Master Hunt Test Passes!
Once again Jaeger didn't let me down, or rather I didn't let him down, and together we managed to earn two legs towards his Master Hunter Title.
Both day one and day two tests were challenging and were probably some of the most difficult set ups we've faced to date. Day one 14 dogs started only 4 dogs finished/qualified. Day two 14 dogs started and only 3 dogs finished/qualifed. It was 37 degrees this weekend and making sure your dog wasn't overheating was a priority.
Day two was well thought out by the judges and successfully mimicked true hunting scenarios. We started with an upland hunt test. The handler and dog were required to quarter to the flush with a long field walk. Just as in a pheasant hunt the three hunters formed a line to walk the field. The handler was the middle hunter with a judge on either side as his fellow hunting companions. As you progressed down the field the dog needed to quarter to cover the ground in front of all three hunters within gun range. A shot was fired about half way down the field which simulated a missed bird and required the dog to sit. After the dog sat and was released the hunt continued down the field until a bird was launched from the flushing box and a shot was fired. Jaeger sat immediately and waited till released to head for his bird.
After retrieving the bird we moved further down the field and around some bushes where we turned to run with the wind. Here the dog was sat and made ready to run a blind. A poison bird was launched off to one side. Jaeger required three whistles to handle to the blind and he was drawn slightly toward the poison bird but he handled away from it. On to the next series. (For those not familiar a blind is a bird which is lying in the grass which the dog did not see fall, dogs are sent by whistle and hand signals to retrieve the bird. A Poison bird is a bird which the dog does see fall and is used as a distraction for the blind as the dog will naturally want to go to where he saw a bird fall)
The third series was a triple land retrieve (three birds down) with all retired guns and a distraction bird to the right. The dogs had to cross a thick strip of bullrushes to get to the bird. Jaeger lined the go bird, and handled the distraction bird properly. (A distraction bird is thrown as the dog is returning and the dog needs to continue returning with the bird he has, some dogs will want to drop their bird and grab the newly dropped bird, this is a no no. The dogs will be allowed pick up the distraction bird after they've delivered the bird they were retrieving) He needed to be handled on the middle bird and then picked up the memory bird with a short hunt.
The last series was the water series and the judges really threw some meat into it. A triple retrieve with a hot blind (A bird is lying between the other birds that the dog will see fall. The scent of another bird may draw the dogs off of the birds they are supposed to pick up)
Jaeger was super excited to go, I think he was really hot and wanted into the water. The go bird (first bird) landed against the waters edge with a splash. He headed straight to the bird but when he got to it he couldn't seem to find it. Sure enough the hot blind came into play and he headed towards the scent. I handled him with one whistle back to the first bird and he found it readily. The middle bird landed on an island across from the island that the gunner was hidden on. Jaeger was sucked into the island that the gunner was on. He hunted for a short while and then headed towards the other island. He splashed into the water swam across to the other island and started to hunt. He quickly found his bird and was on the way back. I started to think we might finish this thing!
Down to the last bird. This bird landed on a point but in order to get to it he had to cross a point as well. Jaeger headed out straight towards the bird but when he climbed onto the point instead of continuing across to the next one he started to hunt. “Oh no!”, I thought to myself,“Do I handle him again here or what?” Jaeger headed up the point towards land and he was out of site behind some cattails before I knew it. I prayed he was heading in the right direction and was not just heading further out! I caught a flash of him through the cattails and there he was running down the next point and straight to his bird. He’d figured it out! He scooped it up splashed back into the water and was headed back in. We’d finished!