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 the 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 one-hour and thirty minute final call back series to win. Some famous dogs annexed the 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 renew 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 requirements dropped and AFTCA rules adopted for all open and amateur NBHA Classics and Championships.

NBHA has a Rule Book complete with the Running Rules and By-laws. All NBHA trials must be run in accordance with these standards. NBHA trials are walking trials held on a single course as near natural hunting conditions as possible. Quail are liberated around the course before the trial 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 judge on his hunting ability. The NBHA Rule Book and By-laws detail the minimum requirements of performance and qualifications for each stake. Dogs are drawn in each stake by pairs. There are two judges for each stake. The judges evaluate the performance of each dog and compare his performance to the other dogs in the stake. Judges ride horses to evaluate the dogs and the gallery may be on foot or on horseback. There is a handicap rule that allows those who are approved to use a horse or four-wheeler as an aid in handling a dog. There are numerous levels of competition in the NBHA from Local Club Trials, State Classics, Regional Championships, Futurity and National Championship events.

Please join us in enjoying your dog in the field.