Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Tests

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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby KJ » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:15 pm

I stand by my statement that I wouldn't send a UT dog, or any dog for that matter, on a blind in a hunting situation from the furthest point possible and expect them to immediately forego the 20 yards of cattails in front of it to search the far bank. If I send a dog out of cover toward cover, I expect it to search that cover. If you have a dog that will blow through cover on a straight line like a retriever, to me that's training for the test, not a hunting situation. Or, if that was the only spot available to send a blind, I'd at least handle them beyond the initial cover so they didn't waste time searching an area where there was no duck. Which, again, is not allowed at the UT level.


Remember that testing isn't just about simulating a hunting scenario, it is also about evaluating dogs for their breeding potential. While the duck search does have some hunting value, IMO, it is the one single task in all of NAVHDA testing that I think tells you the most about a dog's makeup. It is hard to tell much from test scores without seeing the performance, but if I see a family of dogs continuously knocks out 4s in the duck search with different handlers, I have a lot more confidence that the dogs have a good motor to work with. I can't say that I can make any other reasonable conclusions based on average score data in any other part of a NA or UT test - i.e. does a family of dogs get 3s in search because they lack search, or because they run a little too "free" (which many judges will ding a dog for)? Did it get a 3 in pointing because it lacks intensity, or because it ripped a few birds? These details matter to a breeder.

With a true 4 duck search dog, you have to worry more about getting them back, not whether they will expand far enough. As Howie said, they will excel with whatever you put in front of them.


Based on your description, my purely speculative guess is that the judges felt that the cover immediately in front of the dog was not a great enough area that would have required the full 10 minutes to search. It was probably a smaller area that the judges felt could adequately be searched in a few minutes (should the dog decided to hunt that first), then leave enough time to provide the dog an opportunity to expand. After the dog hits most of the close cover......do they choose to expand, or keep searching most of the same cover? That is what usually separates them. One run of bad luck would be that the dog hits duck scent in the close cover and gets hung up on the scent and runs out of time before it could expand.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GPBLITZ » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:37 pm

Personally I think this is a about just another day testing and a inexperienced handler that thinks he knows more than the judges. . Move on , train your dog and learn from your inexperience.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby Duckdon » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:51 pm

GPBLITZ wrote:Personally I think this is a about just another day testing and a inexperienced handler that thinks he knows more than the judges. . Move on , train your dog and learn from your inexperience.


Dang it Howie, ya killed it.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:30 am

GPBLITZ wrote:Personally I think this is a about just another day testing and a inexperienced handler that thinks he knows more than the judges.


Yup. Why question anything, right? Just follow blindly like sheep. It's the American way! Otherwise how are we expected to learn and grow as handlers and trainers??

Move on , train your dog and learn from your inexperience.


The whole point of this thread was exactly that: to learn if similar duck search setups were common. As I said, I've been to several UT tests at various chapters, and this is the first time I've heard of a duck search with such conditions. Now I know it's probably more common than I thought, which is good! It's something I need to consider when training my next UT dog.

I spoke with a judge from the test last night. His guess was that there were about 20 feet of cattails, so not as deep as the handler suggested. But he did say the landing was very narrow. I believe his exact description was "tunnel of cattails." Only two dogs made it through Sunday, and both were from the host chapter and had trained at that spot all summer. Not an excuse for the dogs that didn't make it, just an observation.

So thanks, everyone, who contributed constructive comments. I enjoy seeing varying perspectives. That's the cool thing about dog training. Everyone has their own way of accomplishing the same goal. The good trainers are the ones who recognize this and know when to tweak their program to fit different dogs.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:32 am

KJ wrote:Remember that testing isn't just about simulating a hunting scenario, it is also about evaluating dogs for their breeding potential. While the duck search does have some hunting value, IMO, it is the one single task in all of NAVHDA testing that I think tells you the most about a dog's makeup. It is hard to tell much from test scores without seeing the performance, but if I see a family of dogs continuously knocks out 4s in the duck search with different handlers, I have a lot more confidence that the dogs have a good motor to work with. I can't say that I can make any other reasonable conclusions based on average score data in any other part of a NA or UT test - i.e. does a family of dogs get 3s in search because they lack search, or because they run a little too "free" (which many judges will ding a dog for)? Did it get a 3 in pointing because it lacks intensity, or because it ripped a few birds? These details matter to a breeder.

With a true 4 duck search dog, you have to worry more about getting them back, not whether they will expand far enough. As Howie said, they will excel with whatever you put in front of them.

Based on your description, my purely speculative guess is that the judges felt that the cover immediately in front of the dog was not a great enough area that would have required the full 10 minutes to search. It was probably a smaller area that the judges felt could adequately be searched in a few minutes (should the dog decided to hunt that first), then leave enough time to provide the dog an opportunity to expand. After the dog hits most of the close cover......do they choose to expand, or keep searching most of the same cover? That is what usually separates them. One run of bad luck would be that the dog hits duck scent in the close cover and gets hung up on the scent and runs out of time before it could expand.


That makes a lot of sense. I'm sure that's what they were thinking. Even if it was a more difficult scenario that most, the idea remained the same and a 4 duck search dog would have handled what it had it front of it. Thanks! I'll definitely remember that mentality moving forward.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GPBLITZ » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:47 am

GWPtyler, I wasn't trying to be a smart azz in what I wrote , just to the point. Anytime you question a score or a set up the handler should go directly to the judges. Ask politely and listen to what they have to say. Always thank the judges for being there to judge the hounds. By posting it on here we only have speculation . The judges have the answer. NEVER BE A SHEEP TO NO ONE,
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:36 am

GPBLITZ wrote:GWPtyler, I wasn't trying to be a smart azz in what I wrote , just to the point. Anytime you question a score or a set up the handler should go directly to the judges. Ask politely and listen to what they have to say. Always thank the judges for being there to judge the hounds. By posting it on here we only have speculation . The judges have the answer. NEVER BE A SHEEP TO NO ONE,


I appreciate your insight. Sorry if I lost my decorum.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:22 am

There are a few things that come with experience in testing in NAVHDA. One is that a really good dog leaves no doubt as to what the score will be. If the performance is debatable then it is debatable. Don't be surprised if the judges see a 3 when we are 'hoping' for a 4. Secondly you get a better understanding of the purpose of a given task. For example the track in the NA test has nothing to do with actually getting the bird. A dog can take off running straight to the pheasant and retrieve it to hand and get a 0. Another dog can slowly plod along, lose the track 5 times, come back and pick it up again, etc for 200 yards, never find the bird and still get a 4. The duck search was designed to evaluate a situation where neither hunter nor dog know where the game is but it MUST be recovered. (You come upon a group of hunters who say they lost some ducks somewhere out there) The test wants to see a dog independently do whatever it takes to find that bird. Not really a common situation in the U.S. but remember these tests were based off the German tests. I have actually used this at a preserve where I help sometimes. There is a bordering swamp and hunters come back saying they had a pheasant fall somewhere in the swamp a couple hours ago. I think we are close to 100% in recovering those birds.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:26 am

gwp4me2 wrote:. The duck search was designed to evaluate a situation where neither hunter nor dog know where the game is but it MUST be recovered.


Except, a dog with an expansive search that doesn't linger in one area and continually is looking, but doesn't find the duck can still get a 4. Right?
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:44 am

GWPtyler wrote:
gwp4me2 wrote:. The duck search was designed to evaluate a situation where neither hunter nor dog know where the game is but it MUST be recovered.


Except, a dog with an expansive search that doesn't linger in one area and continually is looking, but doesn't find the duck can still get a 4. Right?

Correct. In a test situation you can't wait until the dog actually finds the bird but at 10 minutes you can probably have a pretty good idea that, given time, it would.
Just like on the drag in UT the test has nothing to do with tracking. That may seem counter-intuitive but that test is all about what the dog does when it is out of sight/control of the handler and has game. The dog could totally ignore the drag, run out and find the duck and retrieve it and still get a 4. A dog that follows the track perfectly to the duck and not retrieve it can get a 0. Sometimes we get hung up on parts of the test that aren't really what is being evaluated, many of which aren't meant to duplicate our particular hunting style and circumstances.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:02 pm

I just measured the duck search 'pond' at one of our testing venues. 3+ miles long and 1+ miles wide of unbroken water, cattails and phragmite. I don't want to wait for a dog to catch a rogue duck in all of that! Judges will have you call your dog back if it is expanding too far. Again, the test is to measure search and desire not find.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:07 am

Update: The dog in the original post retested this weekend and scored a 204 PI. She was a sight to see!
Last edited by GWPtyler on Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GPBLITZ » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:06 am

That's the way to git-R- done. Congrats.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:01 am

GPBLITZ wrote:That's the way to git-R- done. Congrats.


The handler was beyond relieved. We all knew that pup had it in her, so it was great to see the pieces come together.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby Misskiwi67 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:13 am

I went to a training day this weekend, and my dog will be running HZP on these grounds in October. These are also the grounds for next years Armbruster. The setup where we did blind retrieves was the exact same scenario. I thought my pup would push through the cat tails to the other side, particularly since the water was not wide or deep, but she did not, she just searched the cat tails on the near shore.
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