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Retriever club hosts annual field trial near Bemidji

BEMIDJI — The Mississippi Headwaters Retriever Club is sponsoring its eighth annual AKC sanction field trials Friday July 12 through Sunday July 14 at the Anderson Gravel Pit south of Solway.

The public is invited to watch the trials and there will be no admission fee. The gravel pit is located on Jones Town Hall Road (take Hwy. 2 to Solway and follow the signs).

“Sponsoring the field trials is a way for the club to give back to the game,” said club secretary Dale Ladig. “A club needs to sponsor events within its region to reward its members.”

The trials will begin at 8 a.m. Friday with the first round of the Professional Division. Open to all dogs and handlers, the Professional Division features 85 entrants. The Amateur Division has 51 entrants and its competition will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Some of the 98 retrievers in the field trials will compete in both divisions.

The dog and their handlers will be tested in the “mark” and “blind” competitions and the retrieves will be made on both land and water. During the mark portion of the trials the dogs can see where the ducks have been placed. In the blind trials, however, the dogs must rely on their handlers to direct them to the birds.

The distances range from less than 50 yards to 400 yards and as many as four ducks may be placed in a single run.

“These dogs are the best in the nation and the trial is a very competitive event,” Ladig said.

Retrievers hit their competitive trial peak when they are five to seven years old, according to Ladig, and by nine or 10 they usually lose their competitive edge.

“But we could see some dogs as young as three years old during our trials,” Ladig added.

The Mississippi Headwaters Retriever Club will also sponsor an AKC Hunt Test July 20-21 at the club headquarters 10 miles south of Bemidji on Hwy. 71.

For details on the club, the trials or the hunt test visit the club’s website at

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200