Hunting Performance Test
- Created on Friday, 03 September 2010 03:21
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- Published on Friday, 03 September 2010 03:21
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Read about a Hunting Performance Test!
BHCA/Timberline BHC Hunting Performance Test by Carol Makowski
On May 3, 2009, the Basset Hound Club of America and Timberline Basset Hound Club hosted a hunting performance test at Chico Basin Ranch near Fountain, Colorado, south and east of Colorado Springs. This was the first time in many years that Colorado was able to find workable field grounds (thanks to John Meahl). There were a total of 13 stakes participating – 3 solos (2 Basset, 1 Dachshund) 5 braces (2 Basset, 3 Dachshund) and 5 2-coupled packs (1 Basset, 4 Dachshund). There was a total of 31 dogs participating in this test - 8 Bassets, 23 Dachshunds. The test chairman was Dachshund Breeder/Exhibitor Dawn-Renee Mack of Lakewood, Colorado. Judges were Dr. Jean Dieden (Oregon), John Meahl (New York) and Carol Peterman (Texas).
It was a beautiful day for the test – clear, partly sunny, mild breeze. We were concerned because it had been raining quite hard the night before but on Sunday morning, the weather was clear and pleasant. We gathered at a predetermined place on the ranch which had some nice shade, outbuildings and seating –the same area used the previous day for bird banding. A registration table was set up. Michael Moon is the ranch manager, and he began the morning by speaking to the group about the mission of Chico Basin Ranch, a working cattle ranch dedicated to working collaboratively with neighboring ranches and with people and organizations in the local community and nearby cities to establish relationships that enhance the ecological and economic stability of this ranching operation. Chico consists of 87,000 acres of land owned by the State of Colorado Land Board - http://www.chicobasinranch.com/.
The draw for order of running took place at approximately 8 a.m. – solos followed by braces followed by packs. Judges gave a briefing to the exhibitors about the procedure. There were several present who had never attended a hunt test before. It was wonderful to have so many Dachshunds present with their owners and handlers. What a sight that was – mostly mini’s but a good variety of coats and colors. The terrain was rough but fairly level and had some cactus. The dogs were minimally bothered by the prickly plants and most were able to avoid them. The cottontails were sparse but nearly every stake had a rabbit to run. The rabbits were not surfacing that day in substantial numbers, so the dogs had to work hard, very typical of western hunting conditions; it was a challenging test for the judges and exhibitors as well. Surprisingly, a couple of jackrabbits also surfaced during the course of the day. Cattle and horses roamed freely in small groups and some were curious about us. Their presence nearby wasn’t a problem – we just kept moving.
We had one qualifier owned by Dana and Michael O’Rell of Louisville, Colorado – a Basset Hound named Winchester who regularly goes out with his owners to find rabbits – no formal training whatsoever. Winchester’s owners tell me he learned to open and follow a line from another local Basset named Clementine – a star at one of our earlier hunt tests in Ft. Collins. We’ll be working with the manager of Chico to plan for future tests, possibly in the fall. Hope some of you will plan on coming out and experiencing our Colorado hospitality.
To see photos from the Hunting Performance Test, please download this pdf file: colorado hunt test 2009.pdf
Jo Ann Hilliker
Basset Hounds have been important part of my life for the last 25 years. They are often described a clowns, problem solvers, hard headed, and couch potatoes. Couch Potato! ? Not anymore.
Since the Basset Hound Club of America introduced the Hunting Performance Test for Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Beagles and Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens ( PBGV), my hounds are hunting dogs!
The Hunting Performance Test is a non-competitive test of hunting ability designed to provide a hunting experience for hounds that can’t or don’t compete in field trials. The test is a great opportunity for hounds in geographic areas that do not support field trials. Spayed and neutered hounds are welcomed, too. In Florida our tests draw a mixture of show dogs, family pets, performance dogs (agility, obedience, rally, tracking), and potential breeding hounds. All hounds must be registered with the American Kennel Club or have been issued an AKC ILP number. The owners all want to give their hounds a chance to hunt and to have recognition that their hounds do hunt well.
The Hunting Performance Test scores hounds on many of the same skills use in field trials, with two exceptions. The hounds are cast in the hunting field and must search for their own rabbit to run. The second difference is that a starter pistol is fired while the dog is running rabbit and giving voice. We have never had a hound to fail the gun shyness test at one of our tests.
The other criteria used to judge the hounds are line ability, adaptability, determination and use of voice. . Each stake has 30 minutes to find a rabbit. The judges allow the hounds to work until they have seen enough to score the dog.
Each criterion is scored on a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being the best. The dog must score at least a 5 in each area and average a 6 overall to pass. The test is pass/fail. Every hound can be a winner.
The judges of the Hunting Performance Test are expected to understand that each of the four breeds has a different style of hunting rabbits. We don’t expect a basset to behave like a beagle or a dachshund to give voice like a basset. The PBGV has a unique start but settles down to serious searching after a few minutes in the field. Two judges score each stake.
Three classes are available; Solo, Brace and Two-coupled Pack. The owners decide which hounds run together in brace and pack. The hounds can be owned by the same individual or they can each have a different owner. In brace and pack, the same hunting criteria are used as in solo, but when the first dog finds a rabbit and gives voice, the other(s) are expected to honor. The brace or pack should then work as a team.
Three levels of recognition are available: Hunting Hound, Senior Hunting Hound and finally the for those dogs that have completed all three classes. Master Hunting Hound. The title Master Hunting Hound Excellent is given to hounds who qualify as a Master Hunting Hound and also has points at an AKC Conformation show.
Hunting Performance Tests are currently being held in the following states: Washington, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Basset Hound Club members elsewhere are looking for owners of the other hound breeds to partner with them in hosting additional tests.. Since the tests are frequently offered in areas without field trials, cooperation and participation of all four breeds insures that each test has a full entry and can break even on income and expenses. The schedule of test is available at the Basset Hound Club of America web site.
The Hunting Performance Test committee of BHCA has developed a workbook on the Test to help people understand the test and how to host one. The Hunting Performance Test Workbook Course #404 is $18 (includes shipping). It is available from Claudia Orlandi, PO Box 169, Essex Junction, and VT 05453-0169. BHCA has a series of workbooks of interest to dog people. Another new one is titled Scent and the Scenting Dog Course #402 is also available for the above address.
My own bassets do their share of shows, agility, tracking and pet life, but have all become enthusiastic hunters after being allowed to hunt to prepare for the Hunting Performance Test. I have been amazed as how quickly they learn... What a joy to hear that basset bay when on the trail of a rabbit!
However we have encountered a few problems along the way. Once my dogs started to hunt they did not want to stop hunting. They have been very clever figuring out ways to ‘get out” and hunt. Luckily I live in a rural area with lots of farm land close by but I have spent many hours searching for a hunting hound or two. Recently a couple of neighbor boys watched me following tracks down a sand road. They asked if I was looking for a basset.
“Yes! He is a hunting dog.. I am sure he is running rabbit.” I responded.
“Follow us,” they replied
I drove into their yard and their father came out of the house and said, “Are you looking for a basset?”
Again, I said, “Yes, have you seen him?”
“Come inside, “he said... And what did I see? My basset was sprawled on their couch sleeping!
One boy said, “He came in the yard this morning, He’s been sleeping all afternoon. He was a tired pup!”
Maybe I need to re-think the “couch- potato” description of bassets!
The Hunting Performance Test has proven to be an great experience for my bassets and me. Join us.
Jo Ann Hilliker, Chair
BHCA Hunting Performance Test
Following are links to various summaries of the Hunting Performance Test entries and results through August, 2009. More results to be entered, please check back soon.
We are posting this information on the BHCA Website so that everyone can keep track of their hounds and be able to catch any mistakes quickly. If you note any errors or omissions in this data, please contact Melody Fair.
Master Hunting Hound Excellent