Luis Caceres travelled the two hours from Edmonton with his German wirehaired pointer to take part in this year’s pheasant festival and dog training class, held on Saturday, Oct. 15.
The blustery weather put some people off, but Caceres simply dressed up warm and brought his hound to the Stettler Agricultural Society’s grandstand for his half-day lesson with Blackfoot Kennel’s Randy Blanchard.
“The weather could have been better,” he admitted. “But overall, it was a good experience.”
His hound, Maddox, is only a puppy and this is the first real training class he has been in. It was also Caceres’ first time attending the Stettler Pheasant Festival.
“I’m a first time handler,” he said. “There’s just so much to learn. You can’t do it in a half-day.”
The class relocated to a nearby property, owned by one of the participants, which not only had students and instructor out of the wind, but provided more cover for the hounds and handlers to work in.
“The (ag grounds) were wide open,” Caceres explained. “When we moved, it worked out quite well because there was brush and trees.”
The variety of dogs in the class meant that Blanchard had to tailor his lessons to each individual, a fact that was aided by the fact there were only five students in the class.
“My dog is a pointer,” Caceres explained. “So we worked on getting him to point steady.” Other drills were designed to teach flushing dogs how to flush birds, and retrievers to retrieve birds that had been shot.
Blanchard said he thought the class went well.
“I think the key is to get the dogs and handlers involved as much as possible,” he said. “Education is key to a fun, fact-filled seminar.”
The hunters and hounds came from all over. Some were trained locally, while others required a bit of travel for the owners to acquire.
“There was a four-year-old border collie from Virginia who was very accomplished, and her handler, although very modest, is an excellent trainer,” observer Bob Cameron said.
Other hounds at the lesson included an Australian hound dog who was used in cattle herding, and two Labrador retrievers.
“I had a chance to see that just about any dog can be taught to do the work of a hunting dog,” Cameron said. “I guess they are all really wolves at heart.”
Trap shoot competition draws limited crowdNew to the festival this year was a trap shoot competition, held by the Stettler Trap Club on Saturday, Oct. 15.
The club, located just outside of town, managed to attract four people for the inaugural shoot, a number that club president Rob Docherty admitted he wished had been higher.
Due to the small turnout, Docherty had turned the competition into a fun shoot, splitting up the prizes he had rounded up among the four participants equally.
“We were lucky because it was a fairly warm day,” Docherty said, adding that had it been absolutely frigid, he would have to call off the shoot.
“The four (people) who came said they’d definitely come again,” Docherty said, but noted that unless numbers are higher next year, the trap shoot is unlikely to happen again.
“I’d love to keep it going,” he explained. “It just needs to be worth the effort.”