Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Pup's First Hunt Test: Our Flaws Exposed

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

Man's Best Friend
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

October 19, 2009

Pup's First Hunt Test: Our Flaws Exposed

By David DiBenedetto

On Saturday Pritch and I attended our first hunt test in Fort Lawn, S.C. The event was hosted by the Carolina Boykin Spaniel Retriever Club, and I entered Pritch in the puppy division (6 to 12 months).

Our first test was a land retrieve. There were three birds thrown—one to our left, one directly in front of us, and one to our far right. And we were downright awful. Pritch needed to hunt up the first bird but eventually found it…then decided to pluck it on the spot. I eventually ran out to her and brought her back in. She marked the next two birds well but still wouldn’t pick them up—more plucking, a little tossing, and no retrieving.

Can you say “dejection?” How about “mortification?” Maybe even a little “despair?” I felt them all.

At least I knew the water test would play to Prtich’s strengths…mainly because she loves a water retrieve and really has no choice but to pick up the bird. The test (photo above) was pretty straightforward. The bird was launched from a bank about 15 yards to our right and the dog would need to swim about 25 yards or so for the bird. I’m happy to report that Pritch hit the water like a thundering buffalo and retrieved the bird. However, she hit the bank about 5 yards from me and decided to drop the bird, take a whiz, and have a drink. Not perfect by any means.

Here’s what I took away from the event:

Birds, Birds, Birds! The land retrieve debacle was nothing more than a reflection of my training mistake. I have not put Pritch on enough birds, especially fresh birds. She would have aced that test if bumpers were tossed…but last I checked shooting bumpers out of the sky was not hunting.

Force Fetch: I have held off on the force fetch training until now. It would also solve the problem of picking up birds. Can’t hold off any longer.

Take Your Time: Stepping up to the line at a hunt test or field trial is downright nerve wracking. My knees were practically bumping. It pays to take a deep breath, relax, and make sure you’re not rushing your dog.

Have Fun: At this age, a club hunt test or field trial can serve as an excellent training session for the pup. Take advantage of that even if things go south. I came away knowing exactly what we need to work on. That alone is worth the entry fee.

Ever had a field trial or hunt test you’d like to forget? Did you take anything away from it or have your weaknesses exposed?

Speaking of, excuse us while we get to work…we’ve got a load to do.

Comments (16)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Sharkfin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave, wish I'd known about that. I drive right through Fort Lawn on the way to my hunting lease. I was going through Fort Lawn around 2:45 Saturday afternoon. Bet that was cool to watch!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from OTMBoykins wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

David,
I learn something about my dog and myself every time I run a hunt test or field trial. The great thing is that you left with things to work on. I agree...Birda AND FORCE FETCH. The FF will create an attitude change for Pritch. She will know that she is working for you instead of working for herself.

Have fun with the tests. The HRC folks are very nice and very helpful. I hope to see you at the Boykin Spaniel Society Nationals or the BSS Upland Seminar.

Here is my funny story about my first Seasoned test:

The second series was the water series. It was down a hill on a pond with a really muddy shore. I got down to the line with Wrecker and I was so nervous that I was about to throw up. I hupped Wrecker and grabbed the gun and loaded it. All I could think about was gun safety. "Am I being safe?" was racing through my mind.

I blew the duck call and a duck came out directly across the pond. I turn to the right for the next shot while trying to pull him with the gun. He was locked onto the first bird. I saw the second bird coming so I said, "Wrecker" to get his attention and I shot. I heard a splash.

I immediately replayed the situation in my mind. Did Wrecker really break? He “never” breaks….

Well, what I did was say his name which sent him on the mark. What I needed to say was "here" when I pulled him to the second mark.

I was so horrified. When I tried to move, my muck boot was stuck in the muck. I grabbed by dog and pulled my foot out of the boot leaving the boot in the mud.

I really could not be mad because he did what I told him to do.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave,

This is a little off topic. Your page has me wavering on a small multi-purpose retriever in lieu of another rabbit hound for my next dog. Small being as important as multi-purpose. This particular story seems like a pretty typical training ordeal for anyone, I don't think it's a reflection on you or the dog. Aside from this however, would you recommend a Boykin?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin,

I can assure you this training ordeal was not a reflection on the Boykin breed but a reflection on my skills as a DIY amateur trainer. Trust me, I saw some young Boykin pups that were excellent...even when they were worked in the novice category. And the older dogs, when run by good handlers, were rock solid.

I'm having a great time with Pritch and I know she has the skills. I've owned labs and now a Boykin and I loved 'em all. If you have the skills to train them, Boykins will do what you ask with gusto.

For the record, check out this link on F&S that discusses small breed hunting dogs. The Boykin is mentioned among others.

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/hunting/small-game/all-small-game...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks Dave. I did happen to see that as well. My one big concern with a spaniel as a retriever is weather. As far as accomodations, my kids would love it and we have the room to run. I'm up in PA and while I don't think my local bird hunting opportunities justify a full time waterfowl nor uplands dog, one that I can train and use for both waterfowl and pheasant would be useful and spend a lot of time in the field. It's cold up here in any but the early waterfowl seasons.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin,

Hey, so as not to highjack the comments/discussion here (I'm hoping to hear some more hunt test/field trial experiences), feel free to send me an email at mbfcontest@gmail.com and I can answer questions and pass along some info that might be useful in making your decision. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

I got a couple of beagles a few years ago from a scorned wife angry that her husband didn't take care of the dogs, hunt them anymore, or come home. I had hunted them for a few years and thought they were doing pretty good. I decided that my family and I should forgo the briar patch massacre of our annual Thanksgiving day rabbit hunt and use the dogs. With my brother, nephew, two brothers in law, and a family friend we turned the dogs loose and they got on a rabbit right away. We stopped and spread out waiting for the "rabbit" to circle. It didn't take us long to learn that the rabbit was infact a deer and that my dogs were off at warp speed. We didn't find the dogs at all and after about two hours of calling and walking, I had to give up. I got a call during dinner and that a local farmer found them at a fence the deer had jumped. I was super greatful to get my dogs back, and now when we go hunting, no one ever lets me forget about that year. I still love hunting with those dogs though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Sorry about that Dave, but thanks for the contact info.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin-- No worries...I could talk Boykins all day...which is the problem. I'll be on the lookout for your email. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

David, you know that scene in the old comedy "Funny Farm" where, after moving to the country Chevy Chase buys a dog, brings it home, lets it out of the car and watches in dismay as the dog takes off across the pasures and fields, never to be seen again?

I'm pretty sure that scene was based on the first time I ever ran one of my dogs in an event, so don't feel bad. At least you didn't have to hop in your truck and go chase down your dog over on the next section line...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Boykinup wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave,

How refreshing it is to hear such a positive attitude about your pup's first field trial. Obviously it's not your first rodeo and you well understand it's a journey that is supposed to be fun for you and the dog.

I am sorry we did not get the chance to meet in Ft. Lawn but I look forward to meeting you and Pritchard at the CBSRC trial in Blythewood, SC in December.

Blake

Blake

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

dighutner-- Funny story. Thanks for sharing it.

chadlove-- The Funny Farm reference is perfect. I imagine if we can't occasionally find humor in our pursuits then what's the point.

Boykinup-- We'll look forward to seeing you in December. -D

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I hope you are getting videos of young Pritch's exploits. One day, when she is the envy of the retrieving world, you can play back the videos and laugh to tears.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

MLH-- Excellent idea...no matter what way Pritch turns out...the videos would be a hoot...that I can attest to.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Lyne Rabern wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Videos will be priceless. I just started to go to HRC tests and am mostly alone. But a few times I have asked someone to take pictures with my camera. It brings back memories and when I look back I am struck by the changes.
Most of our trips to the line have not ended with a pass but a wise man told me that you should always bring something back to work on. Test one-it was decoys in the water. I never trained with decoys. Do now. Test two- it was distance and the recurring water issue. Test three I think both of us had reasons for failure. I'm working on having fun and relaxing. My dog and I have to work on marking and we have still have a water issue to work on. We'll train and try some more tests next year.
Training and running tests has done has made for a better hunting partner. My little brown dog showed some people that it just isn't a big dog's game. Pheasant season was fun and when we finished walking a field I could lift my dog over the fence and walk to the truck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SC_Boykin2 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

On my first hunt test, my dog ran in puppy division which was two short land retrieves and a water retrieve. We had been training on land retrieves, but Cooper had only swam twice before this event and I didn't expect much for the water. Amazingly, he swam out and brought back the bird, but he was so excited he jumped back in and just swam around and around and wouldn't come back. I was deciding whether to wade in and get him when someone suggested to just walk away. When he saw me leaving, he finally came out. I was so embarassed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from OTMBoykins wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

David,
I learn something about my dog and myself every time I run a hunt test or field trial. The great thing is that you left with things to work on. I agree...Birda AND FORCE FETCH. The FF will create an attitude change for Pritch. She will know that she is working for you instead of working for herself.

Have fun with the tests. The HRC folks are very nice and very helpful. I hope to see you at the Boykin Spaniel Society Nationals or the BSS Upland Seminar.

Here is my funny story about my first Seasoned test:

The second series was the water series. It was down a hill on a pond with a really muddy shore. I got down to the line with Wrecker and I was so nervous that I was about to throw up. I hupped Wrecker and grabbed the gun and loaded it. All I could think about was gun safety. "Am I being safe?" was racing through my mind.

I blew the duck call and a duck came out directly across the pond. I turn to the right for the next shot while trying to pull him with the gun. He was locked onto the first bird. I saw the second bird coming so I said, "Wrecker" to get his attention and I shot. I heard a splash.

I immediately replayed the situation in my mind. Did Wrecker really break? He “never” breaks….

Well, what I did was say his name which sent him on the mark. What I needed to say was "here" when I pulled him to the second mark.

I was so horrified. When I tried to move, my muck boot was stuck in the muck. I grabbed by dog and pulled my foot out of the boot leaving the boot in the mud.

I really could not be mad because he did what I told him to do.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin,

I can assure you this training ordeal was not a reflection on the Boykin breed but a reflection on my skills as a DIY amateur trainer. Trust me, I saw some young Boykin pups that were excellent...even when they were worked in the novice category. And the older dogs, when run by good handlers, were rock solid.

I'm having a great time with Pritch and I know she has the skills. I've owned labs and now a Boykin and I loved 'em all. If you have the skills to train them, Boykins will do what you ask with gusto.

For the record, check out this link on F&S that discusses small breed hunting dogs. The Boykin is mentioned among others.

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/hunting/small-game/all-small-game...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

I got a couple of beagles a few years ago from a scorned wife angry that her husband didn't take care of the dogs, hunt them anymore, or come home. I had hunted them for a few years and thought they were doing pretty good. I decided that my family and I should forgo the briar patch massacre of our annual Thanksgiving day rabbit hunt and use the dogs. With my brother, nephew, two brothers in law, and a family friend we turned the dogs loose and they got on a rabbit right away. We stopped and spread out waiting for the "rabbit" to circle. It didn't take us long to learn that the rabbit was infact a deer and that my dogs were off at warp speed. We didn't find the dogs at all and after about two hours of calling and walking, I had to give up. I got a call during dinner and that a local farmer found them at a fence the deer had jumped. I was super greatful to get my dogs back, and now when we go hunting, no one ever lets me forget about that year. I still love hunting with those dogs though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sharkfin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave, wish I'd known about that. I drive right through Fort Lawn on the way to my hunting lease. I was going through Fort Lawn around 2:45 Saturday afternoon. Bet that was cool to watch!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave,

This is a little off topic. Your page has me wavering on a small multi-purpose retriever in lieu of another rabbit hound for my next dog. Small being as important as multi-purpose. This particular story seems like a pretty typical training ordeal for anyone, I don't think it's a reflection on you or the dog. Aside from this however, would you recommend a Boykin?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks Dave. I did happen to see that as well. My one big concern with a spaniel as a retriever is weather. As far as accomodations, my kids would love it and we have the room to run. I'm up in PA and while I don't think my local bird hunting opportunities justify a full time waterfowl nor uplands dog, one that I can train and use for both waterfowl and pheasant would be useful and spend a lot of time in the field. It's cold up here in any but the early waterfowl seasons.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin,

Hey, so as not to highjack the comments/discussion here (I'm hoping to hear some more hunt test/field trial experiences), feel free to send me an email at mbfcontest@gmail.com and I can answer questions and pass along some info that might be useful in making your decision. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Sorry about that Dave, but thanks for the contact info.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

jcarlin-- No worries...I could talk Boykins all day...which is the problem. I'll be on the lookout for your email. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

David, you know that scene in the old comedy "Funny Farm" where, after moving to the country Chevy Chase buys a dog, brings it home, lets it out of the car and watches in dismay as the dog takes off across the pasures and fields, never to be seen again?

I'm pretty sure that scene was based on the first time I ever ran one of my dogs in an event, so don't feel bad. At least you didn't have to hop in your truck and go chase down your dog over on the next section line...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Boykinup wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Dave,

How refreshing it is to hear such a positive attitude about your pup's first field trial. Obviously it's not your first rodeo and you well understand it's a journey that is supposed to be fun for you and the dog.

I am sorry we did not get the chance to meet in Ft. Lawn but I look forward to meeting you and Pritchard at the CBSRC trial in Blythewood, SC in December.

Blake

Blake

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

dighutner-- Funny story. Thanks for sharing it.

chadlove-- The Funny Farm reference is perfect. I imagine if we can't occasionally find humor in our pursuits then what's the point.

Boykinup-- We'll look forward to seeing you in December. -D

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I hope you are getting videos of young Pritch's exploits. One day, when she is the envy of the retrieving world, you can play back the videos and laugh to tears.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

MLH-- Excellent idea...no matter what way Pritch turns out...the videos would be a hoot...that I can attest to.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Lyne Rabern wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Videos will be priceless. I just started to go to HRC tests and am mostly alone. But a few times I have asked someone to take pictures with my camera. It brings back memories and when I look back I am struck by the changes.
Most of our trips to the line have not ended with a pass but a wise man told me that you should always bring something back to work on. Test one-it was decoys in the water. I never trained with decoys. Do now. Test two- it was distance and the recurring water issue. Test three I think both of us had reasons for failure. I'm working on having fun and relaxing. My dog and I have to work on marking and we have still have a water issue to work on. We'll train and try some more tests next year.
Training and running tests has done has made for a better hunting partner. My little brown dog showed some people that it just isn't a big dog's game. Pheasant season was fun and when we finished walking a field I could lift my dog over the fence and walk to the truck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SC_Boykin2 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

On my first hunt test, my dog ran in puppy division which was two short land retrieves and a water retrieve. We had been training on land retrieves, but Cooper had only swam twice before this event and I didn't expect much for the water. Amazingly, he swam out and brought back the bird, but he was so excited he jumped back in and just swam around and around and wouldn't come back. I was deciding whether to wade in and get him when someone suggested to just walk away. When he saw me leaving, he finally came out. I was so embarassed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment