Shoot to Retrieve at Oak Hill

I am not really an active field trialer. I support the fun trials that are put on in the local area by the preserves where I hunt. So when the opportunity to take part in a shoot to retrieve trial that was being hosted at Oak Hill Shooting Preserve and presented by Pine Log Kennels, I knew I had to go.
The reasons for feeling that I needed to be there were two. The first it is being put on by people in the bird dog world that have always been very good to me as I pursue this passion of mine. Second is that I never did a shoot to retrieve trial and this is probably the best way for me to get introduced to how one is put on and get a basic understanding of the procedures and the rules.
The format that is being used on this day is more in line with the United Field Trialers Association (UFTA) rules. We had a large field which I would guess was about ten acres.

This field was divided into three zones. One bird was placed in each zone for each run. The run was eight minutes long and you had six shells. The runs were not done in a typical brace, it was one dog and handler at a time. I think this was done this way for safety. I can appreciate that.
Each handler had to draw a card. This card turns out to be the pattern that your birds are going to be placed in the field. This kept each run unique and in my opinion this adds an element of fairness to the trial.
I don’t have the scorecard memorized but you got points for the find, the retrieve, the number of shells you came back with and for each minute left on the clock. The purpose is to find the three birds as fast as you can, have the dog establish point, get the flush and knock the bird down, get a retrieve as fast as you can and with as few shells as you can. That takes all the opinion and subjectivity out of the judging.
After arriving at the preserve and saying hello to everyone I get a run down of the rules from Keith Pittman. Keith is the judge for the day. He is also the owner of Pine Log Kennels here in Farmville N.C.
I get Cash and I signed up and entered and wait our turn. I watch a few braces. I spend a lot of time asking questions of the folks that have done a lot of NSTRA trialing and learning the unwritten rules that only time in the game can teach you.
As a side note these folks were some of the nicest bird dog people that I have met at any event I have attended. This is not to say that the other people were not friendly but this group went out of their way to ensure they said hello and treated you as if you were an old friend. It was a great way to be introduced to a new game.
As the morning progresses I watch a few runs before our turn. The dogs are covering the field quickly and the shooting is going well. Some guys get all their birds some guys do not. One guy gets a point from his dog right at the breakaway from a bird that had moved near the start. That was pretty entertaining to watch because that dog burned up the course and walked away with the win.

The time comes for our turn and I sit in the blind and wait for the birds to be planted. I spend the time picking the brain and getting the last minute instructions from Keith and waiting for our run.

Time to move to the line. I get on the line and am told to let him go. I let the pup go and he moves about ten yards and starts creeping on a bird. This bird doesn’t stay still and is walking. Cash sees the bird and instead of pointing decides to chase it. Chase it he does. He goes all the way to the trees. Remember we only have eight minutes. I finally get him out of the trees without having to get all to him. He starts to come back through the field and get our first point. The judge says good point and I move in for the flush. Get the bird up and shot. I get a partial retrieve and we move on for the next one.

I get Cash moving in the direction that I want to go and we get a second point. Good point gets called, we get the shot and fall and another partial retrieve. This one was a little better. Note to self tighten that retrieve up during the off season. As we start to head out again time gets called.
All in all not a bad run for us in our first time doing one of these. We didn’t finish near the top and we didn’t finish at the bottom, so it was a satisfying run.
We break for lunch and spend the time socializing and sharing stories of trials, hunts and shots missed.
After lunch I watch a few more runs and then have to hit the road. During the drive home I contemplate the day. I think about how I need to get Cash a little tighter on his obedience to handle better. The retrieves need to be tightened up. The format and how this was more like a hunt than a trial. The biggest thought is how welcoming everyone was and how much fun it was to attend this event.
I hope that there will more of these run by Oak Hill Shooting Preserve and Pine Log Kennels. If there are I highly recommend you get out with your bird dog and have a great day with your dog and other like minded people. I know I will.

2 Replies to “Shoot to Retrieve at Oak Hill”

    1. This was a great day and I am glad that my description did it some justice. Hopefully I will be able to get to the next one. Thanks for following.

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