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My First Bird Dog – Why Attend a Hunt Test or Field Trial?

As a few readers in my previous post correctly guessed, the Springer spaniel is a breed in consideration to become my first bird dog. And after having her heart melt for an English cocker spaniel at the most recent National Pheasant Fest (okay, ditto for me), Kaily – my partner and half financer in getting a pup – and I decided we should investigate these two breed avenues a litter further.

In addition to providing entertainment, attending Hunt Tests and Field Trials is a great way gain knowledge and resources during your dog search.

Having hunted behind a dozen or so breeds, I’ve witnessed a few exceptional springers, including Wolf, the late companion of longtime Pheasants Forever Journal Editor Mark Herwig. But I’ve never hunted behind a cocker, and Kaily’s only seen metro-walk-in-the-park springers, so we decided our best bet to get further acquainted with these breeds during the non-hunting season was to attend a Spaniel Hunt Test (just an FYI, Hunt Tests are open to all AKC registered Spaniels, including Boykin, Field, Clumber, etc.).

We barely made it home from the Hunt Test without this little guy.

My goals were simple: To watch dogs work, ask as many questions of participating dog handlers as humanly possible in a half day and not get sucked into buying a dog on the spot. I accomplished all three, though Kaily came dangerously close to caving on the third goal.

The biggest apprehension leading into the event was that I’d be imposing on this exclusive club of dog owners and they’d see me as an outsider – hey, confidence isn’t always in full supply. As you can probably guess, I couldn’t have been more wrong. We were greeted with smiles, questions were answered, references were made, dogs were watched and I got Kaily away from the litter of puppies that all-too-conveniently happened to be there just in time. A final decision has yet to be made, but we certainly feel more equipped to make the right pick for us having been active spectators at the Hunt Test.

Have any of your bird dog searches led you to check out a Hunt Test or Field Trial?

Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauck.

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5 Responses to “My First Bird Dog – Why Attend a Hunt Test or Field Trial?”

  1. Dr. Sherry McKenzie says:

    I am so happy to read that you two went to a place where there were lots of activities happening in order to gather more information. I know you will both agree on your first puppy. ENJOY!!!

  2. Cody Ervin says:

    Go check out the VGP and HZP for drahthaars! Went with my dad in 1991 and have been a huge drahthaar fan and owner since. The ultimate in hunting dogs.

  3. CDY says:

    Find a NAVHDA chapter and attend a few training session especially if they have some young Korthals Griffons [ Wirehaired Pointing Griffons] being trained.Check the Griffs history on line and compare to other breeds.

  4. Kevin says:

    Hunt tests field trials snd training sessions are all good sources to observe different breeds. Unfortunately if your buying your dog in the next four or five months most if not all of these events are over in Minnesota by the time bird seasons open. If you won’t be getting your dog until next summer you can find a number of activities already scheduled for 2012 on the web site of “Minnesota Federation of Field Trial Clubs,Inc.” http://www.MFFTC.com

  5. @Kevin, very good point. This was a late spring event we attended. Thanks for sharing the link. – Anthony


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