Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Some of my favorite bird dog pictures from back in the day.

New England, ND  (read the fine print)
"Gotcha!" Cap on Chukar ID

Cap on Chukar covey in the rocks

Ace and Hungarian Partridge Idaho

Ace hit a covey of Blue Quail hard in TX

Me and the guys in ND

Momma and her favorite, Cap, in ND

Bo, 2001 QU National Champion

Ace and Pheasant ND

Ace and limit ND

Cap and Gambles AZ

Cap and his first Sharptail Grouse MT

NSTRA CH Randy's Rednecked Ruby

Cap and Sharptail MT
Worn out pup Chukar hunting ID
Ruby and Valley Quail ID
ND- the end of the bird hunting rainbow! 

Momma's first Bobwhite on the rise! GA

Monday, June 16, 2014

Field Trialing in the Heartland or Why would I drive 1000 miles to roast in the heat?

Flyboy's Ruby Deux
When bird season is shutdown everywhere, with no hope of a covey rise, and training quail are gone, the dogs begin to mope in the pen. I like to road them everyday with the ATV and work the puppies on obedience and take long walks around the pastures simulating hunting casts. But, also, I like to continue, with my main dogs, to compete in NSTRA (National Shoot to Retrieve Association Field Trials).  This time of year, the major national trial remaining is the UKC Performance Trial in Waverly, Nebraska.  128 top dogs from all over the country gather to compete for championship points.  Generally, prior to a major trial like this one, the local club will run a "pre-trial", which is a normal NSTRA trial for the competitors.  It will enable the non-local dogs a time to acclimate to the terrain, weather, scenting conditions, etc.  In this case, the pre-trials started on Saturday prior and ran until Tuesday.  The main Trial started on Wednesday and ran through Saturday.  We arrived on Saturday before the main trial started and I took a picture of the temp gauge in my truck.  96 degrees!  Really? Wow!  I was so glad I put the extra time in to conditioning my dogs.
Hot Day for Field Trials

Field Trialing is for the fit dog and handler.  I say that without reservation.  If the dog is not fit, he can't handle the heat and stress of running flat-out in the heat (or snow, rain, etc.), day after day.  Of course, Fido may do very well a time or two, but, if you are observant, you will see the winners on the podiums as perfect physical specimens. They are worked ahead of time- trained and practiced and roaded/run....a lot.  They can handle the physical stress of travel, changes of routine and scenery and running hard day after day. As for the handler, it helps to be able to move quickly, as well.  I tried hard to keep up with the younger bucks and running is not allowed (the rule is absolutely, strictly enforced), but sometimes age and fitness matter.  It's important to be able to move quickly around the field with the dog working as a team- heat or not.


Cap 1st and Ruby 3rd in Second Day Elimination

The Final 8 (Cap is 3rd from left.)

In the end, we made a good run.  I, personally, made it farther than ever before in a National Sanctioned NSTRA Trial with a Fifth Place finish with Cap. Ruby finished near 10th (not sure of her final ranking).  I'm  proud of both my dogs and how well they worked against some very tough competition; I would say some of the toughest in the nation. I have two more Brits back in the barn, both 9 months old, and they swear they are ready right now! Pearl is a little, liver colored female and Shack is a big, orange male.  Both are out of Ruby by Ace.  They both have what it takes to find birds for me.  And they both will field trail when the seasons are closed everywhere, and there's no hope for a covey rise.
Nebraska Cornfields and Rainbows