WELCOME to the Official Report of the 2010 Master National Hunting Test, October 10-17, brought to you by the Retriever News and written by Tina Ebner & Joule Charney. We hope you enjoy these daily updates on the 10-10-10 Master National, held this year in and around Corning, California.


Event Information

Previous Posts

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 6- Friday, October 15, 2010

Brought to you by Eukanuba

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT OUR REPORT: We don't want you to miss anything! We post updates and we continually are adding details about all the Tests and Flights, dating back to Day 1 on Sunday, 10-10-10.

Donut Hole
Oh No
Not So
Never Again
Par 4

Never Again
Not So
Par 4
Oh No
Bubba's Gone Huntin

Not So
Par 4
Never Again
Bubba's Gone Huntin
Donut Hole

NEW FEATURE - MAP OF ALL SIX TESTS: Now that all six tests of this year's Master National have been revealed, we can show you their relative locations on the grounds of Clear Creek Sports Club...

Map of the 2010 Master National Grounds showing all six tests.

Flight A: Fifth Series -- "Par 4"
Water Double with Diversion Bird

Two drake mallards are launched from stations on the other side of the water. There is no flyer. The 75-yd memory bird is on the left, and is launched right to left. The 68-yd go-bird is launched left to right. Both land near the water's edge. As the dog is returning with the go-bird, a 40-yd diversion bird is hand thrown from the near shore into the middle of the channel. The handler begins the test seated on a bucket.

Flight A handlers received a text around 9 pm Thursday night informing them where their fifth series was to occur and that it would be starting at 8:30 rather than 7:30 am. The dogs are generally during well, with a few handles on the left bird. At the beginning of the day, there was a slight wind from the west. Later in the day, the wind has been coming from the south; and, by mid-afternoon, it has increased substantially. There was one large gust around 3 pm that tipped the Judges' canopy into a perfect 45 degree Angle Back. It stayed put in a precarious Pop on its far two legs for a few seconds as several people rushed to return it to an upright position. 

The wind seems to be stronger at this test/venue than the others, at any given time.

Flight A is expected to complete this series today, having made faster progress through the tests than the other two Flights. It cannot move to its sixth series until the Bubba test is completed by Flight B, which is expected sometime tomorrow.

FLIGHT A CALLBACKS TO THE 6th SERIES: Dog #5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35, 37, 40, 42, 43, 44, 47, 50, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, 87, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103, 107, 109, 110, 113, 118. Total # dogs called back: 61.

Flight B, Fourth Series: "Oh No"
Land Triple with Double Blind
-- Walk-up with Honor

This land test consists of all rooster pheasants. All birds are launched from left to right and at square(ish) angles, all left to right. Angles are varying somewhat with wind conditions. The The left bird is the first to be launched, at 75 yds. The middle is next, at 95 yds. The right-hand bird is a flyer. The target area is 110 yds. The falls have been inconsistent today.

There is a double blind, a short one of only 35 yds between the left and middle marks and an outside one on the right, at 85 yds. The field contains a variety of cover. It slopes gently downward toward the middle and right marks and is dotted with low moguls.

Flight B, Fifth Series -- "Bubba's Gone Huntin"
Water Quad with Blind

This is the first and only quad of this year's Master National. Flight B is the second flight to run it and it continues to wow handlers and spectators. It is very exciting, sort of like the grand finale of a fireworks show. Even one Judge from another Flight mentioned how much she would love to run her dogs on it. 

This test also has the distinction of being the only one for which there are two official MNRC photos, one for the quad and one for the blind. The Line is the same for both. The reason for the two photos is that this test is much wider than it is deep, as viewed from the Line. The MNRC was not able to fit it all into one photo.

The gallery is not able to see much of this test for two main reasons, distance and elevation. Spectators must remain on the main road that runs through Clear Creek, which is a long way from the Line. The elevation issue requires a lengthier explanation. The Bubba venue is located where there were catfish ponds many years ago. They typically are built as multiple ponds with square corners, separated by levies. From a distance, this test looks like a maze. 

The Line is on one of the levies. Handlers and their dogs approach from another levy that runs perpendicularly into it. They arrive at that levy by one of two levies that are parallel with the one on which the Line is situated. The main pond utilized for this series is one long rectangle. From the vantage point of the line, the road is to the left (west). The gallery must remain on the road. In this case, they not only are behind the Line, they must be behind the levy on which it is located.

The road is higher than the levies; so, anyone who drives by this test can view the near end of the pond below. Vehicles are allowed to use the road while the test is in progress; however, common courtesy dictates that they try to avoid driving by at a time they will interfere. So far, this hasn't been easy. Most people have no idea what's going on with this test and when. The holding blinds and canopies are to the right as viewed from the road.

A really nifty spit, built specifically for the Master National, is visible from the road.
During non-test times, a vehicle going toward the clubhouse could slow down enough for occupants to look down and view it from the passenger side.

The quad is further away from the road, toward the east. It basically is impossible to see, as are the handlers and their dogs. Despite all this, it is exciting to observe, maybe even more so than the average quad. The mystique of not being able to see everything is part of the allure. You can't see the dog and handler at the Line. You don't know when they've arrived there. All of a sudden (it seems), birds start arcing through the air with a big volley of guns: 1 -2 - 3 - 4. There is a rhythm and speed build into these launches that adds to the enticement.

If you are lucky enough to have a dog running this test, or you are working at this venue, what you do see, here and feel is nothing short of thrilling. 
And, then, that's it. Until it starts all over again with the next dog you can't see.

The Bubba Gunner is hunkered down at the base of the levy. Bubba 'shoots' the first bird, a 40 yarder that is launched, right to left, from a very visible winger perched in a boat that is beached at the end of the spit. This is the left bird, which is angled back. Some land on the spit; some land just beyond it.

The Line is to the right of the holding blind. The second bird down is the long (left-middle) at 80 yds. Next comes the flyer, which is the furthest to the right. It is launched straight out from the same levy as the Line, and averages 40 yds. All the flyer birds are sluiced as soon as they're down. At that moment, one of the Judges signals for the fourth bird which is launched from the next levy behind the handler and in an arc almost directly overhead. The bird causing nearly all the trouble for Flight C was the long one, which is the only one that lands beyond the levy on the other side of the pond. That levy is nothing but bare dirt and is wide enough for two cars to fit side-by-side. The dogs that had the most problems came up a bit too far to the left, or angled to the left as they ran across it. There is another S-type spit on the other side and, just to the right of the line, a dark brown bush or pile of vegetation to further complicate this mark. The true line is directly over a long log. Nearly all the dogs who made it to the log ran around it.

As different and fun as it is to watch the distant arc of the birds, it's a darn shame the gallery can't watch the dogs run this test. It would have them on the edge of their seats, or tailgates, if they could...Both test dogs in Flight B broke! A third test dog then did a great job followed by another dog who ran the test "flawlessly," per one handler. Then the next dog broke.

Flight C, Fifth Series -- "Donut Hole"
Water Triple with Double Blind

The pond is kidney-shaped. The ‘donut’ is on the far side toward the middle bird. It is a reverse island, in essence. There is a circular mound with water in the middle, all water is running water. All birds in this series are Drake Mallards and launched out of wingers. The first bird down is the flier, from the right station, intended to be at 50 yds. The station is completely concealed from the Line by tall, thick cover, referred to in these parts as “tules.” This bird is landing on the land on the far side of the pond. There is no way to be certain if the literal line will be through this cover, as this bird is a live shot flier. The middle bird is next, angled back to the left, at 70 yds. The go-bird is the longest, and angled back to the right, at 89 yards. 

Flight C's day began at this test, where the Judges announced that they will be getting sharper with their pencils. One of the test dogs had a handle. Overall, the dogs are doing well. There was at least one handle on the flyer and one Pick Up. Most of the problems are on the converging left and middle birds.

This test venue either has been fraught with flyer launching difficulties or gunner crews who seem to have the flyer launchers under control. Live bird stations at this Master National have the usual challenges that come with live birds; but, there also is the challenge of working with a device most have never used nor even seen before. Instead of being thrown, the flyers are launched from a device that easily can be mistaken for a winger from the distance of the gallery. Some of the workers who have mastered the art of working with them this week seem particularly proud of themselves and eager to share their techniques.

A worker named Antonio is making a big impression at the Donut Hole this afternoon. Gun Captain Mike O'Bannon marvels at his expertise. With Antonio at the flyer station, the birds come out "more active and alive," says Mike."When I do it, they come out like a brick." Also very impressive is that Antonio's time is being donated by Ray Shanks, a pro from Georgia. Mike describes Antonio as Ray's "personal bird boy." 

FLIGHT C CALLBACKS TO THE 6th SERIES: Dog #1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 45, 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 68, 69, 71, 73, 75, 76, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 92, 93, 95, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102, 104, 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 117. Total # dogs called back: 68.

Handler Jean Fowler and husband Chuck

Waiting.  Waiting.  And, Waiting.
Gun Captain Mike O'Bannon and Jack.

The wind at the beginning of this Master National was nothing to write (or call, text or e-mail) home about. Then, it became the topic of conversation. Today, it varied from almost none, to one gust that nearly turned the Par 4 canopy into a gigantic blue flyer four long white legs.

The overcast skies have brought the high temperatures down some, but it has been one hot, hot week. 

The atmosphere here has been laid-back for the most part. Nerves seemed to be getting to a few people Tuesday evening, but the Workers' Party Wednesday night served not only as its name implies, it also got a lot of minds off of their dogs' work, good or not so good. Frankie's Party last night was a jovial affair under the big tent.

Today, at all three Flights, there seemed to be a lot less movement, and a lot less chatter, than on previous days. People were slumped in chairs near many of their vehicles. What little conversation occurred included talk of getting home. Home-home, not the places people have been staying this week, or longer, that many here refer to as 'home.'

The look here, is one of waiting.


Master National Running Order

  • Flight A
  • Flight B
  • Flight C