The South Dakota Hunting Dog Club Retriever Hunting Test

Coping with the Unexpected – Like a Tornado!!

by Wayne Bleazard, AKC Field Representative

The South Dakota Hunting Dog Club was the first NAVHDA club to put on an AKC hunt test. Most of the people in their club had pointing dogs so they first applied to be a pointer hunt test club with the AKC. They put on an AKC hunt test for pointers in August 2008. As the Pointing Breed Hunt Test went so well, they contacted AKC to see if they could also run a hunt test for retrievers. Thirty or so members also had retrievers and the club felt they should accommodate these members. As it turned out the AKC obliged and the club is now known as the South Dakota Hunting Dog Club.  Their first retriever hunt test was held on June 6-7 2009 and their second one of the year on August 7-9, 2009.

The grounds used were at the town of Alexandria, South Dakota on the Granite Springs Pheasant Hunting Preserve. A week before the hunt test four inches of rain fell, washing out a dam that held most of the water that the club was going to use. The owners of preserve let the club use some of their other property, about eleven miles down the road. Many of the contestants did not get the e-mail that was sent out and had to call the secretary to find the test. All of the contestants found the grounds and were on time. The club had to scramble a little bit to get things going but the club members pulled together and set up the test as soon as they could. It was nice to see people new to the sport come and just work!! The club had things organized where two or three new people would come and work each day. Joe Rodrigues the club president and Cindy Wollmann were the experienced hunt test people and they were more than willing to share their knowledge with the new folks.

The grounds were very nice for the first series of the master and the judges did a very good job of setting up a very difficult and demanding set of marks and blinds. The wait was well worth it. The cover was quite high (so dogs had to work hard and mark the birds well) and it made the marking and going for the dogs very hard. Judges and handlers alike had to work on the two blinds (handlers had to keep their dog on line to see them).

As the day went on the weather got very hot and humid, and one dog put on a rather long hunt and started to show signs of heat exhaustion. Club members scrambled to get some ice for the dog, which rallied after a while. The dog’s owner wisely decided to take him into Sioux Falls to have a vet check him out.

Around 1:00 P.M. the clouds started to build up with a storm to the west of the trial grounds. Some contestants said they had heard on the radio that a tornado was in the area. This was not a good thing for a boy from Utah (me) to hear. Within an hour the clouds were right on top of the trial so the club decided to stop the test due to the lighting. News reports on the radio indicated the small town of Spencer, the town we were near, had a tornado warning and everyone was told to take cover. The tornado was going in a south east direction so about ¾ of the contestants jumped into their cars and trucks and headed north.  To say the least it was a little scary for folks who are not used to that kind of weather. In about an hour the storm passed and the club went on with the few dogs left to run the first series of the master. The junior test had sixteen dogs and was done quite early on Saturday. The master judges decided to start their second series back at the Granite Springs Lodge on a land water series. It was some what difficult for the judges because of the dam that was broke and they had to use their ingenuity to make a good test. This was quite a day and the club should be acknowledged for getting through it in great fashion.

One of the club members had a food wagon on the grounds.  For $10.00 you could eat both lunch and dinner.  But the best thing is he had a freezer and made root beer floats for the judges and contestants.  When its hot and very humid, it makes the day go by much faster.

The South Dakota Hunting Dog Club put on a very nice hunt test under some tough conditions. Well done!!!!


Pheasant Creek weather station


David Jansma and Pat McHale, Master Judges