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Dave's Commentary, May 6, 2000

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Well I've been away and busy for the last few weeks and I'm glad to have a moment to get back to you. Thank you for the e-mail letters I've received asking about the next commentary...

This week I went to a NSTRA field trial for the first time and had a good time. Having field trialed in AKC and American Field sanctioned events I thought I could picture the event.

I was wrong. NSTRA is exactly as advertised. Field trials for hunters by hunters. The trial was fun and I was made to feel at home.

My stepson Clint decided he wanted to join and compete so we phoned NSTRA, joined up, and registered for the field trial - one week prior to the trial.

Clint and dog had about 5 days to prepare for the trial, not knowing what to expect.

About Clint: 6 feet 11 inches, age 19. An All State High School Basketball player holding most of his high school basketball records, he had never hunted for quail until this year.

I took Clint quail hunting for the first time around the holidays this past season and he had the time of his life. An experienced clays shooter, he thought he was prepared for native quail...wrong! I think the quote from him after a thunderous explosion of bobwhites was "They scared the pee out of me!"

Clint's first covey was classic. A find by Peanut with Queen honoring in the middle of a pasture with scattered mesquite. Clear shooting in any direction when his first covey flushed wildly but not a feather was touched. A classic response to ones first covey.

Back to NSTRA. Clint was excited when he learned that NSTRA was an extension of hunting season and so was excited to compete in a NSTRA trial.

Since I have trialed so much and because of Clint's enthusiasm I decided that he should participate. We chose Rocket as his dog to handle. Rocket is nearly 5 and a seasoned hunting dog. I figured that if this were truly a hunter's field trial then Rocket would do great.

Rocket and Clint did do well. Rocket hunted and Clint followed. Having just joined NSTRA, Clint nor I was familiar with the rules so we just decided to have fun. Clint and Rockets' first opponent was a 6 time NSTRA champion English Pointer. The Pointer had one find and 1 retrieve. Rocket had a find and retrieve plus a stellar honor. Rocket outscored the champion and we were pleased. The owner of the 6 time champion was congratulatory to Clint, displaying great sportsmanship.

The second stake Clint and Rocket entered went well too. Rocket had 3 finds but no possible retrieves. Clint missed out on 225 points due to a technicality...He didn't know the rules and could have called 'Safety' on all three finds for retrieves. He probably would have placed in that stake but that's O.K., we'll just chalk it up to experience.

Clint did much better in his second stake. He had some mid-day tutoring from an experienced field trial judge, Mick Starkey. Clint handled Rocket to a wonderful ground race for birds. If Clint had been more familiar with bobwhite behaviors and was a more experienced handler, he could have easily doubled his finds.

We were at the field trial with friends. Mick ran Sassy, the little dog that's qualified for the regional's, and his dog Rampart. Rampart had just finished his first NSTRA Championship the week before. Rusty was there with his wife Bonnie and two girls. He ran Zeb in his second ever trial. Zeb ran well too but didn't finish first as he had done a few weeks earlier.

It was a hot weekend at the field trial near Lubbock. It was triple digits both days. We all had fun though and I enjoyed NSTRA's field trial format.

It was funny afterwards when Clint told me he had more butterflies than before a big basketball game! Clint is going to play for ACU this fall and we're excited for him.

Clint and I decided that NSTRA was fun and have decided to further our membership by participating in future trials. We met a lot of interesting folks and just had an overall good time. Jim Hunter is the regional president for West Texas Region NSTRA and I'd like to personally make my thanks to him public for his generosity and kind assistance in our first ever NSTRA trial.

The NSTRA folks are from all walks of ordinary life just like you and me. We met everyone from contractors to preachers. If you're not a member and you have a bird dog and love to hunt, give this fine organization a try. Visit http://www.nstra.org

We'd also like to personally extend a debt of gratitude to Bonnie for feeding us. Like 'men' we remembered everything for the dogs except us. Bonnie's daughters were real troopers too and they both would like to enter NSTRA events in the future. I sure hope to see them in the field!

Well that's about it for now. Y'all take care and give your dog a biscuit for me!

P.S. Here are some pics from the trial.

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