Maryland Sporting Dog Association participated in the 11th Annual Maryland celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The event was Saturday 9/23/2017 at Izaak Walton League of America in Clear Spring MD.
Though the event’s attendance was somewhat smaller than in previous years, MSDA had a large display including photos and videos of MSDA dogs and events, and general information about sporting dogs and the club. We had good conversations with attendees about their dogs, potential field activities, training needs, and one of our member’s upland hunting trip with veterans in collaboration with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Other Hunting and Fishing Day activities included archery, fly/spin casting practice (on the lawn), rifle, trap, and BB gun shooting, and displays by state government, private businesses, and conservation groups.
MSDA’s September Hunting Test Weekend was September 16th-17th. Despite hotter than usual temperatures, MSDA’s hunting tests were quite successful. Iced water and plenty of extra ponds on the property ensured that both humans and dogs kept their cool and had fun. There were more than 50 entries, and participating breeds included: Airedale Terrier, American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, and Standard Poodle.
(Click on any photo below to expand the gallery.)
There actually were three consecutive days of AKC-licensed spaniel (flushing breed) hunting tests at the Junior, Senior, and Master Hunter levels. They were held by the Maryland Sporting Dog Association (Saturday & Sunday) and by the Susquehanna Valley English Springer Spaniel Club (Friday’s event). Not just for spaniels, all three events were open to all eligible flushing breeds. On Friday 9/15 and Saturday 9/16 MSDA also offered Working Dog certificate testing. WD testing is subject to each breed’s parent club approval; we received approval for English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Field Spaniels, and Welsh Springer Spaniels. Dogs entered in Junior Hunter could sign up for concurrent WD testing for a reduced fee. All of these events were held at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. This beautiful property provides more than 250 acres of fields, ponds, and woods as well as an air-conditioned clubhouse.
MSDA’s July 29th Field Day was awesome! We were at Rebel Ridge Farms in Maryland with a very full day of introductory through advanced training opportunities for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. Rebel Ridge has over 250 acres of fields and four ponds, all specifically maintained for sporting dog training. 66 humans and 56 dogs attended.
The following breeds are among those that participated. Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Decker Rat Terrier, Deutsch-Drahthaar, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Llewellin Setter, Miniature Poodle, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Standard Poodle, Vizsla, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
It turned out to be a perfect day for training with cool weather and mostly cloudy skies, and we were in the fields from 8 am until after 5:30 pm, with only a short break for a (delicious) potluck lunch. Pictures from July 29th Field Day are shown below. Click on any photo to see a full-sized slide show.
MSDA Summer Field Day in Delaware was Saturday June 17th 7:30 am – 4:00 pm at C&R Center at Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area, Felton DE
Field Day provided introductory through advanced training opportunities for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. We had a great time and got a lot done. 36 dogs and 51 people attended. Outdoors Delmarva was there, too, and included coverage in their show airing Saturday June 24th and Sunday June 25th.
Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.
Your dog doesn’t need to have “spaniel” in its breed name to enter a “Spaniel Hunting Test”. As of June 2019 there are 45 breeds eligible for AKC pointing, retriever, and spaniel (flushing breed) hunting tests.
MSDA has a Facebook group as another avenue for dissemination of information and for discussion. This group is “closed”, which means that postings are available only to members.
To join the group, you must first have a Facebook account. Then, just log in and search for “Maryland Sporting Dog Association”. Click on “Join” or click through to the group’s page and choose “Join Group”.
A moderator must approve your membership. If you’re having problems joining or have questions, please contact Webmaster@mdsportingdog.org .
If you are not yet an MSDA member, but might be interested in joining, please read About Us .
Even if you don’t have access to birds, you can start some field training on your own. Your dog probably is well-behaved with people and with other dogs, and looks to you for direction. The next step is ensuring that your dog will reliably come when called. You also can work on some basic retrieves, and all of this can be practiced in your own yard or other common space. Supplies (long leads, training bumpers, and even bird wings) can be purchased inexpensively on-line.
For basic field training guidance, consider books recommended by MSDA members. “Hup” and “Urban Gun Dogs” relate most to flushing breeds. “Wildrose” is more focused on retrieving breeds but all (especially “Wildrose”) discuss techniques that apply to sporting dogs in general.
Hup! Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way, by James B. Spencer
Sporting Dog and Retriever Training the Wildrose Way by Mike Stewart
Urban Gun Dogs: Training Flushing Dogs for Home & Field by Anthony Roettger & Benjamin Schleider
More advanced work may involve systematically searching a field (“quartering”), responding to whistle commands and hand signals, retrieving actual birds, becoming accommodated to the sound of gunfire, and performing water retrieves. You likely will need some help from experienced handlers or trainers to get started on these skills.
MSDA’s annual Field Days provided great training opportunities for all levels for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. 2019 Field Day was Saturday May 4th. MSDA Field Days are a great place to get started on more structured drills, to observe other dogs, and to meet people, including experienced handlers and trainers, who can provide advice and point you in the direction of further training opportunities and field events such as hunt tests and field trials.
Dogs in the Sporting Group, sometimes called Bird Dogs or Gun Dogs, were bred to instinctively have a desire to hunt small game. This drive also is what makes a dog happy to chase and retrieve a ball or other thrown object.
MSDA held its first “Instinct Clinic” in conjunction with its spring dog show, allowing dogs without previous field training or experience to discover their basic instincts for hunting. 26 dogs participated in the March 2017 Instinct Clinic. Photos and videos are included below.
It was a brisk sunny day and we were outdoors in a grassy field on the show grounds (Howard County Fairgrounds). First, there was a brief demonstration by a Master Hunter dog using a training bumper and basic field obedience commands. After the demonstration, each dog participating in the clinic was worked individually with bird wings and bumpers, and then given an opportunity to find and flush a live bird. (The bird flies away.) All dogs remained on lead at all times. Each participating dog was worked on a long field line, one dog at a time. Four AKC-licensed hunt test judges ran the clinic, providing guidance to the handlers and encouragement to the dogs. The atmosphere was fun, encouraging, and supportive.
The MSDA website needs photos! MSDA members are asked to share pictures of happy sporting dogs and their families. We’ll include them in the photo gallery as well as feature some on pages relating to specific events or topics (e.g., hunt test, spring show). Short descriptions identifying the breed and/ or event will be helpful to include.
Please be sure that you own the copyright to the photos you send and that you have permission from anyone who is identifiable in a picture.