Spring will be here before you know it! As we wrap up the bird seasons in the Midwest our thoughts begin to turn to figuring out what comes next; spring hunt test and field trial season! Whether you’re totally new to the AKC hunt test world or you and your dogs are seasoned competitors out to finish up your MH it’s time to gather and clean up all your gear. Below is a checklist of gear that we typically bring for both man and four-legged friend when departing for a day afield hunt testing. The key thing to remember when assembling the stuff you need is that you may be traveling some distance away from home so you need to be prepared for anything mother nature can throw at you. You also need to be ready for anything that might go wrong while there. The list below covers the basics of what you’ll need assuming your event is close enough that you don’t need to camp!
AKC Junior hunt test gear checklist
- You and your dog; both healthy and ready for the stress and rigors of a hunt test day.
- Collars; No eCollars allowed! The brighter you can find the better. It’s always a good idea to bring more than one in case your bracemate has your color and the same breed dog. Traditionally the top listed dog wears orange and the bottom dog wears green/yellow.
- WATER; These days are stressful on you AND your dog. Make sure you bring plenty of water for the both of you; especially if the weather is looking to be warm. There’s a lot of research out there that suggests putting your dog on unfamiliar water sources can cause indigestion and loose stool.
- Water bottles; Chances are there will be water on the course for your dog. Better safe than sorry though. AKC rules allow for watering your dog on course. A well hydrated dog is a strong running dog.
- Leash; any snap or slip lead will do. You’ll need this to bring your dog to the line and to bring him back from a run.
- Blank pistol; Your dog can’t pass if you can’t fire a blank when there’s a flush. These must be purpose built devices incapable of firing a projectile of any kind. A holster and lanyard are also a good idea to have. More than one person has lost a blank pistol in the field!
- Primers/crimps/etc; same story as above. Whatever your pistol takes make sure you have it. The premium for your event might specify the types of blanks allowed. AKC specifies .22 caliber up to .32 caliber including 209 primers are acceptable.
- Stake-out; depending on the running order you could be waiting quite some time for you and your dog to run in the test. Having a nice quality stake that you can use to attach your dog to in order for them to not have to sit in their crate all day is an almost necessity.
- Long lead; this is useful for airing your dog in an approved area before your run and from time to time during the day to let them blow off some steam.
- Clothes! Check the weather before you go but remember; events are often in the spring and/or fall. The weather can change in a heartbeat (especially in the Midwest.) Make sure you bring multiple layers of clothing including water/rain proof gear. Hunt tests run rain or shine as long as there’s not an eminent threat to safety of the dogs, handlers, or judges.
- Boots; it’s a crapshoot as to whether the ground will be dry, soggy, or downright swampy. Just as with your clothes your footwear decision might change rapidly with the weather. Waterproof boots of some kind are probably a good idea!
- Blaze orange; anyone entering a hunt test field must sport the Illinois required blaze orange vest and cap containing 400 square inches of orange.
- Hunting license with habitat stamp; The DNR here in Illinois requires any participants in dog sporting events on public grounds to hold a valid hunting license WITH habitat stamp.
- Chairs; it could be a long day. Especially if you’re running Juniors. Best to have a place to sit!
- Food; Some event sites have concessions, others do not. Unless you’re running Master chances are it’s going to be a long day before you get to run. Your premium should mention whether there is a food vendor on site and if there are any judge’s meals or other events associated with the test.
- Fun; It’s important to remember at the end of the day that you’re here with other like minded people for the sake of enjoying our dogs’ innate and natural talents. HAVE FUN!