Jo Franks, Working Trials Secretary. 80 Church St., Chesham., Bucks. HP5 lJD
Tel:- 01494771003 E-mail:-
Hunting with Bloodhounds is called 'Hunting the Clean Boot' because the hounds hunt the
natural body scent of man and not an artificial trail such as aniseed.
Bloodhound Trials are in essence a tracking competition. They are not a hunt with a pack
of hounds and a field of mounted or foot followers. The hounds are tested individually on
their ability to hunt man. Each hound hunts a different person on a different piece of
The procedure is for the 'runner' (or quarry) to walk a precise prearranged line (marked out
for him on a large scale map).The runner leaves an article of clothing e.g. his sock,
handkerchief etc., on a flag at the start of the line as a 'smeller' for the hound. After a
specific interval of time the hound is taken to the flag by his handler and sets off in pursuit
of the runner. Hound and handler will be accompanied by the judge and his assistants who
assess the hounds in turn for their hunting prowess. The judge has a copy of the lines
drawn on his map so he knows where the hounds should be going. He also has 'no-go'
areas marked on it so he can whistle back those going seriously astray. The next hound in
order of running in the competition will hunt a completely new 'runner' on a new piece of
The only persons on the land will be the runner, the hound and handler, the judge and one
or two assistants. Everyone else is kept off the land if only to prevent scent contamination.
Lines are arranged as much as possible so that the start of each new line is as near as
practicable to the end of the previous line. This is to get the judge from one hound to the
next as quickly and conveniently as possible.
There are four 'stakes' in the Trials to accommodate four degrees of experience and
Day 1 for novice hounds. Each hound hunts a runner for 1 mile and the line is Yz hr. cold.
This means that Yz hr. elapses between the line being walked and the hound being allowed
to start.
Day 2 Junior hounds. Hounds hunt a line 2miles long and 1hr. cold
Day 3 Intermediate hounds. Hounds hunt a line 2 Yz miles long and 1 Yz hrs. cold
Days4/5 Senior hounds. Hounds hunt a line 3 miles long and 2hrs. cold. These are the
most experienced hounds. If the winning hound performs superbly the judge can award
it the Kennel Club Tracking Certificate. Win two of these and the hound becomes a
Working Trial Champion. Not many are awarded.
Hounds are strictly tested for their steadiness to stock (in particular sheep). Hounds
untested or those shown to be unsteady have to be hunted leashed. This rule is rigorously
enforced. Any hound showing the slightest interest in farm stock must be leashed.
The Trials are run under the auspices of the Kennel Club and are very strictly monitored.
We take a pride in well run and controlled Trials. We do not want to lose our reputation for
well mannered behaviour on other people's land and are very cognisant of the fact that
without the generosity of farmers and landowners this minority sport would founder,
which, after over 100 years of Bloodhound Trials, would be a great pity.
There can be up to 24 hounds in Novice, all needing 1 mile each, and 14 hounds in Senior
needing 3 miles each on lines that do not 'cross' each other. Thus, the area of ground
required to hold Trials can be between 10,000 and 20,000 acres depending on the terrain!
Quite a tall order. These figures are at the very top of the range and more usually around 14
hounds enter for Novice and 8-10 for Senior.-But you can see that we need access to as
much land as is practicable