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Authority of Judge to Assign a Different Judge; Other Coonhound News

Coonhound Advisor

September 12, 2017

Source: Allen Gingerich

As Published in Coonhound Bloodlines August 2017

Authority of Judge to Assign a Different Judge

Q: I was on a cast the other weekend where the club official had assigned a hunting judge on our cast. After arriving at our location to hunt, and before we cut the dogs loose, our judge asked if anyone else in the cast would like to judge. One of the other cast members said they would judge if he wanted him to. I was a little reluctant to say anything because thats not who the Master of Hounds had assigned; however, I didnt want to make a big deal of it so I didnt oppose it. Long story short, this guy was not qualified to judge, and we had all kinds of problems on the cast with him making bad calls and allowing things to get out of control. Regardless, should the assigned judge even have the authority to pass that responsibility on to another member of the cast?

A: The judge should not have that authority, in the manner as described. The rules allow one provision only for passing the scorecard to another member of the cast. That one provision is outlined under Rule 9 JUDGE: (e), where it states; {If their dog is scratched they are encouraged to continue judging the cast, as designated. If they are not able to continue they may pass the card to a qualified handler in the cast.}

For starters, the judges dog was not scratched so the criteria, noted in Rule 9, was not met to be able to pass the scorecard to another member of the cast. Secondly, it is the Event Officials responsibility to assign a judge to each cast. Theres a good reason for this. One of those reasons is to make sure each cast has a qualified and unbiased judge who they trust will score all situations to the best of their abilities. That individual should also be one they trust will not take advantage of their position and wrongfully benefit their own dog when it comes to making any and all decisions during the hunt.

If we allowed assigned judges to pass the scorecard to any other member of the cast at any time, and at their discretion, then it would be a moot point for the official to assign judges to start with. We would just leave it up to the cast to decide which member should judge. Thats a system that has been tried and failed to work well.

Thirdly, the rule does suggest judges are encouraged to continue judging the cast even if they withdraw or scratch their dog. Personally, I wish the rule did not allow them the option to even pass the scorecard on if they withdraw or scratch other than for physical reasons. But thats the option in the rule, and we dont have the authority to enforce it any other way. However, I would hope judges understand the intent of why they were selected and fulfill their assignment throughout the hunt regardless of anything else, if at all possible.

Finally, if a judge cannot or would rather not judge the cast they were assigned to, then they should address that with the event official before going to the woods. In that case, the official should assign a different judge. The cast should never take it upon themselves to decide who will judge the cast. The result of passing the scorecard to the cast member in the woods, as described in the question above, is probably a good example of why that individual was not selected to judge to begin with. Thats not to say anyone not initially selected is not qualified to judge, although there are in fact individuals who should not be given the responsibilities, for good reason. The same is true for casts taking it upon themselves to assign an available non-hunting judge. Its a no-no. Only the Event Official can approve it.

No Provisions for Hunting Under the Designated Hunt Time

Q: Last weekend I was the non-hunting guide for a three-dog Grand cast. This was the only cast of Grands in the hunt and was to be a two-hour hunt. Its not uncommon for our club to have a cast of Grands at our regular events as we have several guys that are running for Federation points. We had a 40-minute drive to my hunting spots. One of the guys seemed to be in no hurry to get going and then also requested to stop at a gas station on the way to fill up with fuel. That was not a problem except I was a little concerned we didnt have a whole lot of time to waste in order to get the hunt in and make it back to the club before deadline.

On the first drop, Dogs A and B got treed and were scored. They were then turned back loose to Dog C, who was trailing. Approximately an hour had gone by in the hunt when Dogs A and B trailed out deep to where I did not have permission to be at so they voted to call timeout and handle all dogs. Unfortunately, Dog C could not be caught in a timely manner and ended up getting scratched for delaying the cast. During the time the handlers of Dogs A and B were waiting on the handler of Dog C to come back they discussed hunting the whole two hours and making it back in time was a big concern. When the hour was up, the handlers of Dogs A and B turned their dogs loose across the road from where we had parked the vehicles and turned loose again while I waited at the truck for Handler C to come back. Eventually, Handler C made it back to the truck with his dog and knew he was scratched for the hour.

We could hear their dogs trail and eventually tree across the road. Shortly thereafter, both handlers came back to the trucks and said their hunt was over and they had called the Hunt Director at the club and discussed our time predicament. The Hunt Director suggested, if they both agreed, they could end their hunt at 90 minutes instead of 120 minutes because this was the only cast of Grands anyway. Otherwise, they would probably not make it back in time for any dog to be a winner.

The handler of Dog C, who was also a UKC Licensed Master of Hounds, suggested the rules do not allow for them to cut the hunt time short by 30 minutes so he asked to question the call. So we all headed back to the club to get a ruling on the question. Because the club used a Hunt Director, a panel was formed to rule on the question. The biggest debate they had was the fact that the Hunt Director had told the cast it would be okay, if everyone agreed.

In the end, the panel ruled to not accept the score so there was no winner. The cast winner accepted the ruling without making a big deal of it. As the guide, I had no input but Im wondering if provisions could or should have been made considering the circumstances and the fact that this cast was not competing against any other cast?

A: Rule 6 (i) clearly states (Scratching Offenses); {For hunting over or under the advertised hunt time.} Some will argue that common sense should apply and the cast should have been granted an exception given there was not another cast of Grands competing for placement that night. Some will also suggest it was unsportsmanlike of the scratched handler to even question the matter and ultimately getting the whole cast scratched. Both are probably good for debating conversation, but in all fairness theres probably a good argument to be made against either one.

The idea of allowing casts unwritten provisions to rules, even when the situation does not have a bearing effect on any other dog or cast, is probably not good. I dont see it being a good idea to open that door because of all the different scenarios that might be taken advantage of that would/could have affects in some form.

As for coming down on the scratched handler for questioning the call, what if the win were accepted and it became a factor in the points race? Im pretty sure if anyone would have been affected they would appreciate that the call was questioned and the rules prevailed. Either way, Rule 6 (n) clearly comes with no provisions or exceptions. The panel made the correct decision.

There are several things that come to mind on this topic worth mentioning.

1) Dont call the event official from the woods to answer your questions. Theres procedures in place for questions that come up in the woods. If youre the event official and someone calls you from the woods, be reminded of your authorities to rule on questions in this manner. Rule on questions at the clubhouse, not via phone to the woods. And for goodness sakes, dont knowingly suggest its okay to ignore a written rule for any reason. Thats a good way to lose your status as a Master of Hounds or Hunt Director privileges.

2) Regardless of circumstances, there are no acceptable provisions to rules unless stated in the rulebook or otherwise officially noted in this column.

3) Theres never a good reason to come down on a handler for questioning a matter that violates a rule. It should be just the opposite.

4) Officials should always be considerate of how far they are sending casts, allow a reasonable time cushion for things like handling issues during timeouts, and set a reasonable return deadline accordingly. If there is a concern with the deadline that is set; address it with the official before you get to the woods.

Use of Bells Allowed

Q: A good number of years ago, I asked UKC about the use of bells on dogs in nite hunts. At that time, they could not be used. Call me old-school but I still use them on my hounds when pleasure hunting. Dont have any other tracking system and, at my age, I probably never will have. I guess were in a different era and times change, but Im concerned some of our younger hunters are losing out on a lot when they focus too much on their electronic handhelds and less time listening and soaking it all in. Anyway, a hunter up here recently told me that UKC may have changed their policy on the use of bells now that telemetry may be used during a hunt. Please advise.

A: Its good to hear you still get along fine without all the fancy gadgets. And I agree, spending more time listening to the hounds work and less time watching a screen is great advice. Yes, that policy has, in fact, changed. You may keep that bell on your hound during a UKC licensed hunt.

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