About the Futurity

2019 NBHA Futurity

National Bird Hunters Association
Futurity, Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic and Open Invitational Championship
By Bruce Mercer

Once a year birddog enthusiasts plan to attend the National Bird Hunters Association’s most prestigious competition to showcase the Country’s elite puppies, derbies and shooting dogs. The NBHA Futurity, Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic and Open Invitational Championship is no ordinary field trial. The exclusive event requires the planning and preparation from breeders, owners, professional and amateur handlers alike in order to qualify for this much awaited event. Puppies and derbies must be of NBHA nominated litters before entries are accepted. However, litter nomination allows the juvenile competitors and all their littermates the fast-track of qualification into the Open Invitational Championship for the rest of their life; once they obtain an American Field Open Derby or Open Shooting Dog placement. Acceptable entry into the Open Invitational Championship is also available for non-litter nominated shootings dogs through one other avenue. A shooting dog must obtain a shooting dog placement in an NBHA Open Shooting Dog event the previous season to qualify for next season’s Championship. In addition, non-litter nominated shootings dogs must qualify each and every year under these circumstances. Hopefully, this explanation assures the value of litter nomination for the simplicity of qualification into the Open Invitational.

So much appreciation goes to each of our NBHA breeders who are personally responsible for the ongoing success of the Futurity, Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic and Open Invitational Championship. NBHA breeders continue to nominate litters year after year, increasing litter enrollment to levels not witnessed in the past decade. Litter nominations for dogs qualified to enter in the NBHA Futurity and Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic exceeded previous nominations. Nominations soared, totaling eighty-two (82) litter enrollment nominations. Nominations for the Futurity were generated from thirty-one (31) English Pointer nominations and twenty-one (21) English Setter nominations. Nominations for the Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic were generated from eighteen (18) English Pointer nominations, eleven (11) English Setter nominations and one (1) Irish Setter nomination.

By honoring our breeders, we again say Thank You for continued support and assurance the NBHA Futurity’s future are in protected hands. Breeders who have nominated litters this year are; Marc Maynard, Dr. Bill Wright, Gary Dowdy, Lisa Mitchell, Alan Johnson, Dr. Jim Crook, Buddy Smith, Bob Fortune, Marty Robinson, Danny Bardwell, Mike Fox, Sergio Valez, Larry Carpenter, Ivy Crook, Bud Moore, Warren Parrott, Bruce Mercer, Freddy Davis, Frank Christy, Garry Malzone, Rhett Kermicle, Bobby Phillips, Jack Glover, Toby Tobiassen, Stanley McCain, Ed Cooley, Deb Dlobik, Adam Hart and Jamie Nee. Again, thank you for your continued support.

In addition to breeders, we want to extend our overwhelming gratitude to our handlers who continue to support NBHA Futurity and companion stakes. For many, the Futurity is a reunion of old friends competing at the highest level of walking field trials, celebrated by handlers from north to south and east to west. Handlers participating in the 2019 NBHA Futurity and companion stakes are; Buddy Smith, Charles Mason, Gary Dowdy, Justin Crook, Toby Tobiassen, Dr. Bill Wright, Dr. Jim Crook, Jack Glover, Oscar Whitt, Danny Bardwell, Tom Waite, Warren Parrott, Bill Osborn, Steve Feder, Eddie Smith, Frank Christie, Garry Malzone, Rhett Kermicle, Jim Broadnax, Bobby Phillips, Jamie Nee, Danny Draffen, Craig Hiatt, Zack Hilton, Jeff Hainline, Steve Heenan, Don Heisner, Ken Black, Tim Penn and Dan Crunk. We thank you for your continued support.

Another and possibly the most supportive group in field trials are the owners themselves. Without owners, there are no field trials. Therefore we, at the NBHA Futurity choose to stand alone and began a new era by awarding the owners with a huge cash payout, acknowledging their support. Owners sending their dogs to compete in the 2019 Futurity and companion stakes are; Buddy Smith, Charles Mason, Gary Dowdy, Randall Turner, Dr. Bill Wright, Dr. Jim Crook, Jack Glover, Marty Robinson, Danny Bardwell, Cathy & Dean Reinke, Warren Parrott, Larry Carpenter, Lisa Mitchell, Bud Moore, Mark Pettus, Mike Fox, Bill Osborn, Steve Feder, Gary Keel, Frank Christie, Sean Derrig, Rhett Kermicle, John Gaines, Jim Broadnax, Bobby Phillips, Ralph Gillota, Stanley McCain, Ed Cooley, Deb Dlobik, Black Meadow Kennel, Adam Hart, Jamie Nee, Skip Madden, Steve Tacey, Tom Waite, Dr Bill Wright, Craig, Hiatt, Ed Marron, Tony Drake, Zack Hilton, Jeff Hainline, Danny Draffen, Ron Levitan, Steve Heenan, Greg Blair, Don Heisner, Ken Black, David Mathews, Alicia Jungbluth, John Bleeker, Tim Penn, P Labella, Dan Crunk and Jake Olszewski.

During the 2019 NBHA Futurity, Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic and Open Invitational, owners received $8,000.00 for their dogs placing in stakes during these stakes. Our largest payout was awarded to Ed Marron of Ho Ho Kus, NJ, who received $6,000.00 for his super competitive K9; Indian Creek Bocephus who was crowned Champion of the Open Invitational Championship. The "owner bonus money" was a result of Bocephus participating in a past NBHA Futurity, then winning the Open Invitational Championship. The 2020 owner bonus cash prize will be $2,000.00.

Brian Casey and Georgie Casey worked endlessly over the past year promoting the Futurity, encouraging participating, seeking sponsorship, building bird pens, delivering ATV's, arranging for judges; birds; trophies, securing field trial grounds and a facility to host the banquet, walking the course to assure proper beginning and ending points, providing directions for out of town guests, securing lodging for judges and officials, and everything else required to put on the NBHA's largest event. I think I speak for all attending when I say; Brian, you and Georgie far exceeded any expectations and accomplished this task with flying colors. A tremendous job well done.

We can’t go without expressing our deepest gratitude to Jim Lawless who allowed us to use dates he previously had scheduled at Pyramid. Every day Jim assisted with duties; beginning before daylight and ending after dark. Jim always planned ahead to remove any potential conflicts or obstacles we may encounter. Jim also acted a Marshal to keep the handlers, judges and gallery on safe grounds as rains arrived later in the event making some areas difficult to travel. Jim is also the primary provider of improvements at Pyramid, as well as directing most of the ground maintenance.

Many participants have asked me how we are able to give away so much money year after year. Honestly, much of our success comes from the generous sponsors who believe in our cause and support the Futurity by providing product as donations that we intern auction-off or raffle-off to raise funding for cash prizes. A simple cycle, but the wheel cannot turn without trust in our vision from our sponsors. Several individuals stepped up to provide for the Futurity by donating services or product. As I attempt to recognize each sponsor or supporter, please accept my apologies should I overlook someone by accidently leaving them off our list. First and foremost we solute Purina and Dean Reinke for years of continued support to the NBHA Futurity. Dean goes above and beyond with the slightest mention of needing support. Thank you Purina, and thank you Dean for all you do.

In addition, other National Sponsors besides Purina rise to the occasion each year. Other proud National sponsors are; Gundog Supply, Garmin, Gun Dog Central and Mule Clothing. These sponsors give to every Championship NBHA hosts. Their efforts are spread far and wide throughout the NBHA Regions. Other NBHA Futurity sponsors and supporters this year are; Chase Motor Sports, Daryl Thomas Jr Kennels, Erin Kennels, Ken Black, Loan Oak Trophies and Signs, Mary McPherson Art, McKinney’s Western Store, Power House Kennels, Premier Kennels, Rhett Kermicle Kennels, Rocky Hollow Kennels, Rollin Rock Kennels, Royal Rock Farm, Shawn Kinkelaar Kennels, Summerhill Kennels, Toby Tobiassen Kennels, Whitt Kennels, Wright Kennels and Dan Crunk. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

Filling the judicial responsibilities require seasoned, experienced, fair, un-biased individuals willing to provide each entry their undivided attention while selecting future superstars of our sport. The duo of Garry Malzone and Jill Stuhr diligently evaluated each entry of the Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic. We as event Chairmen could not be more excited in our choices of judges. Both Garry and Jill were challenged to evaluate all the fine qualities a superstar puppy should possess. Decisions came down to final brace. For those who rode, it was amazing how these pups showed unmatched ability to soar along the course, with speed and grace. As it was, two of this year's winners came from the final brace. After the difficult decisions were finalized, the long drive for North Carolinian, Gary Dowdy was awarded with the highest honor. Gary handled Montana Bullet to the Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic winner with far reaching forward casts, uncanny ability to swing to the front, avoiding the easy route and horse path, hunting with unmatched speed and animation. Each cast was with tail-cracking action with a mission. Bullet's race was purposeful, powerful and a finish far, far to the front. A true mind-blowing performance. A close second place came from Pettus Main Man, expertly handled by Justin Crook. Man exhibited a far reaching forward race, with big exciting casts. Man possesses speed, style and strength, that he displayed throughout his brace. Third place went to Wiggin's Wicked Pleasure, handled by Danny Bardwell and his grandson Lane Bauers. Great speed and style was displayed with big forward casts. A very natural, unassisted brace who maintained great connection with handlers. This pair of handlers and this amazing dog will been seen again very soon. Forth place went to a young very snappy pup handled by Bill Osborn. Oklahoma Ridge Runner made one of the most impressive casts of the stake during the breakaway, very far, extremely classy with natural handle. His age showed as we completed the course, he seemed to slow slightly and became more responsive, just like a eight month old pup is expected. Bill's excitement shows he will continue to expose this pup and will see him again in large horseback and walking stakes. Two other dogs were in hot contention; TT's Erin Stormy handled by Justin Crook and Carpenter's Charlie P, handled by Danny Draffen. Both dogs possess strong classy forward races showing strength and desire to hunt. We will also see these great pups again next year.

As mentioned earlier, when planning the Ultimate NBHA event, you seek the absolute best judges who can separate the elite walking dogs in the country, who have years of experience, who can ride six or seven hours each day, for four or five days straight. Not only did we hit a home run…we hit a Grand Slam. Tony King and Quintin Wiseman may be two of the very best, and were chosen to judge the Futurity and Open Invitational Championship. This duo was also chosen to judge the NBHA National Open Shooting Dog Championship at Ames Plantation several years back. Like the National Championship, the Futurity is The Ultimate Derby Stake in NBHA; the Jerry Kilgore Classic is the elite puppy stake in the NBHA and the Open Invitational Championship attracts only the best dogs. So if you think these stakes are promoted, managed or judged as a club trial, you are highly mistaken. These stakes are simply the best of the best, in search of the most talented, well trained dogs for their age, on a specific day. Not the most broke or polished, but the dog who displays the ability to become a future Champion. I received numerous phone calls expressing the satisfaction of our judge’s decision and their ability to separate the elite competitors. Many have suggested we attempt to secure both judges for future trials. Brian and myself are extremely pleased in Quintin’s and Tony’s managing of the trial and of their decisions. Tony and Quintin; Thank You again for your time, your energy, your attentiveness, your dedication and thank you for “Getting it Right.”

The prestigious juvenile event known as The Futurity again attracted the best derby aged dogs from all prats of the Country. As judges called dogs to the line, conditions could not have been better. A cool crisp morning made for excellent bird finding opportunities. The initial series of the Futurity is a thirty minute qualifying series designed to evaluate those who deserve to be called-back for the one-hour finals. The goal is to select dogs that will advance in their field trial careers to become future Champions. Therefore judges are not looking at how many finds a dog scores, but other more complex factors such as style while running, advancement to birdy objectives, pattern and ground application, forward movement, cast extension, ground speed, endurance, ability to handle and respond to handler, polished on game, well-seasoned manors during flush, avoids interference with brace mate and other attributes that separate a well-trained and advanced dog, for those that are not.

After the initial series, there were fourteen dogs that completed the course and were under consideration of the potential callback. The judges selected eight dogs for the callback, and two on standby. The braces were paired as follows. Brace number one: Bittersweet War Cry, handled by Toby Tobiassen and Hirollins Gone and Done It handled by Warren Parrott. Brace number two: Warioto’s Boaz, handled by Rhett Kermicle and Bell Star handled by Oscar Whitt. Brace number three: Erin’s Hollywood handled by Garry Malzone and Bob’s Elhew Sushi handled by Bobby Phillips. Brace number four: Big Creek Twolip handled by Jim Broadnax and Hirollin’s Talking Smack handled by Warren Parrott. Standby dogs were: Bob’s Elhew Sage handled by Bobby Phillips and Indian Creek Alibi handled by Garry Malzone.

The Futurity finals consisted of a one-hour stake. The course offered bird objectives, with open, clean terrain for the first ten minutes, followed by mowed paths in thick sage grass fields and planted food plots, bordered by dense tree lines during the next ten minutes. After taking a hard left turn, the course became narrow as we paralleled the lake on the right, with medium to low cover containing bird objectives, small tree groups, sage fields and planted food plots, allowing dogs to reach far ahead while still in sight. This section of the course took approximately twenty minutes to traverse. Next the course opened up into very large clean fields where grain crops are typically harvested, allowing dogs to rim the edges and beyond. The large fields consumed approximately fifteen minutes with birds planted along the edges. The final five minutes of the course consisted of mowed strips in sage fields with natural bird objectives, mixed with harvested fields allowing for spectacular finishes.

After the callback dogs completed their bids, judges asked for standby dogs to prepare for one final brace. This paid dividends for Bobby Phillips as he piloted Bob’s Elhew Sage to a six find, very impressive race consumed with speed and style. Sage reached far ahead cast after cast always swinging to the front and handling when called upon. After Sage completed her bid, it was clear she was the winner. Second place was awarded to Bell Star who was expertly handled by Hall Of Fame handler Oscar Whitt, for owner Stanley McCain. Star is a very honest dog with exceptional manors on point. Her range is always forward, snappy and hunting every stride. Star finished with five finds, one with a slight bobble, but controllable and within derby standard acceptance. Third place was awarded to Rhett Kermicle who is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Rhett handled Warioto’s Boaz to a five find race filled with forward reaching casts, polished manors, speed, style and exceptional handling. Fourth place was well deserved for Bittersweet War Cry, handled by Toby Tobiassen for owner Ralph Gillota. War Cry displayed one of the better ground patterns observed with blistering speed, unbelievable style and handling ability. War Cry was carded with four finds and a few pile of feathers and remains from hawk kills. Each of the four placements displayed exactly what the judges were in search of, and what our NBHA Futurity standards exemplify; derby aged dogs with the ability to achieve high standards typical of a NBHA Champion.

The Open Invitational Championship consisted of a one-hour stake, beginning at our typical starting location behind the horse barn, and ending near the lake road. The Championship course was the same as the Futurity finals course. The judges expressed there were several dogs that could have named Champion during the running; however, they could only award two placements. In brace number three, Warren Parrott piloted Hirollin’s Easy Money to a nine find performance with flawless manors. Money was not to blame she was able to find so many birds; she is an incredible bird finder who ran a forward, classy, fast race. Money’s range was far as desired, with each cast being rewarded with a find. The bar was now set for others to attempt to achieve. In brace number eleven, Garry Malzone unleashed his ever-consistent Pointer, Indian Creek Bocephus who is known for spectacular, far reaching races with blistering speed. Bo performed as expected; as he carded six polished finds, unbelievable endurance, uncanny handling ability and determination to continue on. Bo’s style on point is picturesque. Extra course was needed to contain Bo as he reached far beyond the typical end of course area. Because time was left in his hour, Garry and Bo continued into another section of fields where Bo grabbed an edge and “off he went”. As time was called, it appeared Bo was beyond shouting distance as Garry beckoned him back. Soon Bo was aware he lost contact with his handler then spins, and returns quickly as requested. What an amazing brace. Now is the time great judges separate themselves from others. Upon the conclusion, handlers, owners, spectators lingered awaiting the announcement. Director, Brian Casey blew the awaited whistle and advised the winners were soon to be announced. As the crowd gathered, the announcement was made…..Indian Creek Bocephus was crowned Champion for handler Garry Malzone, and Bo’s owner, Ed Marron received the $6,000 “owner bonus check” for Bo competing in a previous Futurity, then advancing on to win the Open Invitational Championship. Warren Parrott was also awarded for his fine performance with Hirollin’s Easy Money who was crowned Runner-Up Champion. Difficult decisions are just that…difficult, that’s why we trust our judges.

Please join us next year as the NBHA Futurity, Jerry Kilgore Puppy Classic and Open Invitational Championship will be held on Rodney Poston’s farm in Pamplico, South Carolina. The trial is scheduled for January 21 – 26, 2020. As a reminder, all dogs to be ran in the Puppy Classic and Futurity must have litter nomination forms completed prior to the drawing. Please contact Bruce Mercer for all litter enrollment.