By Tristan Wilson
I have been showing dogs since I was ten years old, and I finished my first breed champion at age twelve.
When my mom decided to go to a hunt test, I asked if I could run a dog as well. I never had any experience with hunt tests and neither had my dog, Smitten. My mother took pity on me and explained the rules, the do’s and don’ts of hunt tests. She told me everything to do with participating in hunt tests such as you have to wear orange. My mother also explained I need to keep my dog in my sights at all times and keep up no matter what. So I took her advice…literally.
When we got down to the starting line my mom and I were pretty nervous, while Smitten just wanted me to let her go right then and there. My mom just kept telling me that I needed to keep up with Smitten no matter what. What she didn’t tell me was that for a woman of her age (oh that sounds so rude) keeping up with an Irish Setter is difficult. There is the worry if the dog finds a bird far off she won’t get there in time before the dog went after the bird.
The time finally came to start the test. The judge said release your dogs and off Smitten went with her brace mate, Skyler. They were off so fast you would have thought that they were shot from cannons. Eventually they both came back from their little adventure and the real hunting began… or what Smitten and I thought was hunting anyway. Smitten headed off in one direction while Skyler headed in the other, and I ran after Smitten as fast as I could, in 85 degree weather (in Texas). In a word, HOT!
At one point the judge asked my mom, who was in the gallery, if she thought I could really RUN and keep up with an Irish Setter for twenty minutes of hunting.
I kept up with Smitten at all costs, consequently scaring a few birds. I blundered through the bushes and brush, and at one point I burst through a bush, almost running into Skyler. That’s how I got my nickname: Bush Man.
So when the judge called time I was VERY thankful. I caught Smitten and headed back to the pavilion where everyone waited, not expecting very much. What I definitely didn’t expect, my mom and her friend Jean laughing at me! My mom apologized and revised her instructions to suit a 14 year old boy’s athletic abilities.
The next day I went out and got a pass with Smitten, and since then I have finished a JH and have two passes on my second dog.
While I have participated in all aspects of dog showing; Conformation, Juniors, Obedience and Agility (just learning agility). I LOVE hunting the most. Now that I know how to hunt behind my dog, I love this sport! Seeing my dogs do what they were bred to do, not just look pretty, is incredible.