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HoHum's Retrievers
07-31-2007, 09:13 AM
2007 Greater Minnesota Hunt Test Association Minnesota Master Hunt Test

The Inaugural Minnesota Master Hunt Test is in the books! A great weekend of retriever testing is completed and a champion has been crowned. The test was sponsored by the Greater Minnesota Hunt Test Association (GMHTA) and was held at Marten’s Meadows of the Central Minnesota Retriever Club in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota on July 28 and 29. The Master stake was adjudicated by John Blackbird, Dan Hove, and Chad Engels who put together four challenging, exciting, and enjoyable series that proved the best of the best were in attendance!

Due to low pre-entry numbers at the beginning of the week prior to the test, the decision was made to continue to accept entries right up to the moment the first series was completed, as well as opening the day’s events up to senior and junior dogs and their handlers. So Saturday morning dawned to see the entries more than triple overnight and when all was tallied 19 master dogs were set to begin the day along with 12 senior dogs and 15 junior dogs. The same trio of judges would be viewing all stakes.

The master entrants were all sold on the calcutta prior to the judges giving the initial welcome to the handlers and giving everyone instructions for the day with regard to how the combining of AKC, UKC, and NAHRA rules and guidelines would be handled. A total purse of $310 was collected with 50% going directly to the GMHTA. The top 4 finishers would split $155!

The first master series was a challenging triple with a long bird from a hidden winger on the left with a difficult wooded background, a short middle hand-thrown bird directly in front of the dogs, and finally a long, well-ridden flyer duck. A double blind was also part of the first series with one blind being under the arc of the second fall, and the second blind being outside of the marks to the right. 13 of the 19 starters would continue to the second series.

Senior and junior dogs were offered their own land series using the long left hand and shorter middle bird and the outside blind for the senior dogs.

The second series was an upland test in which the dogs were to quarter the field along with two gun-toting hunting companions towards a well-hidden box-launcher from which a hen pheasant was released. The competing dogs were to be steady at both the flush and the shot and not attempt to make the retrieve until released by the accompanying judge. Although the anxiety level was high, the field was strong and all but one dog would continue to the 3rd series. Dog #7 would be given a rerun after his initial run resulted a quick shot dropping the bird, which was flushed very closely, to nearly hit the dog in the head on its way down. Although the retriever appeared steady upon the flush and shot, it could not resist making an attempt to catch the bird in mid-air as it fell from they sky like and infield pop fly. Junior and senior dogs did not participate in the 2nd series.

The 3rd series was to be the final series prior to the announcement of the finalists. For some it would be a “do or die” series. A land-water triple was set up. Again the birds would be shot in order clockwise. The first bird down was thrown right to left from behind a large willow bush on land. The second bird was the long middle bird again thrown right to left into a narrow channel along a roadway. Although the bird often created a good splash upon landing in the water, the mark was deceiving as a narrow ditch that ran perpendicular to the ditch the bird was in was hidden from the dog and handler’s view. The third bird thrown was to the dog's right and was thrown again from behind a number of trees and low brush, left to right this time, and landed on the back side of a road across a narrow ditch. All marks were thrown from hidden gun placements. The middle bird of this test proved to be the biggest challenge and the careful placement of this fall by the judges made it very difficult to handle if the dog needed help. Several dogs went into the channel and would not be seen again until their exit either coming home with the bird or out the other side or end of the channel well out of the area of the fall.

After the master entrants completed the third series it was decided that alternate judges would continue the junior and senior stakes so the master judges could go and set up the fourth and final series.

The judges announced that eight dogs would be going into the 4th and final series. Prior to the announcement of the finalists the judges explained that although the dog work displayed by most in the third series was strong and may have been adequate or them to move on to a water series on any given weekend hunt test, this event was not just merely a weekend hunt test. This event was to highlight the best of the best of master level retrievers in Minnesota. The judges thanked all for attending and running and working the event and then announced the finalists.

#2 BLF MHR VanGeest’s Little Cinderella MH owned and handled by Jeff VanGeest
#4 CLF Candlewood’s Lucille Brown QAA*** owned and handled by Tim Springer
#6 IWSF CH Realta’s SuperNova SH, CD, RN owned and handled by Rosemary Sexton
#7 GRM WR Frisbie’s BeBop Bird Parker MH, CD, WCX owned and handled by Gordon J. Schlichting II
#9 BLM Creditriver’s Wild Card QAA owned and handled by Tim Springer
#13 YLF Cherry Grove Lady Isabella MH owned and handled by Rod Ewert
#14 BLM Lost Orchard’s Rough Diamond SH owned and handled by Kim Buchanon
#17 CLF Princess Brandi of Alaskan Acres MH owned and handled by Sherry Koch

The 4th series would be a water triple with an honor and blind. Dogs were brought to waters edge and the handler was to be seated well behind the dog on a bucket up the bank. Upon the handler signaling they were ready, the judges blew a duck call from behind the line. The first bird was thrown to the dog’s left from one point to another across a channel beyond a point on the shore. The second bird was thrown from the dog’s right from roughly ten yards away and landed within 15 yards of the dog with a large splash right in both the working and honoring dog’s faces. The third bird was thrown from across the large open pond from left to right landing on the shore, but very near the bank in high cover just beyond several carefully placed decoys. The dogs would have to negotiate the decoys to successfully retrieve the bird. All birds were thrown from behind blinds and duck calls preceded each throw. After the marks were retrieved the blind was by invitation. While the dog was returning to the line with their last mark a diversion shot was fired from the first gun station. The line to the blind just skirted the edge of a point and down the same channel the first mark had been thrown across. However the path to the blind was under the arc of the fall and well past the original fall. The final series was begun but was called because of poor light at the end of the day. 4 dogs had run the final series, leaving 4 to return the following morning to complete the test.

The senior and junior stakes would complete their test. Placement ribbons were awarded to the three survivors of the senior series.

1st Place to YLM Mac owned and handled by Don DeZurick
2nd Place to BLM Oscar owned by Al Freiberg and handled by Jeff Latour
3rd Place to BLFFranny owned and handled by Craig Swarthout

No awards were available or given to the junior stake.

The 4 remaining dogs arrived early the following day and all was made ready to complete the 4th and final series. The conditions had remained relatively unchanged with the exception of the amount of light of course. It did not take long to complete the running of the 4 remaining contestants as well as a by dog. While the judges deliberated, equipment was taken down and everyone assembled at the clubhouse for the announcement of the winners.

Again the judges thanked everyone for their attendance and work as well as making note of the support from the Greater Minnesota Hunt Test Association, the Central Minnesota Retriever Club, and several other individuals who were instrumental in making this inaugural event become a reality.

Finally the results were announced.
4th Place went to #13 YLF Cherry Grove Lady Isabella MH owned and handled by Rod Ewert
3rd Place went to #9 BLM Dealer owned and handled by Tim Springer
2nd Place went to #7 GRM WR Frisbie’s BeBop Bird Parker MH, CD, WCX owned and handled by Gordon J. Schlichting II

1st Place was awarded to a very deserving black lab bitch owned and handled by Jeff VanGeest, #2 MHR VanGeest’s Little Cinderella MH.

The results of the Calcutta were also announced:
4th - $15.50 on a $10 bid to Rod Ewert
3rd - $32 on a $40 bid to the partnership of Rick Edington and Jeff Latour (Do that math guys!?)
2nd - $47.50 on a $10 to Gordon J. Schlichting II
1st - $64 on a $25 bid to Jeff Latour.