The Small Munsterlander Club of America
Mixing fun with policy-making to improve the
The Small Munsterlander, though
a pointer first and foremost, is a "versatile" gun dog
of German origins bred to track and retrieve game as
well as furred animals.
Summer can be downtime for many gun dog owners and breed
club members. But for the Small Munsterlander Club of America,
summertime, outside of the hunting season, is the busiest time
of the year.
Summer is when the Small Munsterlander breed club members
get together for a national meeting. Sixty some Small
Munsterlander owners will gather for three days to work on
club policies, to learn about and train dogs and to have a
just-for-fun hunting contest.
"In the seven years of the Munsterlander Club's existence,
we have had six of these get-togethers in some centrally
located, upper-Midwestern state," reports Tom McDonald, the
club's past president from Lincoln, Nebraska.
"The annual national meeting of the Small Munsterlander
Club of America has been a particularly good thing for the
dogs," McDonald says. "In the last several years, club members
and their Munsterlanders have attended from all across the
country. The usual format is to have a day of business
meetings where we develop club policies on breeding and
testing practices and any other related subjects. The rest of
the time is devoted to learning activities such as lectures in
canine breeding, genetics and health care, as well as testing
for canine good behavior and training for hunting.
The Small Munsterlander Club of
America has grown from 20 members in 1998 to more than
60 today with an annual meeting held each year in
Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin or some other
"One of the features of our annual meeting is that all the
members gather in person to have face-to-face discussions
about such subjects as breeding policies, canine health issues
and testing programs. For example, we have discussed the
prospects of including the North American Versatile Hunting
Dog Association's 'utility test' to go along with the 'natural
ability' test we already now use in qualifying our dogs for
our club's breeding program. Likewise, there have been some
useful debates on how to sanction any breeders who have dogs
with serious genetic defects," McDonald adds.
"As with any breed club, our Munsterlander organization has
its share of divisive political issues, occasional conflicting
personalities and real differences of opinion," notes Kris
Hill, one-time club president from Nebraska. "But all our
members are united by a desire to improve the breed and to
enjoy our dogs as hunters and companions. Doing this is a lot
easier in an actual meeting than trying to do something long
distance by email or telephone."
A Hunt For Chukars
"One highlight of the annual
meeting is a just-for-fun hunting contest where we use our
dogs to find, point and retrieve pen-raised and released
quail, pheasants or chukar partridge. Though there is an
element of competition in the contest, most participants are
doing this for the joy of hunting with their dogs," says
In the chukar hunt, two judges
follow a hunter and his dog through a 10-acre field of
prairie grass where pen-raised chukars have been
released. The dog owner has the option of having a
designated gunner (as in this case) so the dog can
receive more handling attention.
"The Munsterlander hunting contest was actually a
combination of fun hunting mixed in with some informal dog
training," says John Luttrell, head dog trainer and operations
manager at Oak Tree Hunting Lodge and Training Facility in
Clark, South Dakota, the location of the most recent three-day
Small Munsterlander convention.
"Because our hunting preserve season runs from September 1
to March 31, we couldn't release pheasants for the
Munsterlander event. So we used chukar partridge, which in
South Dakota are not legally considered native game birds,"
"Using what are now pretty much standard upland game bird
hunting competition guidelines, we put these pen-raised
chukars into marked-off 10-acre plots of native prairie
grass," Luttrell says. "There each hunter and dog team were
given 30 minutes to locate, point, flush, shoot and retrieve a
maximum of three partridge with qualified judges scoring the