American Field

Inaugural Business Meeting

Southern Bird Hunters Association

By Marty Robinson, President | Aug 12, 2020

The ole cliché “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby” is nothing short of the truth when describing the inception of the Southern Bird Hunters Association by a small group of field trial enthusiastically looking for a change for the better.

Each of these individuals on the group text were discussing the need and desire for change in field trials; to bring back family enjoyment and involvement, while distancing ourselves from “must win” attitudes that cast a gloom at many trials.

A craving for a new mission and culture to improve on this wonderful sport we cherish was inspired by the conversation between the group.  What seemed to be a joking suggestion to create a new field trial organization with fresh ideas, soon became a more serious statement with a responding reply of “I’m not kidding, we can do this.”

From that moment forward, we were focused, determined and began formulating the necessary conversations to become the Southern Bird Hunters Association.  This was February 10, 2020.  The very next day at 3:36 PM EST the Southern Bird Hunters Association Inc. was submitted for approval.

In the ensuing months, word quickly spread throughout the field trial community of the Southern Bird Hunters Association and their ideas to “Make Field Trials Great Again,” which became the slogan of Southern Bird Hunters Association.  By February 17, 2020, we had commitments from 22 clubs spanning eleven states wanting to join our movement.  We have now expanded to fifteen states and over 25 clubs.

Interest in SBHA continues to grow as we are the only organization offering both walking and horseback stakes.  In a mere four months we have partnered with the most desired companies associated with field trials as national sponsors.  We can’t be more excited to partner with Eukanuba, SportDOG, The Saddle Guy, Valu-Pak, Gun Dog Supply, Gundog Central and James O’Neal Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Without quality sponsors trusting your mission and supporting common values, the financial operations of an association is strained.

The inaugural trial of the SBHA was held in Carrollton, Georgia at the home of SBHA President Marty Robinson on March 14-15.  The anticipated turnout was so well represented that entries had to be turned away and capped at 72 dogs.   This show of support continued yet again in following months as popularity of the SBHA increased beyond expectations.

As the planning for the SBHA Business Meeting was made, it was challenged by the horrific pandemic outbreak of Covid-19.  Concerns peaked and were regularly addressed to assure a safe environment was provided with sufficient hand sanitizers and protective masks were made available for all participants.

The Business Meeting was not intended to be ordinary; it was intended to be extraordinary and that it was.

President Robinson secured the famed breeder and handler Ferrel Miller and Chris Peek. The number of anticipated attendees went through the roof, so much that RSVP was required to ensure sufficient seating and available lunch.  The number of committed participants soared to a count between a 65 and 70. The site  was J. L. Lester WMA in Cedartown, Georgia, home of many walking and horseback stakes.

The morning activities began sharply at 8:00 a.m. with executive board members and state director introductions, followed by a warm welcome to all.  President Robinson explained the impressive timeline for which the SBHA was formed with transactions leading to today’s events.

Announcements of National Sponsors were made as their banners, product and advertising media filled the room.  Complementary caps, towels, pens and other marketable items were provided by Eukanuba and James O’Neal Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Top quality leather products were available for auction donated by Kevin Parrish, owner of The Saddle Guy and an e-collar was donated by SportDOG.  In attendance were club officials and field trialers from both walking and horseback clubs representing numerous states.

A predetermined list of many of the largest field trials for next season were selected by club officials that would eventually mold next year’s major trials.  Smaller club trials will be filled in throughout the year completing what is planned to be an action-packed season.

Attendees were presented with a copy of the Rules and By-Laws which were accepted and adopted.  Lunch was managed by trial veterans Terry Amberson and Lavon King.  They prepared a delicious barbecue roast, grilled pork chops, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, green beans, and many other unbelievable tasty items.

After a filling lunch came the anticipated seminar. Ferrel Miller, with assistance from his wife, placed several paintings around the clubhouse of many of the outstanding dogs he bred and trained throughout the years.

He informed being recruited as a basketball player where he attended and played for Western Kentucky University

His knowledge of breeding, puppy selection, puppy development and putting finishing touches on adult dogs are  unmatched.  He is willing to share and explain his techniques to other willing listeners.

One of those listeners is Chris Peek who spends time with Ferrel, attending summer training camp together and available weekends throughout the year.

Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Peek took time to answer any and all questions. No one was disappointed.

The planning and implementation of the meeting and seminar was well received garnering numerous complementary phone calls and emails following the event.

In summary, the SBHA Business Meeting was overwhelmingly successful and beneficial, or so we were told.

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