How to be a better handler

The semi-monthly magazine arrived yesterday and I had a chance to sit and read it cover to cover. I enjoyed the article written by John Apostolis about his story on his introduction to NSTRA and the creation of the Southern Ontario region. One thing that stuck out especially to me was this statement:

“The second issue, was learning the system and strategy and we quickly learned there was a lot of strategy involved.”

This was something that I had realized fairly early on when I started in NSTRA as well. Sure, your dog must be able to perform well to win, but there is plenty you can do as a handler to either make or break a run. Consider this scenario: your dog has pointed a bird moments after the brace starts, and woah boy it’s on now! You hustle up towards your dog, while cramming shells into your gun. All you can think about is how this is going to be the start of a 5 bird run that will put you on the podium at the end of the day. You are now in front of your dog and are searching for the bird when the flutter of wings sound out from over your shoulder, you turn and fire a shot but it’s behind the bird. The bird is now flying directly at the gallery and you must call a safety. Your dog, ever faithful to retrieve your game, chases. The bird has disappeared into the collection of trucks and you spend 3 minutes getting him back in the field. In the meanwhile, your brace mate has found and scored one bird and is well on his way across the field to the next. You are now at a disadvantage that will most likely end up costing you that placement you were dreaming about.

Tips for being a better handler

The scenario I described above is just one of hundreds of things that can happen in a trial that can hurt your chances of placing. Could you have for sure prevented that from happening? Of course not, but there are practices you can follow which will allow you to make your own luck more often than not because you need all the luck you can get! Here are a few tips that I can offer from my personal experience.

  • Have a basic strategy, a backup plan, and objectives
    • Which way should you go from the break away based on wind direction, terrain, etc? Will your plan change if the other handler goes that way? The other dog is on point, do you try for the back or leave the area to find another bird?
  • Don’t let things get too fast
    • Take a moment to collect your thoughts, be intentional about your next action. Take in your surroundings and factor them into your decision. Where are the judges, other handler, boundaries, obstacles to avoid, etc?
  • Trust your dog
    • There is such a thing as over handling. Your dog has the nose that can smell birds, not you. Unless you have an exact mark on a bird, put your dog in the general area and let him work.
  • Pay attention to the entire field
    • If the other dog has scored two finds on the back end of the field, you should know this and get to the uncovered area of the field quickly.

Competition in NSTRA is tough, so when the breaks go your way you have to be able to take advantage of them to win. Being a head’s up handler will greatly improve your ability to capitalize when your dog is on his game so that your team work can result in a placement.

Getting started in NSTRA

Have you heard that NSTRA field trials are a ton of fun and easy to get started in? If you hadn’t, I’m here to tell you. Now I know that even easy things that are unfamiliar can seem overwhelming at first, so I’d like to share some basic information to help you get started.

Topics I will cover

  • How to get a better understanding of how a field trial works
  • How to find a field trial
  • How to prepare your dog
  • How to prepare yourself

How does it all work?

Seeing is understanding. The best way to really know how a field trial works is by coming to one. Spectators are welcome at any NSTRA trial and you can be sure that there will be a number of friendly people at the trial that will be happy to talk with you about the trial. Some trial grounds allow you to see some of the action up close from the gallery. If the judges have multi-seat UTVs you can ask to ride and observe a brace. When you are observing, watch both the dog and the handler. Watching the dog will help you understand the level of training and the skill of the dog needed to compete. Watching the handler will help you understand how you need to work as a team, using strategies such as how to cover the field, how to position yourself with the other handler and how to handle the dog.

Where are NSTRA field trials held?

The Mo-Kan region covers central and eastern Kansas and the west half of Missouri. Mo-Kan region trials will be held in the boundaries of that geography. Private ground, game preserves or state/park land is utilized as it is available and suitable for trials. The location for each trial is the responsibility of the trial chairman and host club. Recent locations for trials have been Sterling, KS, Fort Scott, KS, Salina, KS and Lee’s Summit, MO.

What do I need to do to prepare my dog for a NSTRA field trial?

The minimum level of training for your dog should be that he will stay firmly on point until you, the handler, flush the bird. Once the bird has been “moved from its resting place”, the dog can break and chase. In some situations this may be as little as the bird running away from you, or “popping” a short distance and landing, if the birds are poorly performing in their ability to fly. The judge should announce to you that this is a “good bird” and you will likely be asked to collect the bird from your dog, and then throw it for your dog so that he can be scored for a proper retrieve. A non-comprehensive list of factors that will raise or lower your “find” score:

  • Upon good scent contact, immediately locks into a point (higher)
  • Stands steady through long flush attempt (higher)
  • Excessive “roading” into a bird after scent contact (lower)
  • Forward movement after establishing point, not due to handler relocation (lower)

The dog should retrieve the bird to hand, or within one step of your location when you shot the bird in order to be scored. If the dog fails to bring the bird all the way back you will receive no score. A non-comprehensive list of factors that will raise or lower your retrieve score:

  • Mouthing, tossing or dropping the bird (lower)
  • Slow return or indirect route of return to handler (lower)
  • Especially long retrieves, blind retrieves, water retrieves (higher)

In addition to the training your dog should be well conditioned. Your dog should be able to run and hunt for the full 30 minute duration of the brace. Weather during trial seasons can be warm. A dog that is not conditioned to run in warm weather can quickly tire and may become overheated.

How should I prepare for a NSTRA field trial?

There are a lot of factors that you will eventually learn as you gain experience, but there are some easy ones I can list out that can and should be done prior to your first field trial.

  • Practice your shooting! Half of the score comes from the retrieve and if you miss the bird there’s a good chance you will not get the retrieve.
  • Get on the treadmill! Handling in a trial can be a strenuous task. You will be following your dog around a field with inclines, ditches, uneven terrain, mud, etc. and in many cases in warm weather.
  • Remain calm! Even experienced field trialers can get excited in the field and this can lead to mistakes, or in the worse case, a safety situation. Remind yourself to slow down and always choose safety over all else.

I hope that this has been informative for a beginning NSTRA field trial participant. Look for new posts to come in the following weeks as we approach the Spring 2019 trial season. If you would like to talk with someone specifically about getting started in NSTRA trials in the Mo-Kan region, please fill out our contact form.

2014 – 2015 High Point

Click on the dog name to see the complete records.

Dog/Handler Points
QUAIL VALLEY’S NOSE KNOWS/Fellers 28
MACES HARDTIME DEVA/Gillespie 21
POWER’S EASY MONEY/Power 19
RESA’S MAZIE/Resa 13
GATOR’S GINGERBREAD/Burkhart 12
HAMPTON’S SUPER STING/Hampton 12
OUTTA TOWN NOOK /Beckley 11
SIMMONS RUDE ATTITUDE/Simmons 11
SMOKY’S BIRDY/Kopfmann 10
WILD RAZOR/Taplin 9
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD RILEY/Bailey 9
ANDERSON RED SOLO CUP/Anderson 8
RUN N GUN CASH/Holland 7
WHITE SMOK’S SCOUT/Clinton 7
ELLIE’S CRAZY KATIE/Hachman 7
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD MADDY/Bailey 7
OUTLAW BONNIE PARKER/Austin 7
WOLF CREEK SHELBY/Holland 6
SKIPPER’S KENTUCKY’S BO/Gillespie 6
CHIPP’S SOUTHERN ALIBI/Gillespie 5
CRESENTHILLS CJ/Truelove 5
BULL’S WYATT EARP/Hampton 5
PRAIRIE SUN’S PEACHES/Goddard 5
PAINT CREEK BRANDY WINE/Wells 4
SIMMONS LOUIE ATTITUDE/Simmons 4
MACE’S TOP GUNNER/Lowrance 3
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD DANCER/Bailey 3
RAIL’S OFFLEE AMAZIN ACE/Gladow 3
ATT RAIT SASSY/Truelove 3
TGR’S IMPRESSIVE ANNIE GET YOUR GUN/Kermmoade 3
ARIES ELHEW SNAKEFOOT/Ahern 3
Bo/Gillespie 3
PAINT CREEK ELLY/Wells 2
DRADDOG’S HOT PEPPER/Goddard 2
PAINT CREEK LILLY/Wells 2
I’M SALLY ANN/Anderson 2
SWIFT ROCK MOLLY/Griffith 2
DRADDOG’S PASTOR PATCHES/Goddard 2
LUCY’S RAGTIME SON/Snyder 2
SHOW LUCY/Johnson 2
TOUGH TANK HANK/Kopfmann 2
BOB’S WILD CARD/Power 1
SONNY HEDGE BALL JAKE/Snyder 1

2013 – 2014 High Point

Click on the dog name to see the complete records.

Dog/Handler Points
GATOR’S GINGERBREAD/Burkhart 18
MACES HARDTIME DEVA/Gillespie 15
CHIPP’S SOUTHERN ALIBI/Gillespie 15
WHITE SMOK’S SCOUT/Clinton 12
SIMMONS RUDE ATTITUDE/Simmons 11
POWER’S GUN SLINGER/Power 10
DOUBLE H MOHAWK’S HITMAN/Holland 8
LUCY’S RAGTIME SON/Snyder 7
SIMMONS DANCING DIESEL /Simmons 7
QUAIL VALLEY’S NOSE KNOWS/Fellers 7
RUN’ N GUN CASH/Holland 7
SWIFT ROCK MOLLY/Griffith 6
BULL’S WYATT EARP/Hampton 6
HAMPTON’S SUPER STING/Hampton 5
RAGTIME COWBOY ROCK/Manfredi 5
HIGH FLYIN FANCY/Shick 4
SMOKY’S BIRDY/Kopfmann 4
PAINT CREEK LILLY/Wells 4
CRESENTHILLS CJ/Truelove 3
POWER’S EASY MONEY/Power 3
SAWYERS FLASH POINT/Sawyers 3
BRABE’S SNAP BOOGIE/Braby 3
TGR’S IMPRESSIVE ANNIE GET YOUR GUN/Kermmoade 3
CRASH/Gentile 3
ROCKING G’S DAZZLIN DIAMOND/Kermmoade 3
SHOW LUCY/Johnson 2
MOLLY’S SWEET SUGAR/Gourley 2
FINDACOVEY’S MAGIC ACE/Dismang 2
SAWYERS MAGIC LADY/Sawyers 1
TOUGH TANK HANK/Kopfmann 1
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD DANCER/Bailey 1
WOLF CREEK SHELBY/Holland 1
BEULAH RIDGE STONEY/Holland 1
BEELINE ATTITUDE/Manfredi 1
MACE’S TOP GUNNER/Lowrance 1

2013 Regional Winners

Click here for past seasons

2013 MOKAN Regional Elimination

The MOKAN Regional Elimination Trial was held on April 20 and 21, 2013 near Sterling Kansas. We had 48 dogs participating in two fields. The weather was clear and dry and it was a great weekend for field trialing.

2013 Mo-Kan region winners
The regional champion for the second year in a row went to High Flyin Fancy and Alan Shick. Mr. Bob Power was second runner-up with Power’s Gun Slinger. Second runner-up was Rocking G’s Dazzling Diamond owned and handled by Norm Kermmoade. Third runner-up went to Buddy’s Buster II handled and owned by Jim Doughty.

2013 Mo-Kan region banquet
The officers and members of the MOKAN Region would like to thank the following persons for their monetary gifts and time devoted to make our regional trial a financial and organizational success: Ann and Kyle Kopfmann, Mark Gillespie and Brad Goddard.

Rick Manfredi, President
MOKAN Region, NSTRA

2012 – 2013 High Point

Click on the dog name to see the complete records.

Dog/Handler Points
CHIPP’S SOUTHERN ALIBI/Gillespie 12
WHITE SMOK’S SCOUT/Clifton 9
SAWYERS FLASH POINT/Sawyers 8
LUCY’S RAGTIME SON/Snyder 7
POWER’S GUN SLINGER/Power 6
WHITE SMOKE’S COWPOKE/Clifton 6
JC’S CASEY GIRL/Custer 5
GATOR’S GINGERBREAD/Burkhart 5
MACES HARDTIME DEVA/Gillespie 4
SAWYERS MAGIC LADY/Sawyers 4
HIGH FLYIN FANCY/Shick 4
RUN’ N GUN CASH/Holland 4
MADIES HALF PINT/Snyder 4
BULL’S WYATT EARP/Hampton 3
PAINT CREEK LILLY/Wells 3
SWIFT ROCK MOLLY/Griffith 3
SIMMONS RUDE ATTITUDE/Simmons 3
TOUGH TANK HANK/Kopfmann 3
PETE’S LITTLE PENNY/Goddard 3
WOLF CREEK SHELBY/Holland 3
ELLIE’S CRAZY KATIE/Hachman 3
BEELINE ATTITUDE/Manfredi 3
DUTCHMAN’S MOLLY DOLL/Wells 3
HARDTIMES SUNRISE/Goddard 3
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD DANCER/Bailey 2
SOUTHERN HIGHRISE BAILEY/Griffith 2
TOMOKA’S SLAMIN BILLY/Anderson 2
PRAIRIE SUN’S PEACHES/Goddard 2
SKY HAWKS TRICKY BEN/Gillespie 2
SMOKY’S BIRDY/Kopfmann 2
SIMMONS DANCING DIESEL /Simmons 2
SAWYERS BIG CHASE/Sawyers 1
CROWN ROYAL CJ/Debaere 1
CRESENTHILLS CJ/Truelove 1
ROCKING G’S DAZZLIN DIAMOND/Kermmoade 1
MY BUDDY BUCK/Doughty 1
BAILEY’S DRYWOOD MADDY/Bailey 1

2012 Regional winners

2012 MOKAN Regional Elimination

The MOKAN Regional Elimination Trial was held on April 21th and 22th 2012 near Sterling, Kansas.  Thanks and well done is in order to our Salt Plains Field Trial Cub and Mark Gillespie and Kyle Kopfmann who set up the trial grounds. We wish also to thank Mr. Kenny Fields of Fields Outdoors for being at and donating products to our region.

A total of 32 dogs ran in qualification round field on Saturday. Winners of the qualification round were:

First place: Sawyers Flash Point and handler Bob Sawyers with a score of 918.

Second place: Chip’s Southern Alibi and handler Mark Gillespie with 865.

Third Place: Ellie’s Crazy Katie and handler Nick Hachman with 811.

Bob Sawyers and Mark Gillespie have been here before. This was Nick Hachman’s first regional placement. Congratulations Nick.

Sunday morning the top sixteen dogs competed in eight braces.  The top six dogs from this field then ran in three braces to determine the top four placements. The top six handlers and dogs were; Swift Rock Molly and Chad Griffith, Paint Creek Lilly and Don Wells, High Flying Fancy and Alan Shick, Chipp’s Southern Alibi and Mark Gillespie, Rawhide Blazin Thunder and Rick Meyer, and Lucy’s Ragtime Son and Stan Snyder. Fancy and Thunder were the top two dogs that advanced to the hour run.

The regional winner was Alan Shick with High Flying Fancy who finished with 1009 points in the final hour run against Rick Meyer and Rawhide Blazin Thunder who finished with 822 points. Second runner up went to Stan Snyder and Lucy’s Ragtime Son. Third runner up went to Mark Gillespie and Chipp’s Southern Alibi.

Back row left to right: Ken Fields-vendor, Kurt Eberspacher-judge, Phil Taunton- marshal, and Dellyn Feighner-judge. Front row: Alan Shick and Fancy, Rick Meyer and Thunder.

 

Rick Manfredi

President, MOKAN Region President

Change of NW MO BDC trial location

Northwest Missouri BDC Trial 3-9 and 3-10
Dear Trial Participants:

Sorry for any inconvenience which we may have caused you but we lost our trial grounds at Smithville Lake for our Spring trial on 3-9-13 and 3-10-13. We have moved the trial to Bob Sawyers Farms which is 5 miles North of Braymer, MO and and about 12 miles West of Chillicothe, MO. Below I providing directions and a list of motels. Please call if you have any questions or concerns.

DIRECTIONS: From the South: From I-35 turn East on Missouri 116 at the Lathrop exit and go 26 miles on MO 116 to Braymer, MO. At Braymer turn left and go North on Highway A 5 miles to Highway O. At O turn right and go 1 mile. Grounds are on the right.

From the North: From Hamilton, MO on 36 Highway go 11 miles to Highway A and turn South. Go 4.5 miles South on A Highway to Highway O and turn left or East. Go East on O Highway about 1 mile and grounds will be on right.

Motels in Chillicothe, MO:

Econo Lodge, 1020 Wash St, 660-646-0572
Comfort Inn 250 Business 36, 660-646-9900
Super 8, 580 US 36, 660-646-7888
Starlite Motel 301 W Old Highway 36, 660-646-6329
Days Inn, 606 US 36, 660-646-6590

2010 Regional Winners

The MOKAN Regional Elimination Trial was held on April 17th and 18th 2010 at the Country Hunts Shooting Preserve in Valley Falls, Kansas.  A total of 48 dogs ran in two fields Saturday.  Winners on A field were: Powers Moonshine 1151, Sawyers Flash Point 870, and Chipp’s Southern Alibi 725.  Placements for B field went to: Sourthern Rep’s Wilamena 793, Rawhide Blazin Thunder 731, and Lucy’s Ragtime Son 724.

Sunday morning the top eight dogs from each field competed for the final six spots in three braces to determine the four regional placements.

It was not surprising that Jim Doughty of Neosho, Missouri, jimsbrittanys.com and Bob Saywers of Excelsior Springs, Missouri had their dogs in the final hour of the regional.  Both Jim Doughty and Bob Sawyers are familiar with the winning circle of the MOKAN Regional Elimination.  Bob’s “Sawyers Little Jewel” won it all last year (2009) while Jim Doughty’s “Mack Too” was the regional champion in 2004.  Mr. Doughty’s “Buddy’s Buster II” was also the regional winner in 2007.  In addition both Bob and Jim have had regional runner up placements.

Buster came out on top with a score of 1051 while Flash finished with 822.  This made Buster the only two-time MOKAN Regional Champion in the history of our region.  Way to go Jim!

2011 – 2012 High Point

PLACE DOG HANDLER POINTS EARNED PLACEMENT AND
DATE
1 Flash/Sawyers 23 1(9-18), 1(10-8), 1(10-9), 3(2-25), 3(2-26), 3(3-4), 2(3-3), 1(2-3), 1(3-17), 1(3-17)
2 Fancy/Shick 22 2(9-18), 1(10-8), 1(10-9), 1(2-26), 2(3-11), (3-18), 1(4-1), 1(3-31),
3 Chip/Gillespie 18 1(4-10), 1(4-29), 1(10-1), 2 (10-2), 2(10-8), 2(10-23), 3(3-11), 3(3-17), 3(4-1)
4 Casey/Custer 16 3(9-18), 2(10-1),3(10-9), 1(10-9), 1(3-4), 1(3-4), 3(3-17), 2(3-1)
5 Sue/Simmons 11 1(4-16), 1(3-11), 2(3-11), 1(4-1)
6 Sonny/Snyder 10 2(9-17), 3(10-9), 1(10-23), 1(3-10), 3(3-18)
7 Jimmy/Manfredi 8 1(4-9), 1(9-17), 2(3-10)
8 Diesel/Simmons 7 2(10-9), 1(3-11), 2(3-10)
9 CJ/Truelove 7 3(10-8), 1(3-17), 2(4-1), 3(3-31)
10 Ben/Gillespie 6 1(9-17), 1(3-31)
11 Skip/Custer 6 3(9-18), 3(2-25), 2(3-3), 2(3-31)
12 Wyatt/Hampton 6 3(3-3), 3(3-10), 2(3-18), 2(3-18)
13 Shelby/Holland 5 1(3-3), 2(3-17)
14 Flip/Young 5 2(9-17), 3(9-17), 2(2-25)
15 Jersey/Clinton 4 2(10-8), 2(3-4)
16 Thunder/Meyer 4 3(3-4), 1(3-10)
17 Ginger/Burkhart 3 2(10-22), 3(3-10)
18 Willie/Smith 3 2(4-10), 3(10-22)
19 Boomer/Power 3 3(4-10), 2(10-9)
20 Maggie/Smith 3 1(10-2)
21 Chase/Sawyers 3 2(4-16), 3(2-26)
22 Missy/Anderson 3 1(4-16)
23 Katie/Hachman 3 3(10-8), 2(2-25)
24 Molly/Manfredi 2 3(4-9), 3(4-16)
24 Chaz 2 2(4-9)
25 Mack/Doughty 2 2(4-16)
26 Molly/Griffith 2 2(4-1)
27 Deva/Gillespie 2 2(2-26)
28 Stoney 2 2(3-4)
29 Buster/Doughty 1 3(4-16)
30 Speed/Bailey 1 3(4-1)
31 Lilly/Wells 1 3(10-1)
32 Molly/Wells 1 2(4-1)
33 Gator/Burkhart 1 3(10-23)
34 HT/Goddard 1 3-(10-2)