Friday, February 13, 2009

Hunting and field trialing - compatible?

A hunter can try out field trials in walking stakes - informal, inexpensive and a lot of fun... 

It is probable that the first field trials were the result of a bet between two or more hunters on who had the best dog. It seems almost inevitable that such a thing would happen. While hunting is not (or at least shouldn't be) a competitive sport, it is certain that field trialing is competitive. Even those who 'just want to run my dog' like the recognition that comes with winning.

But sportsmanship is alive and well... field trialers it seems are always ready to help a fellow in need with loan of a horse, a loan of equipment, help in scouting or looking for a a lost dog. And field trialers know that if they do not come to trials and run their dogs, or help by marshalling, or judging or just driving the dogs truck, there would be no field trials.

Hunters often say that field trials 'are not like hunting'. I agree, further, they should not be like hunting. They are tests for dogs, not hunters. But field trialers and hunters share the goal for producing and running good bird dogs, so the ambivalence (or even hostility) that some hunters have towards field trials is puzzling to me. Being a hunter and a field trialer both, I enjoy a good bird dog whether it is out by myself on a hunt or watching a polished performer laying down a solid heat in a trial.

I would encourage all who have not been to a trial to at least go and have a look, you'll likely find a bunch of nice folks who share your interest and welcome your questions. You might like it!


Eric G said...

Thanks for the post. I think I would love to check out a field trial. What is the best way to locate a field trail?


Eric G

Andrew Campbell said...


There are a number of different trial organizations -- each with their own subtle differences and emphases. For me, at least, the easiest organization to figure out when and where trials will be held is the AKC. Go to the 'Events' section on their homepage and go to the 'Event Search' section. You can then search by time period and state.

I would also suggest figuring out who your local sporting dog club is and checking their webpage to see if they sponsor events nearby.

I'd agree with Mike about trialing and hunting not being incompatible -- and am a relative convert to trialing being someone who, out of ignorance and being somewhat intimidated by all the stuff I thought you needed, held off from it. If you back to my post here on LWB from December 7th, 2008, you'll get my reflections on our first fall season of trialing.

We have our first trial of the 2009 season next weekend. I'm a little too excited.


Peter Houser said...

Eric, you might also look for local bird dog groups. I've been associated with the San Diego Sporting Dog Club off-and-on for 15 years or so. The organize group training days every month and also hold "fun trials" a couple of times each year. It is all very informal, but many of the members also participate in field trials and can point newbies in the right direction.

Eric G said...

Thanks you guys. I'll check it out and let you know what I find.