2007 HTDA Year in Review

Wow! December 2007 is upon us already. December means a lot of different things to different people. At our house we still have three kids under age ten so we all know what that means…Christmas! Christmas at our house is as much a Birthday Party for Jesus as it is Santa Claus and toys. I was very proud of my kids when they came and asked my wife and I if they could bake a birthday cake for Jesus instead of cookies for Santa. Do you think I could go ahead and eat a piece of cake on Christmas Eve? Naahh, I don’t want to risk it. I hope all of our members are enjoying a great Christmas Season. 

December also means the close of the first year of business for the HTDA. I thought I would just take a few lines and review our work for 2007 and let you all know what we have been up to. 

In 2007 much of our time has been spent getting items in order so we could be up and running for business. These items include writing Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, meeting with attorneys and appropriate fillings with the Secretary of State’s Office. In order to become a recognized corporation there is a lot of red tape to cut through. With the help of Larry Meeks and PKC we were able to get through this with their help of employing Scopeletis Garvin, Light and Hanson Attorneys at Law. Thanks Larry. The top work of these attorneys made the legal work much smoother but still required several meeting in Indianapolis of the Board of Directors for reviews and approval. This process took up most of the first half of the year. 

During the same time the HTDA took on the challenge of attempting to seek changes in the current coonhound running seasons. There were a couple of reasons that we decided to take on this issue. One was that we felt as members of the HTDA you deserved an equal opportunity to exercise your dogs as any other sporting breed in Indiana enjoys. We met with the DNR to determine the feasibility of accomplishing this goal. We left the meeting feeling confident that this would be an easy task and should meet very little resistance. Upon leaving the meeting we felt that this would be a quick and easy victory for tree dog enthusiasts in our State so we proceeded. What has happened since then has been far from easy or quick. I would categorize it as a lesson in “Politics 101”. Our easy homerun was met with stiff opposition from a few people who say they represent deer hunters and trappers. They used what influence they had to block the proposal at every meeting we attended. They were also able to sway the support of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Glen Salmon. 

What ultimately happened is it came down to this: the Division of Fish and Wildlife set up a meeting for a compromise between the Indiana Bow Hunters Association, The Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Indiana trappers Association, The National Fur Takers Assoc of Indiana and the Hoosier Tree Dog Alliance. The meeting was set for December 1st. There appeared to be no compromise between these groups up to the 28th of November. However in the eleventh hour I was able to make contact with my long time friend Gene Hopkins, President of the Bow Hunters Assoc. Gene and I talked about this issue as reasonable sportsmen with legitimate concerns regarding our respective sports. We hammered out a compromise. The coonhunter would be able to run his dog from February 1st until October 22nd. We agreed to accept their support, which gave us more than half of our requested days and we would respect their opportunity to bow hunt through the deer rut uninterrupted. The president of the Indiana Deer Hunters Association supported this compromise and we had three of the five groups involved in agreement. What happened next was unbelievable. 

The “spokesman” for the Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Doug Allman, went on record saying that their president did not have the authority to enter into the agreement. He, in essence, left his own Organization president hanging out to dry. The trappers stated that they would only support the running season proposal if we publicly stated that we would support them on several trapping issues. I in turn told them that the HTDA would not be held up for ransom and cancelled the meeting. To say the least it left us feeling gutted. Jerry had spent hours upon hours working on this issue, attending meetings, talking on the phone, writing emails etc. I had done the same only to walk away, back at where we started - running season restrictions. 

In retrospect, we made some egregious errors. What began as a quick effort to do something great for the membership should have been preluded with more groundwork. We should have spent a little more time getting to know the players and the rules before jumping in the game. 

We still aren’t dead in the water. We are going to do what we should have done to begin with and that is petition the Natural Resources Commission for a change. We also gained some valuable allies. The Law Enforcement Division has been unwavering on their support. Running coonhounds has no law enforcement impact. Major Steve Hunter spent a lot of time keeping me informed of current news. Lt Col Sam Purvis and I talked extensively on the phone. Both helped us learn the ropes when dealing with rule change proposals. We have found out that the Indiana Bow Hunters Association is also a great ally. We are making plans to join forces to create a united front of all sportsmen in Indiana. 

The next issue I would address is the fact that all new organizations have some growing pains. Ours came in the form of getting our issues politiced away because we went about accomplishing our goal in the wrong manner. That won’t happen again. 

2007 had several highlights for tree dog enthusiasts. We established several sponsor clubs. This helps us form a united front in the tree dog world. We have a solid foundation of corporate sponsors who believe in our cause. Let’s face it Indiana is a great place to hunt and the people selling us supplies and register our dogs want to help us stay ahead game. We have expanded our membership in one year to nearly one hundred and fifty members. WE are happy about this but are in no way satisfied. We want every tree dog owner to be a member of the HTDA. The HTDA hosted the 2007 AKC World Championship and it was huge fundraiser for us. We made friends from across America with this event. The HTDA will also host an awesome banquet for our members and guests. Please take a few minutes and look at the fliers you will be receiving in the mail. This will be a spectacular event that will be like no other event held for the sport of hunting with tree dogs. Top auction items and door prizes will be complimented with a great meal and top speakers. Come and join us. 

We as officers and directors of the HTDA know that tree dog enthusiasts are extremely hungry for a great organization. We are working hard to get that organization established. Something that I would ask is that everyone please be patient. If one takes into consideration the work that has had to be done with legal matters of getting set up, planning banquets and negotiating DNR politics I feel we have accomplished a lot. We have a house to build, one that will stand united for many generations. It is a house that has to be built one brick at a time. From where I sit it is well under construction if not under roof. We are only limited by the participation that we get from our members. Please get involved. I know communications have been slow from our end. We promise to improve on that. Please fell free to get involved. If you have an issue or an idea for our organization let me, or one of the officers or directors know. We are here to serve you. 

In closing I would just like to say from all of the officers and directors that it has been a pleasure serving the membership of the HTDA. We have great plans for 2008 and hope to see you in February at the 1st Annual HTDA banquet in Greenwood Indiana at Jonathon Byrd Banquet facility.