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Watch Your Step
Posted on 04/02/2012 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Advisor Article – March '12
Allen Gingerich

Watch Your Step
As we venture into a new season we are reminded of a very important participant to be considerate of. The “senior” handler. They rightfully deserve our consideration and respect in that they may have lost a little “pep-in-their-step”, for lack of a better term.

While the excitement, anticipation and human nature during the course of a hunt tend to carry us to our dog’s tree ASAP, let’s not be out-stepping the older guys. Just because some of them may be a bit slower doesn’t mean they should hang up their lead strap. The UKC, clubs and sport should want and need them all the same.

A sentence noted in Rule 11 states; Judge will be first to arrive at tree. That is immediately followed by, Judge must maintain pace attainable by all cast members. This statement should not be brushed off as a guideline to consider. It’s a rule! A rule that the judge of the cast is responsible to enforce.

Experience suggests that you’ll likely never draw a senior handler who is going to ruin your hunt. The older guys passed the sport down to us. Let’s be grateful and considerate of them and keep them out there as long as we can. Someday we’ll all be in their shoes and we’ll hope for the same consideration and respect.

Declaring a Dog Treed “After the Tree is Closed”

Q: Dogs A, B, C are struck and treed. It is obvious Dog C is split. Dog A moves to Dog C and is minused. The handler immediately trees Dog A on Dog C’s tree. The judge will not accept the call because all dogs have been treed. Both dogs are on the tree when the cast arrives. The tree is minused. How would you score Dog A?

Advisor: Previous to 2009’s UKC Official Coonhound Rule- book, a judge could not accept a call after a tree was closed. Since then, however, Rule 4(k) no longer gives the judge the authority to refuse the call. They will now accept the call (after a tree is closed) and award the dog 125 points as being on a separate tree.

While a judge should never consider a dog as split treed unless, or until, it becomes obvious, this is an exception to the rule when it comes to situations where a tree was already closed when the dog was declared treed. The handler should be aware that, in accordance with Rule 4(k), by declaring a dog treed after the tree is already closed the dog will receive 125 tree points and considered to be on a separate tree. And that is true regardless of whether or not it’s “obvious” to the judge.


If the dog turns out be on the closed tree then it will first automatically have those recorded 125 tree points minused. The dog is then scored in the same manner and considered “a dog treeing but not declared treed when the judge arrives” per one of the following rules which is determined by how the tree was scored. In other words, the tree must first be scored before knowing how to further score the dog in question. Rule 4(g). If the tree is scored slick or has off game then next available tree points are awarded to the dog and minused. This is the only scenario where next available tree points are assigned. Their strike points would be minused right along with it.

Rule 4 (d). If a coon is seen in the tree the dog receives minus strike points only.
Rule 5(a). When no coon is seen and the tree is circled the dogs’ strike points are simply circled.

I’ve never really cared for Rule 4(k) because it may minus a dog for leaving tree when they actually never left any tree. Nonetheless, the rule was proposed, passed and implemented by its supporters for one basic scenario we’ll not get into here. So handlers declaring a dog treed after a tree has been closed should be very confident their dog is separate and not on the closed tree. Otherwise, and as you can see by the previously noted there can be a lot of points going down the drain in a hurry. Which may also result in a fat “F” next to “Handling” on the handler’s report card.

Dogs Coming in to Tree “After the Judge Arrives”

Q: Dogs A and B are struck and treed. Dog C is struck after both dogs are called treed and sounds as though it is at the tree. Dog C is never called treed on the tree. Cast arrives at the tree where Dogs A and B are there, Dog C is nowhere around. After a few minutes of shining time elapses, Dog C comes into the tree and is handled. The tree is minused. How do you score Dog C? Advisor: Rule 5 (b) is the sole rule that always applies to any and all dogs that come in to the tree/cast after the judge arrives. The one and only time a dog is penalized for coming in to a tree “after the judge arrives” is in the event a coon is seen. When a coon is seen in the tree, strike points are minused for those dogs coming in. In the scenario given the tree was minused, therefore, Dog C simply receives its strike points circled.
Some will make the argument that any dog should receive a penalty for coming in to a closed tree regardless of whether or not the judge is already there. Until/unless the rule changes we’ll continue to leave that one for debate by the experts. For what it’s worth, and what I will add, is that the intent of that specific rule (when implemented) is that dogs could be considered as having been “drawn in” when handlers are at a tree shining etc. etc