I know very few HT judges who are "Field Trialers" and try to make a HT a FT. I do have some agreement that a test need no be long or, contain trickery and gimmicky stuff to be challenging for the dogs and test them to the "Standard". I have reservations about how some HT judges perceive their "interpretations" of the work performed. I have watched a few judges time and time again lack consistency in their review of a dogs performance and who gets an orange ribbon. Because of my opinion(only my opinion) I'd rather take my chances at losing to a really good dog than "failing" upon an opinion and interpretation of a written standard.
AKC HT should have a simple book of approved test set ups, combinations and distances. Deviations should not be allowed to be a legal test. This would allow any joe-shmoe test chair to grab his book, confirm the test is legal and allow the HT to continue.
This would give the amateur trainer a handy set up guide. It would also simplify judging and allow just about anyone to step into a position and perform an adequate job without having the grumbling and complaining about test set ups which seems to happen all too often.
I went hunting with Fishduck last year and our HT dogs made a few REALLY LONG retrieves, much longer than what one would experience at a HT.
Hunting the prairie or marsh, I'll wade out and pick up the decoy-distance birds if I have to. I want a dog for deep water, long cripples or sailers.
I can tell you for a fact that long "real hunting" retrieves do occur.
The most impressive retrieve any of my dogs has ever been credited with (by others) was about 4 years ago on a Kansas pheasant hunt. We were (finally!) blocking on the long tip of a section corner and one of the walkers shot a rooster that sailed downhill back towards the middle of the field; his German shorthair was hunting the wrong direction and doesn't run blinds. My guy had marked it. Rolled him out there and he stepped on it. Easily 400 yds. That guy still talks about that retrieve.
I'm guessing this thread goes over 15 pages.