What is a Gun Dog Trial?
If you are a bird hunter and enjoy running dogs in the pursuit of your game, what do you do when the season is over? The answer for some members of the Tulsa Gun Dog Club is to run in what is referred to as “Gun Dog” trials. Sportsmen and dog clubs from Northeastern Oklahoma have influenced Dennis Drullinger in his original creation of Gun Dog trials. This collaborated development has refined a competitive and enjoyable way to extend what has become an all too short bird-hunting season.
The concept of the gun dog trial is simple in nature. It takes on a team approach. Handler and his dog competing to earn points. This type of trial can be compared with the game of basketball “if you shoot the ball through hoop you get two points”. The same holds true for Gun Dog… you and your dog must earn points by pointing, flushing, and retrieving of birds, no points will be free. This type of trial has gained tremendous popularity because it takes the subjective nature of judging out of this sport.
Gun Dog as mentioned above is quite simple. Basically, a brace consists of two dogs, two handlers, two judges and five birds (quail, chuckar, or pheasant) planted in a 40~0+ acre field. The goal for each team is to locate, point, flush, shoot, and retrieve “dead” birds as fast and as abundantly possible Tie-breakers are decided by the team with the quickest find from the start of the brace. Points are awarded as follows:
20 Points for a find
20 Points for a retrieve
15 Points for a back (1 time)
3 Points for each bird shot
Also, partial points are awarded to a dog that does not hold point until a handler is in front Of dog (5 pts partial find), or if dog fails to retrieve the bird to within 3 feet of the handler (5 pts. partial retrieve). It is not allowed to shoot any bird that is not pointed and only birds downed by a shot my be retrieved.
As stated before, the handler and their dog are a team; if the handler cannot be counted on to down the bird, the dog will not get a retrieve. On the other hand, the handler will receive a lot of laughter from the gallery when a bird is missed.
Gun Dog trials are run in two day events – usually Saturday and Sunday. Typically, Saturday braces are designed for Amateur handlers and Sunday braces are open for both Professional and Amateur. Generally, the limit is 15 braces per day which equals 30 dogs/day and 60 for the entire weekend.
Competition is fierce with over 11 different pointing dog breeds being represented for Gun Dog trials. This type of event does not discriminate dog breed3 color, and/or pointing style – only the end results are measured.
Typically, the Gun Dog trial season begins with three trials in the fall and three in the spring. To give a type of closure to the trial season, a committee was formed from the Tulsa Bird Dog Club, Hulah Lake Bird Dog Club and Indian Nations Brittany Club to have a championship to determine the top bird dog and club of the year. Over the last four years, the Northeastern Oklahoma “Gun Dog” Championship has created exciting competition with the “Top Dog” having competed with over 300+ dogs throughout the trial season. This weekend event invites the top six dogs from each club in head to head competition for “Gun Dog of the Year” and “Bird Dog Club of the Year” awards.
Remember: Bird hunting is fun! However, Gun Dog Trials provide an excellent opportunity for continued development of your bird dog while at the same time measure his/her skills in a competitive environment. This keeps your dog in shape while at the same time provide you opportunities to meet and develop camaraderie with other people with similar outdoor interests.
Produced by: D&D F. Consultant Services; Gun Dog Field Trial Rules