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

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

MEETINGS- Saturday, October 9, 2010

Well, we have a long day ahead of us...merchandise sales, meetings and the all-important...judges instructions to the handlers! Check back for future updates.

Special Note: Be sure to refresh your screen while checking out the daily report as additions may have been made. Also, you can click on the photos to enlarge. ENJOY!

Saturday is shaping up to be a very busy day! The headquarter hotels are all-abuzz with the handlers registration. There is a morning and afternoon bitch check. Then the all important shopping sprees began with MNRC and Lassen Retriever Club merchandise sales.

Sales were brisk and the lines extended well down the halls of the Ramada Inn.

Outside the official merchandise sales area, Molly Schlachter the official photographer displayed her framed photo collages to commemorate the event. The Retriever News sold subscriptions, as well as Callback books and Judges Manuals. There were also fine art vendors selling beautiful paintings and prints.

(Mandatory attendance for handlers)

At 1 pm, the Judges' instruction to the handlers began. John Blackbird thanked Brad Henman, manager of Clear Creek Sports Club as well as the set-up crews, humans and dogs. The Stake Chairs are: Flight A - John Marchica. Flight B - Janet Wood. Flight C - Gloria Mundell. John then introduced the Judges who received special hunting bags as gifts. The pairing then commenced: Mary Williams and Bill Cummins, Myrna Zumwalt and Clarence Klaus, and Keith Kiesow and Bill Blochowiak. He commented that they designed eleven tests over the course of the last few days and they have chosen the six best tests for the dogs to run. Every dog has the potential to see all six tests.

The first Tests/Venues are designated as follows:
Flight A:   "Donut Hole"  --  Mary Williams and Bill Cummins
Flight B:   "Never Again"  --  Myrna Zumwalt and Clarence Klaus
Flight C:   "Not So"  --  Keith Kiesow and Bill Blochowiak

The rotation for each Flight is the same: 61 - 41 - 21 - 1 - 101 - 81.

There are a total of ten scratches:
Flight A: #65, 81, 88
Flight B: #28, 74
Flight C: #8, 23, 28, 57, 66

As an ongoing tradition, special hats were given to the handlers of the starting dogs.
Flight A: Leslie Karnes; Flight B: Janet Wood; Flight C: Ronnie Lee

Test Dogs: Sunday, 10-10-10: 8 am; Every other morning: 7:30 am.


GUN-HANDLING: Guns must be shouldered in shooting position for all marks. Guns must be handled as if they are real. After the dog is sent, the handler can put the gun down in the gun stand or hand it off to a judge.

WALK-UPS: Dog should not sit until the bird is in the air. If the dog sits when he hears the duck call, that is not within the handler's control. Handlers should try to accommodate the rule.

NO BIRDS: 1st, handler returns after 3 dogs. 2nd = 6 dogs. 3rd = go to end of running order. No exceptions.

RUNNING ORDER: Dogs will be run in order. The adherence to this will be very strict. No excuses. If # comes up and handler is not there, he/she will be put on the clock.

HONORING: If judges allow without a lead, that doesn't necessarily mean that dog has passed that series. "Judges need to analyze each and every dog.” Callbacks tell you if a handler has passed that series.

CALLBACKS: Callbacks will be given at the site. The only exception is if another Flight is needing to be there. In that event, callbacks will be given at the clubhouse. They will also be posted in the casino complex lobby. No partial callbacks.

BIRDS: Minimum of four flyers; 2 ducks, 2 pheasants. There will be one series of just hen ducks.

Tomorrow: Two Flights will have ducks, and the other will have pheasants. There will be no mixed bags this National. The Board wanted to have mixed bags; however, they could figure out how to do them in keeping with other priorities.

John stated that the Board is pitching for helpers, due to a shortage. Some volunteers have been here one week already and then volunteered to work another week.

John then opened the floor to questions. Here is a recap of some of the items raised:

HANDICAPPED PERSONS: An exception can be made for handlers who cannot lift their arms high enough.

KNEELING: When shouldering the gun, it is okay if the handler chooses to kneel (assuming it is not a walk-up).

DOG EXERCISE AREA: Absolutely no training is allowed, despite the temptations due to the large expanse of land.

WALK-UPS: There will be no duck call on the first bird on walk-ups. The handler must not stop until the bird is in the air and there is a shot.

ROTATION: It is conceivable that a handler could run a dog and then run the same dog in the next series twenty dogs later. Although this is possible, is is not probable.

DAILY END TIME: Before dark.

HIGH TEMPERATURES: There will be swimming pools at the last holding blind. The safety crew consists of two vets and Janet Peters. They are good at seeing signs of heat stroke in humans as well as dogs. "Remember, everyone's responsible for making sure this is a safe event," Janet reminded the group.

COMPLETION OF FIRST SERIES: It is the hope that it will be completed on Monday. "There's no possible way we'll get done on Sunday,” stated John Blackbird. This applies to all Flights.

MAPS: More than 100 maps were distributed. “It is hard to get lost. There is one main road,” stated Janet Peters. The Flights will be marked A, B and C.

LAYOUT OF THE FLIGHTS: There will be no announcement of which Flight will be reached first, second and third, as one travels along the main road.

CHANGES IN CONDITIONS: The Stake Chairpersons have “latitude” to run a test dog due to changes such as wind direction or rain.

SHIFT CHANGES: Shift #1 should be ready at 7 am. Shift #2 should be ready at 10:30 am, even though the actual shift change might not be until 11 am. Shift #3 is anticipated to begin at 3 pm. If a bird change occurs at 2:40 or 3:10 pm, that will be the time of the shift change. The third shift works until the end of the test day.

SHADE: There are many canopies that have been supplied by various sponsors. Some handlers will bring their own umbrellas.

If a Stake Chairperson is needed and is not available, handlers were instructed to find John Blackbird. Stake Chairs are listed in the Catalog on Pages 30, 31 and 32.


The Communications Representative for the Master National, Mia DiBenedetto, was introduced. Handlers who included their cell phone numbers on their registrations will be notified by a text alert system to be informed in the event of an emergency. Mia stated that flash floods and mud at the 2009 Master National made evident the need to immediately communicate. Persons must be listed in the database of cell phones generated by the registrations to be a part of the text alerting system. Mia gave assurances that the registered phones will not be spammed nor will a text be sent every day. Handlers were instructed they may opt out or inform the Communications Rep if they wish to change a number. Mia stated that this system is in place to inform people who are not on the grounds regarding such hazards as thunderstorms. “This is just one of the communication strategies.” Mia stated that more would be revealed later in the meeting.

A handler asked if all cell phones have texting capability. The response was that some phones may have the capability but that their owners may not know how to use it. If in doubt, it was suggested to “ask a teenager.”


Next, Committee Chairs were announced. It was stated emphatically by John Blackbird and others that help is very much needed. The point was made that hunting tests were designed for everyone to get out into the field to work.


John concluded the meeting with this sentiment: "Enjoy yourself. Make sure your dog does the best he can. Keep your head on your shoulders and your dog by your side."


Outgoing MNRC President Janet Peters officially called the meeting to order.


Jerry Mann was the presenter. He congratulated the dogs who qualified to get here and also the dogs who could not be here who qualified.

Since the Spring of 2009, there is a new title in the process of being approved. Additional voting by the Board of Directors is scheduled on October 18-19 and again at the November meeting.

Bill Teague was announced as the the new chairman of the RHTAC. This duty will rotate every four years, beginning January 1, 2011.

Jerry explained how recommendations or changes are made. Individuals should contact the regional Board person.

The AKC Performance Group is looking for improvement in the program.


The Corporate Sponsors who were present were introduced, including the Retriever News team of Tina Ebner, Managing Editor, and Joule Charney, feature writer and reporter. The Avery rep has not yet arrived at this year's event. (A detailed list of Sponsors can be found on Pages 4 and 5 of the Catalog.)

Special recognition was given to California folks John and Susan Michelli for their generous contributions. After the Master National last year in Texas, the Club's trailer was a muddy mess. This year's Event Chair Jay Phelps dropped it off at the Michellis' on his way through California. John had offered to store it due to a roof leak. With surprise, amazement and delight, it later was discovered that John had cleaned out the trailer, pressure washed all its contents, cleaned the floor and cleaned and oiled all the guns, which were wet. This year, John donated three of his farm workers. John and Susan are Gold Level Sponsors.

Cabelas is a new sponsor this year.


Jay Phelps is Chairman of this National. "Jay said 'I do' to me," quipped Janet. A strong set-up team was led by Kevin Bunnell and Janet Wood. "My job was to tee this ball up," Janet explained.

Brad Henman, Manager of Clear Creek Sports Club, where all the tests are located, was introduced last night. "I'm sure you'll see him bee-bopping around on his quad or in his pick-up truck."


The meeting was turned over to Frank Barton, MNRC Secretary/Treasurer, for his annual report. 

There were 153 paid clubs as of about 1 hr ago, said Frank. "Some clubs realized they were delinquent; so they "paid for their vote, so to speak." (Member Clubs are listed on Pages 22 - 26 of the Catalog.) More than enough Member Clubs signed up for this meeting, with 25% constituting a quorum.

Last year's Minutes were approved as distributed.

Frank Barton stated he had no report as Secretary. He then proceeded with his report as Treasurer.  Last year, which is considered to be all of 2009, as the Club functions on a calendar year basis, was a "very, very good year. It followed another very, very good year." There is "a shade over $114,000 in the bank," which earned about 2.75% all year long. "I was real pleased with that." There is an Accounts Receivable of $10,700. Checks were misplaced. This matter is now resolved. There were a few Payables for the 2009 event. $4400 was the only liability. $23,723 was the net income for the year. Current Assets refers to $500 paid in 2009 toward the 2010 event. The Profit & Loss Statement is split into an 'administrative side,' which had a slight loss of $1,500' and an 'event side,' which realized more than $25,000 in profit. Comparatively, the profit in 2009 was around $20,000.

"When we come out to California, it's just tough. We will not do that well this year, (even though) the entries are up. We're very healthy. We could handle a complete disaster," said Frank. "I enjoy being your treasurer. It's a privilege working for you and the sport." The Treasurer's Report was unanimously approved.


Presenters were Incoming MNRC John Marchica, and Terri Stevens. The Opening tentatively is set for September 30, 2011. Susquehanna Retriever Club is host. This Club has approximately 45 members and holds two hunt tests annually. It is located in Eastern Shore, Maryland. Meetings already have taken place with the Department of Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce. "Those folks are jumping up and down," John said gleefully. "Newspapers are already rolling on this thing. They're going wild."

The main venue is a 440 acre main farm in Anatidae, which is pronounced 'aNAYT-a-day.' Terri Stevens elaborated that there are several natural ponds, and a stick pond they are enlarging. This is a completely wooded area with natural water. The Quarter Mill Pond is a technical pond. Two swim-by ponds are being expanded. There also is a lily pond. The next closest venue is 15 minutes away. Cropper Farm in Berlin, MD is 40 minutes from the main farm, with more than 200 acres for land work. 

A chart showing average weather was presented. It was a little cooler today than it was here. Three airports serve the area, including Baltimore. The host hotel, Holiday Inn Express Cambridge, is "totally ecstatic and dog-friendly." There is ample parking, for all kinds of rigs. Holiday Inn Express Cambridge. A "fair amount" of the activities will be conducted here. Other hotels in the area include the Hyatt, which was described as "fabulous. A little on the pricey side. But, wow! What a place!" This Middle Atlantic area is known for its seafood and referred to by some as 'Crab Country.' Nearby cities were touted for their many choices of activities. "You're not stuck in the middle of nowhere." 2011 event information already is posted on the MNRC website, it was stated.


An update was presented by Gloria Mundell, who stated that the MNRC website, which has been redone by Kristie Wilder, is "new and nice." More information from years past will be added. Official event photographer this year is Molly Schlachter of MCS Photography, with two assistants. They will be using I-pads to show "action shots of each and every dog on the Line." Portraits can be arranged. Yearbooks are available for sale. It also is possible to have a postcard created and sent from here. Gloria is looking forward to sending one to her 4.5 year old grandson. One of the three photographers will be at each Flight.


Mia DiBenedetto and Jack Combs are doing the updates. Also mentioned were Facebook, Twitter and a Blog on the website, which will include Callbacks and "little things that come up." The primary components of MNRC's "new media strategy" were cited by Mia as the new text alert system for emergencies and the website Masternational.com, which will include essential information for this event, such as Callbacks, the daily update and a daily slide show. There have been several posts already. This winter, they will be expanding the information to include history of the dogs. MNRC's Facebook has more than 550 Fans. Mia will post three to four snapshots daily. It will be "chatter, not be the important information," such as "someone fell in the mud, a judge fell asleep. Just kidding." The purpose is "social interaction." The address for MNRC's Twitter is Twitter.com/masternational. The basics are the same as with Facebook. The overall goal is to keep everyone informed. "We are not trying to keep anyone out, if they are not into this." If people are interested, they are welcome to use these Internet features.


This was presented by Bill Teague. In 2009, the MNRC began working effectively with the AKC after what he described as a "schism" between them. He stated that schism has been repaired and the relationship in "really in good shape." MNRC individuals mentioned included Janet Peters, himself as President at that time, and Dave Kress, who donated offices. He stated that Jerry Mann of the AKC extolled the Master National to the AKC. He talked about it repeatedly, referring to the revenues it generates and how the AKC respects and appreciates the MNRC. "It was a very productive meeting."

The proposed new AKC title is the MNH. John Marchica, incoming MNRC President, stated that all decided to support the new title "after a bit of tweaking." The MNRC Board then approved it. The proposal then was sent back to the AKC. The first meeting is scheduled on October 18 and 19, just after this Master National concludes. Jerry is very optimistic that the Board will endorse the proposal. The vote on it will be in mid-November 2010. If approved, it will take effect immediately. "Please don't say we have a new title," he admonished. "It is not approved yet." However, he added, "There is a true partnership with the AKC, rather than just a relationship. And, it's very strong."

The proposal calls for an MNH title in addition to a dog's MH. MNH stands for Master National Hunter. The rationale is that any dog who successfully completed three Master Nationals deserves a new title, which is synonymous with MNRC's Hall of Fame. When the MNH is earned, it will go on the dog's pedigree and record and can be used accordingly. The fee is $20, which will be paid by the MNRC, the Board decided.

The MNRC wanted the provisions of the proposal to be retroactive and the AKC agreed. "I get choked up" when I think about this: "Every dog in Hall of Fame will have a new title when this is approved." The Board agreed that the MNRC will pay the fee for all dogs, retroactively, as well as in the future. The AKC will offer a certificate. If one is desired, the owner will have to complete a form provided by the AKC and pay a $30 fee.

This brings up another issue: Policies and Procedures. Under current policies & procedures, a dog that completes two Master Nationals receives only a club title. "It cannot be used anywhere else." There were a lot of discussion and proposals about this. The Board opined that this achievement signifies a "special dog deserving of a special title." As soon as the AKC title of MNH is approved, it will be replace the MNRC title of MNR. He stressed that he wants "everyone to understand what we have. It's a new day." The MNR also is retroactive.


Recipients present were asked to stand. It appeared there were seven women thusly honored. It was reported that the trophy was updated and repaired. Replicas were purchased for each person whose name is on it. Twenty-two were approved by the Board and distributed. This admittedly should have been done some time ago. The Board approved funds for ten additional replicas for the future. The original always will be on display at the Bird Dog Hall of Fame. 


An amendment to the Bylaws was proposed by three clubs: Umpqua Valley Retriever Club, Pudget Sound Labrador Retriever Club and Ranier Hunting Retriever Club. Frank Barton read the proposed language and explained the rationale. This pertains to Article 8, Section 6. The only change is in the first sentence. The current Bylaw reads: "Judges for the Master National Hunting Retriever Test shall be amateurs, thoroughly experienced in the handling and training of retrievers and in the requirements of retriever work." The proposed change is to delete the word "amateurs" that is underlined.

A spirited discussion ensued. Kevin Bunnell expressed that some pros are allowed to judge weekend tests but not the Master National. Alice Woodyard asked what would happen to clients of a pro who judges. Would they be able to run in other divisions? Kevin stated that he is sure can be worked out. The question was asked if a handler can be moved from one flight to another after the draw. Although this isn't impossible, the result was described as a "pain." It is not simply a matter of moving dogs. It was stated that forty dogs had to be moved for one person, "who shall remain anonymous." An extreme situation may be necessitated "for one person," such as the balancing of committees and there would be repercussions with AKC. He deferred to AKC Rep Jerry Mann for the AKC's standpoint on this issue. Janet Peters pointed out that a person cannot run if his or her spouse is judging because that constitutes a potential conflict of interest. Her interpretation was that the situation is "identical." One person brought up an incidence on this topic that occurred ten years ago in Syracuse, Indiana over which the "AKC had a real fit."

Someone expressed that there is some validity to the argument that judges are likely to set up tests they think their dogs can do. Janet Peters stated that judges still have the ability to influence the design of the test, which is the reason why no spouse or family member can run under that judge. The same conflict of interest would exist. Al Bianchi brought up field trial judges, stating he doesn't believe there is a problem in that realm. Randy Huenergardt, calling himself a "semi-pro" who has been doing hunt tests since 1982, said he loves judging and thinks there's a way to make this proposal work. "Pros who have 25 dogs here probably won't put their hat in the pool anyway; but, I'd love to have the chance." Someone stated that he thinks the rule already is in place that allows owners to run under pros as long as the dogs are not owned by the pro.

Following additional discussion, there was a call for the vote. The proposed change was restated. The proposed amendment is to strike the word 'amateurs.' A vote for the amendment is in favor of removing the word 'amateurs.' A vote against the amendment is in favor of retaining the word 'amateurs.' The motion failed. It appeared those opposed to the amendment outnumbered those who voted for it by 3 or 4 to 1. So, the word 'amateurs' will remain in the Bylaws. Judges of the Master National Hunting Retriever Test cannot be professional trainers.


Master National Running Order

  • Flight A
  • Flight B
  • Flight C