“Hunt tests-AKC and UKC”
Ever since I started seriously duck hunting, I have had a labrador retriever to accompany me. To me, it makes the experience so much better. When I got started, I had a really nice hunting chocolate lab. She was with me for 10 years and she traveled all over the country with me picking up ducks and geese. When she passed away, I started my search for a new dog. I had started hunting with a couple of guys who were into hunt tests, both AKC and UKC. I decided that my next dog would be bred right for running hunt tests so we could be the envy of our club.
I decided to run tests while watching dogs hunt at our club who were capable of gaining master hunter in AKC (MH) and/or hunting retriever champion title in UKC (HRCH). They were for the most part polished, well mannered, and able to run blind retrieves at distances I was really impressed with.
AKC explained. AKC hunt tests are available for dogs of all skill levels. Junior, senior, and master hunter titles can be attained. In a junior test, it is a perfect scenario for up and coming young dogs and novice handlers to enjoy a test. They are composed of a couple of single marks and not a lot of emphasis is placed on line manners (being well behaved). You and your dog will have an opportunity to pick up marks on land and water. In a senior test, a dog who is a little more involved gets to showcase his or her abilities. They will be asked to be steady to a mark being thrown (not breaking for the bird until commanded). Senior dogs will have to pick up double marks (2 birds thrown before sent) as well as run a blind retrieve (where the dog doesn’t see the bird go down and has to handle with hand signals and whistles).
Now a master test is for a totally finished dog. The dogs who end up passing the tests it takes to receive a master hunter title are top hunting dogs. On land and water, these dogs will be asked to have near perfect line manners. They will also be asked to pick up triple marks on land and water, as well as performing a couple of difficult blind retrieves with several factors that may cause the dog to stray from his handler’s commands. Many of today’s top stud dogs have earned a master hunter title, which a lot of folks look for in pedigrees in picking a pup.
UKC is not a whole lot different. The titles are as follows. Started retriever, seasoned retriever, and hunting retriever champion. The biggest difference with UKC is the handler of the dog will be asked to use a gun while marks are being thrown with blank shells. The UKC is thought of more as a real life hunting scenario, and the handlers are asked to wear camo to simulate real hunting situations. In my opinion, it would be a little better for folks new to the game to start out with UKC,as it seems a little more laid back and the tests are slightly easier.
If you enjoy working your retriever, there is no better way that to polish his or her skills by training for and running hunt tests. You will get to meet very nice people with similar interests, get to see some great dog work, and get your retriever ready to really shine in the duck blind for the upcoming season! Happy hunting and good luck in your hunt tests and in the duck blind!