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Portland Labrador

Porter's Master Hunter Tests

Oregon Retriever Trial Club - July 2008 Test

This was Porter's first AKC Master Hunter test (and mine too) so I wanted to come into the test with realistic expectations.  I knew that he was good enough to pass, but I also knew that we were both really green and it wouldn't take much for the wheels to fall off.
In our first Junior test the wheels fell off and we went out on the first bird
(but came back and passed the test the next day). 

In our first Senior test, youth got the better of him (and inexperience of me) and he went out on the first bird.

 My goal for the first Master test was to make it out of the first series.  If we made it through the first series, then anything after that would be gravy.

The first series was a wide open triple, the left hand bird was a shot flyer at about 10 o'clock, across a piece of water and down the shore; the center bird at 1 o'clock down a small spit of land sticking into the lake from a gunner who retired into a layout blind; and the right hand bird was at 3 o'clock across a small channel of water.  It's been awhile so I don't remember the exact distances, and even if I did, you can never believe guys at a Hunt Test anyway :) The flyer was about 50 yards out, the center bird about 60 yards, and the right bird about 40-50 yards.
Porter got all three birds without much of a hunt on any of them, which is really good since I was wound pretty tight.
Then there was a down the shore blind, about 11 o'clock, past the flyer.  The blind was the meat of this series.  Porter did a real good job on the blind.  We train a lot on blinds past an old fall and a lot of down the shore blinds.  He did a real good job of staying honest in the water and not getting sucked into the old fall. 
On to the second series!
The second series was a triple, with a shot flyer (right to left) and a double blind.
First off, the flyer was shot at around 70-80 yards, at about 10 o'clock, with the line to the bird clipping the corner of a small pond.  After the flyer was down, I had to "no" Porter off the mark and then run a blind towards 9 o'clock, downwind, about 100 yards (past the flyer).  We did okay on the blind.  Not great, there were a couple of scallops due to the suction from the mark, but he held okay and picked up the blind.
After delivering the blind, with the dog on the line, another mark was thrown at 12 o'clock (left to right) and then a third at 2 o'clock (right to left, I think).  The dog then needed to pick up all three marks in any order.  Porter picked up the last bird, then the middle bird, and we lined up on the flyer.
There was a huge cross wind and when Porter went for the flyer, swam the edge of the water, he got pushed too far to the left and ran long.  I finally blew my whistle and tried handling him back upwind to the bird.  We finally got it, but it wasn't pretty.  After returning with the bird the judges didn't invite us to run the final blind (which was at about 1 o'clock between marks two and three).  I got the tap on the shoulder from the judge and were done. 
While it wasn't a pass, we made it out of the first and held our own in the second.  I was confident that we had the game to run at this level.
After thinking about what happened (a lot), my mistake was that I should have handled on the flyer a lot sooner.  I was hoping that he'd wind the bird and come back to it, but he got too far downwind (sometimes that dog is just too damned fast!).  Then I had to handle him back into a strong wind.  And if that wasn't bad enough, I wasn't handling him to the same spot the bird was at (guess I need to work on my marking skills a bit more, also).  All in all, it was a good test and I was glad we didn't go out on the first bird!

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