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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Retriever Olympics

Field trials and hunt tests have much to offer waterfowlers and their dogs
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“Don’t be intimidated,” Tackett continues. “Anybody can be a great dog trainer. And everyone in the club started just like you.”

Spokesmen for retriever clubs agree that hunters with duck dogs should at least attend some sort of event, if only to see how effective a properly trained dog can be. “New guys should just go out and visit one of these tests,” Mann says. “It doesn’t have to be AKC. It can be UKC or NAHRA—they just need to see what these dogs are capable of.”

All three organizations have easy-to-navigate websites with a wealth of contact information. The best way to get involved is to simply decide which organization is best for you, find out where the nearest club is, and go check it out. 

Field trials and hunt tests: What are the Differences? 

Field Trial

  • Dogs compete against other dogs in their class level of proficiency
  • Handlers and bird boys wear white coats, and scenarios might not replicate true hunting situations
  • Retrieves are often conducted over long distances
  • Bird boys stand in the open to throw birds (but may leave the field afterward)

Hunt Test

  • Dogs are evaluated against a standard of proficiency but do not compete against one another
  • Retrieving scenarios are designed to closely replicate hunting. Handlers wear camouflage and often carry shotguns
  • Bird boys are hidden behind blinds, and retrieving distances are much closer

Retriever Club Links

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