How could one feel that someone who has hunted several labs through the years, in various situations, and has titled one or more of those dogs wouldn't be more prepared to judge...all else being equal, than someone who doesn't have that experience?
Couldn't agree more. NOt sure how much more prepared but I would think this would be valuable experience that for sure couldn't hurt. I sure haven't learned a ton that would help me judge a dog in a hunt test by hunting. At least not that I couldn't learn as good or better in training. THe most important thing is understanding test set-up and how dogs react to factors. I have had VERY DARN FEW situations that involve 3 to 4 birds evenly spaced that didn't involve overlapping hunt areas. Yet hunt tests at the upper levels have this!!!
My hunting experience would tell me to dump 1-4 birds in the decoys with overlapping hunt areas and wing one off 300 yards or have it fly off perfect and die 300 yards out. SO I would pick up three gimme birds and run a 300 yard blind. These things don't help a hunting dog mark better not do they make meaningful tests. ANyone with hunting experience would know the things we run at master or finished are VERY unlikely in almost any real hunting. THey happen occassionally but not very often.
In the last three years I bet I have encountered 3 poison birds, maybe 2-3 diversions and I think no triples or quads with evenly spaced birds. I have had lots of multiple birds but not like you get in a hunt tests. I bet 15 times or so I have had 200+ yard blinds on stone dead birds. Yet the rules don't allow you to run 100+ yard blinds. I personally think a master dog should handle VERY well out to 300 yards. I don't care to mark out that far and think 100 yards is adequate but for blinds I feel I need much more.
Just my opinions.