HOWARD, Kan. - About 700 of North America's best retrieving doges are gathered in southeast Kansas for the 2013 Master National hunt test.

The competition is being held through Sept. 29 at Flint Oak, a 5,500-acre sporting facility in Elk County, The Kansas City Star reported.

"It's the pinnacle of a yearlong run of hunt tests," said Kathy Folsom, a dog owner and handler from Thomasville, Ga. "If you pass the Master National, it's a big achievement. Just qualifying a dog for the Master National is an accomplishment."

The test fields at Flint Oak replicate hunting situations, including ponds, ditches and thick prairie grasses. The dogs in the competition have to respond to whistles and hand signals while they search for a bird.

Larry Kimble, Master National director, said the dogs had to pass at least four master hunter tests within about the past year to qualify.

"By the time they're here, we're looking at what would be considered the ultimate finished hunting retriever," said Kimble, of Independence. Kimble is also a member of the Kansas-based Sunflower Retriever Club, which has been planning the event for about two years.

Kimble estimated half the dogs or fewer will pass the event.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com