Meet Your Judges (2013)

Region 1 – North Carolina

Laurice Williams, Sr.

It is a true honor to have been selected to represent Region #1 as a judge at the 2013 Master Nationals in Kansas. Thank you Region 1 clubs for electing me! I appreciate your confidence and support and will strive to represent you at the highest standards and professionalism.

It’s exciting to me to be part of the group of judges that have been elected for this years Master Nationals. I have had the pleasure to meet all of them and spend some limited time with most. I am at awe of the professionalisms of each of my co-judges but what really stands out is their passion for the sport and the desire to “pull for the dogs”

My wife Becky and I have been married for 39 years. We have 3 grown children. Living at home are 2 Chessies, Marlyn and Tuffy two labs, Deter and Daisy and the King of the Roost, a Chihuahua named Ace. We have 4 grandchildren who we love to spoil.

I am a life member of Ducks Unlimited, serving as Area Chairman of our local DU Chapter., (National Top 100) serve on the state DU committee (Retriever Chairman), Master Mason, (Past Master), and retired on June 1st from DuPont after 35 years. Retirement lasted two days before I started working with DAK Americas as a Production Superintendent. We also own a small Blackberry farm that really keeps us busy. “The Berry Patch NC”:

I have been an avid hunter all my life. My biggest hunting passion is bear hunting with hounds. I come from a long line of houndsmen and wing shooters. Whether following behind a pointer in the field all day, wading in a beaver pond with a retriever, listening to a pack of hounds chase a coon, fox or bear, I strongly believe that a dog must be part of all hunting. Not to get into controversy with my fellow sportsmen but my relatives just didn’t hunt without a dog involved, period.

I got started in the retriever game when I decided that my Lab, a yellow talented retrieving machine named Lucky, lacked a lot of obedience and manners. I started reading books, asking questions and talking with people all with the intent of trying to make Lucky a better hunting partner. I soon hooked up with some friends who knew a lot more about retriever training than I. A few retrievers later and after making a lot of mistakes I found myself joining a “Retriever Club”. Soon I was hooked on the retriever Hunt Test Game all in the name of having a better hunting companion.

When I got into judging it was not my intent to become a judge. I wanted to “learn what the judges were looking for”, so I attended a seminar. I soon decided I would give a little back to the sport that I had fell in love with. For some unknown reason I was and still am asked to judge often. I have had the privilege of judging at all levels, from a club’s training day, to the weekend hunt test, a WC or WCX, breed specialty, state competitions and even the Golden Retriever and Chesapeake National Specialties.

I take my judging responsibilities very serious. I think all levels of the hunt test game in their own way are equality important. I believe in the AKC standards and feel we as judges have an obligation to judge to those standards. We should strive to keep the integrity of the retriever breeds at the highest level and continue to do our part to assure the breed’s progress toward improvement.

The biggest benefit to my involvement with the retrievers has by far been the friendships I have made and the people I have met. Some of the best folks are retriever people! I would never have met so many good people and created so many friendships!

I am looking forward to this year’s Master Nationals, but it’s not about me. It’s about the dogs that have earned the right to be there. It’s about the handlers that have worked so hard to get their team ready at the highest level. I’ll strive to be fair and consistent and to give every team a chance to shine. Hopefully everyone will do the work to the best of their ability and at the end of the week earn that ribbon and plate they have worked so hard for. But if for some reason they are not up to the standard at this time …… well remember my motto… “I love to hand out ribbons but I hate to give them away”

Region 1 – Vermont

John Marchica

My name is John Marchica and my wife’s name is Linda. We have been married for 43 years. We have two golden retrievers and we all live in Sudbury, a small town in Vermont. We also have three children who are all married and have five very wonderful grandchildren. We moved to Vermont in 1974 and I worked for BF Goodrich as a program manager in the development of military aircraft fuel systems. We are both retired and now devote our time to gardening, hunting, fishing, training, playing with the dogs, grandchildren and running hunt tests.

I am again honored to have been elected to be one of the judges for the MNRC event in 2013. Thank you all!!

A friend of mine gave me a golden puppy, it was free with papers. After a short time I was into Obedience training and trialing and acquired a few titles in obedience. I did all my own training, stumbling along with other neophytes. I managed to get my first golden through to Am/Can CH Heidie Goose Tumbles OBHF, OD, UD, MH, WCX. Since that time we have gotten to know so many fine dog people. These new friends who have given us the knowledge to proceed further into the dog game has allowed us to title 6 dogs to MH with two more up coming hopefuls.

In 1978 I had no idea what a hunting retriever’s capabilities were (what does a kid from Brookline NY know). That was the year I started waterfoul hunting. I was also asked to go duck hunting with a friend. I learned it was because I had the only waders! A friend asked why not use your dog for retrieving ducks. What a brilliant idea! I had the opportunity to join the Lake Champlain Retriever Club. When I first started in the club the only stake that was availed was the gun dog stakes. At that point the Hunt Test was only a dream for some folks.

That dream became a reality shortly there after in the small town of Swanton, Vermont. It was there where one of the first Hunt Tests were held and my golden, Heidie qualified! By this time Heidie had acquired her UD title and we had started to run hunt tests regularly. I came in contact with a few visionaries that were promoting a Master National type event. This came to life in November 1988 at Varina, Va. and the first AKC sanctioned Northeast Federation Master Hunter Invitational was held. Heidie was one of two goldens that qualified. As time passed the AKC realized there was a place for this game and the Master National was born and held its first trial in September of 1991.

I have been participating in the Hunt Test game since it‘s inception. There have been a lot of changes some, in my opinion, for the better and some not so good. There have been lots of discussions pro and con on the HT being a true hunting situation. Being a avid water foul hunter there have been occasions while hunting a situation would present itself as a possible HT scenario. I would like nothing else then to duplicate some of those situations, but most of them would be next to impossible to duplicate. Considerations of time, logistics, and repeatability, would not warrant the feasibility of duplication but the principles can be utilized to build a hunt test scenario.

The emulation of a true hunting scenario can be achieved, where the outstanding achievements of your dog in no way could be duplicated for use in a hunt test but the intent would be there. Yes, I truly believe that actual hunting situations should influence all those that judge the Hunt Test.

When judging the Master National, I believe the scenario’s should be taken from those hunting situations that are the toughest but fair and graded for precision. At this level you are testing the best of the best.

I am a strong advocate of Marking, Control and seeing a strong sense of teamwork between handler and dog; these to me are of prime importance.

Please remember folks we are here to have fun, enjoy our dogs work and enjoy the company of new and old friends. As some one once told me “ these hunt tests are a gathering together of a large close knit family with one thing in common OUR DOGS‘.

So, may your team do the best that you can and have a great time.

Region 2 – Iowa

Bob May

I’m proud to be selected to represent Region 2 as a judge for the 2013 Master National. Wow, I’ve never really thought much about writing a bio about myself,so bare with me and I’ll give it a shot.

I’ve been involved with the AKC hunt test program since the beginning and I have to thank an old friend,Mr. Pat Hatler. Pat was an AKC Rep at that time and encouraged some of us from the Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club (Bozeman, MT) to become an active AKC member club and we did.When the MNRC was organizing,I became a MN charter member. I started judging local level events in those early days, when many of the HT judges were from the FT ranks. My dog(s) were qualified for the first 8 MN’s and I did enter some of those that were realistically closer to Montana.

I’ve worked at every event I attended. There aren’t many of the MN old timers left around today…but I do see Sally, Ray and Frank’s names mentioned now and then. I’m sure there are others and I look forward to visiting with them all in Kansas in 2013. Perhaps some will remember me from the MN held in KC, MO when I arrived with a pallet load of Black Dog Ale for the workers party, compliments of the Spanish Peaks Brewing Company and their dog named “Chug.” Great times for sure!!!

I migrated from MT down to CO in the early 90’s where I trained gun dogs and guided waterfowl hunters at a private club. I relocated to northwest Missouri in the latter 90’s where I also trained and guided waterfowl hunters.I moved back to my home State of Iowa in 2000 to care for my aging parents and have been here since.

I’ve judged for many of the Midwest clubs for the past several years and I still actively hunt waterfowl in 4 different States every year.My current Lab “Blu” is EIC effected, so I do not run him in hunt tests. However,retrieving our downed ducks and geese is not a problem. I’ve used him as a 1st series Master level test dog in earlier spring HT tests.

Once again, my thanks to those that voted me in as a 2013 MNRC judge and it will be an honor to judge the top dogs in the country. I do like the idea of judging with an experienced, past MN judge for the 2013 event.I can promise you our tests will be challenging, fair and fun. OMG, don’t you just hate it when a judge says “have fun”…especially on the National level.

Good luck to everyone and their dog(s).

Region 2 – Wisconsin

DuWayne Bickle

I was born and raised in southern Wisconsin and have lived my entire life enjoying the changing seasons and the bountiful hunting. I became interested in the sport when I met and became friends with my eighth grade science teacher who was involved in training Labrador retrievers for hunt tests. The more we talked the more interested I became in the sport. I began my weekly training as a “Bird Boy.” I guess you could say I’ve worked my way up from the bottom.

I became interested in judging because I felt a true feeling of dedication to the sport and I wanted to be able to offer something in return for the enjoyment I received. At the time it seemed there were too few judges to go around and it was obvious this was an area I could lend both support to the organization and a helping hand. I thoroughly enjoy watching the teamwork that is demonstrated between a handler and his/her dog. The loyalty, trust and dedication displayed are a constant reminder that they are truly “best friends.”

My most memorable experience with the sport is of the beginning of a close relationship that began when I competed in my first Master National in Glasgow, Delaware. I qualified my first Master Hunter, Sunny a yellow lab, and was invited to do some “pre-national” training several weeks before the national would be held. Due to my inexperience and being green to the sport I had never heard of this or the “early training” that followed in Delaware. Fortunately I was offered help from a key individual that was well versed in the routine of the sport and with “Big Brother’s” advice and a few key training tips the National went off without a hitch. Sunny worked her heart out picking up all the birds making it look easy like she’d done this a hundred times before. Feeling proud of what we had accomplished together I felt confident that we had finished well. To our disappointment we later learned that we were to be one of only two dogs that did not qualify in the final test.

I soon got over the disappointment of that day, as did Sunny. We may have lost out that day where the Master National is concerned, but the friendships that were created from that experience were never lost. Today I have two of the best hunting partners and friends you could ask for. Together we have logged a lot of miles, good times and memories.

My definition of an exceptional hunting dog is a dog that marks well and uses his/her head when faced with confusing or complicated situations. The dog should be controlled and handle crisply to blinds or missed marks.

Style is extremely important to me. I look for a dog that displays a high level of intensity in difficult situations. I try to set up tests that are easy to score. I place my “falls” wide enough to judge then apply my hunting experience (how the birds would get there in a real hunt), to increase the level of difficulty. I believe in the use of calls at all stations to make sure the dog sees the “mark.” Blinds should be placed so the handler can see the dog all the way to the bird.

At the completion of the Master National, my objective is to leave the handlers and the dogs believing that their abilities were challenged fairly and with the feeling that it was truly a rewarding experience for both.

Region 3 – Colorado

Ed Arnett

I would first like to extend my appreciation to all Region 3 clubs for their support, as it truly is an honor to be selected as a judge for the 2013 AKC Master National. I figured out very early in life that you really can get paid for doing what you love, and in my case that’s wildlife and the great outdoors. I’ve been a wildlife biologist and scientist for more than 20 years and have hunted and fished for 40 years, since the age of 10. I got my first Lab in 1991 and have owned and trained 6 since that first little brown puppy. I started running the AKC Hunt Test program in 1992 and have actively ran dogs and/or judged since then.

My “golden child” was Merganser’s Classic Rip-N-Tear MH, who qualified for the Master National 7 times, ran the MN in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and qualified in 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately, during his retirement and Hall of Fame run in 2006, Rip had to be scratched due to injury. He passed away in May 2007, and I have not run a dog in hunt tests since, in part due to my career and a very busy work and travel schedule, coupled with the fact that biologists rarely make enough money to pay a trainer!

But, I have been very actively judging each year, and have a young male I’m now training up for hunt tests. My dogs are always trained up well for hunting and we chase upland birds and waterfowl extensively each year throughout Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas.

I currently am a member of the Fort Collins Retriever Club and was a member of the Waterloo Club in Austin Texas for 8 years prior to that. I’ve always been a supporter of the Master National program and event and, like most, believe this should be the showcase for the best dogs running at the Master level. I believe in challenging tests that are fair, free of trickery, and try to employ all available factors in a test to optimize bird placement so the dogs can demonstrate their natural instincts, as well as their tendencies.

I really appreciate the dog/handler team demonstrating their training to get out of trouble when those factors kick in to high gear. I personally feel the toughest part of judging is being consistent and, thus, objective to all dogs and handlers. It requires focus and attention, and I take this very serious and try hard to make sure that everyone is judged to the same standard (accounting for strange conditions and circumstances that may arise during a test).

This is especially critical for the National and a split field. I have always felt that the split can and should work, but it is contingent on the judges being on the same page and working as a team. Not to speak for my co-judges, but I’m confident we’ll work together toward that goal and set up a great set of tests for you at the event.

Again, I want to say thanks for being selected a judge for the 2013 AKC Master National and I look forward to a great time in Kansas with my co-judges, the MN team, and the handlers, and watching some great dogs in action. Best of Luck to everyone and their dogs!

Region 3 – Texas

Dave Christianson

I first want to thank the clubs of Region 3 who have selected me to serve as one of the judges for this year’s Master National event. I am honored to have been selected. I hope all handlers will have a good time with their dogs and will receive a pewter plate at the end of the week.

I currently live in Bellville, TX (which is located half way between Cat Spring and Raccoon Bend) with my wife, Vicki. We have been married for 22 years. I was born in Ellensburg, WA (which is located half way between Cle Elum and Yakima). When I was 18 months old, my family moved to Wabeno, WI (which is located half way between Laona and Carter) so I was raised as a Packer fan. I always promised myself I would move south as soon as I could and in 1982, I moved to Georgia where I met Vicki.

We got our first Labrador shortly before we got married in 1991 from a friend’s neighbor who had a litter on the ground. I took an opportunity to move within my company to Vicki’s home state of Texas. I wasn’t born in Texas but got here as quickly as I could.

In 1996, living in Tyler, we met a breeder/field trialer who, after selling us a little black puppy, suggested that we check out a “new thing called hunt tests.” We found one close in Shreveport, LA to watch. We arrived late and it was raining, but after watching Junior for a bit we said, our dogs can do that. And drove home to prepare for what we had seen.

We entered our first hunt test in Feb of 97 and met two other couples from Tyler. The six of us founded the Rose Country Retriever Club of East Texas which later co-hosted the 2005 Master National.

I personally had a rough start in this game by failing five junior hunter tests in row with my favorite dog, Nestle. If it wasn’t for my wife passing her dog four in a row, not sure we would have stayed in the game. To add insult to injury, Vicki took Nestle and passed three in row then I got the final pass for her junior title.

Vicki’s first dog, Dusty, became our first MH and that little black puppy that got us into all of this, Lotto, became our 2nd MH and went on to put our first MN Plate on the wall! Nestle went on to become the best hunting companion one of my friends ever had. My wife and I have a deal that she will handle all of our junior dogs… I get too nervous at Junior.

Vicki thinks that I am obsessed with training my retrievers and that might be true. We have managed to raise and train six MHs, we have participated in four Master Nationals, and have brought home three pewter plates. (Lotto broke in the first series of the ’04 Master National under my good friend John Marchica. Thanks, John!)

We started judging in 1999 to give back to the sport. Vicki judged 73 times and I have judged 62 times, but who’s counting. Of my 62 judging assignments, I have judged Master 37 times. I like to set up tests that challenge both the handler and dog and enjoy watching good teamwork.

I believe in having good separation of marks without overlapping hunt areas. I try to make sure the dog has every opportunity to see the marks as they fly, “dogs cannot mark what they cannot see.” I expect to see control on blinds and ask the question “would I enjoy hunting with that dog?”

As of this writing, I have been able to spend a little time getting to know all but one of this year’s MN judges. The passion these folks have for the game is tremendous. I believe that we will all have a good time. I want you to know that if your dog has qualified for the Master National it is a great accomplishment and you should be proud of your companion.

We should all look at this event as a celebration of accomplishment and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Good Luck, have fun, and I look forward to seeing you at the line!!

Region 4 – California

Laura Judd

In 1997, my boyfriend and I decided to get a lab, to play fetch off his recently purchased boat. After some research I located a litter in a neighboring town. The pups were quite pricey, as I was told that both parents were out of “Master Hunters”.

I had been an avid waterfowl hunter with my father while growing up in the Bay Area, but had not actually hunted since he passed away. Undaunted, I justified the expense of the pup determined to get a “Master Hunter” title on this young pup, have a litter ourselves and recoup our costs…..and so it began.

My journey with my first dog, as I know many of you will attest to similar stories, quickly became an obsession…and my first Lab was an extremely talented girl, who qualified at both Nationals I took her to, in Bend in 2002 and Georgia in 2003. By then I was hooked completely. She taught me so much and was so forgiving of my many, many mistakes.

I’m now running her grandson, my fourth Master Hunter. My boyfriend and I now live on a small farm near Sebastopol, California, with five labs and the rest of the barnyard critters including a horse; sheep; chickens, and of course ducks and pigeons. I’ve been to four other Nationals, running in three, and still trying to complete my set of elusive plates!

I’ve had the incredible opportunity over the years to train with several great trainers, who have mentored me patiently. I train with Warren Grimsby as often as I can and with Tom & Katie Quarles of Autumn Retrievers when they’re in California and Maddy Hill, my regular training partner.

The camaraderie of the people in this sport is second to none and the incredible places that we get to enjoy and run our dogs on, and the friendships developed, is the best part of the journey for me. I’ve been involved with the Marin Retriever Club for many years and have served as President for a good portion of that time. We hosted the Master National in 2006 in Morgan Hill, and will host again in 2014 in Corning. I am also on the Board of the California Retriever Trainers Association which keeps me pretty busy when not training!

I’ve been judging since 2002 and I truly believe that it’s the best seat in the house! I strongly encourage other friends in the sport to judge not only as a way to give back, but as truly a learning experience observing competitors, both amateurs and pros run dogs.

Teamwork is so important in this game. I like to set up challenging series that make you think and work with the dog when you come to the line. I will always give every benefit of the doubt to the dog in hopes the team will be successful, but I want to see them work together as a team, so that’s what I try to set up.

Series that are challenging are the ones you remember and you know when you come off the line that what you and your dog just did was really something special! There are series that we all remember, whether we did well or not because they were so fun to run — the river series in Bend in 2002 is my all time favorite!

I wish all the contestants the best of Luck in 2013. I will be rooting for you!

Region 4 – Oregon

Bill Largent

I am honored to be selected to judge the 2013 AKC Master National. I grew up in Eastern Oregon hunting birds and big game, before moving to Portland, Oregon after graduating from college. I always had a dog as I grew up, but purchased my first Chocolate Labrador in 1977.

I joined Oregon Hunting Retriever Club and began to run retriever hunt test when my second lab was two years old in 1989. He and my third chocolate lab became Master Hunters, but I lost both of them to cancer in the summer of 1999. Since then I was fortunate to be the owner of Blue’s Ragtime Chugach (Jazz). He qualified for and ran the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007 Master Nationals. He passed in 2003 and 2004. He passed away this March at almost age 13. In addition to Jazz I had Dani and my only black lab Kodi, who were Senior Hunters that were taken well before their time.

When I lost a couple dogs that quickly, I needed a little time. Now I have “Island Acres Let’s Play Two”, (Ernie) who is a Senior Hunter. As the quality and difficulty of our sport has increased the training groups with my buddies a couple of nights a week have changed to training sessions with the help of a professional.

All of us, amateurs and professionals deserve a pat of the back for the increased quality of our hunt test retrievers. Those good master hunting dogs of 7 to 10 years ago could not do what we ask of our dogs today. Whether you qualify or not at this year’s Master National, I am privileged to have the opportunity to judge you and your dog.

As for my judging philosophy, I believe you and your dog don’t have to be perfect. There have been cases where a dog or handler has had trouble in a series, but redeemed themselves later. I believe our sport is supposed to be FUN! So, when I judge, I try to make the handler comfortable while he/she is at the line. I enjoy watching dogs that really like to go get the “chickens”. Therefore, I put more emphasis on the field work and less on the line issues.

The dog should be given the opportunity to see each mark with the help of calls from the field. The dogs must mark the area of the fall. If they don’t, the handler must take over and handle all the way to the bird. On blind retrieves I enjoy seeing the handler and dog working together to overcome natural barriers in the terrain.

I would like to thank the Master National Committee for giving me the opportunity to judge the “Best Hunt Test” dogs in the country for a second time.

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