St. Patrick’s Day weekend began with our youngest daughter getting married, and was also a double-double hunt test weekend. Before wedding plans were made, I’d entered Mia in Senior and Elettra in Junior hunt tests sponsored by the Idaho Brittany Club and German Shorthair Pointer Club of Idaho so it was a busy weekend. While Saturday was sunny and nearly 60 degrees, Sunday was in the 40s with a good 30 mph wind blowing across the ridges and the ground scattered with snow pellets from the night before.
Elettra did well on Saturday but received low test scores – maybe the heat was getting to her in spite of watering her down at the water troughs. She found two birds, was rock solid on point for a good 45 seconds to a minute while I approached and flushed, and was solidly steady-to-wing-and-shot. Still, she barely passed her nose and pointing categories with 6’s.
Sunday’s test was much the same but with different results. She pointed two birds up on a ridge, but they weren’t flying due to the heavy wind. I had to chase the first bird to get it to flush, and Elettra was steady through most of the chase. Not long after that she hit on another bird about 150 yards out and reflecting on it, I must have looked kind of silly running across the hillside with my revolver (starter pistol) drawn and ready to shoot. Elettra held a steady point until I was nearly to her, then her brace mate, a pup taking her first test, dashed in and broke on the bird giving chase. Elettra broke and joined in the chase until the bird flushed and I got my shot off. Still, she held both of her points well in spite of the distractions and was credited for them.
Mia did about as well as I had expected, given that I haven’t really spent time working with her on honoring. In her first test, Mia was disqualified before we even got to the bird field by not honoring her brace mate’s point. It turned out that there was no bird, but still she didn’t honor the point and was duly disqualified. I had a choice of heading back to camp or leashing her and following, so I opted for the latter so that I could check out the bird field and get an idea on how to run my dogs.
On Sunday she at least made it to the bird field, and came on two partridge but failed to point either. Both birds were out in the open and on the first bird, Mia came around a bush to find herself face-to-face with it; the bird immediately began running and Mia gave chase so that was the end of that. As for the second bird, it was walking around out in the open when she came on it, and she responded by giving a short unsteady point. She reset herself a couple of times before giving up and walking back to me with that “what do I do now?” look. No point.
It seemed like few dogs were cooperating that weekend, especially Senior dogs. Dogs that I’ve known to be perfectly solid during training and hunting were breaking and chasing birds from one end of the field to the other. Dogs that were staunch at backing were simply ignoring their brace mates on point. It was a rough weekend for everyone and I was disappointed in those owners who gave their dogs some heavy handed discipline. But pass or fail, I was proud of my guys for their effort and told them so.