This weekend's big adventure was a drive to our first Vizsla Club of Central New England event and Momo's first hunt tests. The two tests -- one on Saturday, one on Sunday -- were held at the Francis Crane Wildlife Management Area out by Falmouth, MA, on Cape Cod. I had forgotten just how beautiful it is down on the Cape especially at this time of year, and the Crane WMA is a lovely 2,000 acre parcel of barrens, scrub oaks, brambles and grasses. With Meg in Flagstaff spending the weekend with Denise and Steve, I took the boys down there to visit the Maine contingent of the VCCNE who were camping on-site, and for their evening walk -- to give Momo a baseline for what the vegetation smelled like. And he found a covey of four quail that were, presumably, left over from a previous trial.
I won't keep folks in suspense, in part because I'm incredibly proud of the Mominator. He went two for two in his first ever hunt tests. Now, it is an AKC Junior Hunt Test -- this isn't rocket science and Momo has demonstrated the basic skills to me many times. But he has also never run in a brace, ie. with another dog, only once had an audience while he worked, and has never had his dad throw birds in the air. (I was going to say that he's never had his dad point a gun at birds and miss... but sadly, he knows that all too well.) So, in short, he did great.
And I know. It's a nice picture of the boys. I don't care to have my picture taken and the smile is as proportionally cheesey as I am proud of His Senior Majesty.
Saturday: uh, glad I had my Filson hunting bibs in my hunting bag in the truck. What was allegedly supposed to be 'intermittent showers in the afternoon' turned out to be 'rain with intermittent drizzle and mist until mid-afternoon.' Uh, wet. For the test, they were putting out bobwhite quail... skinny, little bobwhite quail, I might add. And these poor little things just wanted to burrow into the grass to try and stay dry. So, several braces blanked due to the limited scent and lack of breeze. (And if you don't find a bird, your dog can't be rated on bird-finding ability and therefore can't pass the test.)
Momo did as well as I could have expected on Saturday. He was braced with a hard-running German Shorthair who needed so much hollering from his handler to keep him in the same county that it took a fair amount of reassurance from me to help Momo understand that he was actually doing fine. The test lasts 15mins, 5mins of which is spent walking into position. Once we got in the bird-field, Momo managed to find two birds. For the Junior Hunter, dogs have to look intent on hunting, listen to their handlers, point, and remain staunch while the handler boosts the bird into the air and fires a blank pistol. And then you keep trying to find more until time is called. Between the weather and the novelty of the situation, he did fine... solid, but nothing spectacular.
Sunday: Just a beautiful fall day. Perfect, maybe. Not too warm with a light breeze from the north. And as soon as we got to the WMA for their pre-test walk, Momo was just jacked. The picture here is of him pointing a very sodden quail -- it might be the darkly-striped spot in the foreground. He then posted another covey of four or five birds. And this was before the test. I then put them back in the dog-box in the truck until our brace was called. But all Momo wanted to do was get in the bird-field.
I was nervous for his run because he was braced with his cousin, Seeker, who was being handled by his original human father, Chris Russell from Widdershins. But after a very quick hello, he was all business. I will take credit for getting him in the right spot on the field for him to work most of it without having any major re-directions, but past that point he just became a quail finding machine. I don't know how many birds he found... two new friends, Rich and Adrian, who we met there who walked with our brace said they lost count after four. I think he got six, but it might have been seven. With the exception of one not-so-staunch point, he looked great. I was really proud of him. I made the judge laugh by saying that watching him was like giving crack to kids. Not perhaps the most politically correct metaphor, but he was high on quail -- and looking like every bit the regal vizsla he is.
Jozsi, to his credit, also pulled the occasional nice point, got his nose full of quail scent and, as with him and pheasant wings, isn't at all phased about sticking a live bird in his mouth and bringing it to you. The omens are good... but not for quail.
We had a great weekend -- and the folks at VCCNE who organized the test deserve a big round of applause. A lot of new friends were made -- and high expectations established for Momo's next two tests.
There'll be more to follow shortly. Including video.