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Hunt Test... What are they?

A Hunt Test is essentially a simulated  bird hunt designed to evaluate a dogs abilities as a hunting companion. The dogs are judged against a written standard and criteria. Dogs in Hunt Tests DO NOT COMPETE with each other. If you are interested in competing your dog against other dogs then you need to check out  Field Trials. Three main groups sponsor Hunts, AKC, NAHRA and the Hunting Retriever Club in cooperation with the UKC.
All three organizations put on similar tests with each having its own quirks. For example in HRC (Hunting Retriever Club) the handler (you) has to hold, aim and discharge a shotgun loaded with blank popper shells in the intermediate and advanced levels. Beginning dogs in AKC must demonstrate good line manners (no pulling or jumping around while walking to the ready position which is called the line) and they must deliver the bird to hand. If you have to pick the bird up off the ground or wrestle the dog for it then the dog and you fail the test. In NAHRA your dog must trail a bird, in order to simulate tracking down a cripple that has gotten away into the bushes.

The important thing to remember when it comes to a Hunt Test is that  first and foremost they are and should be a lot of fun. The second thing to keep in mind is that this is not a real hunt, it is a test simulating a hunt. In an attempt to create an even playing field somethings that are done in Hunt Tests may seem somewhat contrary to a real life hunt. For many people Hunt Tests are a sport unto itself, and that's OK. You now have two sports to enjoy with your dog, and the Hunt Test sharpens the dogs skills to make real life hunting more enjoyable for you both.

How did Hunt Tests get started?...

Hunt Tests grew out of  the Field Trial game. Some would say that they were a rebellion against  Field Trials. The Field Trial game is expensive and this keeps many people from participating. Because of the competitive nature of Field Trials and the need of determining a winner the Trials have become more and more detached from real-life hunting. The retrieves in the early rounds routinely  reach distances greater than 400 yards, distances not usually seen in real-life.

Hunt Tests where started as a way for the average Hunter to test his or her dog for it's suitability as a hunting companion.

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