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Readers Nominate Deserving Candidates

Field Trial Hall of Fame Endorsements

May 16, 2017
John D. Seawright

The issue of May 6 carried the announcement that Field Trial Hall of Fame nominations and the eventual election of deserving candidates would soon begin. That time has arrived, and appended here are initial endorsements for candidates readers deem deserving of Field Trial Hall of Fame honors.

It was noted in that announcement that the establishment of the Hall of Fame was first publicized in December, 1953, and the inaugural elections were held during the summer months of 1954 — 63 years ago. The Hall of Fame has become a venerable institution established to recognize Dogs and Persons whose contributions to the field trial sport have played a significant role in the game’s popularity and perpetuity. In short, field trials are better because of their involvement.

Dogs being nominated for the Field Trial Hall of Fame are to be deceased.

When putting forth a canine candidate for Hall of Fame recognition, there are two aspects to be considered: performance and production, i.e., win record and winners produced. Yes, there have been occasions when a dog was elected based on one of these criteria — the overwhelming excellence of a win or production record. However, the two aspects noted here are the standard.

When looking to Persons, contributions to the sport are paramount — as a club official, judge, owner, breeder, handler, reporter, patron of the game, and usually a combination of these facets, and over a goodly length of time.

Additionally, a Person shall have reached 64 years of age.

Appended are early endorsements.

John D. Seawright

It is my pleasure to endorse John Seawright for the Field Trial Hall of Fame.

I grew up in Central Arkansas and John later moved there. We both started as bird hunters and saw our first field trial at the Camp Robinson Area. We are old enough to have been influenced by the same iconic individuals of that region — Hall-of-Famer Mary C. Oliver and W. A. “Dick” Dumas, albeit at slightly different times. Because of this commonality, I have followed his career in the field trial game for years. In the last decade and a half, we have become good friends, often reminiscing about old dogs, older handlers, past trials, and similar experiences. I feel qualified to pen this endorsement for someone who deserves to be honored for what he has done and what he continues to do.

John has been involved in our sport for over 45 years and he has contributed to it in a variety of ways. He has campaigned both open and amateur dogs. Although Kreole won the National Free- for-All Championship for him in 1989, and was invited four times to compete in the Quail Championship Invitational at Paducah, Humnoke Hal, a dog he trained himself, is probably his favorite. Hal was invited twice to the Invitational.

John has judged a lot of major trials including the Quail Futurity (multiple times), All-America Quail Championship, the National Free-for-All Championship (twice) and numerous National Championship qualifying stakes in the Mid-South, plus a host of regional amateur championships. His field trial reports are too numerous to count and reflect his vast experience as well as his intellect.

When the founding members of the Central Arkansas Field Trial Club aged, John took over the task of hosting the Arkansas Open Shooting Dog Championship at Camp Robinson and continued to do so for many years. In 1979, Mary Oliver and Dick Dumas entrusted the Southwestern All-Age Championship to him. He eventually moved it to Trail City, S. D., because the Arkansas venue was deemed not adequate to continue the event as one favoring “running dogs.” John has continued for 37 years conducting the Southwestern Championship in the business-like, no-nonsense manner typical of everything he does.

Besides being a patron, reporter, judge, and club official over the years, what sets him apart are his contributions to the sport in areas outside his primary interest. John hosted the Arkansas Shooting Dog Championship for years even though he has never owned a shooting dog. After twice competing in the Quail Championship Invitational, he was enamored with the format and decided to set up a similar trial in 1978 for shooting dogs. This stake later evolved into the United States Invitational Shooting Dog Championship.

John was a charter member of the Handler Awards committee!

Although John Seawright might not be voted “Mr. Congeniality” because of his insistence on “doing it the right way” no matter the consequences, he certainly deserves to be voted into the Field Trial Hall of Fame based on his significant contributions to multiple aspects of our sport over a prolonged period of time — just like the guidelines state.

Dr. Ron Deal, Macon, Ga.

WORTHY NOMINEE

Over the years in which I have been involved with bird dogs and field trials I have supported a number of dogs and people for election to the Field Trial Hall of Fame. Many very deserving animals and individuals have been elected.

This year Chasehill Little Bud is eligible for the first time and we should all support this amazing performer on his first go-round.

Many of the dogs in the Hall were great all-age performers or top shooting dogs and garnered strong support from their respective factions. Bud is a dog that transcends our usual way of looking at a dog. He has won at the championship level in all-age, shooting dog, walking shooting dog, and in the grouse and woodcock woods. He won from the tight covers of New Brunswick to the piney woods of the South and most places in between.

In his career he amassed 38 championship placements split equally between winner and runner-up.

On a personal level, I competed against Bud on many occasions, sometimes besting him but more likely losing to him. I never felt short-changed when Bud was put up ahead of my own dogs.

I also judged Bud on occasion and was one of the judges when he won the North American Woodcock Championship. It was an amazing performance in tight cover with a thunderstorm rolling in during part of the hour. It was one of those slam-dunk performances where most of the discussion between myself and the other judge was about who we would use for runner-up.

I also have personal experience with Bud as a producer. There are numerous winning progeny of Bud’s around and I am fortunate to have a son of his that won his first championship when he was still a Derby. That dog, Wild Apple Spot On, exemplifies a lot of the traits I have seen in Bud’s offspring. He has great bird sense, broke out young and easily, has the intelligence to adjust his range to a day grouse hunting in tight cover or to ripping off huge casts in the quail pastures of Kansas. And there are many other similar Bud dogs out there that I will leave to others to enumerate.

There is no doubt in my mind that Chasehill Little Bud belongs in the Field Trial Hall of Fame. Everyone who’s seen him run as a judge or as a competitor should feel the same and we should all vote to make sure it happens this year.

Craig Doherty, Dummer, N. H.

 

TORBEN HANSEN FOR THE FIELD TRIAL HALL OF FAME

Torben Hansen started hunting quail, pheasant, and ducks at the age of 11. His first bird dogs were primarily English pointers. The dogs were inspired by his father and together they hunted, sharing many days in the field.

Deer season was always the highlight of the year, and those memories are etched in his mind as if they happened only yesterday. Thanks to his father, the outdoors and dogs were always a part of his youth. A day does not pass without some thought of him; he misses his father dearly.

Torben’s involvement in field trials started in the early 1970s after he purchased two German Shorthairs from one of his cousins who lived in Denmark. The two dogs were not field trial caliber; however, their wins in puppy and Derby stakes were enough to spark his enthusiasm for the sport. From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, he campaigned and trained several AKC field trial dogs.

Afterwards, he moved to American Field and started competing with English pointers.

Torben always enjoyed training and campaigning his own dogs. His training method incorporates one basic philosophy: to put a great foundation in your dog. Without that foundation, you have nowhere to go when the training goes sideways. Taking a puppy through the process, and delivering a finished product that could compete on any venue is what excited him.

“Always leave everything there,” he would say. “These pups weren’t born flagging or cowering; harsh training and shortcuts cause that!”

I met Torben in the early 1990s when my wife and I were looking for a house with a barn and some kennels. Torben was about to sell his business and retire. He and his wife Debbie were looking to sell their house in California and move to Nevada. We talked bird dogs and I explained I was a hunter who loved a nice, stylish bird dog. He told me he had a sport I might like to try. Torben helped me through the learning process and things took off from there.

Torben was instrumental in saving the Thermolito grounds at Oroville, Cal., when the Department of Fish and Game, in their ultimate wisdom, decided that field trials were not conducive to good wildlife habitat. He also funded the Western “Free-for-All” in the late 1980s; setting up the criteria for pointers, setters, and Continental breeds to compete together. He asserted that no matter what platform you competed on, the dogs and folks who ran them have a very common thread.

Torben has mentored and offered his bird dog savvy to many field trialers throughout the years. Helping with training techniques, and sharing his know-ledge and expertise on how to handle and scout a dog. Torben believes when you are handling a dog you are on stage, and should make the best of it. If you don’t believe in your dog and aren’t excited when it’s running, how in the world would you expect the judges to be? And when you are scouting another handler’s dog, you better give the assignment your 100% attention, and think like a dog.

If you were scouting for Torben you would never, ever be caught telling stories or joking in the gallery; to be caught doing so would make you a victim of his “killer stare”, or one of his witty remarks.

The betterment of field trialing has always been first and foremost on his mind; whether judging or competing. I remember some of his words on judging; “you are judging the dog, not the handler, not the owner. If the handler is your best friend or worst enemy, you judge the dog’s performance.”

Torben has always given back to the sport. One of his favorite sayings is, “It’s your job to leave the sport better than you found it. Promote it by getting others to take your place when your body can no longer assist you.”

I guess that’s how some of us got here.

Torben was always a fierce competitor, and always the first to hold out his hand to congratulate another if his dog was bested. He has also been sought after as a judge. As a result, he has judged on many of the major venues in the Unites States as well as Canada, including; the Dominion, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Pelican, the All-America Prairie, Southeastern Quail, Florida, Continental, the Tar Heel, Quail Invitational, and National Amateur Quail. He has judged all the major West Coast open trials including the California Pheasant, Pacific Coast, California Quail, National Amateur Chukar, National Chukar, Western Open, California, and most all the regional amateur stakes.

Torben’s greatest passion in life has been his love for bird dogs; training and running his dogs; mentoring other fellow bird dog enthusiasts; and sharing his wisdom and knowledge and his endless energy and devotion to leave this great sport a little better than he found it.

One of my favorite Torben quotes is, “run big and finish strong.”

Sean Kelly, Loomis, Cal.

 

CANDIDATES FOR CONSIDERATION

Joe Bush, David Johnson and Peck Kelley should be considered for the Hall of Fame.

I penned an article that appeared in the 2016 Christmas Edition of The American Field entitled “The Era of the Scout”.

The article began: “They rode like the wind and could handle horses like a cowboy. Always out there but seldom seen. Often with unmatched eyesight, hearing and an uncanny ability to turn the impossible into the possible during a field trial.”

What would the history of field trials be like without the legends of this breed who scouted, and on many occasions helped train, dogs that can fill up the pages of field trial history?

Ben “Man” Rand is a shining example of these troopers and is fittingly enshrined in the Field Trial Hall of Fame.

There is no better time than the present to begin a campaign to place one or more scouts in the HOF in the next few years. I can think of three men, two of whom are still living, who have surely earned a place with other Hall-of-Famers at Grand Junction. They are Joe Bush, David Johnson, and Peck Kelley.

Joe Bush went to Canada at the age of fifteen with W. F. “Bill” Rayl. He scouted championships for Bill Hunt, Tom Honecker, Randy Anderson and Freddie Rayl. Freddie Rayl stated that he had won 52 championships and over seventy runners-up and that Joe Bush scouted most of them. He was known as an expert in styling dogs up and for his keen eyesight. He could think like a dog and was one of the best at putting a dog on birds.

Not only was Mr. Bush a first rate scout but he also enjoyed success as a handler. His dog, Meadowbrook Joe, won the International Pheasant Championship and ran in the National Championship. In the article, David Johnson summed up Joe Bush the best, “He was my toughest competition; when he went to a trial he went to win.”

David Johnson began his career as a young man cleaning kennels. Upright and honest, respectful, not a showman, good around people and all business are traits heard time and again regarding Mr. Johnson. He was known for keeping a dog in sight but not running him down and for having a second sense of where a dog was going to go. He was an expert tracker and knew his dog’s tracks on sight. One horse was not enough for him to cover a brace. He would always have another in waiting, jumping off one and onto the other without missing a beat.

One year at the Dominion trials (in Canada) his horse fell with him and broke his arm. He finished the brace without complaint. Mr. Johnson has scouted 123 championships.

Peck Kelley was only 37 when he was killed in an automobile accident near Mercer Mill Plantation. He was keen- eyed, hard-riding and known as a high type person. It’s been said that Peck Kelley could track a dog down on a blacktop highway. He possessed a great memory and was known for his recollection of the venues he had scouted and where birds were found.

His career with bird dogs started when he was seventeen or eighteen years old for John S. Gates. Many remember him as the best scout they have ever seen. The list of champions he has scouted are too numerous to be listed here but fill the annals of field trial history.

I humbly ask those who read this letter to consider the many reasons these men should be in the Hall of Fame. If the elite best are to be considered, these names should be at the top of the list. They helped make the sport what it is today and have left a legacy which few will match. More than one scout should be in the Hall of Fame. Any one of these men would be a good start.

Robert Franks, DeWitt, Ark.

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