to try and get a pass on him toward his HTX title. The man entered his dog and was sent out with the evaluator assigned to them. Once they reached the section of timber they planned to hunt that night, the two men lead the old speckled hound up the side of a culvert ditch that winded its way out through a farmer’s field and dipped off into the woods. The hound was then released, where he made short work of getting gone and getting struck. The old dog took a hard left, hot off the side of the ditch, across the short expanse of field to the woods, and slammed down treed in a matter of a few minutes.
As the old Grand Nite Champion sat and told the world he had treed, the two men sat and listened to him for a while, not wanting to spoil all the fun they were having shooting the bull and enjoying the crisp night air. Moments later, they began the short hop, skip and jump it took to get to the old dog and tied him back.
As soon as the LED lights of their bump caps scraped the delicate leaves on the sugar maple the old dog had treed on, the two men were greeting with the undisputed grin of a big white greasy possum! The evaluator took a long hard look at the score sheet, and, after several moments, looked up at the Bluetick man and said, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to scratch your dog, sir.”
Is the evaluator right in his thinking? Should the dog be scratched for treeing off game during its hour hunt time? Does the Bluetick man have any right to be angry with the evaluator’s decision?
While treeing, running or molesting off game has always been a scratchable offense among the higher ranks of the competition Nite Hunt world, in this arena the dog should not be scratched.
The basic premise behind a UKC Licensed Hunt Test is to see how well a dog can run and tree a coon within a predetermined amount of hunting time, while at the same time committing as few faults as possible. A “fault” can be defined as anything and everything a hunter would not want their dog doing on a routine trip to the woods. These faults can include, but are not limited to, milling around, failure to hunt, slick treeing handling issues, and more. Treeing off game, in this sense, is one of those faults.
During a UKC Licensed Hunt Test, dogs are given a little grace in the fact that they must commit two faults in order to receive a failing grade during their Hunt Test. Any of the faults committed that are listed on the evaluator’s worksheet, executed in any combination or order, will result in the immediate failing of the dog during its test.
So, while treeing a possum only minutes into your Hunt Test is nobody’s ideal scenario, this male dog still has just short of an hour to go out and start treeing some real, live raccoons. Should he tree another possum, or commit any of the other listed faults on the score sheet before the night is through, then, and only then, will the dog fail. “Scratching” the dog is certainly not the most appropriate way of handling the scenario listed above and should be discouraged. Instead, evaluators should follow the correct and appropriate procedures set forth for a UKC Licensed Hunt Test and simply fault the dog.