I just wanted to take a second and give a shout out to and public thank you to……
EVERYONE who has ever tossed a duck or blown a call or stood in the mud and planted a blind for me and my mutts over the years.
To the North American Hunting Retriever Association for the original hunt test rule book.
To the Lake Champlain Retriever Club for hosting the events I so much enjoy.
And to the People, both here in the interwebs and in real life.
I thank you all so very much!
In the beginning I was a humble waterfowler. I went to watch a NAHRA Field Test with my friend Jim Greene in Stowe, Vermont. We were dumbfounded! Joined the club and started entering tests. Started failing right away. Failed for every reason you can think of.
The failing motivated me. I would work hard on why I would fail one test only to fail at something else the next time. The task I would fail the most often on in the beginning was the trail portion of the test. I started working hard on this task alone. Set up some type of trail now every time I train if I am able to. I start my dogs on it at a very young age now and make it a fun game. I would never have worked so hard on this if not for all my failures at the NAHRA Field Tests.
So, Monday October 28 I was sitting in my Hawkins rd. blind with John Luco. I have brought him a few times this year. John is 72 years old and does not have many more duck hunts left. He has fun. Well that morning. Just like a hunt test scenario. I was pouring a cup of coffee and a group of 8 Canada Geese flew over from in back of us without making a sound. Feet down and looking. So John, without even standing up out of his folding chair pulls up and shoots. The last goose in the line falters, wobbles, and starts to glide in for a landing on the other side of the swamp. It went down near a red bush and I marked it. But it was a long way. I decided that instead of sending Loco from the blind we would walk around the swamp to the red bush and hunt it up. The walk around is the yellow line in the photo from goggle earth below. It took me 45 minutes from the time the goose went down. Once at the red bush I gave Loco the “Find the Bird” command and he started sniffing. I could tell by his ears and tail when he found the start and encouraged him but it was slow work. He had to go back to the start a couple times but worked it out and started to go a little faster. The red line in the photo below is from the red bush start of the trail to the end. While the line is straight the trail was not and the cover was scrubby old pastureland that is now unmowed state WMA property. It took another 45 minutes for Loco to get to the goose. The second photo, bad I know. Is from my telephone as I was scampering after Loco. I knew he was close when he started sneezing and clearing his nose and quickening his pace.
This will be “The” retrieve of the season and this bird would have been lost if I had been the hunter I used to be back before my NAHRA and LCRC and RTF involvement. You all have made me a better waterfowler. You all have given me the tools to have a better hunting dog / dogs
This post is not to pit hunting dogs against testing dogs nor promote any drama from anyone. It is simply to give credit were credit is due. Retriever club involvement, training for field tests and running them does build a better hunting retriever.
Thank You All!