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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Really I am currious how much the standards have changed for AKC hunt tests at the different levels since the begining? As an example the new rules require at least 2 triples in Master tests compared to the old rules requiring only one. the new Walk up rule requires that the bird be presented to the dog at a distance of 35-45 yards as compared to no distance requirement before.
What were the early (1980's) tests like for the different levels? How hard were they compared to todays tests? I want to know how the tests have evolved over the years NOT how the organizations have evolved. My understanding was a lot of the first judges were field trial judges that were grandfathered in. How did this influence test setups? or did it at all??
I want to know the history of the hunt tests (AKC) is there any books or resources I could read?

Thank you

Kelly Greenwood
 

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Thats a tall order, whew. Since it's now raining, we got in a set-up will go there briefly from my own experience.

Around 1985 or 1986 we entered out first Master Hunt Test. I was a field trialer at the time and still consider myself a primary field trialer. The dog was a Golden Retriever male with a win in a all-breed amateur all-age field trial, another second place in AA stake along with some Open AA JAMS. There was a local Hunt Test at Bong (Public Grounds Kenosha Co. Wisconsin) someone told me to enter him in the Master? So we did ,one of the judges was Jeff Barbour as I recall. He lined the land blind and his co-judge gave a 0 for a trainabilty issue. Jeff intervened and gave him a 10. Lining the blind was OK. I almost always put one whistle on the blind for the rest of the hunt tests because of that issue. Anyway we got our first leg. They also had a hunt em up part with trailing (now long gone) They would use a fishing pole to drag a bird and you had to trail the bird. There were multiple honors too more then two dogs on the line. Most tests were "waterered down " field trials judged by those with field trial experience. We continued to trial and run an occasionaly hunt test. He became a Master Hunter 5 June 1988 at the grand old age of 8 years old. He qualified for one of the three Master Hunt Test Invitationals before the 1991 Master National was held.
A very well respected field trialer, later hunt tester came up and shook my hand telling me he was the only dog that didn't handle on 27 marks during the event. I thanked him and accepted my ribbon that same ribbon given all others who all handled on a mark. So goes hunt tests, just shy of his 10th birthday. He was retired shortly after, his AFC eluded me and never did get his title. He was a multi purpose dog, QAA U.S. and Canada, Judy award (Dog World Award ) in obedience scores of 195 average of three in Novice and OPen.

Now fast forward for comparision and contrast after making five Master Hunters and two FC/AFC trial dogs and some almost circa 2012. Ask questions and another day. Got grandfather in with judging one senior in the 1980's and now I am a eight point AKC Master Hunt Test Judge and a eight point Field Trial judge. I still judge both and it really has changed.
 

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I went to some early meetings for organizing hunt tests (1983-4?)and my recollection that since there was no other venue, most were field trialers, but disgruntled and wanted a venue for the working amateur to be able run the tests training on weekends without using a pro. I only ran one master in the 90's cold with a QAA dog, and passed, but the work for others was marginal for a pass. I remember counting 17 handles by someone who passed the Master on the water marks. Waterblinds there was a lot of bank running if there was a point involved. The work has come a long way but there are lots of pros at all levels now. I think the hunt is being taken out of the Hunting Retriever tests since the calculator has been added.
 

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James Spencer's book "Retriever Hunt Tests, A Handler's Guide to Success" has a lot of good history in it as well as some very interesting statistics and comparisons of the AKC, HRC, and NAHRA.
The copy I have is copyrighted 2007, so won't address current trends.
 

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I'm just curious....why is understanding the past so important to you?
I don't know about the OP, but I love stories about the history and evolution of our sport. Earl's story was a great one, I wish I could have seen that first Golden he told about, sounds like a wonderful dog.

I started in hunt test in 1992 with my second Golden. We started in NAHRA, then AKC, Kimo breezed through NAHRA Started and Intermediate, AKC Junior and Senior without ever failing a test, Master was a challenge but he earned his MH his second summer of master HT. The OP only hinted at it, but it seems from descriptions on RTF (I haven't run an AKC HT in over a decade), that AKC HT are way harder than when I ran. Maybe the standards are the same, notwithstanding the new rules, but it seems like every test is pushing up against the harder end of the standard. I think that would be an interesting topic for those who have continuously run HT for say the last twenty years to write about those changes. I would argue that field trials have had to evolve harder and harder as dogs and dog training has improved over the years, whereas the standard for what constituted a Senior or Master Hunter should be the same in 2012 as it was in 1992.

John
 

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I'm just curious....why is understanding the past so important to you?
If you don't know where you've been.... How do you know where you're going???


I hope this thread takes off, it could be interesting.

To the OP. I'll try not to include too much of the "evolution of the organizations". Some history I think is important to answer the question.

In the beginning the AKC and NAHRA were working together to start a gun dog testing format. At some point the two parties could not agree on some points, and they split up. (that was 1980 something)

As best as I can remember gun dog clubs were very regional. Some regions had several clubs and others had none. The gun dog movement was started by a few "Good Ole Boys" and their meat dogs . These guys were looking for a way to "test" their working dogs in what they thought were real hunting conditions. Without pointing out "the best dog" they sought to reward the best hunting dogs.

When the two parties split I chose to stay with NAHRA and did some judging with them. At one point The Buckeye RC asked myself and a few members of our NAHRA club to judge their first AKC Hunt Test. Since we had judged gun dogs Buckeye paired us up with their judges. We had what amounted to half gun dog guys and half trialers.

As Criquetpas said; There was an upland portion to the test. It was not just about marks and blinds. That did not last long, I don't know when but they (AKC) soon dropped the upland portion of testing. Editorial; Yes trailing and steady to the flush are hot as much as marks and blinds...........However they are very inportant to a good gun dog.

I agree the early tests were "watered down field trials". I thought they looked more like mini trials in camo. The dog work was generally sloppy but, there were some very good dogs. These good dogs were mostly already trained for field trialing. As others have mentioned the dog work has improved a lot since then.

There seemed to be a greater interest in the Junior stake as opposed to the Master stake at that time. I think some of the show ring and OB people were looking to hang another title on their dogs. That has changed by evidence of the large number of Master entries you see today. The gun dog has been held to a higher standard as the testing has evolved.

Nancy refers to; "The hunt being taken out of the Hunting Retriever Tests since the calculator has been added" I would agree with that statement. (My thoughts on the calculator and the gun dog are well documented on this RTF - That is not part of this post) I also think that the "Hunt" has been taken out of the "Hunting Retriever" as a result.

With that said: Yes the Hunting Retriever Is being held to a higher standard. If not by the rules, by the way those rules are applied.... And they should be. A Master Hunter should not be cheep or easy. IMHO

Observation: I would not have imagined in my wildest dreams that the gun dog movement would have gotten this large. I don't have statistics to back it up but I would think there are more people running retrievers in tests/trials today than there were in 1980 anything?? That is good for our game!!!

Disclosure:: I've had 2 GMHR's 1 CFC & QAA dogs.

I hope I added something to the op's thread. The above post is the way I remember things.... You know they say the mind is the first to go:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm just curious....why is understanding the past so important to you?
I am one of those people that wants to know everything about things that interest me. I never knew about such things growing up and i think about all the things I missed. I think understanding the evolution of the sport will make me a better handler and trainer and possibly a better judge.

Does anyone have copies of the original rulebooks? does anyone have pictures or videos from tests in the 80's or 90's? What about setups for the tests from that time and kinda what the dogs did on the set ups back then?
 

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[QUOTE I don't have statistics to back it up but I would think there are more people running retrievers in tests/trials today than there were in 1980 anything?? [/QUOTE]



More dogs... not so sure about more handlers.
 

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I am one of those people that wants to know everything about things that interest me. I never knew about such things growing up and i think about all the things I missed. I think understanding the evolution of the sport will make me a better handler and trainer and possibly a better judge.

Does anyone have copies of the original rulebooks? does anyone have pictures or videos from tests in the 80's or 90's? What about setups for the tests from that time and kinda what the dogs did on the set ups back then?
One thing I remember abouting judging a senior HT circa the late 1980's the judges could carry a shotgun and shoot! I remember doing a Illegal Dove hunt at a Wisconsin trial (Dove were illegal at the time to hunt in Wisconsin) of course we didn't shoot Dove we used Ducks that were thrown at a walk-up and I shot 30 plus times carry a O/U with poppers for each dog as a judge! I do remember it was a Sunday and it was dark when we finished the talley with the scores , no calculator! (how about them apples HRC)

I don't save things , catalogs, etc, that I probably should have but will look.
 

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One thing I remember abouting judging a senior HT circa the late 1980's the judges could carry a shotgun and shoot! I remember doing a Illegal Dove hunt at a Wisconsin trial (Dove were illegal at the time to hunt in Wisconsin) of course we didn't shoot Dove we used Ducks that were thrown at a walk-up and I shot 30 plus times carry a O/U with poppers for each dog as a judge! I do remember it was a Sunday and it was dark when we finished the talley with the scores , no calculator! (how about them apples HRC)

Of course the judges used shotguns it was a "Hunting Dog Test" lol ;)

I'm sure (or I think I am) you still had to use the "matrix" score sheet.... back in those days we "could" do math with out a calculator.

Yes, judges shot poppers, handlers handled real guns used calls etc. etc..... It was a hunting situation.(as much as possible). The people that entered these events were mostly hunters. (see my first post)

There were no "fake " guns and "make believe" shoulder the gun or fail situations. They tried as much as possible to recreate a hunting situation with hunters and their dogs.

Admittedly, I have not been to a hunt test in years. I'm speaking only about what the beginning of the gun dog tests. I may be wrong about what is happening today.

Thank you,

Randy
 

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[QUOTE I don't have statistics to back it up but I would think there are more people running retrievers in tests/trials today than there were in 1980 anything??


More dogs... not so sure about more handlers.[/QUOTE]

I have Retriever Field Trials news back to 1980 and before. I have the 1991 RFTN that shows on the front page all the handlers/dogs who passed he first Master National, lots of still familiar names. Also, have some of the first listings of dogs that passed the AKC Hunt Tests when they were given "token" coverage in RFTN. The numbers were not what they were today, sometimes 10 or 15 dogs in the Master with maybe 5 or 6 passes, so it is all relevant I guess on the numbers game. They are at my cabin in the UP of Michigan at this moment that I read to entertain myself. I will bring them home the next time I go there.

In my opinion the AKC hunt Test game has gone though about three or four evolutions.
At one point, again my opinion in the Middle West/Upper Middle West they were "giving ribbon passes away" . The rules tightened up and the judging became harder. The game has evolved now where many, many dogs are Master Hunters and it shows in the pedigrees of the dogs. The game has finaly come upon it's own and and a venue in itself. My daughter Corrine Clavey judged the 2010 Master National in Texas and if one compares the notes and diagrams from that Master National to some earlier ones including the first it becomes very apparent. Just some thoughts and again my opinion.
 

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Earl, As I stated in my first response to the op. " I hope this thread takes off"

The game sure has evolved. A conversation with and among those folks that have been there through it's evolution could be entertaining as well as educational .

I cannot add much much past the early 90's as I left the gun dog world to explore the field trial game. ( which I found to be way more exciting )

It would be nice to here all the views of that evolution without all the added noise of which venue is better or worse.
 

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I'm just curious....why is understanding the past so important to you?
I think that to know the past helps one understand why many are less than satisfied with the present and concerned with what the future will bring.

I think the history of Hunting Tests is interesting. I remember the excitement when they first came about. I also know why many of the original people are unhappy with the changes that have come about. To know the history helps understand the dissatisfaction of those who have been around a while.
 

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Best way to see what they were like or supposed to be like would be to find old issues of the AKC Hunting Test Herald. They covered all the Hunting Tests for pointers, retrievers, earth dogs, hounds, etc.

Early HTs were generally small Masters, sometimes under 10. Juniors could be pretty good size.

The "Quartering Test" was soon dropped. Mosts handlers did not know how to handle their dogs in this and would simply cast their dogs back and forth with whistle stops. Pretty ugly.

The standard has gotten a little tougher IMO with the addition of mandatory minimum of two triple or better tests.

Judging was and still is very inconsistant.

Originally according to AKC it was not supposed to be a "watered down" Field Trial. Dog was to be steady and take casts and find birds.

Not supposed to worry about contrived "field trial" type lines to marks or blinds. Squaring or running banks, on and off points and other such "extreme" FT type "lines" were not required.

Tests were more creative. Use of boats, blinds, etc. was more common.

Dog work has difinately gotten better. Pros have become the majority. The list goes on and on.
 

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Best way to see what they were like or supposed to be like would be to find old issues of the AKC Hunting Test Herald. They covered all the Hunting Tests for pointers, retrievers, earth dogs, hounds, etc.

Early HTs were generally small Masters, sometimes under 10. Juniors could be pretty good size.

The "Quartering Test" was soon dropped. Mosts handlers did not know how to handle their dogs in this and would simply cast their dogs back and forth with whistle stops. Pretty ugly.

The standard has gotten a little tougher IMO with the addition of mandatory minimum of two triple or better tests.

Judging was and still is very inconsistant.

Originally according to AKC it was not supposed to be a "watered down" Field Trial. Dog was to be steady and take casts and find birds.

Not supposed to worry about contrived "field trial" type lines to marks or blinds. Squaring or running banks, on and off points and other such "extreme" FT type "lines" were not required.

Tests were more creative. Use of boats, blinds, etc. was more common.

Dog work has difinately gotten better. Pros have become the majority. The list goes on and on.
Back around 1993 or 94 our local club which was basically Jim Mitchell, myself and a few other guys hosted an AKC Judging seminar, we probably had about 30 attendees from across NW Montana. At the end of the classroom part we went out into the field and had a couple volunteers set up a senior water test, and ran a few dogs on it for everyone to judge, then discuss.

The judges had set up a water blind, angle across a thirty yard wide slough to a bird on the far shore, maybe 60 yards total length. Jim and Jet were more advanced than Kimo and I were, so Jim ran first and really challanged that angle across the water, maybe five whistles to keep Jet straight to where he got out of the water at the bird to much applause. Not only were my dog and I not that skilled yet, I was also naive about the value of holding a line, I simply cast my dog fairly straight across the water, then when he reached the far shore I gave him a twenty yard over to the bird. Much discussion ensued about how much better Jet's work was, but the AKC Rep pointed out that this was a hunting scenario, not a field trail, and the reality was I was able to get my dog across the water and to the bird faster and with much less fuss than Jim had. He said both dogs would pass, but he would prefer to hunt over my dog.

The reality is I recognised and appreciated the value of training a dog to handle as Jet did, and reached that level myself later, but now even though I have highly trained retrievers fully capable of that work, I recognize the difference between hunting and field trials, and I frequently handle my dog accordingly to save time in freezing water or other reasons.

John
 

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Earl, As I stated in my first response to the op. " I hope this thread takes off"

The game sure has evolved. A conversation with and among those folks that have been there through it's evolution could be entertaining as well as educational .

I cannot add much much past the early 90's as I left the gun dog world to explore the field trial game. ( which I found to be way more exciting )

It would be nice to here all the views of that evolution without all the added noise of which venue is better or worse.
I too have a void. Got my first Lab in 1987 and found the "Derby" made the list got hooked on winning a couple of "Q's" got my second Lab in 1990 and for the next dozen or so years it was all Field Trials . I jumped back into the Hunt Test game about 10 years ago, judging and running, what a shock from yesteryear! It had become a venue onto it's own. The pro's got involved , they judged and it was no longer a total amateur game. Having said that the serious amateur who trains his own dogs can still do very well at the Master level. The Pro's in my opinion have brought a standard to the training level AND the serious Master handlers want to also have a QAA dog. So the Quals have attached themselves to some of the Hunt Tests. It's all good for the sport(s) and I think some of the so called them vrs us is going away in our neck of the woods anyway. I hope others jump on the thread too, and not get into them vrs us. It's all about the dogs.
 

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Kudos to Earl, John, Randy and of course the OP! This has been a delightful read on a slow morning. I did not get into the dog games until 2007 so I feel like Kelly. I really don't know the history of my own hobby. I too think it would be a wonderful thing to erase the line in the sand between hunt tests and field trials. Yes, its somewhat selfish on my part because I do not have many choices on where to train. But I am finding doing some of the hunt test set ups a lot of fun and still learn something new each time out.

Keep it going!
 
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