Not Helping Shine Trees; Other Coonhound News
February 1, 2019
Source: Allen Gingerich
As published in the February issue of Coonhound Bloodlines.
Competition Coon Huntings Misconception
Most who are familiar with UKCs Coonhound Forums will agree that youll find plenty of discussions on most anything related to coon hunting. Its also a good source to find nite hunt rules questions and discussions. Some of the responses and comments are a good example how not everyone agrees on the interpretation of a rule or each others opinions. Scratching dogs for fighting without actually seeing the fight was one of those recently hashed out on the forum.
As you might expect, opinions varied on this topic. Some even implied that such an interpretation, as it relates to Rule 6 (b), has changed and allowing judges to make a ruling on, so-called, speculation is unacceptable. Of course, UKC maintains that the rule does allow judges to make that call, and its been explained that way for years. The following was written 20 years ago and is a good example of how the interpretation has not changed.
Misconception - You have to see dogs fighting or attempting to fight before you can scratch them and write them up. I will agree that it is next to impossible to scratch dogs for aggressive behavior deemed to be interfering with other dogs (face barking, etc.) when you cant see them. However, such is not the case when it comes to an all-out, throw down, dog fight.
In regard to scratching dogs for fighting, Rule 6 (b) clearly states that when the aggressive dog is known, scratch the aggressor only. If not known, scratch dogs involved. The key word in this case is involved. Without seeing the dogs, it can in some situations be difficult to impossible to tell which dogs are involved. On the other hand, in some cases, it is very easy to determine which dogs are involved without seeing them. Those dogs are to be scratched.
This is the most recent of numerous scenarios. In a three-dog cast, Dog A, a hard treeing, ringing chop mouth female, and Dog B, a big coarse, chop mouth male, are declared treed. Male Dog C gets to the tree and an obvious dog fight breaks out. As handlers rush into the tree, the female can be heard treeing all the time. The fight breaks up before handlers arrive, but upon arrival both male dogs have some blood on them. The Hunting Judge scratches the two male dogs involved. The other two handlers bring it to a question and vote that the dogs cant be scratched because the cast did not see the fight and therefore cannot be sure which dogs were involved in a fight. (All agreed there was a fight.) The Judge in this case dropped the issue, as so often happens, rather than follow it up. Back at the club, the question was discussed casually, and many agreed that you cannot scratch dogs for fighting if you dont see them fight.
An outright dog fight is easy to identify without seeing it. If you can determine who was involved, those dogs should be scratched for fighting in accordance with Rule 6 (b). This requires good judgement as does all aspects of judging a Nite Hunt cast. It is no different than saying you cant minus a treed dog for moving if you dont see it move. When it is obvious to you, the Judge, make the call and stick with it.
Climbing Trees is a Rules Violation
Q: In a scoring situation, we had two dogs treed on the same tree, while the other two dogs were out on trail. We did not find a coon, but the tree had a good sized hole about eight to ten feet off the ground. There was a broke-off tree that laid against/into this tree, that one of the handlers used to climb up and was able to look into the hole. The handler told us that the hole went nowhere, and he could see the whole den and there is nothing in it. No one else climbed the tree to verify. However, the judge said to minus the tree. I am pretty sure that it is a rule violation to climb trees and the correct scoring would have been to circle the points on this tree. For future reference, how should this have been scored?
A: Rule 6 (p) clearly states that a handlers dog is scratched for handler climbing trees. That said, common sense suggests that the only scenario where a handler should not be scratched for climbing a tree is to get a dog down that may be up in the tree. Climbing a tree for this reason is not for scoring purposes, while climbing a tree to look in a hole is.
If this scenario/question came back to me as the Master of Hounds to rule on, I would have no choice but to apply the rules. The handler who climbed the tree would have his dog scratched for climbing the tree, per 6 (p), and Id have to circle the points providing the majority agreed the hole was large enough for a coon to get in. It sounds like everyone involved went along with the handler saying there was nothing in the hole, but that is besides the point. Anyone that would have wanted to climb the tree to confirm what the handler saw would have been subject to being scratched as well so it should not even have been an option. Quite frankly, the judge should not have allowed this to happen. Its one thing to be able to look in a hole without having to climb a tree to do so. Its another to blatantly violate a rule. That rule is in place for good reason and to eliminate potential safety concerns for all handlers.
Not Helping Shine Trees
Our recent trip to the Grand American provided an excellent opportunity to talk to some of the most progressive, knowledgeable people in the sport of competition coon hunting. Im never surprised that one of the frequent subjects that come up in the course of conversations is sportsmanship.
Though this subject covers a wide range of separate topics, the one that seems to be causing the most concern is that of not helping to shine/score another hunters tree. The question that surfaces a lot is, can you scratch a person for not helping to shine a tree?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, you cannot scratch a person who doesnt help shine a tree during the eight minutes of shining time. There simply is no provision for doing so in the rules. I agree that it would be nice to be able to put pressure on all hunters to help search the tree. The problem is, even if we could make them shine, we cant make them see the coon. If an individual is such a poor sport that they will not help you shine your tree, you can bet that they are not going to say anything even if they did spot the coon. You could make them go through the motions but what would that accomplish?
An individual may, however, be scratched for refusing to score the tree when other handlers have found game and are attempting to show the game to the rest of the cast. By refusing to look at a coon that another cast member has found, a handler may be scratched for failing to participate in the cast. This is one of the most basic obligations to participating in a Hunting Judge cast. Believe it or not, we have had situations in the past where a handler flat refused to even look in the tree when the rest of the cast was looking at the game. By our interpretation, this behavior is no different than refusing to stay with the cast, refusing to vote on a question, or refusing to do anything that is required of a handler during the general course of the hunt.
Im of the opinion that you can break all competition hunters into three basic, yet very distinct groups. The first group, and the largest by far, is made up of individuals who truly want to see the best dog in the cast win. These hunters will find the coon that beats them for another handler in the cast. They tell the Judge to go ahead and minus their dog because he has moved. They dont want anything that they (their dog) havent earned.
The second group is made up of individuals who, to varying degrees, will take what they dont have coming, if you are going to let them have it. The handlers in this group would never stoop to falsifying a scorecard or telling outright lies, but they feel they are not obligated to help another handler, nor are they really interested in seeing the best dog win. Some of these handlers consider themselves professionals and live by the theory that they will do what it takes to win except when it comes to outright cheating. This handler will not willingly take minus points but does willingly point things out to the Judge to get another handler minused or scratched. This group contains the individuals who will not shine another handlers tree.
The third group, although so small in number that they can hardly be considered a group, are those who will actually stoop to falsifying scorecards. They threaten hunters and Judges and eventually find themselves barred from participating in UKC events.
Poor sportsmanship is a cloud that seems to linger over some individuals and has many hunters concerned. Unfortunately, conscientiousness is not something that you can legislate.