Thursday, March 5, 2015

National Shoot to Retrieve Field Trial Assoc. (NSTRA)- Extending the season.

 When hunting ends in the South, the field trials start up.  I usually limit trialing during hunting season and look forward to working my dogs at field trials after all the states shut down their seasons.  Typically, this means February or March.
Scott/Chip and Cap/me in the blind. 

I like the NSTRA format of field trials since it more closely replicates bird hunting.  Shotguns are used and birds are shot and retrieved.  I've witnessed long and passionate debates about different venues and formats for field trials- many times the words heat up!  Boys and girls, it's  not worth the effort.  My choice is NSTRA.  

Cap waiting to run. 
Judges and bird planter conferring. 

Basically, two handlers and their dogs sit in a blind while birds (most usually quail, but other gamebird species can be used) are hidden in a large (approx. 40 ac.) field.  The dogs are called out and turned loose to find the birds.  Judges follow each dog and score them on the Find, Retrieve, Back (or, Honor), Ground Coverage, and Obedience.  Each "brace" of two dogs runs for 30 min.  

Bird Planter filling up!

Unwanted intruder- Eastern Diamondback. 

Of course, volumes can be filled discussing the nuances and other rules, but that is it in a nutshell.  Like my Daddy used to say, "It ain't rocket science!"  I've been associated with NSTRA since 1992, or 1991, I'm not sure, it was so long ago.  I've had great dogs, good dogs and others.  The nice thing about this is, on any given day, an average dog can turn it on and beat the tar out of a National Champion.  After all, these are dogs, not machines.  Heck, I know of a dog, probably the best on the ground right now, who was beaten by a bench, show Setter- long hair and all! (We still chuckle about that one!)
Cap and I are getting ready for another run. 

When the scores are totaled, the placements are awarded first, second and third.  Points are given for the placements, and when the totals are high enough, a NSTRA Championship is awarded.

Whichever format you choose, keep the dog in the field.  He will love you all the more for it.

Heading to the Line. 

Start Line Action

I put this video in because I love it! Mearns Quail flush- AZ 2014