The Invitational is NAVHDA’s premier hunt test, and is held annually in September. The Invitational is the ultimate test of both dog and trainer. In this test, dogs are required to: 1) run an hour field brace with another dog, point and retrieve upland birds, and honor its bracemate’s point and retrieve, 2) do a blind retrieve over water of approximately 100 yards, 3) honor another dog’s waterfowl retrieve, and 4) do a double marked retrieve. You can find more details on the Invitational on our About the NAVHDA Testing System and Invitational FAQ pages. Please Click Here to view our many NAVHDA Invitational sponsors, without whom the Invitational would not be possible.
The 2021 Invitational
When: September 12-18, 2021
Where: Big Springs Shooting and Hunting Complex, 4945 Hwy 146, Searsboro, Iowa 50242
Hosted by: Hawkeye Chapter
CLICK HERE for a few reminders from the Invitational Committee!!
Scores for each day will be posted each day after scores are read:
September 15-18, 2022
Hosted by the Zia Chapter
At THE RANCHES in
Albuquerque, New Mexico
2021 Invitational Running Day Assignments
Please CLICK HERE to view the 2021 Invitational Running Day Assignments.
The current revision posted is dated 9/7/21.
2021 Invitational Eligible Dogs
2021 Volunteer Assignments
Volunteer Job Descriptions
All volunteers must be members of NAVHDA International in order for the event to be properly insured.
Test Marshal. The Test Marshal is responsible for the overall test on the assigned day. The Test Marshal will directly supervise the Equipment and Electronics, Field and Water Marshals. All overall test decisions and changes from the judging teams will be directed to the Test Marshal. He or she will rally with all the daily volunteers before the start of the test to make sure the Field and Water Marshals get all their help, equipment, and birds for the day organized. Any major problems will be addressed to the Test Marshal. The Test Marshal will provide a list of workers to each of the SR. Judges at the top of each day.
Assistant Test Marshal. The Assistant Test Marshal will act as a procurement agent and assist the Test Marshal. It should be a person from the host Chapter and very familiar with the testing grounds, knowledgeable of all the equipment used for the test, and have a vehicle available. He/she will be in direct communications with the Test Marshal, understand the test, and know how to contact property officials.
Bird Steward/Cleaner. This person makes sure all sites have the necessary birds for testing that day. He or she will also make sure the birds are well cared for with food and water, have plenty of shade and are kept dry in rainy conditions. This person will ensure the birds are at each site before the test starts, will check supplies throughout the day and will make sure birds are picked up at the end of the day and housed adequately overnight. The Steward should regularly communicate with the Marshals at the Double Marked Retrieve and Blind Retrieve sites to coordinate the transporting of retrieved ducks from the Double Marked Retrieve site to the Blind Retrieve. He or she will also be responsible for making sure salvageable birds are being cleaned at the various venues (usually the gunners and/or bird planters are available to assist with this task). This person will have access to radio communications and will report directly to the Test Marshal and will be available to all Marshals.
Sales Table. Two people each day are needed to be sure that the Invitational and NAVHDA promotional items are displayed and sold to those interested. These people will be hosts and representatives of the organization and report directly to the Test Marshal.
Equipment & Electronics Marshal. Assembles and organizes all necessary equipment for each venue. Distributes materials to field and water marshals each morning and checks in materials at the end of each day. He or she is responsible for organizing materials for the next day. Distributes and tracks radios and batteries for each site and checks them in at the end of the day. Monitors radios to ensure they are working properly, checks fuel status of the generator for the antennae and base unit and addresses any issues throughout the day. May also have to be responsible for charging batteries for remote wingers if used during the test. This position will work closely with the Test Marshal and all site marshals to ensure efficient and accurate test conditions.
Judge/Worker Host. One person is needed each day to work with the Test Marshal to be sure the judges and workers have refreshments, shelter, and food. This person must have access to a vehicle as he or she will be responsible for delivering lunches and anything else needed for judges and workers. This person will have access to radio communications and will be available to all Marshals.
Standby Worker. This person will be available first thing in the morning to fill in where needed when last minute changes occur.
*** All field workers will arrive to the fields with all necessary equipment and be ready to go at least fifteen minutes before the judging team gets to the fields each morning. ***
Field Marshal. A Field Marshal is assigned to each field. This person has overall responsibility for the field they are stationed in. He or she will make sure they have all necessary equipment (included in the daily equipment list), workers, water in the field if necessary, ATVs and birds at each site. This work should be completed before or during opening ceremonies every morning. The Field Marshal has radio access to the Judges and the Test Marshal to keep the test running smoothly. He or she will supervise the gunners and bird planters; will make sure all gallery members stay at a safe distance and are out of the line of fire, and that all persons in the field are wearing one or a combination of the following blaze orange garments: hat, vest, or jacket. They will make sure gunners read the safety rules on page 24 of the NAVHDA Aims, Programs and Test Rules book. They will be responsible for participants and dogs being ready to go in the field in the order they were drawn. They will answer directly to the judging teams and the Test Marshal. They are responsible for making sure the sites are picked up and secured at the end of each day.
Gunners. There will be two sets of gunners at each field site. Gunners should have experience and must have gunned at a NAVHDA UT test at a minimum. If you have not gunned at a previous Invitational, you must get a written endorsement from a judge and submit a request to the NAVHDA Office.
Gunners must read safety rules at the beginning of each day from page 24 of the NAVHDA Aims, Programs and Test Rules book and agree to abide by them. Gunners will bring their own shotguns to the fields. These must have a break-open action. Twelve-gauge and twenty-gauge shells will be provided by NAVHDA. If gunners bring other gauge shotguns, they must supply their own shells unless otherwise advised by the host chapter. They may be asked to help clean birds if the field site is short on bird planters. Gunners will answer directly to the judging teams and the Field Marshal.
Bye Dog. A previously named Versatile Champion and its handler must be available to be used as a bye dog in the field event. The handler of any Bye Dog must have previously handled a dog at the Invitational. It is necessary to have at least one female bye dog for Sunday in the event one is needed to run with a female in season. Please note, E-collars may not be used.
Bird Planter. There will be three bird planters for each field, totaling six or nine each day. Two are essential, and three is preferred for bird planter “breaks.” Bird planters will use ATVs and bird bags to plant birds. Experience with all-terrain vehicular safety and operation is required. Bird planters will help bird stewards to make sure the birds are sheltered from sun or rain and are well cared for and assist with cleaning birds when possible. Bird planters will answer directly to the judging teams and the Field Marshal.
Water: Heel & Double Marked Retrieve
*** All water workers will arrive to the site with all necessary equipment and be ready to go at least fifteen minutes before the judging team gets to the site each morning. ***
Water Marshal. One Water Marshal is needed each day at the Double Marked Retrieve water site. He or she will be sure to have all necessary equipment, workers and birds at each site. As there are bird stewards, an assistant marshal, and judge/worker hosts each day, (see “Overall Test” descriptions) the Water Marshal will have direct access to these people at all times to keep the test running smoothly. They will have access to radio communications with a member of each of the judging teams and the Test Marshal. They will assist the Judges with the supervision of the duck wingers for their site. They will make sure that all gallery members stay at a distance where they are not a disturbance to the dog. They will be responsible for participants and dogs being ready to be tested in the order they were drawn. The Marshal should regularly communicate with the Bird Steward to ensure ducks are delivered on a timely manner. They will answer directly to the judging teams and the Test Marshal.
Assistant Water Marshal. One person is needed each day to make sure the water site is set-up and ready to go for testing. This will entail making sure that dead birds, wingers, a table, and chairs, shotguns, blank shells, toilet paper in port-a-potty, etc. are ready at each site. This person will have access to radio communications and will report directly to the Water Marshal. The set-up work should be completed before or during opening ceremonies every morning. Throughout the day, this person will be responsible for getting dispatched ducks to the winger location. He/she is to be available to address any last-minute details as assigned by the Marshal. The Asst. Water Marshal will also make sure the sites are picked up and secured at the end of each day.
Test Dog- Double Marked Retrieve. Test dog must be a reliable retriever. Previously named Versatile Champions are most desirable, however UT dogs are suitable as well.
Duck Winger – 1 & 2. There will be two duck wingers needed each day. The wingers should have the strength to consistently pull back a winger repeatedly (up to 36 times per day) or throw it by hand, depending on the request of the judges. It is possible that the person(s) throwing ducks may be stationed in a boat in the water. If this is the case, they must be able to throw well and swim well (just in case). They will have access to radio communications with the judging team and the Water Marshal and will answer directly to the judging team and the Water Marshal. The duck wingers should wear camouflaged or dark shirts in the event they are visible to the dog and handler. The winger operators may want to bring their own hearing protection as numerous shots will be fired at this site daily.
Distraction Gunner. This person will fire a blank from a single-barrel break-action shotgun at the command of the Judging team. They should bring hearing protection as they may have to do this up to 36 times a day and numerous shots will be fired at this location daily.
Water: Blind Retrieve & Honoring
*** All water workers will arrive to the site with all necessary equipment and be ready to go at least fifteen minutes before the judging team gets to the site each morning. ***
Water Marshal. One Water Marshal is needed each day at the Blind Retrieve water site. This person has overall responsibility for the water site they are stationed at. They will make sure they have all necessary equipment, workers and birds at each site. As there are bird stewards, field set-up workers, and judge/worker hosts each day, (see “Overall Test” descriptions) the Water Marshal will have direct access to these people at all times to keep the test running smoothly. They will have access to radio communications with a member of each of the judging teams and the Test. They will supervise the duck handlers and the honor dog/handler team for their site. They will make sure that all gallery members stay at a distance where they are not a disturbance to the dog. They will be responsible for participants and dogs being ready to be tested in the order they were drawn. The Marshal should regularly communicate with the Bird Steward to ensure ducks are delivered on a timely manner. They will answer directly to the judging team and the Test Marshal.
Assistant Water Marshal. One person is needed each day to make sure the water site is set-up and ready to go for testing. This will entail making sure that birds, wingers, a judge table, judge chairs, honor dogs, shotguns, and blank shells, are ready at each site. This work should be completed before or during opening ceremonies every morning. This person will transport ducks to the Duck Handlers as needed throughout the day. This person will have access to radio communications and will report directly to the Water Marshal. He/she is to be available throughout the day to address any last-minute details as assigned by the Marshal. This person will also make sure the sites are picked up and secured at the end of each day.
Test Dog- Blind. Test dog must be a reliable retriever. Previously named Versatile Champions are most desirable, however UT dogs are suitable as well.
Duck Handler-Blind Retrieve. The duck handler at the blind is responsible to make sure there are enough ducks ready at all times during the test. He or she will drag dead ducks from the shoreline to a specified (by the judging team) location away from the water, will leave the bird and quickly retreat to a hiding spot where they will remain hidden. The extra ducks will be kept in a cooler a good distance from the site so this worker must be in good enough physical condition to hurry back and forth to get the duck ready for the next dog. The Duck Handler for the blind will have radio communications with and report to the judging team and the Water Marshal.
Duck Winger-Honor Segment. The Duck Winger for the Honor Segment will toss a dead duck into the water (possibly from a winger depending on the site and how the judging team designs the test) in front of the honoring and retrieving dogs. The Duck Handler for the blind will have radio communications with and report to the judging team and the Water Marshal.
Retrieving Dog at the Honor Site. There will be a minimum of three retrieving dog and handler teams available at the Blind Retrieve water site each day. These teams can either rotate throughout the day or switch at the half-way point. The dog must be extremely steady and be a reliable and obedient retriever. Dogs that already have passed their Versatile Championship are ideal. Dogs need to have a UT Prize as a minimum to be used for this segment. These handlers will answer directly to the judging team and the Water Marshal. There should be at least one female retrieving dog on Sunday in the event any of the participating dogs are in season. Please note, E-collars may be used.
NOTICE TO HANDLERS:
The following jobs require volunteers to actively participate in the test and could be interpreted as violating the standing rule that handlers can’t train on or run on the grounds until they’ve completed testing. Therefore, handlers will not be allowed to hold these jobs until they’ve completed testing.
In the field:
At the Blind and Honor Site:
At the Heel & Double Marked Retrieve and Heeling Site:
For the same reasons, Invitational Judges who are handling dogs must run their dog before they judge a water segment of the test.
Click here to Volunteer!!
The NAVHDA Invitational would not be such a success each year without the support of its volunteers.
The volunteer assignment chart will be posted toward the end March and will be updated on a weekly basis. You will be able to find this chart under the 2021 Volunteer Assignments below.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering to be a part of the 2021 NAVHDA Invitational team!
The 2021 Invitational Committee
2021 Invitational Travel and Lodging
CLICK HERE for site maps and directions.
The Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) is approximately 75 minutes from Searsboro.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CID) is approximately 90 minutes from Searsboro.
Country Inn and Suites (641) 236-9600
1710 W Street South, Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Rate: $119 per night single or double
Complimentary Continental Breakfast
Other Area Hotels
Comfort Inn and Suites, (641) 715-9752
1630 W Street South, Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Quality Inn and Suites, (641) 236-6710
1902 W Street South, Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Best Western Pioneer Inn (641) 236-6116
2210 W Street South, Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Super 8 by Wyndham (641) 812-2051
2111 W Street South, Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Rock Creek State Park (641) 236-3722
5627 Rock Creek East Street, Kellogg, IA 50135
- 7 miles from Grinnell
- Electrical sites, modern rest rooms and showers
- Daily fee is dependent on the site type.
Reservations can be made 3 months in advance
Diamond Lake Park
Electrical and primitive sites, shower facilities, pump station
Self register on-site
Daily fee is dependent on site type.
Fun Valley Event Center
1066 500th Ave
Montezuma, IA 50171
(641) 660-5668 or (641) 660-2251
- Approximately 10 minutes east of Big Springs Shooting and Hunting Complex
- 12 full hook-ups which include water, electric and sewer
- 3 sites just electric but within walking distance of shower house
- Daily/weekly fee is dependent on the site type
2021 Invitational Banquet
2021 Invitational Banquet will be held on Friday, September 17, 2021
Cocktails will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m.
720 3rd Ave.
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Admission is $38 per person
Please email Charles Coulter to make your reservation.
Training Bird Order Form
The HAWKEYE CHAPTER will have training birds (Chukkars @ $15.00 per bird) available for purchase the week of the Invitational.
- The deadline for ordering birds is Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Orders will NOT be accepted after that date. Pre-payment will be required to process your order.
- The only payment form that is accepted is via check (in US funds) made payable to: HAWKEYE NAVHDA
- All orders are final. There will be no refunds on cancelled orders. (No exceptions)
Training grounds will be open for use on Saturday, September 12, 2021
- Handler will be responsible for having a bird pen or a bird bag for their training birds.
- Training birds will be available for pick up on Saturday morning at 8am in the parking lot between Fields A and B.
- Handlers will also be able to pick up their training birds in the parking lot each morning from 8am to 9am on Sunday through Friday of the Invitational. If that time is not convenient, Charles will work with you to arrange a mutually convenient pick-up time
To place your order, save and email this completed form to the Chapter Contact: Charles Coulter
Frequently Asked Questions
All dogs receiving a prize one Utility score between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020, are invited.
Posting of qualified dogs
Membership and DNA Certification
Effective with the 2005 Invitational, the primary owner and handler must be a NAVHDA member in order to qualify for entry. Also, for all entries, DNA information must be on file or applied for with NAVHDA by the closing date of the entry period. If you are planning to enter this year’s Invitational, be forewarned that it can take six to eight weeks to get your DNA results back. If your DNA sample is submitted through NAVHDA, we will consider this submission as completion of the requirement.
Once the test entry application and payment has been received at the NAVHDA office, the refund policy goes into effect. Requests for refunds must be submitted in writing to the NAVHDA Central Office, accompanied by a verifying statement from a physician or veterinarian excusing the handler or dog for medical reasons. NAVHDA must be notified before a dog is scheduled to run; letters of documentation from veterinarians and physicians must be received no later than 15 days after the last day of the Invitational. Fifty percent of the entry fee will be refunded for medical reasons only.
Dams in season
Dams in season may still run in the Invitational, however they will run on the last day of the test. If you think your dam may be coming into, going out of, or will be in heat during the test, please note this on the top of your entry form. There will be a bitch check each morning immediately following the opening ceremony.
Training/Running on Invitational Grounds
Running days are primarily assigned on a “first come, first served” basis but please note that many other factors are taken into consideration when compiling the final list. Handlers will be notified which day they are running no later than April 30. Braces will be revealed to handlers on the day of testing.
Test results and plaques
All handlers will receive an official test record after the test, at no cost to the owner. It is imperative all member and dog names be correctly recorded on the entry forms to avoid errors. Co-owners will only be listed if they are listed on the dog’s record in the database. Adding a co-owner on the application will not be recognized unless it is listed in the dog’s record. Each owner who passes the Invitational will receive a plaque to commemorate their success.
NAVHDA will have photographers on premises to take pictures for NAVHDA and the VHD. These photographers will be allowed access to all test grounds. Please note these photos are for NAVHDA’s sole and absolute use and are not available for sale through NAVHDA. To purchase copies of the photos you must contact the photographer directly. The Invitational Photographers receive direction from NAVHDA on what and who to photograph. Any individual requests to the Invitational Photographers will be handled after they have completed their assignments for NAVHDA first.
Photographer information will be made available at and after completion of the Invitational. Due to the number of dogs and size of the grounds, not all dogs will be photographed and not all photographs will be available for purchase.
As with all NAVHDA tests, it is ultimately the handlers’ and judges’ decision whether or not to permit a photographer to walk along.
Policy for entrance acceptance
- A dog must earn a Prize I Utility score within the qualification period, which is the calendar year prior to the test.
- Entries must be postmarked by March 1.
- Dogs entered must be NAVHDA registered or a completed application must have been received for NAVHDA registration (including appropriate payment) prior to the deadline for test entry.
- Entries must have DNA information on file, or applied for, through NAVHDA, prior to the closing date of test entry.
- The primary owner and handler, if different from the owner, must be a NAVHDA International member.
- Dogs that have previously passed the Invitational are not eligible to run in another Invitational.
Test Instructions -- Field Work
NAVHDA’s expectation is that all dogs are well mannered and under control throughout the event.
A judge will meet you at the starting line. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask. You are required to wear orange in the field and carry an empty break action shotgun. The use of a reflective collar will be allowed to more easily identify dogs that have similar appearances. If you do not have any of these items they will be provided for your use. All rules established for Utility field work as posted in the AIMS, Programs and Test Rules book apply to the Invitational in addition to the following parameters.
Test Instructions -- Double Mark
NAVHDA’S expectation is that all dogs are well mannered and under control throughout the event.
Once your dog is set you should nod your head to signal the judges you are ready to begin. Excessive time taken to get your dog positioned will affect your steadiness at the double mark score. You are not allowed to position or align your dog by grabbing it or its collar, moving or lifting it in any manner without being severely penalized.
When the first dead duck (memory bird) is thrown you will swing and fire at the top of the arc. After the first duck hits the water the second duck (wiper bird) will be thrown. The second dead duck, “wipes” across the line of the memory bird, at this time you will fire your second shot. The second duck will pass close to you and your dog. It must be retrieved first. Your dog has to remain steady through all sequences; if not, your steadiness by double mark score will be severely affected. After the second duck (wiper bird) has hit the water, pause to demonstrate steadiness before sending your dog with a line and/or a tap on the head or ear. You may hand the gun to the judge after you have sent your dog on the first retrieve or you may choose to keep it through the entire sequence. You should tell the judges in advance what you intend to do. If you choose to keep your gun throughout the entire sequence you may NOT mount and point the gun in the direction of the memory bird when the distraction shot is fired. Once the dog has the wiper bird in its mouth and has turned back towards you, a diversion shot will be fired by a distraction gunner. After receiving the first retrieve you may hand the bird to the judge behind you before sending your dog on the next retrieve, or keep it until you have sent your dog and then hand it off. Again, let the judges know in advance what you will be doing.
Position or align your dog and send it for the second retrieve (the memory bird). You are not allowed to position your dog by grabbing it or its collar in any manner without being severely penalized. Heeling your dog to line its direction to the memory bird is allowed as is sending your dog with a line with your hand and/or a tap on the dog’s head or ear. Entry into the water should be direct; excessive running the bank and avoidance to do the task will result in the termination of the retrieve portion of the event.
Minimal handling is permitted on the second retrieve. Excessive handling and commands that are not obeyed will affect your score. After your dog has a bird in its mouth a single light whistle or verbal praise is allowed; harsh return commands will negatively affect your score.
After you receive your second retrieve you will hand the bird to the judge. You are to keep your dog under control and in a heel position. A single command is permitted. The gun will then be handed back to you if you don’t have it and you will heel your dog off lead back to the marker where you started the event. A single command is allowed but excessive commands to get control of your dog will negatively impact your score.
Test Instructions -- Blind Retrieve & Honor by Blind
NAVHDA’s expectation is that all dogs are well mannered and under control throughout the event.
A judge will meet you at the starting line. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask. Your dog will be expected to heel off lead from the designated marker to the water’s edge where you will position your dog anywhere between the two markers. You are not allowed to position your dog by grabbing it or its collar, moving or lifting it in any manner without being severely penalized.
Invitational Hosting Requirements
Invitational Hosting Requirements:
- An on call veterinary clinic within an hour drive (max).
- Chapters must be able to provide lunches for all workers, approximately 40-45 workers per day. A banquet facility to host dinner Friday or Saturday night, approximately 100-125 people.
- A local bird supplier or suppliers that will contract for chukars and ducks at a reasonable rate ($7 to $9 for chukars and $12 to $15 for ducks.)
- Sufficient signage to get participants and spectators to the different venues. Parking signs at venue. Signs to get people to and from exercise fields.
- Signs to mark exercise fields. (A total list of needed signs will be given to any chapter that will be hosting the Invitational.)
- The hosting chapter may inquire about renting the signs and other equipment from chapters that have previously hosted the Invitational.
2021 Invitational Photographers
Versatile Champions 1988-2020
Please CLICK HERE to view the list of NAVHDA Versatile Champions, by year.