Sunday, October 31, 2010

The South Dakota 5-minute field trial

"We may not see a placement in quite awhile." this one is from April 2010
We went up to Hungry Valley, Nevada to the German Shorthair Pointer Club of Northern Nevada walking field trial this weekend.  We were to run in two 30-minute gun dog contests.  One on Saturday and one on Sunday.

I was told over the last six months that if I took Bailey, who was a green broke dog to South Dakota on a pheasant hunt that I would ruin his field-trial abilities.

"It is like taking a well-tuned track race car and take it off-road joy riding." A good friend of mine told me. 

Well, I now call what happened this weekend, the South Dakota 5-minute field trial.  Bailey ran Saturday afternoon in Limited Amateur Gun Dog and within five minutes had pointed two birds.  But on the first bird he held his hold for about one minute.  I think the chucker choose to leave and Bailey moved in and flushed the bird before I could get to him.
I was about 150 yards away when he went on point.  I had not given him a "whoop" call (code for DON'T MOVE) as I approched (I was within 30 feet when he moved.)  He might have held until I got there if I had.  My mistake.

That was at the four minute mark.  He was out of the contest. 

Before I could collar him, he went on point on a second bird about 100 yards further down the course.  I had to put his leash on and pull him off his point (hated doing this, but was ordered by judges that is what was to be done.  In hindsight, I should have picked him up physically and repositioned him way out of the way through the flush of the bird) while the bracemate, that was honoring Bailey's point, was given the bird found by Bailey.  Two birds in five minutes, but we were done in that contest.

Sunday morning.  We are the first brace out.  Would the South Dakota 5-minute field trial continue?
Off we went just after 8 a.m.  Bailey shot out like a rocket.  He was 300 yards away within a minute and running well.   At four minutes Bailey was out of sight over a small ridge but a chucker flew from the left to right and then we saw Bailey in chase.  The judge hadn't seen Bailey flush the bird so we carried on.  30 seconds later, Bailey now came upon bird number two that he sent into the air and gave chase.  Judge calls out to me "Handler, collar your dog."

So in two days Bailey has found four birds in 10 minutes.  Many dogs had gone birdless (not locating a single bird) in the 30-minute contests.

Bailey running through a South Dakota harvested corn field
I have lost my "broke dog" by taking him hunting in South Dakota.  I would not have changed a thing in what I chose to do.  I can work to steady Bailey again.  I could never replace the great time we had in South Dakota.

 Bailey is one hell of a bird dog.  He has a nose and a drive that impresses even the seasoned pros. 

Now Bailey and I have some work to do.  That's ok.  He is young (28-months-old) intelligent and willing.

South Dakota was an adventure of maybe a lifetime.  It was a "no brainer" that we made the right choice.


Ken and Janet said...

Good post Rod - I wouldn't worry too much about it - a few weeks in the garage and your boy will be tuned and ready for the track again!

Andrew Campbell said...

Rod: your dog learned more about real, live actual birds (as opposed to the hand-thrown, planted birds at most trials) in SD and even at this trial. If you move, birds get up; there's no reward. He just needs some more time with you and some good-flying birds.

Am in Maine hunting grouse with my two -- I will certainly write about it when I get home -- but it has been great watching them both get 'stickier' on birds that won't stick around for nonsense. The birds teach them lessons we can't ever.