Meet Your Judges (2016)

Region 1 – Georgia

Chris Bodine

It is an honor and a privilege to be elected a Master National judge and I would like to thank all the Region 1 clubs that placed their trust and confidence in me.

When I was introduced to the hunt test scene, it was a way of extending my hunting season and keeping my dogs in shape. Today hunt tests have become a big part of my life and helps me to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

In the beginning, I struggled trying to do everything by myself, by reading books and watching VHS tapes. But I quickly learned the importance of becoming part of a good training group, with access to the proper grounds. That really enhances your training. I have been extremely fortunate over the years and lucky enough to have trained with many great people (professionals & amateurs) on many different beautiful grounds.

I am an avid bird hunter and nothing is better than taking your hunting dog out with you and watching them work. Whether it’s retrieving ducks, geese, pheasants, dove or pointing quail, at the end of the day its quality time spent with them and your friends in the outdoors that really matters.

I have put Master titles on two dogs, one of which is as an MNH4. I have worked at and run my dogs at the last six Master Nationals and am the proud recipient of six Master National plates. I am currently in the process of starting a new dog and look forward to the journey with her down this same path.

I am the President of Fall Line Retriever Club of Georgia and an active member of four different retriever clubs. I fully understand and appreciate the work that goes into putting on a hunt test and know that time management and organization is the key to success. If you ask anybody about me they will tell you that “when it’s your turn to come to the line you’d better be ready because Chris will be.”

I am a firm believer that judges should remain active participants and run their own dogs to be able to better appreciate the hard work that all the handlers and trainers put into these dogs. The teamwork between a dog and its handler is what it’s all about to me.

To all the handlers, trainers & owners, I know the sacrifices you have made, the challenges you faced to get qualified and the hard work and long hours you have put into getting ready for this event.

You should all be proud of your accomplishments and I wish you the best of luck in St. Louis.

Be safe, have fun and enjoy yourself, you’ve earned it!

Region 1 – Florida

Fred Collins

It is an honor and a privilege to be elected a Master National judge and I would like to thank all the Region 1 clubs that placed their trust and confidence in me.

When I was introduced to the hunt — First off, I would like to thank all of the Region 1 handlers for giving me this opportunity and I am deeply honored. I am looking forward to judging this country’s best dogs and handlers that have qualified for the 2016 Master National.

I grew up and still live in South Florida. I live with my girlfriend Stacey and our five labs three of which are master hunters, a 9-month old puppy and our house dog Cody. I have trained two of my dogs myself to their master titles and I am working on my third.

I was first introduced to the hunt test game by a gentlemen in the Golden Retriever Cub that I was a member of. Believe it or not I was showing retrievers in the breed ring.  Thank you Greg.

I started judging in 2006 and over the years I have run and judged both AKC hunt test and field trials. I very much enjoy watching the dogs do what they were breed and we have trained them to do. Good bird placement and time management are key factors to my set-ups.  Test set ups should be both challenging and fair and judged accordingly.

I am currently the Vice President of Treasure Coast Retriever Club. I have been blessed to have made so many great friends over the years.

I wish all of the participants safe travels and most of all, may all of your birds land belly up and the wind always be on your side. Remember this is a team sport and most of all have fun.

Region 1 – North Carolina

Keith Maready

I consider it an honor to judge the weekend hunt test and a distinguished honor for the opportunity to represent Region 1 as an elected Master National Judge. I thank the clubs for their confidence and opportunity on the weekend test and a big thank you to the clubs in Region 1 for the display of confidence in electing me as one of your representatives to judge the 2016 Master National.

From the early days on the family farm in very rural Chinquapin, North Carolina, we lived and survived on what the farm provided. Most of our fathers were off serving in some branch of the military, and, for the most part, leaving cousins, moms, aunts, Grandma and Granddaddy on the farm. With NO education, Granddaddy took the leadership role and lead very well with a simple plan.

Granddaddy Archie was a hard pusher in whatever the chore was and every day, for the first twelve years of life, in every chore I was reminded of Granddaddy’s simple plan to survive: “You gotta give to get.” You’ve got to give to the land to produce crops, you’ve got to give to the animals to produce meat, you’ve got to give help to the neighbors to get help when you’re in need and on Sunday you’ve got to give time and respect to God to get blessings when you’re in need. Granddaddy Archie lived a life of “give back” and his leadership to us, enforced a life of “give back”. Very simple, that’s why I judge hunt test.

Having had some type of hunting dog my entire life, it was natural to acquire a retriever and start duck hunting as my family migrated to the coast when my father came home from the Army. Hunting the big waters of Core Sound and Bogue Sound on the southern outer banks of North Carolina is challenging and thrilling. Having my lab to pick up birds is amazing.

From the late sixties through the early eighties, our dogs were thoroughly trained. Their training was, we’re going duck hunting, get in the boat. They hunted with me and my buddies five to six times a week during the season and if they didn’t figure out the retrieving part, they didn’t get to go hunting anymore and we would buy another dog. We went through several and had some that would have retrieved an elephant – if elephants could fly and we could hit them.

In 1983, on the way home from a morning hunt we stopped by the newspaper / book store for a newspaper to see if a previous hunting adventure of ours had made the paper. Well, it did, and we kept a low profile for a few hunts. My buddy also came out with a retriever training book and that was the beginning of a bad thing for the dogs.

We managed to finally acquire a couple of labs that were tuff enough to overcome our vast knowledge / sheer ignorance and they became capable of doing some impressive things. If we threw a rock in the direction of the duck they didn’t see fall, they would go in that direction and not come back until they found a duck.

My wife Wendy and I now reside in Newport, North Carolina, overlooking Bogue Sound and the Intercoastal Waterway. We live there with our two yellow labs, Luke and Gabe. Upon discovery of how little I knew about a trained retriever, Luke, the old guy, and I went through a training program with a friend, neighbor and former professional trainer. That training program led me to the hunt test world.

Thank you Richard Reese. Luke is grateful every day for your patience and determination to keep me from messing up. The thrill of running hunt test, meeting wonderful folks, watching amazing dogs, and living life’s survival plan taught by Granddaddy Archie contributes to an amazing life, and I’m blessed to find myself as a Master National Judge.

My philosophy on setting up a hunt test is simple. Challenge the dog to think. On marks, place the bird where the area of fall can be marked with factors in route, and in the area, that challenge the dog to think, using both natural and trained abilities, to find and retrieve. On blinds, place the bird in an area where the line to get there has factors that challenge the dog to think using the trained ability to interpret what is being asked by the handler.

My philosophy on judging a hunt test is also simple. On marks, don’t avoid the factors, demonstrate the ability to think while using natural and trained abilities, intensely hunt the area, make the retrieve and the score is good. On blinds, don’t avoid the factors, demonstrate the ability to think and respond appropriately to the handler’s request, be on line or moving in a direction toward the line, make the retrieve and the score is good.

In every series I have a yes, no, or possible that contributes to the score assigned to the task; would this dog be a benefit or distraction to my hunt? In ALL cases if there is possible, or question, my “fudge factor” is to favor the dog.

Congratulations to all in completing the qualification process to be invited to the Master National.

Congratulations and THANKS to all the Judges. Thank you to the Master National Retriever Club, River King Retriever Club and the MANY folks who will be active in making this 25th anniversary event happen.

Good luck to all the participants. Have a blast with friends and enjoy our very best friends — the dogs!

I look forward to seeing everyone in St Louis! Especially the dogs!

Region 2 – Tennessee

Alan Bruhin

I would like to start by expressing my appreciation to all of those in Region 2 who voted for me to represent them as judge for the 2016 Master National. I am honored to have this opportunity and look forward to seeing some of the very best hunting dogs in America show off their skills.

I first started into the world of retrievers 25 years ago when I got my very first lab named Doc. As you can imagine, he taught me more about training retrievers than any book I could find to read. I remember like it was yesterday when Doc made that very first junior hunter retrieve and returned to the line dragging a ten foot tree limb along with the duck.

The judges commented on what a great job I had done force fetching him. I still remember thinking, what the heck is force fetch. I have come a long ways from the days of Doc, and I still am learning each and every time I work with my dogs. (By the way, I did finally figure out what force fetch is). Today, I still enjoy training my labs and hunting with them every chance I get.

After taking a few years off from the hunt test game to spend time with my sons showing livestock, I am excited to be back training and running test again. I have a 2 year old lab named Shine that is competing at the master level. I am currently a member of The East Tennessee Retriever Club where I am serving on the board. I am once again enjoying judging those weekend test.

My other hobbies aside from dogs and hunting, include fishing and traveling. I have been employed by the University of Tennessee Extension in Sevierville, Tn. for the past 38 years where I have the pleasure of working with the areas farmers and homeowners.

This will be my 5th Master National event either running my dogs or judging. I know the work and training that goes into getting a dog qualified and I want to do my part to see that every handler attending the event in St. Louis has an enjoyable time. I look forward to seeing old friends as well as making new ones.

As a judge, I will be looking for great team work between handler and dog. Well placed marks with challenging blinds will be my goal for the week. I don’t like to use “tricks” to get answers. I thoroughly enjoy watching dog and handler working in tandem to accomplish their goal of “bringing home the bird.”

I want to wish all of the 2016 handlers a very successful Master National. I know everyone’s goal is to take home a plate, but let’s remember to have some fun along the way. Good luck, great marks and one whistle blinds are my wish for you!

Region 2 – Wisconsin

DuWayne Bickle

I have been involved with the Master National since 1991. I have titled nine Master Hunter retrievers and judged over 100 Master Hunt Tests. I qualified five dogs at the Master National and have judged three previous Master National events.

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 2 – Wisconsin

Jeff Schilz

I am greatly humbled by my judge appointment for the Master National in St. Louis.  Many thanks to all the people and clubs for my name submission to represent Region 2.

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was early on at the young age of eight, that I realized my passion for Labradors. It was then my parents purchased my first black lab.

In 1990, I got my first hunting dog, “Bogie”, a yellow lab and began pheasant hunting.  It wasn’t long and a friend suggested I try my hand at hunt tests.  Later I went on to accomplish “Bogie” as a Master Hunter; ran two Master Nationals, St. Louis and Butte, MT.  Additionally I have run and titled dogs owned by friends in hunt tests.  “Thunder”, my black lab had accomplished a Master Hunter, his FC in Field Trials and also ran the Master National in Indiana.

I’ve gone on to judging hunt tests and field trials the past 20 years, and have enjoyed the challenge!

Currently, I am dabbling in Field Trials  with two young dogs, “Hawk” and “Jordy”.  In all I have been running a combination of Hunt Tests and Field Trials for 23 years.

Master National is a terrific opportunity for dogs and their handlers to run under judges not exposed to under the weekend hunt tests.  I am honored to be one of the ten judges to represent the Master National this year.

Good luck to all the handlers competing at the Master National.  May the birds fly straight and the dogs run true!

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 25 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 February 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 Master Hunter and that little black puppy that got us into all of this, Lotto, became our 2nd Master Hunter and went on to put our first Master National 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 seven Master Hunters, 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 84 times and I have judged 82 times, but who’s counting. Of my 82 judging assignments, I have judged Master 49 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?”

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 3 – Colorado

Don Mills

I am very honored and privileged to have been selected as a judge to represent Region 3 for this year’s AKC Master National in St. Louis. I look forward to spending time with the accomplished Handlers and dogs participating in this year’s event.

In my professional career, I am a Systems/Software Engineer. I have spent much of the past 25 years developing Satellite Communication Systems for the Army, Air Force and Navy. On the personal side, I am a husband to wife Beth and a Dad to twin sons Chris and Chase, age 13.

For many years hunting the South Platte River region of Colorado, my hunting partners and I would often collect downed birds ourselves, without a dog. This could involve miserably cold, wet river-crossings or nearly impenetrable thickets with the potential of a lost bird. It was a revelation to finally hunt ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds with well-trained retrievers. Not only could they handle the conditions and rough terrain, they could find the birds and deliver-to-hand with ease. What a vastly different experience — I hope to never bird hunt without a dog again.

The style, desire and courage of these hunting dogs in sometimes very adverse conditions, doing the jobs they were bred to do is a continuing source of awe and inspiration. As part of my desire to have a trained dog to hunt with, I became involved with the Hunt Test program. Since 2002, I have been involved in NAHRA, NFRA and AKC Hunt Test and Field Trial organizations.

These organizations provided a framework within which to evaluate dogs’ abilities and understand what can be expected of them in the field. Along the way, I had help from FT/HT Pro Joseph McCann at Rock Erin Kennels and long-time friends and hunting partners Mike Wentworth, Lloyd Fulenwider, Roy Kirmer and members of the Pikes Peak Retriever Club.

My experience as a Handler has included both success and disappointment but always a sense of accomplishment and pride. One of my proudest achievements was when my dog Jackson entered the Master National Hall of Fame. This was superseded only shortly thereafter when my son Chris handled Jackson to a ribbon in a local AKC Hunt Test Junior Stake at age 9! Both Chris and Chase have proven to be excellent and reliable Bird Throwers.

As a judge, it has always been my responsibility to evaluate dogs within the framework of the AKC Hunt Test Rulebook. I take this responsibility very seriously and will use the Rulebook and my experience as the basis for evaluating dogs during this Test. I strive to be a fair and consistent judge, creating hunting situations that give both you and your dog a chance to demonstrate your team’s collective abilities.

My expectations for the performance of dogs and handlers at the Master National are the same as I have at a weekend Hunt Test — I appreciate excellence but am not expecting perfection. Both natural and trained abilities will be evaluated. I hope to be congratulating each of you on your ribbon and plate at the awards ceremony. Best of Luck to All!

Region 3 – Texas

Bill Teague

It is a genuine honor and very humbling to be elected to serve the MNRC again in 2016 thru judging the 2016 event! I felt honored to have been selected to serve as a judge in 2012 in Alabama and I am grateful to each of those involved in the selection process and look forward to judging in St. Louis. It is also an honor to work with such high quality fellow judges!

As a judge, my commitment to my fellow judges, the handlers and/or owners of the dogs that run, and the MNRC is that I will do everything I can to provide a challenging but fair test and judge dog’s performances in an equitable manner to the AKC Standards. I’m a strong believer in excellent bird placement, high expectations of dogs’ skills, solid trainability attributes and steadiness.

I believe my extensive judging record attests to the above expectations. Achieving consensus with eleven other judges and running dogs in six series will clearly be a challenge but a worthy one that I believe is achievable. I believe there are adequate grounds with adequate club support to produce a high quality event in St. Louis.

My many years as an avid hunter, both upland and waterfowl, working at many MNRHT’s, including seven years on the MNRC board helps me understand the magnitude and requirements of the event. Having served two years as a ‘judge’ at the MNRHT; two years as ‘chief marshal’ plus working closely with many judges during set up as president, qualifying dogs multiple times in the event and working in the field during the event also helps me understand the magnitude & goals of the event.

It is my hope that all involved, both human & animal, will have an enjoyable, safe and successful event and I look forward to working with you. “Let’s bark and roll”… dog to the line!

Region 4 – Washington

Jim Charboneau

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Region 4 clubs who supported me in becoming a Judge for the 2016 Master National Hunt Test! I’m honored to represent you.

I grew up hunting and fishing in the great Northwest and received my first bird dog, an English Setter, as a teenager and quickly became hooked on upland bird hunting and watching good dog work. 15 years and 2 kids later, I had the pleasure of hunting waterfowl and upland behind a fully trained retriever and happily started hunting with one of my own a short time later.

Fast forward another 10 years to the summer of 2000 when someone told me I should try my luck running AKC hunt tests. After failing my first test, a senior, again I was hooked.

I take great pride in training and handling my own dogs to the Master level. In 2006, I ran my first Master National and since then I’ve enjoyed traveling to and competing at the ‘08, ‘10 and ‘11 Master Nationals. I believe in good line manners, the line to the blind is the line to the blind and a quick handle is much better than a long ass hunt.

I enjoy setting up challenging tests, but judging them fairly and think anyone who judges should train and handle their own dog. I look forward to seeing the competitors at this year’s Master National.

Train hard and good luck!

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 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 2016. I will be rooting for you!

Region 4 – Oregon

Ron Margiotta

Thank you Region 4 for your confidence in selecting me to judge this year’s event. I am truly honored and humbled. Congratulations to all the judges selected for 2016 Master National. I am looking forward to meeting and working with all of you.

I began hunting with a dog my buddies father owned (a dachshund aka Fritz the Wonder dog) running rabbits and incidental quail and woodcock in the Midwest. After moving to Oregon 35 years ago, I began waterfowl and upland game hunting, where I acquired my first Labrador puppy. I wanted to extend my hunting season with the dogs so, I gravitated to hunt tests. I have had many mentors and teachers along the way in my journey to whom I am in debt.

Eventually, I attended a judges seminar to learn more about the game we play and began to judge. I take great pleasure in observing good dog work and am in awe at what these amazing animals are capable of.

I have been married to my lovely wife for 30 years and without her support, I would not be where I am today. I have two adult children with one getting married this summer to a great guy. As a side note, two Labradors were a catalyst for my wife and I getting together, but that’s another story. I have had three Master Hunter’s qualified for the Master National and one qualified in 2010 and one in 2014.

I want to congratulate all the qualifiers for their commitment and hard work to get to this level. I enjoy setting up tests to compliment the standards. Marking is of the utmost importance and I believe all blinds have a purpose and judge all facets of that blind (beginning, middle, and end).

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