Tucker ran the first brace of the third day of running. I was concerned, as the first brace of each prior's day running the multitude of coveys and wild pheasant had unhinged some very good dogs, another on my string "Pearl" only the day before in a very early bird. But - the luck of the draw is what it is and Tuck most definitely rose to the occasion.
Tucker broke away smartly and reached well, occasionally stopping to look for direction and taking it nicely. He topped the first dam and dropped to the draw on the right and was found standing. This was very near the spot Bailey had found a bird the day prior, but unlike Bailey's find, Tucker's was the lone point so the judges elected to have it for the retrieve bird. Thankfully also was that this bird flew quickly and in a good direction for the gunners to drop it, although it took multiple shots. Tuck held well and made a perfect retrieve to hand.
He then took the course forward and though he has never run it prior, he has a knack for finding the course. I think he picks up the disturbed earth of the horse track, but no matter the reason, he always found the front.
He dropped from sight at the first pond and the bottom dog dropped out a few moments later. As we approached Tucker was standing at the edge of a drop off, the bottom dog standing beneath him. I'm not certain if the judges felt it was a decided find or an honor, but I'm confident Tuck had the bird and was standing before the bottom do came down and pointed. I don't know the bottom dog would have been able to see Tuck on top of the dropoff so I would have ruled it a divided find. Regardless, the bird flushed and was blanked with all in order.
The dogs moved on towards the second pond and Tuck's bracemate established point. Tuck backed with no command. I did whoa him as they attempted to produce a bird, however this point became a non-productive. I took Tucker on and he worked up the terraces well. On the turn down he took an enormous cast across the valley and Janet went to scout him, not realizing he was in fact on course and in view of the judges. The wind was strong and the sounds of the recall whistle could not reach her. She gathered Tuck in from a fantastic forward cast and brought him back, only then to realize the course shift. It is easy to become turned around on this course as there are multiple hills and turns. It is easy to become disoriented. I must commend the judges as they did not fault the dog for the faux pas of his handling team.
Tucker then worked up and over the dam and had another find, handling it perfectly. He continued to reach the entire rest of the brace including through the Pheasant Gauntlet. He finished the hour going away at time. As a side note, when he came in to be leashed he was still so strong that I had to half-hitch him around the loin as he was pulling so hard.
I obviously am very proud of Tucker and he is a very good dog. He had a great day among a very fine field of dogs. There were many dogs that could have won if only for a slightly different scenario presented itself or a slightly different outcome of a piece of bird work.
The truest icing on the cake however, is that Tucker's owner was considering just retiring Tucker and not sending him with me to Colorado. I'm very thankful that I was able to convince him that his dog should have this chance, and I'd even wager he is as well!