Wow................I don't really know if I should say anything. At this point I'm completely worn out. I've been been on the phone since I left Hot Springs and I don't think I made but 2 phone calls myself.......1 - to my wife and son, 2 - to Ed Aycock.
I guess I will start with something positive to change the mood of the latest events. As you know, Dozer and I accepted an "internet" challenge to compete an SRS event. I could go into details on how I got into this mess in the first place but I'd rather skip that part.
Anyhow, I met a lot of folks that seemed like good people this week. First and foremost, I want to thank Mr. Jerry Day for extending his friendship and experience with a newcomer. It was strange how Jerry and I hooked up but I will say I believe I have a new friend for life. Jerry, it's amazing how I feel like I've known you all my life but we've only spent a couple of days hangin' out. Thanks again, I appreciate it sincerely.
The participants were great. Although I'm sure they were gun shy to approach the a-hole they see posting on the internet, most all were very helpful and polite. I will say it was very strange attending an event in which I knew not one single sole.
Stacey West, Keith Allison, Tellus Calhoun, Justin Etter, and many more seemed like class acts with plenty of dog knowledge. If I had to give a "best handler award" I'd say Tellus Calhoun impressed me the most. Very similar style to our FT standards and his dogs impressed as well.
Some folks may take this the wrong way but I'll try anyway, I was actually surprised on the performance of the dogs as a whole. Of coarse there were a few things I expected to see happen....happen, but there were some very nice dogs. There was a Pudgie Mac son named Big Mac Super Size that I'd love to have. Unbelievable style, plenty of go, very impressive.
Last but not least, I want to say there was plenty of hard work going on to put this event on. From birdboys to Trey Johnson with his grouds, and to all three judges for giving up their week.
Now I guess for the stuff you've all been waiting for. I will purposesly leave some opinions out of this post as I believe it will do no good at this point. I could come on here and say some things I want to but right now I don't believe that's the best idea.
Damn I'm getting soft.
In regards to the rule violation and what not.
The test consisted of marks thrown from a retired position in a hay field. There were no visible gunners from the line.
As a judge explained, and many others (who I wasn't able to understand their responsibilities in regards to the test) ............
You were to sit your dog at a remote position, move to a designated sitting area as handler, and 3 seconds would signal for birds to start.
The special instructions might have you, were explained as............
1. Your dog had only three opportunities to stay in the "box". After the third your dog would be DQed.
2. You were to sit while sending your dog for the first bird. Standing would result in a "heavy" penalty. The point amount was not specified.
Unless some contestant may add, I don't recall any other special instruction offered.
There was nothing as to what would happen if your dog "no-goed" or cast confussion while being sent from remote position.
It was only known that there would be a 10 point deduction on the second day of the test. A handler was explained to that her score was high due to a 10 point deduction for not retrieving on every verbal command. Later, a judge was seen explaining this to the gallery.
So, now it's time for Dozer's and my line experience.
I decided the best way for Dozer to understand what was fixin' to happen was to somehow point the areas of gun stations. Again, there wasn't anything to see other than Hay bails. So I sat him in the box, and stepped forward to key him on the long area. Sort of like lining for a blind. With a few key words, I moved to the 1st bird thrown, then back to the long bird. I did not show the left or short bird not thinking these marks would be a factor. I often do this in an FT setup. I will key on the short retired, then to the long and never show the flyer.......knowing certainly that station will clearly be seen.
I did like at a normal FT......10-15 seconds I'd say, then went to the sitting position. Guns went off.
Dozer looked out nice and saw all birds to my knowledge. I quickly called his name and he looked at me of coarse. I knew this would happen. Then I sent him gently for the short bird with a cast along with a verbal. He picked up the very short bird as he saw it from the line I believe. In field trial standards we would consider it a "pin", but as witnessed this is not the case for SRS. Stacey West explained there is generally never a perfect score on a mark which would be 0. If you run the line and the dog sees the bird 3 ft. to the left and makes that little curl..........2 points. So I know this part now.
Before I go any further, those that know me will tell you I don't BS about performance. If Dozer $hit$ the bed, I'll tell it like it is. These descriptions are not through rose colored glasses.
We go for the longer right hand bird second in which I had 2 whistles, one to stop him as he passed the bird slightly to the left (gestimate.....5 yards). Tweet, tweet. Whistle again as he came too far, cast......bingo. I'd say from the time I hit the first whistle he was no further than 5 yards from the bird. I did not allow any hunt pattern as I immediately put him on the bird. Line was fine.
Sent for left hand bird third. Line was slightly to the left (3 yards?). Dozer saw the mark on retrieve and went directly to bird.
Long bird last.................
There were 2 hay bails that portrayed a "slot" for the line to the mark. Unfortunately, some marks fell to the left of the left hay bail, but for the most part the mark was between them. Our mark fell dead center which was a rather shorter throw. I could see the bird from line. Dozer's line was gonna put him slightly to the left of the left bail. (5-10 yards) I hit the whistle and gave a right hand back.............Dozer turned and immediately saw the bird and went to it. It was a white/black ATB. Again, I saw the bird from line.
Immediately, JT and his friend.............
(for the life of me I can't remember his name and I can't find it in the program. Basically served as what we would call the marshall)
..........came to line and said................
JT - "Why did you do that?"
Me - "What?"
JT - " You can't point out the birds. The judges nailed you big time for that."
Me - "Is it in the rules?"
JT and friend - "Yes"
At this point, I'm thinking dumb a$$ me...........how could I miss this.
So I get my catalog I recieved at the meeting, can't find no rule. I ask JT if he could show it to me, he mentioned it was on the online rules and regs.
Having my laptop with me, I looked online.............same rules.
Again, asked JT if he could find it with me.
Through all this, JT and I were cool. He remained calm as so did I. It was now that JT realized a set of rules had been left off the website. He made a few phone calls and expressed his instructions.
So JT decided to have a meeting with the judges and scorekeeper.
This would happen...............AFTER............competition was completed.
Scores were given to teams before they left the line each time.
When JT came back, he brought the score sheet and explained the judges deducted 20 points for showing the gun area's.
Our score was a 52 in second round, 4 in first round.........Total 56.
JT said taking away the 20 points would put us on the bubble with a 36.
Later, the cut off was announced at 35.
That's how it goes God rest my sole.
I'm not accusing anyone of cheating. I will not say if I feel this was fair or not.
But I will ask this................
As I have the "original" judges sheet.............
It shows for the deductions as follows.........................and please see questions at bottom..............
1. The checks on the first 4 lines show the 5 points per "mark showing" deduction (total of 20). You will see the times between the first and last. 66 seconds for the first infraction until Dozer "no-goed"? Wow......I've never sat a dog and showed marks for 60 seconds.
2. So was it a 10 point deduction for the no-go or 5? Cause clearly the next deduction after the 20 for showing guns shows 5. Maybe I got lucky and only got 5.
3. I had a total of 3 whistles and a come in whistle. What are the 2 point deductions for according to the rule book again?
Anyhow.............you folks draw your own conclusions.
I will say this.........I'm content. I'm home. Been there done that. I'm not angry. I did this to prove a point and I did so.
After it was over, a contestant said....."I don't care what your score was, you ran a damn fine animal." That made my weekend.
And that my friends is why I do this...........
Because it's all about the dogs.
P.S. Sorry for the length.