HRCH Daisey's Rambunctious Rascal MH "Rambo"
Co-Owner HRCH UH Summers Gusty Breeze MH "Gussie"
Great story; shows how even a NAHRA Working Retriever (Intermediate level), is a real asset in the field, not that I'm saying your dog isn't much higher level.
Regarding the trailing test, some dogs are more naturally nose-oriented than others. My first dog WR Kimo El Oso Dorado MH was such a dog. He came from tracking dog lines and seemed to rely on his nose way more than most retrievers, plus he had a very good nose. Kimo was the perfect starter dog for a guy just getting in the game, he was steady as a rock, yet very birdy, a good marker but complient on blinds and he had that nose. We had breezed though AKC Senior when I drove up to Calgary to try a NAHRA Intermediate. They started with the trailing test, "hey mister I dropped a bird right here, (a few feathers picked on the ground), I see you have a dog, can you help me find the bird". I pointed Kimo at the feathers and said "hunt it up", with a flash he flew out of the picture, quartering away from the trail. I had never done a formal trailing test and didn't even have a command for it, so we were out in seconds.
Lucky there was another test the next day, so I borrowed a bird and trained on it for 15 minutes or so. We dragged the duck on the ground 10-15- 25-50 then 100 yards, using the "find the bird" command. The light bulb went off immediately, this was super fun for Kimo. He would run as fast as a dog could run with his nose an inch of the ground and cover the 100 or so yards to the bird in ten seconds flat, never missed a turn or have to double back. We never failed another trailing test, it was always our strongest series in NAHRA.
One time I was pheasant hunting with a new guy, we got separated and when I caught up with him he was looking for a bird he had downed in some heavy cover. I sent Kimo across the little creek to him. Kimo didn't even hesitate at the large bushy cover and took off full speed as fast as he could run up the valley and out of sight. My buddy asked me what kind of out of control dog I had, the bird had to be laying in that bush dead. About 5-10 minutes later Kimo came running back with a very live pheasant. To this day that guy thinks Kimo walks on water, though he passed away in 2004. The rest of my dogs are good at trailing, but nothing like old Kimo.
Congratulations Ken. Nothing better than to put them on a trail and then see them come back with the bird! I too thank NAHRA for helping me to learn how to teach that skill. Just last week my little female came back with a large Canada goose she trailed for a long ways and a rooster that I had nearly given up on, but she sure hadn't!