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The Eight Minute Clock and Telemetry
Posted on 05/08/2014 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Q: In a four-dog cast, three dogs got treed approximately 900 yards ahead of the cast, while Dog D continued trailing a separate track off to their right. After scoring the tree, we could not hear Dog D so the cast walked back to the spot where we last heard Dog D. At that spot is where the judge started the eight-minute clock on the dog. After listening for a little bit and still not hearing the dog, the handler of Dog D looked at his telemetry and told the cast they needed to walk in the direction towards him. So the cast followed him, with three hounds leash locked, for nearly seven minutes to the top of a hill where we could hear the dog that was now treed. The handler treed Dog D. The questions are: 1) should the handler have been allowed to use his telemetry to see where his dog was in that situation; and 2) then make the cast walk towards the dog when the eight minute clock was running?
A: Let’s throw out the Garmin use part for a minute. In the past it was protocol to go back to the last spot you heard Dog D before starting the eight-minute clock. Although you won’t find any such rule in the rulebook, UKC has always supported this courtesy. Common sense suggests it is the fairest and right thing to do when you may have walked out of hearing of that trailing dog due to the scoring of a tree. However, if after scoring the tree the dog out on trail remains within hearing distance from the tree just scored, the eight-minute clock should be started from there.

UKC has always allowed handlers the opportunity to use their eight minutes, within reason, when their dog may have trailed out of hearing in such a scenario. Sometimes that meant walking in the direction he assumes his hound may be in or walking to a better vantage point to listen for the dog.

Enter the use of telemetry. The handler is well within his rights to check his telemetry on Dog D after scoring the tree. He may see that the dog is within hearing range from the scored tree. If so, the eight-minute clock should start from there. If not then the cast should go the last spot they heard the dog before the time is started.

Yes, this scenario is one where the use of telemetry could be an advantage for the handler. In the same token, it could also very well be an advantage to the rest of the cast. By my calculations, the cast walking 900 yards to score a tree in the scenario given is over a half mile. Dog D could be anywhere by the time the tree was scored. The purpose of a nite hunt is to score dogs accordingly. Sticking our heads in the sand while the clock is running and refusing to make an attempt to score Dog D contradicts the purpose of nite hunts. Using common sense on when and where to start the clock, and all handlers being reasonable based on the situation at hand, will go a long way.

Looking at Handheld when Declaring Dog Treed

Q: May a handler be looking at the handheld of his Garmin when calling his dog treed?

A: This is the most frequently asked question regarding telemetry use that is called in to the UKC office. My response is always: Yes they may look at their telemetry anytime during the hunt, followed by this question, “Was the dog ‘treeing’ when that handler declared it treed?” To date we have not yet had one caller that suggested the dog was not treeing when they called it treed in such a manner. Only in the case where the dog is not actually treeing is when we would have an issue. And it would be an issue that we can easily resolve.

Here are three things to keep in mind:

• The judge shall make his decisions based on what he sees and hears and what is based on sound judgment.

• A dog must be heard “opening” before a strike call may be accepted.

• A dog must be heard “treeing” before a tree call may be accepted.

Even though the handler may have been looking at his handheld at the time he declared his dog treed, all that is required from the judge is to acknowledge that the dog is in fact treeing. If so, the judge awards the available position. If the dog is not treeing, the judge should not accept the call. Is this an advantage to a handler? Depends on who you ask and their knowledge of the systems being used. Regardless, nothing has changed when it comes to scoring dogs on trailing and treeing raccoons.

Telemetry Rule Clarifications

Rule 1. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL TELEMETRY BE USED TO DETERMINE THE SCORING OF ANY DOG(S).

Clarification: “Scoring” is interpreted as using telemetry to determine: a) whether or not dogs moved from where they were called treed at; b) dog declared struck is really the one that opened; c) the dog that left tree was with A and B or on a separate tree; d) stationary rule, etc. etc. type situations. Basically, if you are awarding plus or minus to a dog based on telemetry, then you would be using telemetry to determine scoring. Seeing/knowing where a dog is while the eight-minute clock is running, is not considered “scoring” a dog.

Rule 3. At no time may a handler demand the cast walk in the direction of a hound that has not been heard opening. The judge, or majority of cast when hunting judge is used, may agree to walk in that direction.

Clarification: Dogs not heard opening are those that have not been declared struck. A dog that has the eight minute clock working on them is a dog that has been heard opening. A cast may not agree to walk towards the out of pocket dog(s) that has/have not been declared struck if in doing so they would be walking out of hearing of the dog(s) that is/are declared struck.

Rule 4. When considering the use of telemetry during the hunt the handler may not interfere with any handler’s ability to listen for their dog. This to be rigidly enforced. Handlers not adhering after having been warned of such by the judge; shall result in their dog being scratched from the cast.

Clarification: This rule was implemented to keep handlers from interfering with other handlers in the cast who are trying to listen to their dogs. The simplest solution would be for the handler to turn the volume off on their handheld. Another use could be where handler chat of “my dog is so and so” that interferes with another handlers ability to listen for their dog. A judge does not have the authority to tell a handler they may not use their telemetry. They may only warn them for interfering and if they do not turn it off or quit chatter immediately “while others are trying to listen”, their dog is to be scratched. It does not mean that for the rest of the night the warned handler’s handheld must be turned off or they cannot say another word about the whereabouts of their hound at a different time during the course of the hunt. Scratching a dog for interfering with other handlers only applies when they are trying to listen for the purpose of declaring dogs struck or treed or the judge is in the process of “judging” a dog in the cast.

Bells Permissible

Q: Is it permissible to use bells on coonhounds during the course of a nite hunt?

A: Yes, they may be used on coonhounds during a hunt. Any previous restrictions against the use of bells were removed when the use of telemetry during the hunt was implemented.