SBHA's Inaugural Business Meeting

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 enthusiast 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 crave 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 twenty-two clubs spanning eleven states wanting to join our movement. We have now expanded to fifteen states and over twenty-five clubs. Interest in SBHA continues to grow as we are the only organization offering both walking and horseback stakes. In four mere 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 14th and 15th. The anticipated turnout was so well represented that entries had to be turned away and capped at seventy-two 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 being, 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. When President Robinson secured the famed breeder and handler Ferrell Miller and ally, Chris Peek; the number of anticipated attendees went through the roof, so much that RSVP was required to assure sufficient seating and lunch was available. The number of committed participants soared to a count between a sixty-five and seventy, not too shabby for the first ever Business Meeting. The site for the Business Meeting was J L Lester WMA in Cedartown Georgia, home of many walking and horseback stakes.

The morning activities began sharply at 8:00 AM 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 as well. In attendance were club officials and field trialer's 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 in the making. 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 serving of BBQ roast, grilled pork chops, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, green beans, and many other unbelievable tasty items.

After a filling lunch came the well anticipated seminar by the legend...Mr. Ferrell Miller. Mr. Miller, with assistance from his wife placed numerous paintings around the clubhouse of many of the outstanding dogs he bred and trained throughout the years. Mr. Miller then began to share invaluable words of wisdom he gathered from childhood days to current day. Mr. Miller explained being recruited as a basketball player where he attended and played for Western Kentucky University and where many life values were developed and instilled into his daily life. There is no one single man who has accomplished what Ferrell Miller has in the world of field trialing. His knowledge of breeding, puppy selection, puppy development and putting finishing touches on adult dogs are simply unmatched. Not only does Mr. Miller possess the unmatched skills, he is willing to share and explain his techniques to other willing listeners. One of those exceptional listeners is no other than Chris Peek. Mr. Peek spends as much time as possible with Mr. Ferrell, attending summer training camp together and available weekends throughout the year. Mr. Peek demonstrated the technique of teaching a dog to whoa on command and with hand signals. " The Swing" allows gentle pressure to suggest the dog to stand still with minimal pressure which builds confidence quickly. Several dogs were used in the demonstration at various training levels to show the effects of a dog recently introduced to the technique, followed by a dog more advanced. The results were amazing and impressive. Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Peek took time to answer any and all questions that were presented as well as photo opportunities. For many, this was a once in a life time opportunity to spend time with such knowledgeable dog men. I must say, no one was disappointed.

Everyone convened in the clubhouse to thank Mr. Miller and Mr. Peek for their dedication and commitment to bird dog development and for taking time out of their busy schedule to attend the SBHA Business Meeting. 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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