American Treeing Feist Association Hunt Rules

General Rules

1. Only ATFA registered dogs will be enetered.

2. NO STRIKE POINTS will be given.

3. There will be one class of dogs 

4. There shall be two or three dogs in each cast with ONE HANDLER per dog.

5. There will be two different hunts – ATFA RALLY and ATFA REGIONAL

6. There will be MORNING and AFTERNON casts for RALLY HUNTS.

7. Dogs will be redrawn for the afternoon hunt.

8. The dog receiving the HIGHEST TOTAL POINTS from both morning and afternoon casts will be declared the winner.

9. Dogs MUST run in both morning and afternoon casts to receive points.

10. Dogs that do not make the morning and afternoon deadlines WILL NOT receive any points for the day.

11. Handlers are to run the designated times for both morning and afternoon casts.

12. ATFA REGIONAL HUNTS may have a morning or afternoon hunt of 2 or 3 hours.

13. The ATFA Board of Directors must approve all hunts. 

14. Information concerning awards will be announced prior to the hunts.

15. The group hosting the event shall appoint a cast scorekeeper/judge.

16. Landowners and/or club ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for loss, theft or accidents.


18. Point system: 125 – FIRST TREE; 50 – SECOND TREE; 25 – THIRD TREE.

19. There will be TEN Awards for ATFA RALLY HUNTS and FIVE Awards for ATFA REGIONAL HUNTS.

20. NO TREE CLIMBING, GUNS OR SLINGSHOTS allowed to move or disturb game.

21. No kennel mates may hunt together on any cast.

22. All casts having hunting guides/judges shall have THREE dogs in the cast.

23.  All casts having hunting guides/judges shall draw for areas to be  hunted. No hunting guide/judge shall hunt in a pre- selected or  pre-determined area.

24. Only black, red or gray squirrels shall count as tree points. NO FLYING SQUIRRELS or OTHER GAME shall be counted.

25.  Timbering is defined as actively following a moving squirrel. A  non-hunting judge or majority of the cast may determine that a dog,  which has been declared treed and changes locations is timbering a  squirrel.

26. When a  dog is declared treed and another dog trees more than 30 steps from the  first dog, the trees shall be scored separately. If the squirrel is  found in the overlapping search area between the dogs, the first dog  treed shall receive FIRST TREE points.

27.  When a dog trees within 30 steps of another treed dog, the second dog’s  handler may declare his dog SPLIT TREED. The second dog can only  receive first tree points if the first dog’ s squirrel is seen and there  is a second squirrel sighted. The second dog cannot receive points from  the first dog’s tree.

28. Separate trees shall be searched and scored in the order treed.

29.  Spectators should follow behind the cast and not interfere with  handlers or dogs. Spectators should search for squirrels only when  instructed by the judge or agreed upon by the cast.

30. Dogs declared treed within the hunting time (before time has run out) are eligible for scoring.

31.  Tracking systems may be turned on ONLY during a called time out or when  the hunt time has expired. All hunters must agree to the time out. Any  hunter turning on a tracking system when a time out has not been called  will immediately have his dog scratched.


1.  The designated handler’s duties are to call HIS dog. A handler cannot  encourage or discourage his dog or any other dog on the cast to hunt or  tree.

2. Handlers  must stay with other cast members and cast members must stay together as  best as possible. Handlers may be given permission to go to their  respective dogs on split tree, but the cast must come together again  before dogs may score additional points.

3.  A handler may not leash his dog until the tree has been declared  closed. When the tree has been closed, it is the handler’s  responsibility to leash his dog. All dogs declared treed must leave the  tree at the same time.

4.  Once a handler declares a dog treed; the judge, handler or cast may  approach the tree no closer than 20 steps to observe the tree or to  physically search for the squirrel until the tree has been closed (shake  vines, etc.).

5. A  handler may not call to his dog in an attempt to locate the dog unless  time-out has been called. SCORECARDS: Scorecards should be completed in  the woods, signed by each handler and turned in to the scorer by the  deadline previously established. Failure to turn in a scorecard will  disqualify a cast. COMPLAINTS: Complaints must be made to the Master of  Squirrel Dogs within fifteen minutes of returning to hunt headquarters.  If the Master of Squirrel Dogs is not immediately available, the  complaint should be registered with a designated ATFA officer. The  handlers and judge should be present when the complaints are registered.  The decision of the Master of Squirrel Dogs will be final.

TREEING:  When a dog is declared treed by the handler, the dog must hold the tree  for two minutes. A dog must bark to be declared treed. After two  minutes, no additional dogs may be declared treed at that tree. After  two minutes or upon signal from the judge, handlers should leash their  dogs if a search for the squirrel is to be conducted. If the squirrel is  seen immediately during the two-minute waiting period, the judge may  order the hunt continued without delay. When all dogs are declared  treed, tree or trees are closed. A handler may waive the two-minute rule  if he knows his dog will not back or is not hunting. Handlers are  allowed five minutes to search for squirrels and then the hunt will  continue without delay.


1. Points will be awarded ONLY when squirrel is seen by a majority of the cast members or by a non-hunting judge.

2. If a squirrel is caught on the ground, points will be divided equally among all dogs involved in the catch.

3.  Points will be plus if a squirrel is seen in a tree in the immediate  area or within 30 normal steps of the area where dog(s) is (are) treed.

4.  For plus points to be awarded; the dog must be on, under the tree or  within 30 normal steps from the declared tree showing treed on the  declared tree. No measuring devices may be used to measure distance from  the tree.

5. If dogs are called treed at the same time, points are to be added together and split between dogs.


1. When a dog is declared treed and leaves the tree, points shall be minus.

2. When a dog trees, and it is evident that a squirrel is not in the tree or in the immediate vicinity, points shall be minus.

3.  When a handler calls the wrong dog, a warning will be issued on the  first offense. Points will be minus on the second offense.


1.  Points shall be circled when a dogs trees and there is a hole in a tree  or when there is a nest or leafy tree in the immediate vicinity in  which a squirrel could be hiding.

2. No circle or plus points shall be awarded when a dog returns to a previously scored tree.

3. Points shall be circled when a dog trees any game other than a squirrel.


1.  The aggressor dog will be scratched for fighting. A repeat offense for  fighting by a dog will permanently bar that dog from ATFA events.

2. If a female is in heat.

3. For any unnecessary delaying completion of cast.

4.  If a handler is drinking or abusive in any way toward a judge or  handler. Guides and judges should be treated with the utmost respect.

5. Dogs shall be scratched on the third offense for handler calling the wrong dog treed.


1. Dog with the most First Tree plus points.

2. Dog with the least minus points.

3. Dog with the most circle points.

4. If still a tie, the Master of Squirrel Dogs shall toss a coin to break the tie.


Only  a judge may call a time-out. Time-outs may be called when the judge  feels that it would be beneficial to the successful completion of the  hunt. No Time-outs are to be called when dogs are treed. Timeouts must  be agreed on by all hunters on a cast.


1. Hunts must have at least 12 dogs entered for championship points to be awarded.

2. Regional and Rally hunts must have at least 20 dogs entered for win to count for Squirrel Champion qualification.

3.  Championship Points awarded are: 40-First Place; 35-Second Place;  30-Third Place; 25-Fourth Place; 20-Fifth Place; 15-6th Place; 10-  Seventh Place; and 5- Eight, Ninth and Tenth Places.


1.  To qualify for Squirrel Dog Champion, a dog must have 100 Championship  Points with at least ONE First Place Rally Hunt win or (as of 9-1-00) at  least TWO Regional Hunt wins in two DIFFERENT states and with at least  20 dogs entered in each Hunt.

2. Dogs will receive an award when he or she makes Squirrel Dog Champion.

3. After a dog becomes Squirrel Dog Champion, he/she can compete only against other Squirrel Dog Champions.


1. To qualify for Grand Squirrel Dog Champion, a dog must have 150 Championship points.

2. Dog must win at least one Championship cast.

3. Dog will receive an award when he or she makes Grand Squirrel Champion.

4. After a dog becomes Grand Squirrel Champion, he or she can no longer compete in ATFA hunts.