The 2010 National Master hosted by the Manitoba Gun Dog Association (MGDA) got off to a great start August 22, 2010 with the first event of the week the welcoming banquet. The banquet was held in the community hall in Balmoral, Manitoba a short distance from the MGDA grounds.
Judges Gaston Lamothe, Tim Marshall and Lyn Saunders had arrived Thursday evening and spent the last few days familiarizing themselves with the grounds and planning the upcoming tests.
The banquet began with the judges and other members of the head table being piped into the hall by piper Cameron Ballantyne. After a few welcoming remarks from MC Larry Baker, we rose for the national anthems of the United States and Canada. The playing of O Canada was performed by Jeff Morari on a duck call to the delight of all present. Dave Kress gave the toast to the Office of the President of the U.S., and Gail Komadoski gave the toast to the Queen. Following grace by Pat Fitzpatrick, a lovely meal was enjoyed by all with approximately 75 people in attendance.
After the meal Dewayne Hay, President of the Canadian National Master Club and Chairman of the 2010 National Master Executive committee welcomed everyone to this year’s event. He acknowledged the involvement of our major sponsors, Purina, Avery, Tri-Tronics and Bumper Boy whose support is crucial to the success of this National Master Hunt Test. The judges were introduced and presented with judges’ gifts.
Judge Lyn Saunders spoke on behalf of the judges. She commented on the excellent grounds and wished all the dog/handler teams’ good luck.
Chief Marshal Harry Steingart addressed the participants and gave final instructions regarding the mechanics of the tests. Harry then introduced each handler and dog team – hats, bibs, pins and Purina coolers with goodies were distributed.
Bob Chrystal drew the number for the starting dog – #10 OTCH High Voltage Dawnlit Fen WCX MH.
Out of 41 dogs entered there were five scratches – dog #4, 16, 21, 37 and 41
The first series consisted of a land triple and a land blind. The day was overcast, about 23 degrees celsius at 8:00 AM and extremely humid. There was a very slight wind out of the northwest.
The scenario was a tree line goose hunt in a natural grass field with varying degrees of cover. Approximately 50 goose and duck decoys were nestled in the grass enroute to bird two and bird three. All birds were retired and launched from wingers.
Bird one at 83 yards was the left hand bird thrown left to right from a holding blind that was further concealed with downed poplar trees. The blind was located in a small poplar stand. There was heavy grass cover enroute to the bird which landed in shorter grass.
Bird two at 87 yards was the middle bird thrown from left to right from a holding blind concealed by willow and poplar bushes. The bird landed in a marshy area at the edge of cover. Some birds had a visible splash.
Bird three was thrown from right to left from a holding blind concealed behind a poplar bluff. It landed in heavy grass cover 67 yards from the line.All birds were shot by a gunner at the line. The handlers started the test with a duck call and carried a gun for the marks.
As the dog was returning from picking up the last bird a diversion shot was fired to set up the land blind. The running dog briefly returned to a holding blind at the line while the blind was planted. The blind was situated at 124 yards to the right of the first gun station under the arc of the fall of the first bird. Poplar stands on either side of the line proved a challenge to some where dogs could easily disappear from sight.
Honorary test dog was GMH Win-Toba’s Talisman JFTR (Petey) owned by Colette and the late Terry O’Reilly, handled by Dewayne Hay. Petey was the first Manitoba dog to earn the title of GMH. The official test dogs were: Wyldfire’s Flames are Roaring (chocolate lab female) owned by Jim and Charlene Couch, handled by Charlene Couch. Win-Toba’s Milt Stegall SH (black lab male) owned by Kevin Howarth and Gail Komadoski, handled by Gail Komadoski.
The marks were fairly straight forward and did not create too many problems for the dog and handler teams. The land blind proved to be a bit more challenging with many dogs ping ponging between the poplar stands or getting sucked into the heavier cover to the right of the line and towards the old fall. Fortunately the judges had given the handlers a lot of latitude as to how far they could move laterally to handle their dogs and this saved the day for many. As the day progressed the wind picked up and was more directly from the west creating a good cross wind for the blind.
The last dog ran at approximately 2:00 PM in temperatures of 30+ degrees celsius. At the end of the day dog # 27 picked up and 3 dogs were dropped -
# 25, 36 and 40. Dog #17 starts the test tomorrow.
Day 2 - Tuesday, August 24th, 2009
Day two was overcast and a cool 13 degrees celsius, unlike the 30 degrees celsius experienced yesterday.
Harry Steingart and his crew arrived at 6:00 AM to set up the water test – a walk-up water triple with a blind and an honor. As the handler approaches his/her position, winger # 1 is launched, landing in tules at the waters edge and a shot fired-winger # 2 is launched landing in tall grass, right of the first bird, and a shot is fired – a duck is called and winger # 3 is launched, landing at the tip of an island, and a shot is fired.
As the dog is on its way back from the last mark a shot is fired (to signify a blind retrieve), the handler then moves six yards to the right and runs the blind. After receiving the bird he/she moves to the honor position a few yards to the left – and is dismissed when the next dog is sent. Two judges are at the marking line and one judge at the honor position, and then all three judges move behind the handler for the blind.
Test dogs “Lacrosses Running Brooke” handled by Jeff Buikema and “Win-Toba’s Milt Stegal SH” handled by Gail Komadoski, were met with rain, a very strong wind from behind the handler towards the center bird and a strong cross current in the water.
The first dog, # 17 ran at 8:20 AM. By this time the rain had cleared but kept coming back at intervals, and the wind had increased in intensity.
Dogs had trouble with bird # 2 on the right depending on the strength of the wind, the bird would land in tall grass or on the road. Handlers had to be vigilant.
On the blind the wind was pushing dogs to the right of the line all day, making it very challenging for dog and handler. By late afternoon the wind had switched, blowing from left to right, the same direction as the current, and even causing some white caps. The final analysis being if the dog gave in to the wind the handler had a job to do.
At the end of the day 4 dogs were dropped - # 30, 32, 33, 34, and dog # 1 scratched.
Dog # 26 starts the test tomorrow.
Day 3 - August 25, 2010
The upland test.
This test was held a 10 minute drive from the MGDA grounds at the home of Frank and Jan Sjoberg. The day was sunny with an early morning temperature of 16 degrees celsius and a moderate west wind.
The scenario was a pheasant hunt in a field of waist high prairie grass and poplar and aspen saplings. The field was divided in half and each side worked alternately. The dogs and handlers were grouped in flights of four.
As one dog worked the other three dog and handler teams and gallery members were guided by the marshal down the centre of the two field halves, following the working dogs progress in his hunt. As soon as the working dog completed his hunt and sit to flush the next dog in the flight proceeded over to the judges and the test began again.
Live ring neck pheasants were liberated in the field prior to each dog running. Any live flushed pheasants were shot by a gun team and retrieved to hand.
Test dogs Lacrosse’s Running Brooke MH handled by Jeff Buikema and Runner handled by Jeff Thorpe got the day underway. This was a fun series to run with many exciting moments for the dogs and handlers.
Dogs cut were # 8, 14 and 22. There are 24 dogs left. Dog # 3 starts first tomorrow
Day 4 - August 26, 2010
The test got underway at 9:15 AM. The day was sunny but cool with a light wind out of the south. The early morning temperature was 17 degrees Celsius. Test dogs were:
NMH GMH High Mileage Hilltop’s Hustle Am/Can QAA MH NMH handled by Derek Dunn and Lacrosses Running Brooke handled by Jeff Buikema.
Initially the dog was in a remote sit position with the handler behind a blind of straw bales and poplar branches. A duck call from the line initiated the start of the test. All the gunners were retired.
Bird one at the left of the field 95 yards away was released from a winger concealed behind a holding blind and shrubs and 2 shots were fired. The bird was thrown from left to right and landed in the grass in front of a wall of tulies.
Bird two was to the far right of the field at 49 yards from the line. It was shot from the line and released from a winger concealed by a holding blind and shrubs. The bird landed in cover of grass and low bushes. The bird was thrown from right to left.
Bird three, the middle bird was a pheasant. It was also shot from the line. The blind was located in front of a poplar tree and concealed by shrubs. This bird was 61 yards away and landed in moderate cover of natural grass.
After the dog returned from picking up the first of these three birds a fourth bird to the far left of the field was shot from the line and released from a winger concealed by tulies. The bird landed in marshy grass with a bit of a splash. This bird was located 62 yards from the line and thrown from left to right.
The middle of the field enroute to bird two and three and the land blind was covered with approximately 75 full bodied goose and duck decoys.
Following the marks the dogs ran the land blind. The blind was hot, located at 114 yards between the middle bird and the right hand mark. The line to the blind was tight to the gun station of the middle bird and close to the area of the fall of bird two. The test was complete with an honor.
This test proved challenging for many dogs. The pheasant at the middle station created problems for some. If the dog did not check down of flared off the trees a handle was necessary.
At the end of the day seven dogs were dropped - # 6, 10, 13, 15, 20, 35 and 38. Dog 29 was put on the clock and was a “no-show” at the line.
Dog #19 starts the test tomorrow
Day 5 - August 27, 2010
The test started at 8:00 AM with 16 dogs back to the final (fifth) series. Test dogs UH HRCH Morninglo Lightning Strikes handled by Gail Bourgeois and Dandes G Miss Laurell Fiji handled by Richard Moreau started things off. Announcer Mimi Chrystal introduced the 16 finalist as they proceeded to the line. Dog # 19 was the first dog to run. The day was sunny with a wind from the south/southwest at approximately 20 KM per hour and an early morning temperature of 17 degrees celsius.
The dog and handler were positioned in front of a blind concealed with brush and shrubs, with the handler seated on a bucket. Both marks were shot from the line and released from wingers. Gunners were fully retired.
The first bird at 43 yards was a splash bird landing in cover of cut reeds along the near left shoreline. The throw was from left to right. The second bird of the double was also on the left and landed in the water on the far side of a cove between two points. It was 74 yards from the line. The bird was thrown from left to right and two shots fired from the line. The first blind at 94 yards was located at the tip of the third point on the left shore.
After the dog returned from picking up the first mark he was sent for the first blind. As the dog was returning from retrieving the blind a diversion bird was shot and released from a concealed winger located to the right of the line. The diversions bird landed in water about 20 yards in front of the line in the middle of clumps of grass and decoys.
After the dog picked up the diversion bird he was then sent for the second blind which was located up on shore 88 yards away on the right shore. Upon returning from retrieving this blind the test concluded with the dog retrieving the second of the two marks.
The test concluded at approximately 1:30 PM and everyone gathered at Headquarters where the 2010 National Master qualifiers were announced. They were as follows: # 2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 17, 18, 23, 24, 26, 28, 31.