Meet Your Judges (2022)

Region 1 – North Carolina

Jeffrey Henderson

Let me begin by sharing that I am truly humbled to have been chosen to represent Region 1 as a judge for the 2022 Master National. Congratulations to all who qualified. It is a journey full of triumphs and disappointments that led you to represent the best of the best in the Master National Hunt Test arena.

I look forward to seeing the most talented dogs in the country participate in the quest for the coveted AKC Master National pewter plate. Let me take this opportunity to share a little bit about myself.

Growing up on an eastern North Carolina tobacco farm, I have been an avid hunter and outdoorsman my entire life. Hunting for me always included some type of hound, whether it be on the trail of a rabbit, bear, raccoon, or deer. As I have grown older, the importance of a trained retriever became so much more valuable to me than the actual hunt.

In 2009, after returning from a hunting trip out west, I suffered a stroke and lost mobility in my right arm. While the Lord blessed me with a full recovery, my ability to hunt, as I had in the past, was more challenging. I switched gears and began to learn the different facets of the hunt test world. I have been blessed personally with very talented dogs and exceptionally knowledgeable trainers and mentors.

The friendships and the experience I have gained, and continue to gain, about this sport has been invaluable, I am thankful for my family who has supported my journey and our dogs over the years. My wife has tolerated my motto of… ”just one more.” The true backbone of this sport and what means the most to me, besides the dogs, are the people.

From the handlers to the bird techs to the families that are there for support, it takes a village to put on a fair and quality test. Early in my judging assignments I had a mentor that asked me repeatedly if I was fair to the dog. In every test I judge those words resonate in my mind, was I fair to the dog?

Region 1 – Ohio

David Phillips

I am humbled to have been selected to represent Region 1 for the 2022 Master National. What an honor! Furthermore, congratulations to those that have qualified for this year’s event, as you and your dogs have demonstrated the teamwork, skills, and resilience necessary to be the best of the best in our sport.

In 2003, a friend (and fellow Chessie owner) invited me out to watch a Hunt Test. After spending the day watching the Senior and Master stakes, I came away so impressed with the capabilities of the dogs and handlers that I decided I wanted to try it out. In the years since, several of our Chesapeakes have taken me places never thought possible; including the 2010, 2016, 2019, and 2021 Master National.

As a member of the American Chesapeake Club and current Vice President of the Buckeye Retriever Club, I firmly believe that we must all be engaged for our sport to continue to thrive. This mindset led me to my first judging seminar in 2010. As a judge, I have a front row seat. How cool is that?!

It is so impressive seeing a dog and handler work together as a team to navigate a well thought out set up. I look forward to this opportunity and vow to do my part ensuring a challenging and fairly scored test. Good Luck and remember HAVE FUN!!!

Region 1 – Ohio

Bill Skeels

First, I would like to say what an honor to be elected to judge the 2022 Master National by my peers in Region 1. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to judge the best handler and dog teams in the country.

I first got my first Lab in 2001. I was just looking for a hunting dog that could handle. At the time I had never heard of Hunt Tests, I had been to a few field trials when I was younger, which was my first introduction to the capabilities of retrievers, beyond retrieving. It didn’t take long to become addicted. About eight months later I had a second dog. Both became Master Hunters and the pack continued to grow.

My local club is the Buckeye Retriever Club. And like many of you eventually joined the Board, took on the responsibilities of chairing tests, working at events and generally doing whatever needed to be done.

I started judging in 2011 and it has been a great experience. I’ve had the opportunity to judge from East to the West coasts. The friendships I have made along the way are overwhelming, all the while getting to watch these fine animals do what they were bred to do.

I am looking forward to seeing old friends, making new friends and seeing some great dog work.

Good Luck to everyone in 2022!

Region 2 – Wisconsin

Carol Hynes

First and foremost, thank you to all the Region 2 handlers for allowing me the privilege of judging some of the country’s best dogs at the 2022 Master National. I was both honored and humbled when selected to judge at the 2012 and 2015 Master Nationals. I am honored and humbled again.

I live with three golden retrievers and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I have put master titles on four dogs. I sent my second master hunter to the 2003 Master National with a pro, as I was not able to attend, and he brought home my first, Master National plate. I then attended the 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Master Nationals and even though I did not finish any of them, I loved the experience and hoped to earn that plate myself!

I was able to take my 4th master hunter, Cruz, to the 2016 Master National and earn that plate myself. He also earned plates in 2017, 2018 and 2019, handled by me in 2017 and 2019, and earned his place in the Master National Hall of Fame. He’s retired now, but I will never forget those nerve-wracking trips to the line and the relief that comes when the series is completed and you know the dog did a great job. I’m in the process of completing the Master title on my 5th dog and I have a youngster that will be running Senior this spring and maybe master in the fall.

I am a working member at the Wisconsin Amateur Field Trial Club. I’ve been judging since 2002, and feel very strongly that judges need to be on both sides of the pencil. I like to set up tests that challenge the dog and handler team thru the use of good bird placement and without tricks. I like to see a hunt in the area of the fall, good line manners, and the team work it takes to pick up a blind.

Congratulations to all those that qualified for this event. May you all have a safe and successful Master National and no matter what happens, take the time to enjoy the game and appreciate all that our dogs do for us.

Region 2 – Indiana

Blake Lemish

I feel much honored to be selected as a judge for the 2022 Master National and want to thank everyone for their confidence in having me represent Region 2. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with all the judges selected for this year’s event.

I have had hunting dogs all of my life at a competition level starting with beagles then moving on to coon hounds. I have worked for Con-Way Freight for 26 years. Once I began working nights, I bought my first lab after I went duck hunting with my uncle. I friend referred me to a breeder; Chris Cornelius.

After a road trip to Ohio, I got my first 7 week old lab puppy as a hunting companion and she ended up becoming a Four-time Master National qualifier; Grassy Creek Casey, who is also a member of the Master National Hall of Fame. We are now on our fifth generation of Grassy Creek Labradors.

I have been a member of the Backwater Retriever Club for almost 20 years. Backwater Retriever Club hosted the 2000 Master National in North Webster, IN. My thoughts for running and judging hunt tests include fair, straight up marking tests with well-placed birds and challenging blinds; staying away from tricking the dogs or their handlers. I want to wish all the owners and handlers the best of luck at this year’s Master National.

Region 2 – Iowa

Troy Tilleraas

It is an honor and privilege to be selected again by my fellow dog enthusiasts to be among the judges for the 2022 Master National event. I began in the hunt test games in NAHRA, ran through all the stakes and putting a MHR on my own dog along with my 2 youngest children throwing birds.

After the years went by people asked if I would train their dog and along with a full-time career of installing elevators across Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Almost 20 years of part time pro trainer I was done and wanted to concentrate on my own dogs and family.

My wonderful wife Niki and I have been married for 29 years, Niki whelps and raises our litters of puppies, does chores and plans to accompany me, to again another great Master National. Our two children Dakota -a veterinarian in New Richmond WI, and Tucker a mechanical engineer with Anderson Windows have all given up many a weekend where I have taken some or all of our current 10 dogs to AKC Master events, NAHRA events, AKC Field Trials, or now SRS Super retriever events.

We are blessed with 4 grandchildren from my two oldest Nicolas and Brittany who have Dallas and Wade, and Brianne and Payne who are the parents of Paysen and Ryggen.

I love judging, setting up very challenging tests and watching how the teamwork unfolds in front of us. I am known, in my opinion, as a very challenging judge who appreciates excellent dog work who looks at the little things that can affect a dog at the line. Talking to the amateurs and pros alike before during and after the day is done is a great time. I am an avid pheasant hunter. I and Tucker guide for a premier hunting lodge in SD with our dogs we own and 2 others we co-own.

I wish you all the luck and look forward to watching some great dog work, meeting old friends and hopefully making many new ones.

I would like to thank all of the clubs, all the workers and all of the behind the scenes folks that commonly go unnoticed. Putting on this large of event is a great commitment of work and time!

Region 3 – Nebraska

David Jansma

First I would like to thank my wife Bessie for over 40 years of marriage and for letting me follow our passion. Next a thank you to Region 3 for trusting me to judge a National event.

My journey started in 1998 when I watched my first hunt test. I was hooked. Got my first competition lab in 1999 (Caesar) and from there it started. I watched a lot of handlers and dogs and trained hard. Caesar turned out to be a very special dog. We earned an AKC Junior, Senior and Master Hunter title.

Since then I have bred to him for a pup. All of them became Master Hunters. This sport has allowed me to make a lot of lifetime friends. I enjoy judging the dogs and watching the handlers. My goal is to have challenging tests that are fair. I look forward to seeing everyone in Washington this fall. Train hard and enjoy your dogs.

Region 3 – Nebraska

Elbert Traylor

Dogs have been a part of my life from childhood years to the farm today. With my goldens, I have been involved in obedience, agility, tracking and hunt tests.

Achieving a Master Hunter title with my dog, Tiger, was a crowning achievement. In addition to my own dogs, I have fostered over 30 golden retrieves, training and rehabilitating them for adoption into new homes and families.

Judging hunt tests at all levels has introduced me to many wonderful friends. Watching finely tuned dog/handler teams work together has given me immeasurable pleasure. On the other hand, watching a few not-so-finely-tuned teams, including my own, has provided interesting comic relief. To quote my friend, a theater director, “If you must fail, fail spectacularly. The audience will think you meant it.”

It is a great honor and privilege to be selected to judge the 2022 Master National Hunt Test. I look forward to being a part of the event and wish all the teams a spectacular success.

Region 4 – California

Julie Cairns

It is an honor to have been selected to judge the 2022 Master National. Many thanks to the clubs in Region 4 that made this possible.

It is ironic that retrievers and field training has been the one constant passion in my life. Many hobbies and interests have come and gone, but the retriever game has never faded. I have had Golden Retrievers since I was a teenager, but then I bought one that wanted to retrieve ALL of the time.

I discovered that there was a local retriever club and a phone call and a club meeting later I was involved in the Redwood Empire Retriever Club (RERC). Suddenly my life revolved around training and field trials. The RERC was primarily made up of hunters who ran field trials on the side, and with their encouragement my husband and I started hunting in the fall.

The RERC held the first Sanctioned hunt test on the West Coast in 1984 and a year later I judged the Junior stake at the first Licensed AKC Hunt Test on the West Coast. Soon I was judging all test levels as well as field trials. I was on the original Board of Directors of the MNRC in 1991-92 when the name of the organization was chosen and the By-Laws were drafted. I judged the 1995 Master National in Vermont which was one flight of about 190 dogs and three judges. Three years later I judged the event that was held in Washington and was run as two flights with 90 dogs each.

I served another stint on the MNRC Board until 2006 when I was President. For ten years, I published the Hunt Test Know How News in an effort to improve the understanding of hunt test training, testing and judging. In 2018 I had the privilege of judging the MARC Invitational test and judged the 2019 MNRC event

Over the years I have had many wonderful Goldens that I have trained and titled at all levels. Currently I have a female black Lab that I ran at last year’s Master National.

Life isn’t all about retrievers and hunt tests. I retired a few years ago after 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service as a rural letter carrier. I am a ceramic artist and do volunteer work in the community. I have a five-year-old grandson that lives with me.

Good luck to all of you and remember to have fun!

Region 4 – Washington

Linda Johnson

Congratulations to all handlers and their dogs and dams that reached the Master National. This is an accomplishment in its own right.

Thank you to all of the Region 4 clubs, their members, and my peers who put their confidence in me to judge the Master National. I am deeply honored and humbled and will represent our Region with dignity and respect. Thank you to the Umpqua Valley Retriever Club members and all the volunteers for their willingness to put on this huge national event. Also, thank you to the National Board for their leadership and commitment to the sport.

I was born and raised in Iowa. Shortly after high school, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and served six years as a law enforcement officer, with assignments in the Philippines and New Mexico. Upon discharge, I landed in Washington State, where my husband and I raised our daughter and participated in various sports, such as fly fishing, photography and hiking.

About 16 years ago, we ventured into another sport, the retriever hunt tests. The first event my dog and I entered was a local club’s 10-series. Miss Elie and I earned the blue ribbon and needless to say, that is all she wrote. Ever since, I have done everything from working a pop-and-throw station to marshalling, judging, bird stewarding and chairing events.

I currently serve as a director for the Golden Retriever Foundation; treasurer/secretary for the NW Retriever Trial Club; and the accountant for the Evergreen Golden Retriever Club. My husband, Paul, and I believe that both hunt tests and field trials are necessary for our sport. We handle our Goldens in both; two of our girls have master hunter titles, and two are qualified all age. Our four girls are part of our family, living in our home. Both Libby and Chloe are retired, while Dazzle and Cali continue to compete.

As a judge, I believe in tests that are fair, challenging and display the natural marking and training abilities of the dog. I understand the commitment in training your dog and enjoy watching that teamwork.

Again, congratulations to all the handlers who worked hard to get to the Master National. Above all else, enjoy it, visit with friends, and have fun.

Region 4 – California

Kit McClurg

Let me be begin with thanking the Master National Club and my peers for this opportunity. I am deeply humbled and very honored to have been selected to judge at the Master National. It’s a great privilege to be able to give back to the sport. I also, would like to congratulate all dog handler teams for the hard work they put in this year to qualify for the National. It is an exceptional accomplishment.

A little about myself, I am from the Central Valley of California. My first dog training gig happened in 4H where I competed in obedience with a pet Dachshund. When I turned 14, I began raising Guide Dog Puppies. There were a total of 5. My first was a yellow Labrador named Raquel, leading to a couple of Black labs and a Golden and the last a chocolate lab. And chocolate became my favorite color.

After 4H, while in college, I transitioned into showing chocolates completing a show championship on my dog, Tiga. She was totally ball crazy and lead me to hunt tests. We did both NAHRA and AKC events. I joined the local clubs and spent many nights after work training with friends. Eventually, I took up bird hunting and archery. I am lucky to live in the Pacific Flyway and hunt birds with my dogs often.

In 2004, I bought my first field bred chocolate Lab from Carolyn Goll and Joe Reinhardt. Hoover was fast as a Ferrari and a total team player. He was the first dog I had trained by a Pro. I spent many weekends driving to Reno, NV to learn from Carolyn. She taught me how to handle and read my dog. She trained me as much as she did my dog. In 2010, Hoover and I went to our first Master National. I worked as a gunner and Hoover gave his all, and earned his plate. I so cherished standing alongside him. He was always a good boy.

After Hoover, came Wilma. She was named in honor for Wilma Randolph whose life story is so inspirational a woman who overcame so much and triumphed. In Wilma, I also wanted to honor my Lord and Savior and did so by giving her the AKC name of Jesus Saves. Little Wilma and I ran in the 2014, and 2018 Master National. In 2021, Wilma passed the 2020 Master Amateur National held in Corning, CA earning her first plate.

My other dog’s name is Fred. His AKC name is Ironwood’s Hoosier Healer MH. Fred is gonzo for pheasants. Both Wilma and Fred are now retired. My goal is to get another chocolate after my own retirement in the next year or so.

In conclusion, my hope is for each and every one to create great memories at this event. Handlers, make those memories. Enjoy your time on the line and concentrate on retrieving each of those birds, one at a time. Godspeed.

Region 4 – Oregon

Ted de Looze

It is my sincere belief that dogs are one of God’s greatest gifts to man. There are few limits to what a dog can be taught to do with man. After watching hunting dogs where I was growing up, I wanted one.  For my 10th birthday, my mother gave me a German Shorthair Pointer, took me to obedience classes on Thursday nights and I was off on a lifelong passion, training my dogs.

I have had German Shorthairs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, English Pointer, Standard Poodles, and now a Labrador Retriever that I have trained in hunting sports. I even trained one of my wife’s Dobermans to honor the English Pointer’s point as she loved to go Chukka hunting with us.

 With the tolerance and support of the love of my life, Lezlee, now my wife of 44 years, I tried Field Trials with my Chesapeakes in the 1980’s. I returned to training my dogs to hunt with me and continued to train them for bird hunting until 2010. In 2010 I decided to take up the sport of Hunt Testing and did so with a Standard Poodle.

 I have trained 3 Standard Poodles to the MH level and have competed in both the Master National and Master Amateur Invitational, succeeding in winning a plate at the inaugural MARC Invitational with my senior poodle, Remy, now 12. I am currently training my first Labrador, enjoying it immensely, on the way to Master Hunter. I have been involved with retriever sports training my dogs, putting on hunt tests, judging all levels of hunt tests, and shooting for both hunt tests and field trials.

I just completed my second term as Director for the Western Region of the Master Amateur Retriever Club. Through this sport, I have been privileged to meet wonderful, dedicated people, many of whom have become good friends.

I am honored to be invited to judge this year’s Master National. Thank you to the Master National Board of Directors for making this a reality. I enjoy watching dogs work with their handlers, succeeding in complex cooperation, often returning with a bird that neither the dog nor the handler would have been able to retrieve on their own.

I am looking forward to seeing these extraordinary dogs and handlers who have qualified, together with many friends at the 2022 Master National.

Post navigation
Scroll to top