Serious NA Tracking Discussion

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Re: Serious NA Tracking Discussion

Postby JONOV » Tue Jun 28, 2022 9:05 am

Highlander wrote:Ok cool.

If it is only about retrieve, then, why does it need to be dragged at all? why bother with dragging the game on the ground?
Why not just put the game 50-100 yards away, without creating a source of a scent on the ground, and then send the dog for it?

To make it doubly easy on the dog. Again, it's a stinky dead duck. You could walk the track and find it with your eyes half the time.
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Re: Serious NA Tracking Discussion

Postby ckirsch » Tue Jun 28, 2022 9:36 am

Not sure on the dog needing to stay "within the vicinity of the track". If they cast downwind of the trail, yet quickly arrive at the duck, have they "not followed it correctly"? The scent is obviously coming from the ground, but if the dog is capable of following it from a ways away with it's head held high, I'd be disappointed to see it penalized.

I ran a horseback trial-bred pointer in a UT several years ago. On the drag, he immediately acknowledged the scent trail, followed it for a few feet, then took off on a full-on parallel sprint through the field, running with head high up to fifty yards downwind of the drag trail. The duck was probably 150 yards out. I recall groaning as the dog was leaving the trail, assuming we were blowing it, when he turned and sprinted directly to the duck, which had been left hidden in cattails along a creek, and made a quick retrieve. The judge laughed and said "Oh ye of little faith!" We received a 4 in the drag. Judges did not fault the dog for following the downwind air scent of the drag, and actually commented on the quality of his nose to be able to stay with it at full speed and from a distance.

Given the amount of scent left by a dead duck drug through the grass, most dogs should be able to follow that scent without their noses glued to the ground.
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Re: Serious NA Tracking Discussion

Postby Coveyrise64 » Tue Jun 28, 2022 3:30 pm

ckirsch wrote:Not sure on the dog needing to stay "within the vicinity of the track". If they cast downwind of the trail, yet quickly arrive at the duck, have they "not followed it correctly"? The scent is obviously coming from the ground, but if the dog is capable of following it from a ways away with it's head held high, I'd be disappointed to see it penalized.

I ran a horseback trial-bred pointer in a UT several years ago. On the drag, he immediately acknowledged the scent trail, followed it for a few feet, then took off on a full-on parallel sprint through the field, running with head high up to fifty yards downwind of the drag trail. The duck was probably 150 yards out. I recall groaning as the dog was leaving the trail, assuming we were blowing it, when he turned and sprinted directly to the duck, which had been left hidden in cattails along a creek, and made a quick retrieve. The judge laughed and said "Oh ye of little faith!" We received a 4 in the drag. Judges did not fault the dog for following the downwind air scent of the drag, and actually commented on the quality of his nose to be able to stay with it at full speed and from a distance.

Given the amount of scent left by a dead duck drug through the grass, most dogs should be able to follow that scent without their noses glued to the ground.


Exactly, for NA or UT, if the track is a crosswind I will show the dog the feather pile then release the dog downwind of the feather pile. The dog will pickup any air blown scent if on the downwind side. If it is a strong crosswind I might start 5 yards or more down wind of the track. A good handler can help their dog in that situation.

The drag for the UT is more about obedience and cooperation than use of nose. The judge will drag the duck then hide in a position to observe the bird. At the end of the track the duck is positioned on its back with soft breast exposed to see what the dog does when it finds the duck. Does it immediately pick it up and return, does it mouth the bird or hesitate to pick it up, does it urinate on the dead duck, or mutilate it? A dead bird and a human scent trail shouldn't be to hard to track.

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Re: Serious NA Tracking Discussion

Postby ryanr » Wed Jun 29, 2022 3:36 pm

Highlander wrote:Ok cool.

If it is only about retrieve, then, why does it need to be dragged at all? why bother with dragging the game on the ground?
Why not just put the game 50-100 yards away, without creating a source of a scent on the ground, and then send the dog for it?

For years I've watched dogs, of various breeds, run to the downwind side of the track/drag with their heads held high, using air scent, and typically arriving at the objective quicker than the dogs whose noses are down on the ground.

Yes this happens. I saw this in the test too.
This is a style of handling the track. Some dogs, notably DK, will parallel-track drags and even the live game holding while their heads higher than other dogs, especially if the wind comes from the side.
This behavior is noted in some hound breeds as well.
The key point here is that, even with their heads up they still need to fallow the source of the scent that, at that moment, might be coming from the ground.

As long as the dog is getting the job done, why would one care if it's nose is up or down?

The most of the judges will not care about that at all, as long as they stay within the vicinity of the track.
I asked one of the judge if that was important and he said it was not as long as the dog fallows it correctly. In some cases, according to him, it speaks about dog's ability to adjust to the wind and use it to his advantage.


It's dragged that far and well out of sight of the handler because the dog is also judged on the pickup. What does it do with game when it's out of sight and the handler isn't there to see it or give additional commands. There is a judge hidden near the pickup precisely to see what the dog does. Does it maul or eat the duck? Does it urinate on it? If the game is rendered unfit for consumption that gets officially noted on the test score.

And it's not just put out 100 yards away because there isn't a blind retrieve component in UT, that is for the Invitational.

Ah shoot Coveyrise I should have read your reply first before I typed mine. Sorry.
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Re: Serious NA Tracking Discussion

Postby Densa44 » Mon Jul 18, 2022 5:37 pm

I'm with Willi on this one. The last thing we want to do is "dumb down" the NA test. The experts on here know that about 50% IMO of the dog's score is due to the trainer.
I have always thought that it would be a good thing if there were more tests than just NA, UTP, and UT, I guess I miss my old retriever days of going to trails every weekend.
I have always thought that the NA test was to encourage the new handler, and that's not a bad goal. The UT again IMO is a test of the trainer.
Good post.
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