HIBBING — Hunters and their dogs will get a chance to test their skills at a hunt test put on by one of the newest hunting retriever clubs in this part of the U.S.
The Arrowhead Hunting Retriever Club (AHRC) is one of the newest HRCs in Region 8B, which consists of clubs all over Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to Steve Zimmer, president of the AHRC. The AHRC is affiliated with the United Kennel Club which carries its registry and is a non-profit organization made up completely of volunteers.
On June 2 and 3, a hunt test will be conducted at the Minnesota Iron Range Retriever (MIIRC) Ben Niemi Training Grounds in Mt. Iron, on Highway 7. Zimmer thanks the MIIRC for allowing the AHRC to become an affiliate club and for the ability to work together to bring new opportunities to sportspeople and their dogs in this area.
Zimmer said interested participants can sign up for the hunt test the day of the event at the MIIRC. He said participants need not become a UKC member unless they want the points. Spectators are always welcome to find if they, too, might be interested in the sport.
AHRC has an extensive hunt test program, according to Zimmer. There are five ability-based categories for dogs to participate in: Started, Seasoned, Finished, Grand, and Upland. These are not competitive first, second and third place events, but instead the dogs are judged against a pass/fail hunting standard.
“The AHRC has a philosophy of ‘Conceived By Hunters, For Hunters,’” said Zimmer. “The tests are designed for a realistic hunting situation. The game birds are launched from a hidden camouflaged blind out in the field. The dog handler, judges and spectators are required to wear camouflage as well. AHRC is one of the very few hunt test organizations that use guns at the line during their tests. Popper rounds (blanks) are used in a 12-gauge shotgun to simulate shooting over the dog, like in a real hunt scenario. Gun safety is a No. 1 priority and it is recommended that all handlers have their firearms safety certification.”
Zimmer said the goal for bringing the AHRC to the Iron Range was to give area communities a place to come together and safely train and run their dogs in real hunting situations while keeping the atmosphere relaxed and family friendly. He said each level of competition is a little harder as they progress to the Finished level.
“At the same time we want to educate the public on using retrievers as positive conservation tools,” said Zimmer. “Junior handlers are encouraged and welcomed, so bring out the whole family.”
Last year in the first year of the event Zimmer said about 40 people and 50 dogs participated. He said he hopes there a few more participants this year, maybe near 60 people and 70 dogs.
“A few people saw us do a pretend set-up a couple weeks ago at the Iron Range Retriever Club where we had an informal competition,” Zimmer said. “They saw people out having fun with their dogs for the first time this season and since we did that we probably had a half a dozen people join our club. We had a 9-year-old girl out running her dog yesterday with her dad so it offers fun for the family to get their dog out and train on both land and water.”
The AHRC currently has 12 members and it is always accepting new members. For more information, go to the Web site www.arrowheadhrc.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Steve Zimmer at 218-969-2415.
“We have a core group of people that have years of experience in working with retrieving breeds,” Zimmer explained. “With that, we get a good knowledge base on how to train your dog. We aren’t in the realm of training your dog for you but we can teach you how to train your dog. The best way to train a dog is to repeat, repeat, repeat, and that is what we have to offer.”