5 things I learned at My First AKC Senior Hunt Test
Palo, Ia – Saturday April 6th, 2013
My son Grether, my GSP Rango and I headed to our first ever AKC hunt test. Rango was entered in the Senior level test.
I was unusually calm as we drove to the test site. That is until I couldn’t find the field. A detailed map or a phone call to get directions would have been the smart thing to do. However since I do have a day job, I’m often short on time to prepare. Something usually doesn’t get done or I forget to bring something.
Today’s profound takeaway…. Make a checklist of everything that needs to be done and of things needed to go on the trip beforehand. If you use a smart phone, its easy to do with this terrific app called Evernote https://evernote.com If you have a dumb phone a traditional notebook will do.
Feeling a little nervous about finding the place, I decided to call the test secretary Jeff Chapman to see if he could help me. We were completely lost. Sitting at a cross roads while talking to Jeff, he suddenly asked me if we were driving a white car.
He was coming down the road right towards us! He showed us the way to the hunt test site. I was grateful he did since the test field was down a tiny lane that looked like it went nowhere.
We were on time after all! I took Rangofor a 15 minute exercise run to burn off some excess energy. Then we staked him out to wait for our turn.
The first thing I learned is that the judges ride horses.
The second thing I learned is that you have to provide your own blank pistol.
The third thing I learned was that the handler for Senior test dogs does not have to carry a shotgun. The handler for a Master test dog does, even though they do not have to fire the gun. I had read the rules but did not remember that distinction.
The fourth thing I learned is that the judges do not like handlers carrying things like a leash.
The fifth thing I learned is that the judges were talkative and interested in Rango and me. This surprised me because their interest was unexpected.
Rango got off to a good start when his turn came. He worked the terrain, hunting hard and fast. He responded perfectly to the few whistle commands I sent. It took about 200 yards of walking in a big half circle to get in position to hunt the bird field. Quail had been released earlier for the dogs to find.
The earlier test’s dogs were having trouble finding quail. The scenting conditions were poor.
We moved from East to West with a southerly cross wind. The bird field extended from the bottom of a valley to the left to the top of a hill to the right.
Rango worked the field from the east to the west. He found nothing. His brace mate was bird less also. Rango circled back and was working back east when he went past a small clump of trees. He immediately spun sideways and went on point.
It was a good staunch point. Even seventy yards away it was obvious that the bird was very, very close. We had cut the distance in half when he broke and flushed the quail. That was the end for us. The Senior test requires that the dog remain on point until the bird is flushed and a shot is fired.
The judges praise of Rango eased the disappointment of failing to pass the test. One judge was especially complimentary of his hunting style and ability. His praise is definitely incentive to keep working with Rango. He will get better as he continues to mature and understands better what is expected of him. I’m excited about our future.