HRC Hunt Tests
HRC maintains its common sense, hunting realism in testing Hunting retrievers. There are five ability-based (not age) categories that the dogs may enter in the HRC Tests: Started, Seasoned, Finished, Grand and Upland. Unlike field trials, these are not competitive 1st, 2nd and 3rd place events, but tests where all dogs are judged pass/fail against a "Hunting Standard". These are events that are great fun where everyone can root for the other person’s dog and help each other with their training. The judges must be experienced Hunters and must pass HRC administered tests, apprentice as judges, have gun safety training, attend judging seminars, have handled and passed a dog in the category that they are judging and meet other HRC requirements. Good ‘Hunting-oriented’ judges are the key to having tests with Hunting realism.
The tests are directly related to hunting the retriever in the field for waterfowl and upland game. Unlike field trials, the bird throwers and guns in the field are not exposed and dressed in white, but are hidden as in real hunting situations and dressed in appropriate hunting clothing.. The Handler must wear camouflaged or other hunting attire. In the three upper levels, the Handler handles the shotgun (firing blanks), and works his/her dog from a blind or perhaps a boat, and may be required to quarter the dog in a pheasant or quail field. Seasoned, Finished and Grand dog Handlers must direct their dogs to birds the dog did not see fall (a blind). HRC stresses actual ‘Hunting realism’ and ‘gun safety’ in the hunting tests.
The Grand Hunting Tests are held twice a year and are open only to those retrievers that have attained their Hunting Retriever Championship title. While there are over 4,500 Hunting Retriever Champions, there are only 333 Grand Hunting Retriever Champions (GRHRCH). These Grand tests are considered the ‘Retrievers Super-bowl’.
In 1996, a new Upland Hunt Test program was added to the HRC/UKC hunting program. The Upland test consists of a simulated walk-up with a subsequent quartering or tracking test. The Upland dog is required to honor another dog, be steady to wing and shot and will be presented with a minimum of two birds to flush in the quartering test. Successful completion of each test earns the dog ten points. Upon attainment of 40 points an Upland Hunter (UH) title is awarded.