Thursday afternoon, Judges Bruce Kelly (Ontario), Dewayne Hay (Manitoba) and Dr. Tracey Griffin DVM (British Columbia) arrived on “The Island” and settled into the Sherwood Motel for a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning, the Chief Marshall, Alec Hoyt, had Bruce, Dewayne and Tracey up to view potential test sites and start planning the upcoming tests. While on PEI, Bruce, Dewayne and Tracey enjoyed driving a brand new 2010 Kia Van, which had been loaned to the PEIRC for the week by Discover Kia and Thrifty Car Rentals. Thanks to the cooperative efforts of our hard working setup crew, the judges and the Chief Marshall, the test planning and setup was completed by Saturday afternoon.
Even as the judges and setup crew worked hard to prepare for the upcoming event, contestants started to arrive from all parts of Canada and the US. Several of the contestants took advantage of the lovely maritime weather to sight-see or do a bit of pre-national training.
On Sunday evening, the opening banquet was held at the York Community Centre. Members of the Hospitality Committee had spent the previous day decorating the hall and setting up the Silent Auction tables. The banquet commenced with the judges and other members of the head table being “piped in” to the hall by piper Tom Burke. The opening banquet was called to order by hunt test chairman, Walter Vessey who served as master of ceremonies. Every one thoroughly enjoyed a lovely meal, which had been prepared by PEI Retriever Club member, Kenneth Vickerson and was served by several lovely young ladies who were the daughters of various club & committee members. During the banquet, Walter acknowledged the support of various sponsors including Purina, Tri-Tronics, Avery and others. The support of all our sponsors is greatly appreciated and will help to make this event a success. The Judges were introduced and were each presented with a lovely personalized Ducks Unlimited presentation decoy as well as a gift packages provided by Purina, Avery, Zink Calls and other sponsors.
One of the highlights of the evening was an exciting live auction which was conducted by auctioneer Allison Smith. Several beautiful items, including a lovely hooded merganser decoy which had been carved by CNMRC president Derek Dunn, fetched excellent prices and prompted applause by all.
Later in the evening, Dewayne Hay addressed those present on behalf of the judges and wished all participants the best of luck during the upcoming week of testing. Chief Marshall, Alec Hoyt, also addressed the participants and issued instructions regarding the mechanics of the event.
Lastly, Chairman Walter Vessey announced each dog in turn and the handlers came forward to get their numbered Tri-Tronics hats, bibs, pins and “goody bags” which had been prepared by Purina. Once this was completed, Purina rep, Tim Crone, drew the number of the dog which will start the 2009 Canadian National Master Retriever Hunt Test..... that dog is GMH Yeller Yellow Bear MH who is owned and handled by Daniel Desgagne of Quebec.
Day 1 - Monday, September 7th, 2009
The 2009 National Master Hunt Test started on Monday morning at an old growth field which has been creatively bush hogged especially for the event. The weather was cool and clear with a moderate breeze..... just perfect!! You could feel the excitement in the air as Honorary Test Dog, 13 ½ year old GMH MHR Just Plain Anny QFTR WCX completed the retrieve which symbolically started the event.
The opening series consisted of two tests, a land triple and a land blind followed by an honour.
The first bird thrown was located 72 yards to the left of the line and was thrown right to left to land in a patch of long grass. The middle bird was located 104 yards from the line and was thrown from a Zinger Winger angle back to the right to land behind a strip of tall cover. The third bird, also thrown from a Zinger Winger, was located 61 yards to the right of the line and was thrown left to right to land amongst a large grouping of decoys. After retrieving the triple, handlers were asked to take their dogs inside a holding blind while the bird girl from station 3 planted the blind. After the blind was planted, contestants then ran the blind from the same point of origin as the marks and then moved approximately 10 feet to the left for an honour. Most of the dogs did a very good job of this series.
Two dogs were lost, one for returning to an old fall and the other for breaking. 25 dogs were carried forward to the second series.
The second series was set at the scenic Hardy Mill Pond which is located on the Winter River. In this series there was a duck boat anchored near a spread of 2 dozen Avery over-size black duck decoys. As the handler and dog exited the holding blind a “hunter” sitting in the duck boat started blowing a duck call and fired 2 shots. The “hunter” then yelled out that he had shot a duck and asked the handler to pick up the duck which was hidden in the grass on the far side of the river approximately 101 yards from the point of origin. The line to the blind angled into the river and past the diversion boat and decoys which were located to the left. There was a moderate crosswind blowing left to right.
The majority of the dogs did a good job of this blind. One dog was dropped after this series.
24 dogs were carried forward to the third series.
Day 2 - Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
After enjoying a hot breakfast at headquarters, the contestants caravanned to the test site at 7:30 am. Today’s test site was a scenic farm pond which was surrounded by marsh land and pasture fields.... a picture perfect setting for our 3rd series. The weather was sunny with cloudy periods.
Today’s test consisted of a water triple followed by an honour.
Both the working dog and the honour dog were placed outside well brushed blinds while the handlers stood inside the blinds.
The first bird was located 48 yards to the right of the working dog and was thrown angle back to the left so that the bird landed along the pond’s shore line. Bird # 2 was located further down the same shoreline at 108 yards and this bird was also thrown angle back to the left to land on the far side of a small bay. Bird # 3 was thrown from a Gunners Up launcher located on the left side of the pond 57 yards from the point of origin.
Work in this series was a mix of some excellent jobs, some good jobs and a few fair jobs. About 1/2 of the dogs had to handle on 1 or more marks.
We lost two dogs today. 22 dogs are being carried forward to the 4th series which will be an upland hunting test.
The scenario was a pheasant hunt in an old growth field of patchy thigh high grass and weeds. A live Ring Neck Pheasant was liberated in the field prior to each dog running. Two dead pheasants were also seeded into the field. Each dog was asked to quarter the field and locate the birds. Any dead pheasants found were to be delivered to hand, the live flushed pheasants were shot by a gun team supplied by the PEI Springer Spaniel Club. Any live pheasants shot by the gun team were also to be retrieved to hand. This was a fun series to run; the live pheasants moved around on the course quite a bit giving the judges a chance to evaluate the dog's trailing abilities. By the end of this series 4 dogs had fallen victim to the excitement of the wild flushing pheasants. The dogs dropped after this series were Dog # 12 NMH High Mileage Firestorm Am/Can MH, Dog # 13 AFTCH FTCH Ogden Quik Nashka WCX MH, Dog # 15 Yorkton's Raven of Eagle Rock MH, WCX and dog # 20 GMH Southrock Mystic River Artemis WCX, MH.
18 dogs were carried forward to Series 5
This afternoon we did a land/water blind with a diversion mark thrown from a winger while the dog was enroute to the blind. After the dog completed the blind, it was asked to pick up the diversion bird. Most dogs did a good job on this series, however one dog did pick up the diversion bird before the blind.
We lost two dogs after this series, they were Dog # 3 Sprint Non Stop, MH and Dog # 14 See The Difference Of Memphré WCX MH.
16 dogs were carried forward to Series # 6 which will be a water triple with a water blind.
Series 6 (Tests 7 & 8)
Today's series consisted of two "tests", a tight water triple run out of a boat and a water blind.
The setting was a Ducks Unlimited pond with an irregular shoreline and several small islands. Several dozen strategically placed Avery decoys and the fact that the handlers and dogs had to run out of a boat added "spice" to the situation.
There was a real mix of work on the marking series with several dogs handling on one or more marks. Work on the blind was generally good.
After this series five dogs were dropped, they were as follows:
Dog # 2 Mjolnir's That'll Be The Day, MH
Dog # 4 Beaushiloh Let It Be Romeo, AGN, AGNJ, RA, MH, WCX
Dog # 5 Yorkton's Merigomish Cassie, MH, WCX
Dog # 8 HRCH UH GMH Ch Tsunami Skeetercreek Kiss This WCX MH
Dog # 22 Black Forest Island River QFTR, MH
11 dogs were carried forward to the 7th and final series, which the judges have advised will be a land marking series with a blind.
Series 7 (Tests 9 & 10)
Today's 7th series was set in a hay field with patchy re-growth. The scenario was a goose / duck hunt, thus the field was filled with 12 dozen Avery Goose & Duck decoys and also contained a layout blind from which the handler must run his/her dog. The test consisted of a delayed quad followed by a blind. Retrieves 1 - 3 were thrown and then the dog was sent for bird # 3. When the dog returned from retrieving the go bird, gunner # 4 threw it's bird and then the dog retrieved the 3 remaining marks (all marks were thrown from wingers). After the marks were retrieved, a dry shot was fired and the dogs had to run a blind which was under the arc of bird # 4. Generally speaking, the dogs did excellent work in this series.
After the series was completed, everyone returned to the test headquarters where the qualifiers were announced.
The qualifiers for the 2009 Canadian national Master Retriever Test are as follows:
Dog # 6 Shorfind Clyde of Gahonk, MH
Dog # 7 NMH High Mileage JB’S Believer, QFTR, Am/Can MH
Dog # 9 GMH Riveblanche Toby Kitt
Dog # 16 GMH Yeller Yellow Bear
Dog # 18 NMH Mossy's Dangling Participles MH
Dog # 19 Blackwatch Leiftur MH
Dog # 21 NMH GMH High Mileage Hilltop’s Hustle Am/Can MH, MNH
Dog # 23 Mossy River's Darn Deadlines, MH
Dog # 24 Scaupgetter Super Kate, MH
Dog # 25 NMH Candlewood’s High Mileage Hope Am/Can MH
Dog # 27 Topbrass Turbo Diesel MH
From all reports, a good time was had by all. A BIG thank you goes out to all the workers, sponsors and contestants who made this event possible.