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Minusing Dogs for Quitting a Track; Other Coonhound News

Coonhound Advisor

November 13, 2017

Source: Allen Gingerich

As published in Coonhound Bloodlines October 2017.

Q: This last weekend during our hunt, we had Dog A and Dog B split treed during the hunt. They were approximately 200 yards from each other. Both dogs were declared treed around the same time so before we arrived at Dog As tree, Dog Bs tree was also closed. The handler of Dog B was sent to handle his dog and come back to help score Dog As tree. He did, and all was fine.
After scoring the first tree, we headed towards Dog B. Before we arrived, Dog B quit barking. Heres where the question comes in. One of the cast members insisted that Dog B was required to bark at least once every two minutes, regardless of the fact that the dog was already handled. The dog opened again shortly thereafter and it wasnt an issue but the question remains. Does the two-minute clock still apply to a dog that is already handled?

A: No, it does not. Once handled, the two-minute clock no longer applies to the dog(s). Rule 4 (h) states; {After a dog is declared treed, at least one of the dogs declared treed must bark at least once every two minutes until cast arrives at the tree, or all dogs declared treed on that tree will be minused and the tree will be open again.} The key words in play are until cast arrives. Of course, I can see where someone may want to debate that a or one handler is not the cast. However, for all intents and purposes, the rule is meant to cover any dog or dogs on split trees as well, even when one handler may be the only one in the cast who arrived to handle the dog initially.

In other words, the two-minute clock only applies to dogs that are not yet handled. If the terminology used in that rule creates debate or question, I think we could easily fix it by saying until cast arrives at the tree and dog(s) is handled. The better question is, what to do if a handled dog shuts up and you dont know exactly where he is. Considering the technology we have available and are using today, it shouldnt be much of an issue for someone in the cast to get a location on the dog in fairly short order, in most cases.

Scoring Eyes

Q: This question has come up in conversation at our club. Dogs are treed. Upon searching the tree, a set of eyes are found; however, it is impossible to identify what the eyes belong to. Judges are circling the tree. I am new to the sport of competition hunting, but the tree seems to be a plus or minus in my understanding (it is a coon, or it is not). After reading your column for some time now, I would say plus, on the grounds that the dog would get the benefit of the doubt. I would greatly appreciate a reply of some sort so I can learn more about the sport and be a better representative. Thank you.

A: I have to admit, this question kind of set me back. I mean, its kind of hard to explain. Its one of those things that you just learn by doing. You are correct in your assumption that this certainly is not a circle tree. It can only be a plus or minus (or scratch, in the case of Champions) situation. I wouldnt say its necessarily a benefit of the doubt situation. Ive never thought of coon as being hard to identify even when all you get are eyes, and its very common to only see eyes. I guess you just have to draw on your experience as a coon hunter and be very honest about the situation. I will say this, any coon hunter who has been at this very long that is willing to take circle points after you have showed him eyes, knew darn good and well it wasnt coon eyes you were looking at!

Dog Catches Possum But Never Opened

Q: The other night during a UKC nite hunt, one of the dogs came back to the cast members carrying a possum in its mouth. It was obvious that the dog had caught and killed it. The dog in question that brought the possum back was not declared struck. Actually, none of the dogs in the cast had opened yet. This was a Registered cast, but (I) would like to know how to score in both Registered or Champion casts for future reference. Thanks.

A:
In Registered casts, dogs are minused for running, treeing or molesting off game. In this case the dog obviously caught, which is considered molesting, off game. This would typically result in minus strike points for dog(s) involved per Rule 4(m). However, in this situation the dog was not declared struck, therefore it has no strike points to minus. You do not award next available strike points and minus them.

For a Nite or Grand Nite cast, the answer would not be the same. The penalty provided under Champion rules calls for dog(s) to be scratched for running, treeing or molesting during any part of the hunt, that is prior to the expiration of hunt time. Using the same scenario described above, where the dog did not open or wasnt declared struck, would result in the dog(s) involved to be scratched from the hunt. The fact that the dog(s) had not opened, barked or wasnt declared struck is irrelevant. I guess its a good example of how a dog can molest off game without a bark. No break for Nites or Grands. The dog would be scratched. The only exception to that would be if it is determined that it is an old stiff road kill possum that the dog didnt actually molest, instead just picked it up and brought it back to show his master what he found. (I guess thats one way to put it?) In other words, use the same logic as not awarding plus strike points for dogs that would carry in roadkill that happened to be a coon.

Dog Declared Struck Breaks the Eight

Q: I was having this debate with a buddy the other day. Heres the scenario. Dog A is the only dog struck in. Dog A goes quiet so the eight-minute rule is applied. Seven minutes goes by when Dog B is declared struck far off to the left, in a separate woods from where we last heard Dog A. Does Dog B break the eight-minute rule for Dog A? The way I read or understand the rule is that one of the declared struck dog(s) has to open in order to break the eight, and not a dog that had not yet opened prior to application of the eight in this case Dog A. Please clarify.

A: We respectfully disagree with your interpretation that only a dog who had been declared struck prior to application of the eight-minute rule could break the eight. Not true. Rule 4(b) states; {if none of the declared struck dogs opens within 8 minutes} which means the track would be considered dead and the strike points would be minused. In your scenario, Dog B is now also considered as one of the declared struck dogs. Therefore, Dog B having been declared struck at the seven-minute mark does in fact break the eight on Dog A.

Minusing Dogs for Quitting A Track

Rule 4(a) is the rule that deals with dogs quitting tracks and the penalty for doing so. The first part of this rule reads, points will be minus when a dog quits a trail that is being worked and comes in. The most important thing to remember when determining whether or not the rule applies to a given situation is that two different criteria must be met. A declared struck dog must be determined to have quit a track, and the dog must come in to the cast after doing so. For the record, quitting but not coming in is covered under 4(b), which is casually referred to as the 8-minute rule.

Some handlers are under the impression that a dog can/should be minused anytime it quits its track. Rules do not support this logic. Even if a dog obviously leaves the track its working, and pulls to a dog running a different track, the dog cannot be minused. The dog may have quit one track to pick up another one but he did not come in. Id credit past rules experts for not implementing a rule to minus dogs for quitting the track they are running because of all the debate it might create when it comes to making the decision of whether or not its the same track or a separate track.

The judgment call in this situation becomes determining if a dog came in or not. Should a dog that runs past the cast be determined to have come in to the cast? Each situation is different, but it seems reasonable that coming in and going past the cast are two different things. Is the cast standing en route to where the dog is headed, or did the dog come in to the cast and, upon reaching the cast, head out in a different direction? It is and always will be a judgment call, but we urge judges to take all of this into consideration and be fair and consistent with determining if a dog came in to the cast or simply crossed near where the cast happened to be standing.

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