Your dog might be able do it all, but if you want to win, you've got to come through with your end of the partnership.
My yellow Lab, Abby, and I competed in the NHDA National Championship in Stratton, Colorado. We qualified on Friday, April 7th, then entered the puppy championship on the 8th and placed 3rd. We also entered the Amateur Flushing Division on Saturday afternoon, placing 14th in a field of 38 dogs. Abby was the youngest dog competing in that division.
The Amateur Flushing Division only awarded prizes through 4th place and if it wasn't for my excitement and stupidity, we could have made the top four. It takes teamwork to compete in an NHDA event. It's not just the dog. Abby produced the birds, I had a tough time shooting them.
This event was 25 minutes long, six birds and eight shells. Points are given for birds flushed, full retrieves or partial retrieves, bagged birds, time remaining and shells left over. We were 14 minutes into the event, I had four birds and two shells left. The dog had just made a fantastic retrieve on the fourth bird and while the judge and I were commenting on how wonderful she was doing at only 10 months of age, the excitement got to me.
After retrieving the bird to hand, she move on about 20 yards and flushed two chukars. I brought the gun up squeezed the trigger, nothing happened. I forgot to reload after the fourth bird. One chukar flew out of bounds, the other landed 50 yards in front of us. I whoa'd the pup, reloaded the gun and headed for the bird. Abby flushed it in fine order, and in my excitement I missed. I was out of shells and had 9 minutes left. If the gun were loaded, my head was down and nerves calm we could have won.
This story proves you can have a good dog, but it takes both hunter and dog to produce results.
The National Hunting Dog Association was designed for the average hunter and dog. Events are held all over the country at host clubs and preserves. For more information, call the National Hunting Dog Association at (316) 686-2505.
Our trip to the NHDA Nationals was exciting; however, I had a lonely ride home. Abby, wasn't talking to me after I missed those birds. She did her job, I didn't do mine.
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