Hunting

History

Guidelines and rules for the Hunting Instinct Test were approved by the PBGVCA Board of Directors in May of 2000 and published in the June 2000 Saber Tails. In March of 2001 PBGV owners from across the country and their hounds gathered in Concord, NC for the first Hunting Instinct Test. The PBGVCA Rules and Standard Procedures were approved in 2008 and later revised in 2010. AKC Parent Club Performance Title Recognition is now available for Junior, Senior, and Master Hunter titles. The PBGVCA hunt program has now expanded to include venues in North Carolina, New Jersey, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Indiana.

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Hunt Test FAQs

What should I bring to the hunt?
What should I bring for my dog?
What should I do to prepare for the hunt test?
How does the entry process work?
What does PLE/NLE mean?
What is “roll call”?
What is “the draw”?
Can I skip my run if I have to leave?
What should I do when I’m not out on my hunt test run with my dog?
How should I maintain records for my dog’s hunt tests?
How do I get a title for my dog?
My dog has earned a PBGVCA Hunt Title—how do I apply for the AKC Parent Club Performance Title?

What should I bring to the hunt? top
For yourself, good footwear suitable for tramping through rough terrain, including brambles, woods, high grass, mud, and standing water.  You’ll be going into the cover with your dogs, so wear clothing that will resist the briars, either heavy jeans or brush pants.  A rain suit is handy if the weather is wet, so is a good hat and sunscreen if it’s a hot day.   There can be frost in the morning but it might be hot by afternoon so dress in layers, appropriate for the weather.  A lot of people use walking sticks when out on the field.  Bug spray might be a good idea.

Bring what you’ll need to be comfortable while you’re not out on the field with your own dog, or watching someone else’s pack hunting.  Folding chairs, maybe an EZ-UP, something to read all come in handy.  Check with the chairman of the hunt you’re attending for any particular recommendations. 

What should I bring for my dog? top
You’ll need a safe place to confine your dog when not on the field, either a crate or an ex-pen.  A portable shelter or shade cloth comes in handy if the day is hot.  Make sure to bring water, food, bowls, treats, etc.  Colored hunt collars are available to use on the field during the trial, but if you want to leave your dog’s collar on as well, make sure to remove any dangling tags or tape them securely (see the Hunt Test Rules).   If you usually use a retractable lead, think about switching to a flat lead—you’ll find it a lot easier to manage when you are turning loose or catching up your dog on the field, plus you can clip it around your torso so your hands will be free.

Your dog is going to get really dirty on the field.  Bring towels and grooming equipment, maybe even a grooming table.  Most people let the mud dry and then just brush out the dirt and twigs—proof of how well the PBGV coat works for this kind of activity!   Ticks can be a problem in late fall and early spring so check with your vet about what products to use and be prepared to pull ticks off your dog.

What should I do to prepare for the hunt test? top
First, read the rules.  If you are new to the program, it won’t all sink in right away, but you need to try to understand the basics.  Read the premium list carefully and contact the chairperson or secretary of the hunt you plan to attend if you have questions. 

Second, make sure you and your dog are in good enough shape for this activity.  Dogs who are overweight and out of shape have a harder time than dogs that are fit and healthy, so think about some extra walks and maybe some calorie regulation if needed.  Make sure you address your own fitness so you don’t get hurt when you are out on the field.

Check out this handout for some other ideas about how to get your dog ready for hunting. 

How does the entry process work? top
Read the premium list carefully—the process may be slightly different from one hunt to the next.  Remember that you can’t enter your dog in a hunt test stake (pack, brace, solo) until he/she has passed the Hunting Instinct Test (HIT).  If your dog passes the HIT on the first day of the trial, you have the option to move up to the pack stake the second day (this may vary depending on the number of dogs entered).  If you have more than one dog and you want to run them together (HIT or pack stake), you may need to enter them in a pre-arranged pack.  Check with the trial secretary ahead of time to figure this out. 

What does PLE/NLE mean? top
Most hunts offer a non-regular class called a Puppy Learning Experience or a Novice Learning Experience, usually as part of the practice day before the official trial begins. The goal of the PLE/NLE is two-fold. First, the new handlers get some mentoring on how to work with their dogs on the field, how to get the dogs into cover, how to recognize when the dogs are scenting. Second, the dogs get a chance to see/smell a caged rabbit (if one is available), and go out on the field with an experienced dog who will (hopefully) start a rabbit or two to get the ball rolling. The PLE/NLE is highly recommended for all new handlers.

(Note that puppies under 6 months can be out on the field during the practice day, but cannot be entered in the trial.)

What is “roll call”? top
All the packs, braces, solos, and HITs are posted on a board at roll call. A handler from each run draws a number which determines the run order. Every handler has an equal chance of getting the first run which is why all the dogs have to be present at roll call. Do not be late for roll call or the draw or you won't get to hunt your dog!!!!!

What is “the draw”? top
After roll call, the secretary will post the packs on a board.  A handler from each pack draws a number which determines the run order.  Every handler has an equal chance of getting the first run which is why all the dogs have to be present at roll call.  Do not be late for roll call or the draw or you won’t get to hunt your dog!!!!!

Can I skip my run if I have to leave? top
This is actually against the rules.  If you enter the hunt and answer “present” at roll call, you have to have a really good reason to miss your run (like a broken leg, or a heart attack).  If your travel plans require that you leave before the end of the trial day, you should seriously consider whether or not to enter the hunt.  If you do have to leave before your run time, you need to tell the hunt chairperson and secretary ASAP.  (The reason this is so important is that the absence of your dog may create a problem for how the rest of that pack is judged.)

What should I do when I’m not out on my hunt test run with my dog? top
There’s a lot to learn by watching the dogs hunt.   You can go out on runs as part of the gallery (read the rules for proper gallery etiquette!) or as a marshal.  You might even get to shoot the gun (blanks) for the gun shyness test! 

If you need a break from traipsing around on the field, you can always “sit long and talk dogs” with your new hunting friends. 

How should I maintain records for my dog’s hunt tests? top
Most hunt secretaries will provide a copy of the summary score sheet for each run to each handler on that run (although this can depend on things like electricity and printer ink!) A three ring binder works well to hold the summary sheets. Consider keeping a hunting journal that includes specifics about what happened on the individual runs (the first time you heard your dog give voice, how many rabbits he started, whether he found the "check," whether he harked in to his running mates). If you want to apply for titles, you'll need to keep track of what requirements your dog has met for each level of achievement. All qualifying scores are posted on this website as well SEE.

How do I get a title for my dog? top
Once your dog has fulfilled the requirements for a specific title (title requirements found on page 10 of the rules), fill out the Hunt Title Request Form and follow the instructions on how to send it to the Hunt Archivist who will check the application for accuracy and will let you know that the title has been approved. Hunt title certificates are prepared for distribution at the National Specialty in the spring of the year after the title was earned (or sent to the handler after the National).  

My dog has earned a PBGVCA Hunt Title—how do I apply for the AKC Parent Club Performance Title? top

Go to the AKC website and fill out the Parent Club Performance Title application.   AKC will check with the Hunt Archivist to confirm that the title has been earned and will then send you the certificate.  The AKC Parent Club Performance Title Program recognizes Parent Club Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter, and Master Hunter titles only.