About Us

History and Background of the National Bird Hunters Association


The National Bird Hunters Association was founded in the early 1980's by a dedicated group of forward looking bird dog enthusiasts who wished to celebrate the development of the "complete" bird dog. When founder and original NBHA President Dan Smith, Jewel Spurlock, Jim Hoy and others met and formed the NBHA, the idea was to provide a competitive arena where foot handled, "covey" dogs that would point back and retrieve would star. The NBHA cut a wide swath in the early years as hundreds of bird hunters joined its ranks and ran dogs in NBHA Club trials all across the south and Midwest. The NBHA set up a system of qualifying trials thru local stakes, State Classics and Regional Championships ultimately to reach the NBHA National Open Walking Championship with a two hour final call back series to win. Some famous dogs annexed this title including Persimmon Ridge Jake, Fiddler's Ace, Roll's Black Bart, Bayou Shadow and Fiddlin Rocky Boy to name just a few. Over 10,000 dogs were run in NBHA trials during many years in the eighties and competition to qualify at State Classics and Regional Championships was fierce but fun. Just making the field at the National Championship was difficult and being in the call back a singular honor.

NBHA National Secretary Jerry D. Kilgore of Tennessee proposed the formation of an NBHA Futurity program which was opened for litter enrollments in 1985 and contested initially in 1987. It was a rousing success and the Futurity Puppy Classic was later added to provide another opportunity for breeders and owners to compete with their nominated dogs. This Puppy Classic (later renamed for founder Kilgore) had the distinction of being the largest puppy stake of any kind run in the country for many years and the Futurity Derby stake was also well attended from folks as far away as Canada.

The success of the NBHA design spawned renewed interest from others in hosting more walking field trials and the AFTCA initially hosted a National Amateur Walking Championship in 1987. The American Bird Hunters Association and later the US Complete Shooting Dog Association were also started. All of the competition took a toll on the numbers of NBHA Clubs and dogs running eventually diluting the overall numbers of dogs competing in weekend events as well as NBHA State Classics. As the other walking field trial organizations began to relax the rules and did away with retrieving and mandatory backing of a pointing dog to win, more folks did not train to the level required of an NBHA champion caliber dog. This factor along with insurance concerns with live ammunition resulted in rule changes for the NBHA with the retrieving requirement for NBHA Open Championships being dropped for the 2008 season and the future. The mandatory backing requirement was also dropped and AFTCA rules adopted for all open and amateur NBHA Classics and Championships.

The National Bird Hunters Association hosts 11 separate championship events including both National Open and Amateur Championships with a second series required to win plus National Open and Amateur Invitational Championships open to the highest point dogs from the previous field trial season. A National Free For All Championship plus six Regional Championships round out the slate. The NBHA is looking forward to renewed interest in our walking trials as the new rule changes are absorbed by the field trial community. Please join us in enjoying your dog in the field.

The NBHA has a Rule Book complete with by-laws. All NBHA trials must be run in accordance with these standards. Any questions about the standards please call your local or national officers. Many problems can be averted in this manner. The NBHA trials are walking trials held on a singe course as near natural hunting conditions as possible. Quail are liberated around the course before the trials starts. Birds are planted in objective areas where you would expect your dog to encounter wild birds. There are enough birds planted around the course so each dog has a fair opportunity to be judged on his hunting ability. We usually plant approximately thirty birds before the trial starts. They are replaced by bird planters with gloves when they fly off course. The course is reseeded after lunch or any other extended period or interruption, with half that many birds. A finished walking shooting dog is required to handle, point, back and retrieve. The dog is only required to be steady to the flush by the Rule Book. There are seven recognized stakes in the NBHA. The Open Stakes are open to both professional handlers and amateur handlers. A professional handler is anyone who takes any form of compensation for handling or training a dog. An amateur handler is anyone who does not take any form of compensation for handling or training a dog.

The stakes are categorized by the dog 's age. The recognized stakes in the NBHA are:

OPEN STAKES
Puppy
Derby
Shooting Dog
Restricted Breed Shooting Dog



AMATEUR STAKES
Puppy
Derby
Shooting Dog


The NBHA Rule Book and by-laws detail the minimum requirements of performance and qualifications for each stake. Please read these carefully and ask questions.

The dogs are drawn in each stake by pairs. There are two judges for each stake. They can remain the same throughout the trial or you may use different judges for different stakes. It is desired that the club procure the judges early and advertise their names and the stakes they will be judging in your field trial ad. The judges evaluate the performance of each dog and compare his performance to the other dogs ininthat stake. They may choose there dogs if there are six starters in each stake and place them first, second and third: or they may withhold any or all placements if the minimum requirements for the stake have not been met. The judges ride horses and the gallery may be on foot or horseback. There is a handicap rule, for people to ride horses. There are numerous levels of competition in the NBHA. They are: Club Trials, State Classics, Regional Championships, Futurity and National Championship events. A state organization must have Three or more clubs. If a state does not have three or more clubs, the existing clubs are assigned to the nearest competing state. The state organizations are grouped into regions. Each club elects a Director to represent them at the state level. Each State elects a Director to represent them at the National Level. State Directors elect the National Officers.