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Tracking/Controlling Combo Systems
Posted on 11/08/2012 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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After the unveiling of the new Alpha™ tracking and controlling combo unit at Autumn Oaks, they have been the hot topic of discussion. These discussions include whether or not they can even be used during the course of a UKC nite hunt. Although the UKC has always strictly stood by their written rules and avoided waiver of such until or unless changed, we can quickly find ourselves behind the eight-ball when considering some of the newest gadgets that have become available to hunters for their dogs.
This seems to be the case with one of those newest items in the Alpha™ Tracking/Controlling combo unit. Since its release, many hunters have already found it to be a good fit for their gear bag. Rule 20, however, throws a block in the mix for this type of unit when you considering the controlling portion of it.

Some time ago when a similar unit was released by SportDOG™, UKC approved of their use so long as the controlling portion on the collar (which is a two-part combo that is easily removed), was removed. The handler would then be allowed to carry the handheld (in the off position) during the course of the hunt. Although a similar type combo unit, one of the differences in the Alpha™ by Garmin« is that the controlling portion of the combo unit cannot be removed from the collar, creating an issue for their use when it comes to Rule 20. Specifically, where it states: {Transmitters (meaning hand held unit) for electronic training collars must be left in vehicle and may not be used by handler unless dog wearing device is scratched and all other dogs are recovered for re-casting.} The handheld for both units mentioned has the capability to both track and control a hound.

UKC is certainly interested in considering revisions to rules to better fit such newer items available within reason. The problem is that the next rules changes are not scheduled to go into effect until 2014 for coonhounds. However, it seems that making a slight revision to Rule 20 now should be easily supported so long as it has no ill effect on the part of any dog or handler.

For these considerations, UKC will allow the use of the Alpha™ Tracking/Controlling combo unit by Garmin as follows:
• Effective August 31, 2012, handlers may use any Tracking/Controlling combo unit in UKC licensed events under the following conditions. The handheld must be turned to the off position and left in the vehicle during hunting time. The handheld may not be carried by the handler during hunting time. The handheld may be used during any timeout period during the hunt. Any handler found to have used any part of the controlling capabilities, including the tone feature, on the handheld will have their dog scratched from the cast. Any handler scratched for the use of a controlling device prior to the expiration of hunt time or prior to their dog being scratched from the cast must be reported to UKC. Any other individual, including a spectator, remaining at the vehicle, involved in such use must also be reported to UKC.

Further clarification on the use of different tracking and controlling devices:
A GPS tracking and controlling system, such as the Alpha™ by Garmin«, may never be carried by the handler and may never be turned to the on position other than during a timeout.
The handheld of any other GPS tracking-only units may be turned in the on position if left in the vehicle during hunting time. The handheld may be carried by the handler during the hunt but only if the hand held unit is turned to the off position.

The SportDOG™ tracking/controlling combo unit may be carried by the handler if:
1) the controlling portion is removed from the collar, and;
2) if the handheld remains in the off position during hunting time. Otherwise the rules for this system are identical to that of the Alpha™ by Garmin« where the handheld must be turned to the off position and remains in the vehicle during hunting time. It may be used during anytime out period during the hunt.

The handheld of traditional “beep-beep” telemetry may be carried by the handler but must remain in the off position during the course of the hunt.

Stand-alone controlling transmitters must remain turned to the off position and must remain in the vehicle at all times during any time period, including timeouts, during the course of the hunt. They may only be used after the handler’s dog has been scratched and all other dogs in the cast are recovered for re-casting.

With all the technology and gadgets available to hunters and their hounds today, it may be time to put some serious thought behind our current rules when it comes to all tracking and controlling systems being used in nite hunts. Shouldn’t we be thinking more progressively opposed to the current strict restrictions for the sake of safety to hounds and hunters, as well as many other situations that occur in our nite hunts? Think about that before the next rules change comes and goes.

Electric Fences
Q: Shouldn’t dogs strike points be deleted for interference after hitting an electric fence and coming into the cast?
A: I have two problems with this … well, maybe more than two. First of all, interference is not a reason to call timeout and does not appear on the scorecard. It has become a generic term for “we ought to be able to call time out for this.” The problem is, 5(f) is so open-ended with that dang “etc.” at the end of it that it’s hard to argue against. I have a hard time thinking that any electric fence of the type used to contain livestock could possibly be considered dangerous to a dog, but I’m not an expert on voltage and amperage, or anything technical for that matter. I do know this. If you write an exception for the one case in a million where a dog gets fried by the highest tech hog burner on the market while he’s standing in a creek, we will open the door for any dog that quits a track after bumping into a 20-year-old rusty fence that has weeds choking it out.

My final comment would be this. Can you imagine the excuses for not taking minus strike points if we were to embrace the fact that it’s acceptable to circle points if a dog gets popped by a hot wire fence? I guess it all boils down to the “danger” factor.

Fighting on Leash
Q: Can a dog be scratched for fighting with another dog, even though handled and tied at a tree while the tree is being scored?
A: UKC rules do not make exceptions for dogs fighting or attempting to fight while handled or tied. Sometimes handlers will tie their dogs a little too close to another dog where they can get in contact with each other. In the course of excitement or frustration of getting tangled up, some dogs may get a little edgy and a fight ensues. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what the situation - fighting is fighting, and the aggressor needs to be scratched and reported.

Can a dog be scratched for grabbing another dog in the cast while handlers are leading them? Yes, absolutely. The point is, it doesn’t really matter why or how a dog-fight ensued. If they’re guilty of it, they’re gone. Remember, though, you only scratch the aggressor (if the aggressor is known) regardless of any retaliation.

When to Start the One-Hour Delay of Cast with One Dog Declared Treed
Q: In a four-dog cast; Dog A is declared treed. Meanwhile, the other three dogs are trailing out of hearing in a different direction, so our cast voted to call timeout and get a handle on them. The question that came up because of this scenario with a dog declared treed was, when do you start the one-hour for delay of the cast on Dogs B, C and D?
A: This is a great question that I don’t recall ever hearing before. Normal procedure, in terms of when the one-hour clock starts for delay of the cast in accordance with Rule 6(j) is immediately after calling timeout. In this scenario, however, you have a dog declared treed that is still eligible for scoring. Therefore, the one-hour for any dog(s) does not start until all dogs in the cast have been scored.

This theory is consistent with the idea that the possibility of the cast being “delayed” cannot be true until after “all” dogs are scored and the cast is ready to continue on with the hunt. Further, you may never have separate times on any dog(s) for delaying the cast. All dogs in the cast must collectively be on the same “delay of the cast” set time period. So the answer is, the one-hour time for all dogs to be handled and ready for recasting starts after Dog A’s tree has been scored. It’s also important to mention that since there’s a dog declared treed, all cast members would be required to first go score Dog A’s tree before handlers go handle Dogs B, C and D.