Meet Your 2012 MN Judges Text

Michelle Love: Region 1— South Carolina

A little “Love” is all you need……at least that’s what got me started in this sport; the love for a cute little yellow lab puppy.

In 1996, John and I got our first puppy, Ellie Mae. At 6 months she needed some obedience so we sent her to Nancy & Sidney Tidwell at Swift Creek Kennel. They convinced us to let her compete in something called a “hunt test”. We went and watched and fell in love with the sport. Needless to say, I was hooked! After many months of training (and learning), I decided the next step for me was to handle my own dog. At one point, my family and friends were considering an intervention (just kidding).

Over the last 16 years, I have been actively involved in AKC hunt tests, competed with 9 different dogs and judged at all three levels. In 1999, I attended my first Master National as a volunteer for the host club, of which I was a board member. It was an incredible and memorable experience. In 2000, I began judging junior and senior and, after building a solid foundation, worked my way up to master. In 2008, I came back to the Master Nationals, this time as a competitor. It too was a rewarding experience, one that I hold very close to my heart. Also, in 2008, I co-founded Cooper River Retriever Club of South Carolina.

I thoroughly enjoy watching the handlers and dogs work together as a team. I strive to set up challenging and fair tests and to judge them to the standard. Every mark and every blind should have a purpose and I do not like tricks. When it comes to handling, I am a firm believer that not every handle is created equal.

It is an honor and privilege to be elected by the Region 1 clubs to be the first judge from South Carolina to represent them. I am looking forward to working with my co-judges, the Board and all of the participants in Alabama in October.

My last instruction to handlers during the scenario is always, “let’s have some fun” and I plan to carry that through to the Master Nationals. So, let’s have some fun in October!!


Sidney Williams: Region 1— North Carolina

I am honored to be voted as a Master National Judge for 2012

I have been a resident of Topsail Island, North Carolina since the age of 9. I have been an avid waterfowl hunter since I was 12 years old. I have been fortunate to be able to pursue my sport in many states and Canada over the years. I now hunt waterfowl 30 to 40 days each year. I also enjoy salt water fishing for Channel Bass on Pamlico Sound.

I have been fortunate to have hunted with many great gun dogs over the last 25 years and will not go hunting without a trained dog. This is way my wife Mary and I got into the AKC Hunt Test Program.

We have been very active in the AKC Hunt Test Program since the early 1980’s. I am a Charter Member of the MNRC and we have attended and worked at many past Master Nationals.

I have been judging at the Master level since the early 80’s and have averaged 3 to 4 assignments each year. Mary and I have met many great people and made great friends because of our involvement in this Program.

I was chosen to judge the 2005 Master Nationals in Texas and I am honored to be asked again. I look forward to seeing everyone in Alabama!

 Carol Hynes: Region 2— Wisconsin

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 2012 Master National. I am both honored and humbled. Unlike many of my esteemed co-judges, I did not grow up in a family of hunters. We lived in the city and my parents believed that animals belonged in the country. In 1995, on my way to pick out a lab puppy, I got my first golden retriever. All I wanted was a well behaved pet. What a got was a well behaved retrieving machine! At 10 months old, my neighbor and friend, Alice Xander, invited me to the Madison Retriever Club to let the pup play and see what he’d do. Two months later, he earned his Junior Hunter title and I was hooked. That dog went on to become my first totally amateur trained Master Hunter. He introduced me to upland hunting and again, I was hooked .

I have put master titles on three dogs and am currently getting ready for senior with my youngest dog. 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 have since attended the 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Master Nationals. Even though I did not finish any of them, I will keep trying to earn that plate myself!

I am an active member of the Madison Retriever Club having held the positions of board member, treasurer and currently hunt test secretary. 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. I believe that good bird placement is the key. 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.

I wish all the 2012 handlers a safe and successful 2012 Master National and no matter what happens, take the time to enjoy the game and appreciate all that our dogs do for us.


Rich Pyka: Region 2— Wisconsin

I would like to first say what a great honor it is to be asked to judge the Master National. I was deeply touched when I was asked to judge it a second time and be able to watch the best dogs from around the country run the tests again.

I would like to introduce myself, every body knows me as Rich. My wife’s name is Linda. I have two children and grand children.

My hobbies are deer hunting both gun and bow. Along with upland game and waterfowl hunting. My other passion is training retrievers and running Hunt Test’s along with judging.

Twenty-seven years ago I bought my first chocolate Labrador named Upper Woodland Suede MH. Although I had him mainly for hunting I became interested in Hunt Tests as a way to train and test my dog in the off-season. Since I started running Hunt Test’s I have become what they say “hooked’. Training has become more of a life style than a hobby. It has filled my life with the ability to spend time with great people and great dogs.

I belong to two retriever clubs, Fox Valley Retriever Club Inc. and Wisconsin Amateur Field Trail Club Inc. Both are Master National clubs.

When judging I enjoy setting up fair but challenging tests with a strong sense of hunting situations in them.

I would like to thank all the people involved in asking me to represent Region 2, and I truly believe judging the Nationals is the highest honor a Hunt Test judge can obtain.

I would like to wish everyone good luck, good marks and good blinds.

Bill Teague, Region 3 — Texas

 It is a genuine honor and very humbling to be elected to serve the MNRC thru judging the 2012 event! I am grateful to each of those involved in the selection process and look forward to judging in Alabama. 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. 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 seven other judges and running dogs in four series for the first time in MNRHT history will clearly be a challenge but a worthy one that I believe is achievable. Based on previous experiences with the grounds in Alabama, I believe there are adequate grounds with adequate club support to produce a high quality event.

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 ‘chief marshal’ plus working closely with many judges during set up as president, qualifying dogs 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 and successful event and I look forward to working with you. “Let’s bark and roll”………dog to the line!


  Bruce Bachert: Region 3— Texas

I've owned and hunted with Labrador Retrievers for over 40 years, mostly hunting ducks and doves in the southern and coastal parts of Texas. I began competing with my dogs in AKC (field trials and hunt tests) and HRC events (retriever and upland tests) in the mid-80's and it wasn't long before I also began judging AKC field trials and hunt tests. I now have a young pup that I hope will become my sixth generation master hunter. One of my dogs' favorite things is doing pickup of pheasants at tower shoots and drives since they get LOTS more birds than I can ever shoot for them -- and, unlike most of the birds they see in training, the birds are really fresh.

I have participated during setup for the MN event on five different occasions. I served as Region 3 VP in the late 90's until Y2K computer processing remediation (remember that) work required too much of my time. I was one of the judges at the 2001 MN event in Oklahoma and was the HT Chairman for the 2005 MN held in Palestine, TX. All that experience has made me intimately familiar with the necessity for careful attention to time management and I know how difficult it is to create tests that fit the time constraints while still being worthy of master hunters.

Since I do run and judge field trials, I also feel it is very important to distinguish HT's from FT's by the types of tests presented to handler-dog teams. Hunting tests should look like hunting and not try to be "field trials in camo". At the same time, a master hunter must demonstrate control at all times, cooperating with the handler anytime handling is required. It must demonstrate the ability to cleanly retrieve a triple mark while, at the same time, showing the willingness to accept handling away from a mark or diversion to pick up a blind retrieve.

The MN event, since the entry consists of dogs which have repeatedly demonstrated master hunter level ability, should be a showcase for dog-handler teams which demonstrate consistently high standards of performance. It is my hope that the judging panel this fall in Alabama will be able to construct tests which rely on careful bird placement to reward those teams successfully performing at that high level while everyone enjoys the challenges presented as well as the company of their fellow retriever enthusiasts.

Mike Jespersen: Region 4— Oregon

By profession I was a biology instructor for thirty years, but I have enjoyed a lifetime of fishing and hunting.  I have had retrievers for over forty years; in fact, my wife gave me my first lab.

Here in Oregon we have some great duck hunting, so naturally, a dog is a must.  For many years I would hunt with my dogs, but in the off-season they would get fat.  A buddy of mine suggested trying hunting trials, and after going to a few picnic trials I was hooked.  It seemed I couldn't get enough of them, so soon I was running field trials, NAHRA, and the AKC hunt tests.  I had been a coach, so the training of labs just carried over and I found it was something I had a passion to do.  The encouragement and helpfulness from the professional as well as amateur dog trainers in the trial game have been so genuine and friendly.  It doesn't matter what part of the United States you're visiting, "dog people" have become wonderful friends.

I have had five Master Hunters and they have qualified a total of 15 times for Nationals, including NAHRA and AKC.  Currently I run three dogs, two Master Hunters and one young dog running Seniors.    Because of my profession I was only able to take dogs to Nationals in 1994 and 1997, but it was it was in 1994 that I started judging, because I knew I wanted to give something back to the sport and hoped that I could make a difference.

I enjoy seeing the handler and dog working together as a team if they get in trouble, but I especially enjoy watching a good marking dog.  It's truly a pleasure to watch a dog and his handler working together on a blind!

The reason I got into judging was because I wanted to see challenging tests as well as fair tests.  The test should be one that could duplicate a true hunting scene.

There isn't any greater thrill than to qualify at the Master Nationals.  I wish success to all the participants.

 Jim Charboneau: Region 4— Washington

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Region 4 clubs who supported me in becoming a Judge for the 2012 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!

Jim Charboneau, DAH