Megan Baker: Region 1 - Pennsylvania 

Since my last Master National Judging experience in 2014 I have continued to give back to the sport we all love so much.

I am currently running 4 Golden Retrievers in Master.  I truly enjoy watching a good dog / handler team experience the ups and downs of the hunt test program.  It’s all about the Marks and Blinds.  I am looking forward to judging each team as they come to the line and showcase their talents.   


Keep it simple and get the birds.

Megan

Christian Ricker:  Region 1 - Maryland 

First and foremost, I'd like to say thank you. It truly is an honor, a privilege and humbling to be selected as one of the 2020 Master National Hunt Test judges.

A lot of hard work, long days, sweat and tears go into qualifying for this event. So, congratulations, to all that have made it here. I am looking forward to the responsibilities of judging a well thought out, challenging test and being fair to the handlers and their retrievers. A special shout out to the Region 1 Clubs, thank you for the vote of confidence in allowing me to represent all of you!

A little bit about me, I am blessed to have a beautiful bride of 27 years, two wonderful daughters (one serving in the United States Navy), two beautiful granddaughters (that have me wrapped around their little fingers) and 7 Labrador Retrievers!

I've been an avid waterfowl hunter, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, my entire life. Introduced to the sport by my father and older brother at 9yrs old. Although I enjoy other types of hunting, waterfowl is my first love. A well behaved, trained retriever by my side along with family and friends is a tradition that runs deep in my heart.

As with many of you, I fell into this game by accident. My brother-in-law purchased a retriever and sent his pup to a very good trainer. His dog was so impressive, that after one hunting season with him I had to have my own. His was nothing like the untrained retrievers' clients brought along when I was guiding for outfitters. I was unaware of how talented they can be and had no idea of retriever games, hunt tests, etc... I was as green as one could be. I have learned from some of the best in the game and have come a long way since I entered my first Junior Hunt Test back in 2009.

It took one AKC event in April of 2009 and I was hooked! I soaked up everything I could. With four Master Hunter Titles under my belt, with my first four retrievers, I was regularly encouraged to become a Hunt Test Judge. Thanks to a final push, by a very good friend and judge Joe Eschert, I started judging in April of 2014. It’s been a fantastic journey since my first assignment with the lovely Carol Lewis at Rappahannock River Retriever Club.

Although, none of this would have been possible without Ms. Trish Jagoda. As the trainer of my first retriever, she allowed me to sit and watch her train. Pad and pencil in hand, she was patient and thorough, while I asked question after question. Thank you, Trish, for being such a great mentor and friend!!

Immersing myself in the game, I joined several Retriever Clubs, held multiple positions, from the Board of Directors to Hunt Test Chairman. Currently, I am the President of the Susquehanna Retriever Club.

I have met and become life-long friends, with so many wonderful people through our four-legged friends (too many names to list) None the less, I have learned so much from all of them and have truly been blessed with where I am and what I have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

I'd like to say congratulations to all that have earned their Invitation to the 2020 Master National Hunt Test in Minnesota. Good training and good luck to each of you.
Christian Ricker

Robert C. Johnson: Region 1— Virginia

I am privileged to represent Region 1 again, this year, and grateful to be a part of this event. As always, our events would not be possible without your participation, support and love for the game.

The Master National is the ultimate test, as each series finds new ways to challenge both dog and handler. This event continues my education of hunt tests, as the first week of prep provides learning and consistency amongst the judges.  

The real heroes are the clubs and volunteers, who work diligently behind the scenes to make each event more successful than the last. As a supporter of Tidewater Retriever Club, I realize that, without the hard work of the people with a common goal, you would not have a Master National event. Many thanks to the retriever clubs, professional or amateur handlers/trainers for supporting weekend events.

Waterfowl hunting became an integral facet of my life after college, as I continued to travel from Louisiana to Canada each year. I spend copious hours preparing for hunting season at a local level, while training our six retrievers. A well-trained retriever is a reward in and of itself, as you make hunting and AKC memories with current and new friends.

I would like to thank my family, who has supported my retriever efforts throughout the years. With my recent retirement, I feel blessed to be spending more quality time with my family and friends creating memories.

Congratulations to everyone that qualified for the 2020 Master National. You should be proud of your accomplishments.  I am excited about witnessing teamwork between the dog and handler from start to finish. However, plate or no plate, you still have an exceptional dog, and partner, to compete in the Master National. Again, thank you to Region 1, and best of luck in this year’s event!



Robert C. Johnson

Alan Bruhin: Region 2 - Tennessee

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 2020 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 30 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 10 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.  I am currently training two labs. A 20-month old lab named Cin that has just started competing at the Master level, and her dam, 6-year-old Shine. 

I am currently a member of the East Tennessee Retriever Club where I am serving as president and as always, I am enjoying judging those weekend tests. My other hobbies aside from dogs and hunting, include fishing and traveling.  

I recently retired from the University of Tennessee Extension in Sevierville, TN where I worked for the past 41 years. This will be my 7th 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 Minnesota 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 2020 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!
Alan Bruhin

Jimmy Olsweski: Region 2 - Wisconsin
I would like to thank Region 2 for electing me to be one of the judges for the 2020 Master National in Minnesota. I am honored that you have the confidence in my abilities to be a fair and impartial Master judge. The Master National program is great for judging dogs to the best of their abilities according to the guidelines set by the AKC and I am proud to be a part of this judging experience. Thank you

I have been involved in the AKC hunt test program since 1979 running and judging.  In 1979 I joined Fox Valley Retriever Club and served as president, vice president and chairman throughout the years. I have also served West Allis Kennel Club as chairman, vice president. Through these years I have traveled all over the country, met a lot of  great people, made many friends, and judged a lot of dogs, but  most of all I always have fun and have  made a lot of great memories.

I grew up training and hunting with my dad in Wisconsin. I have passed on my training knowledge and experiences to my four children, who all have dogs of their own now. As soon as they could walk they were in the field or duck blind hunting and training with me.  My two daughters Melissa and Michele can throw a bird with the best of them and my two sons Joe and Jake are my running and hunting sidekicks. They are also two of the best shooters I know.

I have hunted all my dogs as much as I can in the past 35 years in Canada, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin. I have had a lot of dogs over the years and each one has been a faithful hunting companion. Now I have a couple of master dogs and went to the Master National in 2015. We went out. In 2016 we made it to the end with a good run, but did not get a plate.

In my judging career I have always believed in setting up a fair and challenging test and follow all of the AKC rules.  I am committed to holding the dogs to a standard of excellence.


I look forward to judging your dogs and good luck to everyone. Thank you.
Jimmy O

Beth Trudel: Region 2 - Wisconsin

Thank you for the honor of being selected to judge the 2020 Master National! Sporting dogs came into my life when I married my husband in 1984. While I have settled on Chesapeake’s as my dog of choice, there have been many Labradors, Brittanys, and English Setters in our house.

We have enjoyed hunting ducks and geese as well as many wonderful days in the field with the upland dogs in central Wisconsin ever since. I purchased my first Chesapeake Bay retriever in 2001. I participated at the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Specialty in Maine later that year and placed second in the event! That is all it took to be hooked into this sport!

My first Master National as a handler was in 2008 in Minnesota. I didn’t pass this event but learned so much and knew that I would be back to run it again. My dogs did earn plates in 2010 and 2011.

Then God threw me a curveball and cancer sidelined me for six years. My goals of getting back to the sport to run a dog at Master National were realized in 2016. I worked to raise my level of competence so I could earn the respect of my peers and be elected to the honor of judging Master National. These goals are what kept me going in those dark days. As all of you know, this is only made possible by the fabulous friends in our training groups.

With good bird placement and challenging blinds, like to see good team work between the handler and dog. I have learned to cherish every day and relish the opportunity to judge and enjoy your dogs as they work. Thank you all and many wishes for luck.
Beth Trudel

Willie Alderson Region 3 - Idaho

Congratulations to both you and your dog(s) for qualifying for the 2020 Master National! I am both thrilled and honored to have been selected to judge this year’s Master National and I look forward to seeing these talented dogs do what they were bred to do…WORK!

I am a native Idahoan, and Labradors were an important part of our family growing up. Even though I was the first born, my parents had a yellow Labrador first! I was in 5th grade and I still vividly recall my father being very sad. I believe that is the first time I saw him cry when he broke the news that our lab had passed away. They are definitely part of the family!

Growing up, my backyard consisted of agriculture land with corn fields, sugar beets and alfalfa. I could walk out my backyard and jump shoot the drainage ditches and harvest ducks and pheasants. What a great time to grow up!

In 2002, I had purchased my first lab pup with my own money. She and I moved to Nebraska and that’s where I accidentally stumbled upon a dog training group. It was in May, and all I could hear were duck calls, shotguns and whistle toots! I knew duck season was closed, so I had to know what they were doing. My only experience with advanced training is what I saw on the occasional ESPN shows. I thought I had done a good job with my “trained” retriever. She could deliver to hand, take a left and right over cast and a right hand back cast. That’s all I thought was needed in the hunting field.

That training group took me under their wings and I dove in head first. I took a judges seminar in Omaha, Nebraska to learn the rules of the game and to become a better handler. It’s been full steam ahead ever since! When I moved back to Idaho in 2009, the first thing I did was find the local retriever clubs. As a former board member and club president, I have met countless people that have helped my dogs and I along this journey. It is truly a lifetime sport, and I look forward to running dogs for many years to come!

There is nothing greater than seeing a finished gun dog in the field! There are so many hunting stories that can be told, and the majority of those stories include a dog. I have vivid memories from each of the six Labradors that have been a part of my life. The majority of those memories has to do with a particular retrieve. I will cherish them always!

Best of luck as you embark on this wonderful achievement and don’t forget to have fun! I look forward to meet you all in St. Cloud! 

Willie Alderson

Laura Foster Region 3 - Idaho

I want to thank the handlers and clubs from Region 3 for selecting me to be one of the judges for the 2020 Master National. It is both an honor and a privilege, and I look forward to seeing the dog and handler teams that have worked so hard to qualify to run.

My husband Allyn and I have been married for 32 years and we have one son, Andrew who lives nearby. We currently have two black Labs, a chocolate Lab, and a yellow Lab. Three are Master Hunters, two are QA2 and our young one is working to attain her Master title next year.

My involvement with AKC Hunting Tests began in 1987 when Allyn and I purchased our first Lab puppy with the intent of training it to be a hunting dog and a companion. We contacted a local pro trainer to inquire about training, but instead found ourselves in a very dedicated training group and were soon introduced to AKC Hunting Tests. (Training six days a week for 3 or 4 hours was the norm.) It was only a matter of months before we purchased a second puppy so we could both be fully involved (and a little competitive with each other). We joined the Idaho Retriever Club in 1987, and have been members ever since. After watching my first Master test that spring, I knew that my goal was to train and run my dogs at the Master level.

I have been a member of the Idaho Retriever Club since 1987 and joined Treasure Valley Hunting Retriever Club soon after it was formed. Over the years, I have been club secretary, hunt test secretary, co-chaired hunt tests, marshalled, thrown birds, shot birds, judged etc.

My husband and I still train and run our dogs as a team and have had six Master Hunters, three of which have been QA2. Three of our Master hunters have been completely amateur trained and run, and three have had very limited pro training. I know the time, effort, and expense that it takes to train a dog to the level of a truly finished retriever and I find great satisfaction in training and running my own dog. In 2010 I ran my chocolate Lab , Wyldfire’s High Tech CFO MH QA2 ( Penny) at the Master National in Corning, California. Even though we went out near the end of the week, it was an awesome experience and I will never forget the excitement and the nervousness of taking her to the line at the Master National.

In 2016, I had two dogs qualified to run the Master National and one qualified to run the 2017 Master Amateur Invitational.

I am an avid pheasant hunter and love to watch a good dog work in the field. My favorite hunts are on a quiet snowy day when the birds are holding tight and the dogs have to work hard to dig them out of the cover.

While judging I believe in always being fair to the dog. I like challenging tests that are fun to run, with good bird placement and good crisp handling on blinds. I enjoy watching a dog and handler take on a challenging test as a cohesive team and successfully complete it!

Good luck to all the dog’s and handlers that have worked so hard to qualify to run at the Master National this year!
Laura Foster

Dale Langhorne Region 3- Idaho  
 
Being selected to represent Region 3 and Judge the Having previously judged the 2015 and 2017 Master National events, it is truly an honor and privilege to represent Region 3 again. I am deeply humbled by your confidence in me. I also congratulate my co-judges and look forward to a fun 2020 Master National.

I have been involved in the AKC hunt test program since 1992 when my wife Maggie and I got our first Chesapeake puppy "Fremont's Jumpin Jake Flash CDX MH. I am blessed that my wife Maggie shares my passion for retrievers and hunting. Together we have raised, trained (with lots of help), hunted, competed, titled and judged retrievers in field events for some 25 + years. Our kennel Deepwater Chesapeake's has produced some outstanding hunt test, field trial and just plain good hunting companions over the years.

I have competed in the 2006 and 2014 Master National's and as stated judged the 2015 and 2017 events in South Carolina and Texas. Maggie and I continue to raise, train and compete Chesapeake's from our lovely Indian Valley, Idaho property.

I have served over the years in many capacities for many clubs and know the efforts required to put on a successful event. Many thanks to the Master National Officers and Board Members for their hard work putting on this year's event. When I was previously asked if I would want to judge another Master National I said "heck yes", I had a great time in 2015 in S.C. and in 2017 in Texas. Meeting new people and their dogs was loads of fun. I sincerely hope the contestants that ran under me enjoyed their experience.

As a judge I believe in challenging and innovative marking situations, blinds that require good handler/dog teamwork and training and line manners representative of an obedient dog. I love to watch how the handler/dog teams work together and I learn much from these experiences. I love to see talented dogs drive to the mark or hold that line to the blind. I love to see handlers that put as much into the effort as their four legged partners. The MH dogs I have owned and the MH dogs I have judged demonstrate traits and abilities that would make any hunter proud. Isn't that the purpose of all this.

To all the competitors I well know the challenges and sacrifices you have faced to get here. You should all be very proud of yourselves and your dogs. Congratulations and the very best of luck. And once again remember to have fun!

Dale Langhorne

 Mike Black Region 4 - Alaska
 
Congratulations to all the qualifiers at the 2020 Master National. I understand how difficult and challenging it is to qualify for this prestigious event.
 
I started my journey, like many of you, by buying a Labrador retriever for hunting. I was living in a small fishing village in Alaska and I also wanted him to keep my wife company while I traveled around the Alaskan bush on business. After returning from a trip, I was amazed when my wife had him retrieving balls and bumpers. “How did she do that?”, I wondered. At the time I am sure she never envisioned how she had inspired me for the decades to come.  
    

Alaska is a great place to hunt and train retrievers, but it has some unique challenges. You learn how to keep your dog sharp during the long dark season by running through snowbanks and across frozen fields and when the snow is deep, parking lots. For those of you that have faced those kinds of challenges, I salute you. It is truly amazing how we can become inspired, some would say obsessed, and after work or on weekends go out and throw bumpers in the cold winter. 

Since beginning my journey in 1986, I have had over 20 Labrador retrievers and most f them achieved Master Hunter titles.  I have enjoyed every dog as an individual. Each of them has taught me something.  I have shared many of them with my good friend, Woody Thurman, at Twin Lakes Kennel in Laurel Hill, North Carolina.

I believe that hunt tests should be examples of what we see in the field while hunting.  Within the regulations of our AKC Hunt Test regulations, there remains a lot of flexibility to present realistic and challenging scenarios.  The tests I like are the ones that everyone can visualize how that situation could occur from their hunting experience.  The number of people and dogs participating in the Master National reflects how successful the retriever community has become in improving the training and breeding of hunting retrievers  You are a part of a movement that would have been unimaginable when I got started. Congratulations and let's have some fun..  
Mike Black

John Kinnard Region 4 - Washington 
 
 
 

I have enjoyed hunting and working with dogs since the early 70s.   Over the years I ran both AKC and NAHRA hunt tests and also derby and qualifying stakes in the field trial game.

In 2006 I was able to go and qualify at the Master National which was a very exciting experience.   I think tests should be fair with no tricks.  And handlers should be aware of what is expected of them to complete the task at hand.

I have judged in Washington,  Idaho,  Montana and Oregon and have judged two Master national events. I know all the hard work and commitment it takes to develop a master dog.  

I wish all the handlers and dogs the best of luck and hope they all have fun and a safe experience at the 2020 nationals.

Let me close by saying thank you to all who gave me the opportunity to judge this year‘s events see you there.    

John Kinnard 

Mark Schlender: Region 4 - Oregon 

First I would like to thanks the clubs in Region 4 for giving me this great opportunity to judge the best master dogs and handlers in the country.  I consider it a great honor to be here.

Here's a little history of my start in the retriever hunt test world: Back in the late '90s, I got a chocolate lab, Tuko, from a friend.  My only intention was to hunt with him, but one weekend we heard about an event called a hunt test. We went to it and could not believe what we saw.  One thing led to another, and pretty soon, I was hooked. 

I joined the Green Valley Retriever Club in Eugene, OR and Umpqua Retrievers Club in Roseburg, OR.

I became more involved and started helping to organize and put on hunt tests. I was eventually elected Vice President and then President of the UVRC  for a couple of years. Over time, I was fortunate to run in 3 Master National Tests, receiving that beautiful plant in two of them.  While being involved in this sport over the years, I felt the need to give back, and I thought judging was a good way to do that. 

First I do my best to help set up fair and challenging tests, and I truly understand the hard work that people put into getting to this event.  So Good Luck to all, but most of all, have fun. See you in St. Cloud!

Mark Schlender