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Tracking/Controlling Combo Systems
Posted on 11/09/2012 in Full Circle.

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Tracking/Controlling Combo Systems
After the recent unveiling of the new Alpha™ tracking and controlling combo unit, they quickly became one of the hot topics of discussion. The main concern whether or not they can even be used during the course of a UKC licensed 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.

This seems to be the case with one of those newest items in the Alpha™ Tracking/Controlling combo unit recently made available by Garmin«. Since its release many hunters have already found it to be a good fit for their gear bag. Rule 6 (j and t), however, throws a block in the mix for the use of this type of unit in licensed events, when considering the “controlling” portion of it.

Some time ago when a similar unit was released by SportDOG™, UKC approved for their use in nite hunts 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 hand-held (in the off position) during the course of the hunt. Although similar, 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 our current rules for controlling devices. Specifically, where 6 (j and t) state: {Training device transmitter(meaning hand-held unit) 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 hand-held for these units has the capability to both “track” and “control” a hound.

The 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. However, it seems that making a slight revision now should be easily supported so long as it has no ill effect on the part of any dog or handler. For these considerations the UKC will allow the use of such Tracking/Controlling combo units as follows:
Effective August 31, 2012 handlers may use any Tracking/Controlling combo unit in UKC licensed events under the following conditions. The hand-held must be turned to the off position and left in the vehicle during hunting time. The hand-held may not be carried by the handler during hunting time. The hand-held may be used during any time out period during the hunt. Any handler found to have used any part of the controlling capabilities, including the tone feature, on the hand-held 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 time out.
The hand held of any other GPS tracking only units may be turned in the “on” position if left in the vehicle during hunting time. The hand-held 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 hand held 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 hand-held must be turned to the “off” position and remains in the vehicle during hunting time. It may be used during any time out period during the hunt.
The hand-held 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 (hand-held) 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.

Calling Time Out/After Instructions to Handle Dogs
Q: After three lines have been scored, the judge instructs handlers to “handle dogs”. Dog A scoots on down through the woods, and the handler is having difficult time getting a handle on him. As it turns out, the handler takes up nearly 20 minutes before meeting back up with the cast. Can time out be called in such a situation to prevent this valuable time to be lost in the hunt?
A: Rule 7 (c) is likely sometimes misinterpreted, causing hunt time to be misused or wasted in this manner. Besides, we can’t allow handlers to use up hunting time maliciously. By clarifying the intent and or interpretation of said rule we should be able to easily eliminate further debate.
“New ground” is not necessarily considered a different woods or a different field down the road. Ask yourself this. After the dogs are handled off a three-lined track, do you then recast again from where you pulled them off that track? Typically, you’ll move on up the field a little ways, recast and continue on your hunt. Right?
With that said you are, in theory, moving on to “new ground”. Determining whether or not time out may be called is simply based on how much time is needed, or used, between point A (dogs instructed to be handled) to point B (the point where you are recasting all dogs). The rules provide that time out may be called “if” this takes more than 10 minutes.
Judges should simply keep track of the time being used during this process (point A to point B). If 10 minutes expires before the dogs are all handled and recast: call time out and add that time back to your hunt as unused time. If it took less than 10 minutes then time out cannot be called.
This doesn’t just pertain to the specific situation described in the question above. Any scenarios where dogs have been instructed to be handled, such as timed out on track, non-progress etc., etc., are included. Furthermore, it protects from leash-locking the competition and does not allow a cast-leading dog to run off desired hunt time for its handler. Matter of fact, the handler should have more important concerns. Better worry about getting a leash on Cross Country Sailor and have him back with the cast before Rule 6 (h) puts him in the truck!