Distinguished Members

NSTRA Distinguished Members Award

The NSTRA Distinguished Members award, established in 2012, honors those extraordinary men and women whose contributions and achievements significantly helped develop, or continue to improve, the National Shoot to Retrieve Field Trial Association, Inc. We are deeply thankful for their dedication to the sport of field trialing. These are the members whose leadership and commitment established this organization and continues to make NSTRA the premier bird-dog trialing competition it is today.

Nominations are to be submitted by August 31. A short description of the individual and their contributions to NSTRA along with a picture, if available, are sent to the national office. The selection panel is made up of 3 veteran NSTRA members (not to include National Elected Officers) selected by the National President reviews all nominations and verifies the contributions. The committee will make their decision by September 30 with the final selection of recipients will be voted on by the Board of Directors.

This award is presented annually at the Dog of the Year banquet. The first year 11 individuals were inducted. Thereafter up to 2 individuals per year are selected. A permanent plaque will be located at the NSTRA office and at the Bird Dog Foundation in Grand Junction, Tennessee. A smaller plaque is awarded to the individual, or their family if deceased.

The criteria for the award is as follows: The nominated Individual must meet a minimum of 5 of these criteria and item number 7 must be one of them.

  1. Involved in the early stages of development of NSTRA (prior to 1985) and remained involved throughout. Must have been a member in good standing for at least 25 years.
  2. Must have the acknowledgement and respect of fellow members as a person who has offered policy recommendations to the national officers and to the board of directors during his/her involvement in NSTRA, and who is clearly recognized as a founding member or an early years leader.
  3. During his/her time in the organization the individual must have been a national officer, a region president or a regional board member.
  4. Must have served as a judge in local, regional or national trials or have been involved in policy recommendations regarding rules and by-laws, or in judging seminars or other educational events related to the improvement of NSTRA.
  5. Must have been instrumental in establishing relationships with sponsors that have helped NSTRA to reach its current status among dog field trial organizations.
  6. Must have served as a mentor or role model to new members.
  7. Must be of sound moral character and never have been the subject of any disciplinary action by any NSTRA board or committee.
  8. Remains committed to the goals, objectives and ideals of NSTRA and continues to be willing to offer advice to the national officers when asked to do so.

NSTRA Distinguished Member

Don Abner



Tom Burks

Indiana Region


Bob Cunningham



2005-2007, Illinois Region President National President

Ted Dewey



Will Heddon



Lyle Jordan



1990-1992, National President

Terry Prenosil



Ed Rader



1982-1984, National President

Wilbur Shortridge, Jr.



1984-1987, National President

Leon Swift



Bob West



Tom Love



2002, Tom Love Lifetime Achievement Award

Ron Robertson



1987-1990, National President 2003, Tom Love Lifetime Achievement Award

Jeanne Rader



Jeanne was instrumental, at the beginning, with the paperwork for recording of members, dogs and field trials. She knew everyone and all the dogs that were involved. There was never a time when she would not have a smile on her face. She was the go-to person.
She was at the field trials and always helped with anything needed. Her mind was an encyclopedia of NSTRA information.
Jeanne was a friend and mentor to all of NSTRA. She was always looking for ways to make NSTRA a better organization.
She was involved with Purina, Tritronics and American Field from the start. All the sponsors looked to Jeanne for information in any area of NSTRA.
Everyone that met her would know she only wanted NSTRA to grow and prosper for many years to come. Her heart and mind were always open to new ideas. There will never be anyone more dedicated to the good of NSTRA.

Frank Downs



Frank has been a valued member of NSTRA, for over 30 years. He has served as President of the Midwest Region; taught judging seminars before we had judging instructors; judged numerous weekend trials and nine Regional Trials in three different region. Many of these trials, Frank donated his judging to help the clubs and regions financially.
In the days when trials were judged on horseback, he donated his horses. When we started judging on ATVs, Frank again donated his ATVS.
Frank is a member of the ownership group which purchased, developed and maintains the 320 acre Iowa Gun Dog Association trial grounds at Osceola, IA.
Frank has been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of NSTRA for nearly half of his life.

Donny Wright



Donny was one of the gentlemen involved in the beginning of the Shoot to Retrieve days. He was a member of the Conservation Bird Dog Club at Amo, and integral to helping NSTRA become what it is today. Donny was a very competitive member and traveled to many trials promoting NSTRA along the way. As a former teacher, coach and a successful real estate salesman, along with his passion for wild bird hunting, he was the ideal person to spread the word of Shoot to Retrieve. Donny also served as the NSTRA National Secretary for several years.

Art Baumgartel



Art was a founding member of the Midwest Region. As agricultural manager for the nine Amana Colonies, Art often used his influence and connections to secure grounds on which to run trials. Later, he worked with the Iowa DNR to designate the public land at Palo, IA as trial grounds for NSTRA and the Iowa horseback clubs. Bob West provided funding for a shelter house on these grounds; Art organized and supervised the shelter’s construction, along with clearing and grooming the grounds.

Art campaigned Norilious Timberwolf (Cindy) to the Midwest dog of the year title in 1983.

In 1988, then NSTRA president, Ron Robertson, presented Art with the first complimentary lifetime membership card along with the President’s Award proclaiming him NSTRA Senior citizen of the Year.

Art was 65 years of age when he started in NSTRA. He passed away in 1990, at the age of 83. During those 17 years, he served as a mentor and role model for many of us new to the game. He was a very quiet, but forceful and effective behind the scenes advocate for NSTRA.

Allen Greeling

Illinois Region


To get a sense of the influence Al has over members in the Illinois region you have to know that he was nominated by three different people.  We can quote statistics of how many trials he has judged and the number of dogs he’s championed but what really matters is the kind of NSTRA member he represents.


If you wanted to describe the ideal NSTRA member, some words would come to mind like competitive, fair, helpful, objective, well-respected, and friendly.  Al embodies all of these and then some.  All of the nominations emphasized his integrity and sportsmanship.  He is admired for his willingness to give advice and encouragement to anyone, from the newest member with everything to learn, or to a leader that needs a clear and objective opinion.  Al has graciously contributed his time to help out the Illinois region when they need it most.  Proof of that is the innumerable times he has donated his services to judge the Shriner’s trial over a 20 year span.


It is not unusual to enter a trial in the Illinois region and be braced against a dog that at some point or another has been trained by Al.  It is also not unusual for Al to sell a dog to a young person at a very reasonable price so that he/she can remain involved in a competitive way.  It is also not unusual to go to a trial and be braced against Al for one of his many runs.  To this day, at the age of 80 Al still runs his dogs in trails every weekend with the only concession that his is willing to make to age is that he now rides a four wheeler when handling his dogs.  No one wants to be braced against this octogenarian.  He is no easy draw!!


We believe that NSTRA is a better organization because of Al Greeling’s participation over the years.  We are fortunate to call him our friend and mentor.


Jim Mahoney

Ohio Region


At well over six feet tall, with a big booming voice and a hearty laugh, it would be hard to ignore Jim Mahoney.  And Jim has been involved in almost every aspect of NSTRA membership.  A lifetime NSTRA member, Jim has been influencing this organization for a long time.  He is a past national president and Ohio region president, taking over that spot in the late 80’s when the region was in need of stability.  Jim’s collaborative leadership style helped the region grow in a time when declining membership was becoming all too familiar across our organization.


He participates in weekend trials throughout the country and has provided the ever popular Mahoney Farms ground for field trials in the Ohio region.   Jim can be found at almost every national field trial and rarely fails to take home a placement with whatever dog he is currently running.   Just this year, his young dog Jake brought home the runner-up placement in the Ohio Region Elimination.  He also has a NSTRA Hall of Fame dog, Tomoka’s Hot Spot.  He is a consistent and competitive trialer who is more than willing to lend an ear and offer his advice to members from across the country.  He is always willing to educate newer, less experienced members of NSTRA on judging, breeding or trialing of bird dogs. 


Field trialer, trainer, breeder, mentor, judge, national and regional officer, trial chairman, Hall of Famer and now Distinguished Member, Jim has occupied and performed well in every part of NSTRA to date.  We are looking forward to his next success in the NSTRA realm.



As you can see from the above, and from the other individuals who have been selected to receive this award, a NSTRA Distinguished Member shares many of the same values.  They are involved.  Involved in their regions at a local level, as a regional officer or involved at the national level.  They are fair.  Fair in their actions, the way they play the game or in the way they review any situation.  They are helpful.  They help all members, new or old and they give of their advice freely.  They are well-respected among their peers.  They are not perfect.  But always, they try to improve this organization.  That is why we admire them.


Ron Huels

Illinois Region


What does it take to be selected as a Distinguished Member?  In addition to the written qualifications it takes something special; a spark, a commitment, a desire to make our organization better and the work ethic to see that it gets done.  Ron Huels is the epitome of the “something special”.


Ron is the ultimate volunteer.  He has judged and field marshalled numerous national, regional and weekend trials, often on back-to-back weekends.  He donates his time and resources for many events and even took on the job of a National Officer for a few months when we had a vacancy.  He didn’t sit back and bide his time either.  No, he jumped right in and started asking questions and providing his advice right from the start.  That is the way Ron is.  If you ask him to do something, he does it with gusto!


In 2005, the Illinois Region, with Ron in the lead, took on the task of hosting a large trial where all the money raised was donated to the Shriners’ Crippled Children’s Hospital. Ron works hard to make sure this event goes off without a hitch.  In addition to the entries, he has to round up volunteer officials and work to get items donated.  No easy task, but with his friendly nature and hearty hand shake, he is successful year after year.  Last year, after government funding issues closed his regular trial grounds, he had to secure a new location with little time to spare.  Again, he was determined and successful.  This trial raised over $27,000. 


Ron is appreciative and never fails to thank people for their assistance and hard work.  He is the guy to go to if you are new.  He welcomes you as if you were his oldest friend and will steer you in the right direction or to the people you can help you the best.  NSTRA and the Illinois region have benefited from having Ron Huels as a member and thank him for his service.

Tom McCandless

Kentucky Region


To truly understand the contributions and benefits a member of any organization has made upon that organization you must look not only at that member’s personal achievements and records but more importantly what that member has done for the benefit of their fellow members and ultimately their organization.  It is in that spirit that Tom has excelled to the point of being recognized as a distinguished member of NSTRA.


As a member Tom has achieved that which we all desire, he has won a National Championship, Had a Dog Elected to the Hall of Fame, and campaigned multiple champions over the years.  These accomplishments were considered in his nomination and election as an NSTRA distinguished member but it is all of the other services and help that truly distinguish his membership.  Tom has volunteered the use of his farm for over 20 years of Kentucky Region field trialing.  He not only allows the use of the grounds for field trials but has always invited any member to stop by and work their dogs with no need for advance notice. 


Tom has gone the extra mile for his organization and fellow members in many different ways.  He has served as a judge, trial chairman, region board member, judging instructor, and national officer.  He is one of the longest tenured members in the Kentucky Region, having been a member for over 30 years. 


Tom’s greatest contribution to the sport has long been his willingness to provide guidance and encouragement to new NSTRA members. He has always gone the extra mile to help any member get involved in the sport, be it training advice, rules advice or simple encouragement to “stay at it”.  It would be hard to measure or quantify the benefit that a member like Tom McCandless provides to an organization.  It is for this and all of that he has done that Tom is undoubtedly a Distinguished Member.

Donny Parker

AR Region


to Donny Parker – AR-LA Region, of which Donny is now President. Donny was raised around Hot Springs, AR where there was an abundance of wild quail at that time. This stemmed an interest in birddogs and bird hunting.

In 1983 Donny went to a National Bird Hunter’s trial, but was not excited due to the judging and scoring aspects of the trial. At about the same time, Donny heard about a trial in Monticello, AR which ran according to NSTRA rules. He took his English Setter Birddog, Blu, and participated in the trial which he enjoyed. Several other people at the trial decided to start a NSTRA Region and he along with Carroll Evans and P. A. Shockley among others began the quest to start a Region. Two judges from Indiana, one being Tom Love, came to Arkansas and judged the first Region Trial and the region has grown to approximately 90 members and 11 - 2018 Spring Trials.

Donny is married to Sarah with 2 sons, 2 daughters and 7 grandchildren. He is now retired from Kroger where he was the meat manager for 42 years. To date, Donny has judged 453 trials, of which 23 were Regional Championships and 41 National Championships. Donny has also been instrumental in judging the annual Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Trial. Congratulations to Donny who is truly a Distinguished Member of NSTRA.

Lamar "Bodie" Ray

Georgia Region


Bodie Ray, GA Region. Bodie was raised in Gordon County, Calhoun, Ga. He was an avid wild bird hunter as wild quail were abundant during Bodie’s early years. As the wild birds disappeared, Bodie listened to Mitch Hurst and Chuck Parkerson talk about the good times they were having at field trials. Mitch talked Bodie into accompanying him to a Red Briar Trial in 1987 of which the two judged. Thus, began Bodie’s career with NSTRA as a handler and judge.

He has owned and handled many dogs through the years, but his first trial dog was an English Setter female, Dolly. Bodie retired from the Gordon County Tax Appraisal Department after 34 years, but is still a member of the Board of Assessors. Bodie has one daughter, Melody, and granddaughter, Emilee, and his Mama; all three his pride and joy. At the present moment, Bodie is a single, available male always looking for a good time.

He has judged 466 NSTRA trials of which 16 were Regional Championships and 29 National Championships. Bodie has judged several memorial trials; Scott Clark, Chuck Parkerson, Jesse Pinnion, and Bray/Kuykendall Memorials. Bodie participated in the 2017 Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Trial and is also instrumental in helping with the Iron-Man fun trial held each year at the Jimmy Johnson Farm. To another truly deserving recipient of this award – hats off to Bodie Ray.

Jim Harmon

Kentucky Region


Jim Harmon, Kentucky region, was presented with the most prestigious, Distinguished Member NSTRA award by fellow Kentucky region member, Mikeal Mulberry. Jim has been a member of NSTRA since 1997. Jim has hosted trials, raised birds, and ran champion dogs since he became a member. His son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Nina, are active members who, like Jim, help out with anything anyone needs. Jim is called Mr. Fix-it because he can – fix-it. No matter what the problem, Jim will take a look and usually finds a way to fix it. Most of us would be unable to camp if it were not for Jim usually fixing something inside or out of our campers and motor-homes.

Jim has had many champion dogs in his 22 years with NSTRA and the following is a list of dogs he has trialed and placed.

Mally J / Mally – 1X Champion

Miss Doctor’s Beattitude / Bea – 2X Champion

Sunny’s Free Sue / Sue – 5X Champion

Burden’s Tequilla Talken / Tequilla – 0X Champion

TJ’s Codeine / Cody – 4X Champion

Copper’s Big Mac / Mac – 6X Champion

Copper’s Elhew Bull / Bull – 9X Champion

Honky Tonk Blues / Blues – 0X Champion

Runnin J Buddy / Buddy – 0X Champion

HHK Two Dollar Pistol / Kim – 2X Champion

Co-Owner of:

Bright Sunny Faith / Faith – 3X Champion

Hard Hitting Winchester / Chester – 4X Champion

Coppers Bright Champ / Champ – 1X Champion

And the up and coming sure fit Jim’s funny disposition:

Ms Runnin Outlaw / Bonnie and Runnin J Outlaw / Clyde.

That’s 37 championships since Jim’s start with NSTRA. Many people are happy with 4 or 5, but not Jim. He is a true example of what NSTRA is all about. Not asking for much; just running his dogs and helping out where he can.

I remember one time when Jim was the gunner for Bob Cunningham and we were in Creston, IA. Talk about hills, they were small mountains! Jim tied one end of a rope around his waist and the other end around Bob’s 4-wheeler to help him up the hills. He always finds a way when everyone else thinks things are impossible, call Jim. And if you’ve never had Jim’s waffles with ready whip in the can -you’ve never lived. They’re the best, as is anything Jim decides to cook.

In the Kentucky Region Jim has done the following – President - multiple times, judge, trial chairman, and served as a Board of Director.

We could go on and on with funny stories about Jim, but on the serious side he is a family man, husband, dad, father-in-law and grandpa. Jim’s family was on hand for the award – his wife, Caroline; daughter and granddaughter – Cathilee and Harlee, and daughter-in-law, Nina. Jim’s son, Jeff, was unable to attend due to work.

Jim was born in Campbellsville, Kentucky - March 24, 1945 and moved to Alabama 1971 and made another move to Bowling Green, Ky. 1977 where he still resides. He has 5 children; Pat, Kelly, Jeff, Cathilee and stepson, Tony. There are 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Graduated from Western Kentucky University - majored and taught Industrial Arts at Campbellsville High School in 69, 70 & 71

In recent years Jim was the owner of Specialty Concrete in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  For years this was the only concrete business in Bowling Green and he employed several people.  He began the business creating stepping stones, bird baths and concrete picnic tables and advanced to pre-cast and doing walls for buildings.  these were shipped to many places, one being Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee.  In March, 2018, Jim sold his business and became officially retires.  Now, Jim has more time to engage in his second hobby, fishing.  A truly distinguished member - Jim Harmon.

Marilyn Frank Cunningham

Illinois Region


There have been several members honored with the distinguished member award. Many of them were involved in the beginning stages of this organization, even before it had a name. Once this organization started to evolve, there were people behind the scenes that kept everything running smoothly. On of those people is Marilyn Frank Cunningham. She has been a member for 34 years and not only meets the minimum of 5 of the 8 requirements, but all 8! For sure she has been “helping” NSTRA for a long time. She has judged over 90 field trials, and marshaled and coordinated field trial at all levels so long that we don’t have a record of them all. If being a judge, a field marshal, and a national trial coordinator wasn’t enough, she has been a national officer since 2002. (Yes, we finally found the “official” date!) Ask anyone who has been a national officer, or even region officer, and they will tell you anyone who takes on that job for 5 terms has to be a committed individual.

One of her great contributions has been the Illinois Region Shriner’s trial. Ron Huels says there is no way he could do it without her. She has been doing the clerical work far longer than anyone. Many of you have drawn weekend trials and some regionals. It isn’t always easy keeping things straight. Try drawing 6 full fields for 2 days and keeping track of all the entries and runs. That is more than even a national trial, and she does that too!

She has coordinated all the National trials, more than once, and traveled all over the country with Bob, grandson Steven and now, her little dog Sam. There aren’t many members she doesn’t know and she has a fun story to tell about most of them. In Florida, her winter home, she opens her home for judges and bird planters to stay during the Quail Invitational. She treats everyone like family while they stay with her. She feeds them, offers the upmost hospitality and uses her own car and gas to ferry them and their gear around and to and from Orlando airport and saves NSTRA thousands of dollars in motel and rental car fees.

For me, she was my lifeline when I came to work for NSTRA 11 years ago. If Marilyn wasn’t the person she is, with the knowledge she has accumulated and retained, and willing to share, I would have been lost. Many, many, many times, I have called her and asked for help or information on how to do something. She has always cheerfully agreed to help me, provide the documentation, or at least give me a place or time to go to look for whatever I need. She is the key to the bank of NSTRA history.

Outside of NSTRA, there is no one any more dedicated to her family and her faith. She is a God-fearing woman and her faith surrounds her in everything she does. She truly loves her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and now, great-granddaughter. Her Facebook account always has pictures of one of their latest activities or accomplishments. She is quite crafty with her sewing and quilting and I know from the recipes she has given me, that she is an exceptional cook!

Ron Huels nominated Marilyn for this award and this quote from his nomination letter says it all:

“Marilyn Cunningham IS the HEART and SOUL of NSTRA. She has truly earned the highest award that can be given by NSTRA.”

“Marilyn Cunningham IS the NSTRA’s Most Distinguished Member!!”


Ron Huels/Julia Herwehe

Penny Montgomery

West Texas Region


We all have stories to tell about “Miss Penny”!  Mine might be a little different than yours but they always have the same focus.  Friendly, outgoing, amazing, caring and happy!   Miss Penny has been a member of NSTRA since 1992 and it all started with a promise and a dog.  Penny promised her late husband that she would take their young setter, Grouse Jim’s Will, get him trained and allow him to become the best dog he could be.  5 NSTRA championships later, her promise was kept.  Will was often the co-pilot on many of her flights and she says that he would see things in the air way before she would.   Later, Tomoka’s Smokin Blu, would become one of NSTRA’s premier dogs, A 15X champion with several national and regional trial placements including 2 Dog of the Year wins, Blu was elected to the NSTRA Hall of Fame in 2013.  Currently, Nathan Tekell runs Blu’s Pepper will Chloe, an own daughter of Blu, who has earned her NSTRA championship and a 2nd runner-up placement at the 2019 UKC Performance Classic.


But Miss Penny isn’t all about dogs and winning field trials.  Raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas she never lost her love for that area.  She built a log house on the site of her grandparent’s house and would travel there often with her friend, Brenda Barr.   A former math teacher who learned to fly when it wasn’t as common for women as it is now; she has flown all over the world, sometimes just to meet friends for lunch. A hunter, fisherwoman, pilot, scuba diver, dog handler, teacher……. what else could there be?

She is a staunch supporter of NSTRA and her dog family.  She has given often to the scholarship fund.  She is an encouragement to all, especially to the women who work and compete in this game.  Her genuine love for NSTRA and cheerful, outgoing personality has made her a number one ambassador for NSTRA.

I came to work at NSTRA 13 years ago and to say I was overwhelmed with it all would be a gross understatement.  At my first national trial (2008 TOC), I met her for the first time.  She told me not to worry about the job and everything that went with it and that she just knew I would be fine.  That really meant a lot to me at the time.

Over the years, we have talked often and each time she tells a new story.  We share our love of our families, especially our grandchildren.   I am in awe of her accomplishments and kindness. 

When she learned of her nomination she was overwhelmed.  She called me on the phone and just kept saying “I can’t believe it!  I’m so honored! I don’t deserve this!”  I laughed when she said, “When life overwhelms me, I just go take a nap.”  And she did.  And called me the next day, a little calmer but still excited none the less.  She wanted to be here but unfortunately; her health prevents her from travelling far.   So, she sent her good friend, Brenda Barr to accept the award for her.  Brenda is wearing Penny’s infamous orange hat.  Covered with pins from all her trials, Penny’s hat was an integral part Will’s field trialing as that is where he deposited his birds when returning with his retrieves.  

If you want to hear more of her escapades in and out of NSTRA, just talk to anyone from Texas or Arkansas.  I think Bo Nutt has a story or two. 

From the bottom of her heart Penny deeply appreciates this award.  Thank you.

Ron Becker

Illinois Region


For over 20 years Ron Becker has campaigned dogs, planted birds, and judged weekend, Regional and National trials. His judging resume includes 29 National, 33 Regional, and 64 weekend trials; but his bird planting abilities are his best asset. Ron has numerous weekend, Regional, and National trials that he has been called in to plant birds and always, always steps up to help in any way possible.

Along side this, he is and has been instrumental in helping organize and work behind the scenes to ensure that the annual Shriners Crippled Children Benefit Trial goes off without a hitch.

Written by:

Ron Huels

Ron Horn



I have known Mr. Ron Horn for 31 years, since meeting him at the 1986 Dog-of-the-Year National Trial in Amo, Indiana. This trial was my first national competition, and I was very new to NSTRA.

Mr. Ron Horn has always been pleasant to visit with, answer a newcomer’s questions helping me learn the game better.


My personal experiences with Ron Horn:

  • Around 1988 or 1989, the Northwest Region clubs were searching for an alternative to the current bird supplier, whose birds were not very good.
    • I knew Ron raised and supplied birds to many regions. So we called and Ron supplied several NW clubs birds for our trials.
      • First was when I was with the Snake River Sportsman and Gun Dog Assn. and then to the newly formed Clearwater Bird Dog Club, that I started with 3 other gentlemen.
      • Ron delivered birds to Lewiston, Idaho from his operation in Arizona, and turned around without rest and made the return trip. He had other commitments for more of his birds.
      • Once we heard he had wrecked near Salt Lake on a return trip; we asked if he and a partner would judge on a Saturday for us. That way we knew he would get some rest. Ron judged at least 2 or 3 trials for us after delivering birds. Even entering and running his dogs in our weekend trials after delivering birds.
    • I have seen Ron Horn at many national trials over the years; he is always friendly and willing to spend some time catching up.
    • I had not seen Ron in approximately 10 years and met him again at the 2017 Pike’s Peak Trial near Woodland Park, Co. He supplied the trails’ birds, and field marshaled on Friday. Yes he was even wearing a back-brace as he had a 3rd wreck delivering birds without rest.

We visited and caught up on old times and family again

Written By: Jerry Youmans

Jim Turner

South Carolina Region


Jim Turner has passed after a prolonged and difficult hospitalization. In addition to his wife, Pat he is survived by his son Mark (Elaine); brothers: Richard, Bruce, and Lane: three grandsons: Ben (Alicia), Jacob, and Sam; and one great grandson: Benjamin.

Jim grew up the 6th of 10 siblings on an 85 acre tobacco, cotton and vegetable farm in Oconee County, SC.  At age 14, having decided he was not going to spend his adult life following the south end of a north bound mule, he dropped out of school and moved 20 miles to Clemson.  Jim worked with his oldest brother, Ervin, at his Gulf station pumping gas and checking oil,   (for those under 40 that used to be a job). 

While in Clemson he lived behind the service station in a repurposed beauty shop and met his wife-to- be, Patricia Sanders.  Pat and Jim were married in 1956 and he fulfilled a wedding promise to Pat to finish high school by commuting to Oakway HS in a car he borrowed from Bill McClellan, a customer who would later become CU Director of Athletics.  Jim worked at several other jobs and after graduation in 1959 rather than take a promotion with Belk’s that required him leaving Oconee County he began working at a local jewelry store.  In 1960, Pat left her job with JP Stevens and joined Jim at the jewelry store.  In 1963 they bought the jewelry store and Turner’s Jewelers has since become one of upstate South Carolina’s finest jewelers.  In addition to belonging to many civic organizations Jim was a founding Director of Community First Bank, one of the largest local banks in the Tri-County area.

In the 60’s Jim became a bird hunter.  Using the family sedan (with dogs in the trunk) on Wednesday afternoons when the store was closed (a southern small town tradition) he hunted around Seneca.  As the years passed his kennels, hunting rigs and destinations expanded.  Jim enjoyed gathering a group of friends and making hunting trips to low-state South Carolina, South Georgia, Kansas, and beyond.

Jim (member # L60) joined NSTRA in 1981, before the South Carolina Region was organized.  Throughout the following years he systematically donated his resources to developing top notch fields and facilities for hosting NSTRA trials.  Jim was instrumental in getting our S.C. region started but more importantly he encouraged and recruited many members, both old bird hunters and young novices to come out and try NSTRA.

Jim loved his pointers especially when they did well or had placements.  He carried to his grave the opinion that a find by a dog with a tail was worth at least 5 extra points but, if pressed, he might quietly concede that his best dog may have been a Brittany.   Even though the placements didn’t come as often in recent years, Jim still looked forward to seeing and hosting his NSTRA family and as the sun was setting he liked to raise a glass (aka a red cup) with friends to another day enjoyed with the dogs.

Claude "Dick" Duncan



Dick Duncan grew up in Southern Indiana loving the outdoors and began hunting at an early age. In the late 1970s, he joined a group of friends in Central Indiana who traveled to Chicago to investigate starting an association for like-minded game bird hunters. Out of this trip, the National Shoot To Retrieve Association (NSTRA) was formed in 1978. Dick served as the National Treasurer from 1978 until 1984 providing invaluable support to the association in its early years.

An early member of the Conservation Bird Dog Club in Amo, Indiana, Dick worked to maintain and expand the services at this location, introducing many to the sport of field trials. He shared his knowledge of the sport and dogs in general with many new hunters, including women and children he mentored in “Powder Puff” trials. In addition to competing, Dick served as a judge at local, regional and national trials including Field Marshal of the 1986 Champion of Champions Trial.

Dick always had time to answer a question or just talk. He spent time at the CBDC not just with dogs in the field but at the skeet range and fishing in the lakes. That time was always spent with others whether it was family, close friends, fellow members or introducing young men and women to the great outdoors.

His laid back personality made him a favorite among fellow hunters, earning him a reputation as a fair judge in the field. He had success with his own dogs as well winning multiple field trials throughout the Midwest and even earning a “Champion of Champions” in 1981 with TJ’s Jill.

As a founding member of the NSTRA, a dedicated member and ambassador introducing the sport to so many, Dick Duncan deserves to be a Distinguished Member.

Joe “Butch” Jackson

Indiana Region



Butch was born in 1944 in Portland, Tennessee.  In 1945, his father got out of the service and moved Butch and family to the country, just a few miles from the future home of the Conservation Bird Dog Club in Amo, Indiana.  He grew up on the farm, tending the family tobacco fields; his love for tobacco continues to this day.  Butch graduated from Ben Davis High School in 1962.  He always had a passion for heavy equipment and dirt work, so he went right to work honing his skills and in 1971 he bought a dozer and went out to make his way in order to provide for his wife Patty and his 6 wonderful children.  Butch’s business is thriving today, now run by his son Lil Butch.

Butch became interested in field trailing and joined NSTRA in 1994.  Together with his stepson Jeff Yeary and with a lot of help from Rod Mace and Clem Grover they got addicted. Butch had several dogs over the years.

1xCH Red Eight Ball

1xCH Red Elhew Jake

5xCH Red Maggie Mae

2xCH Red Blaster

1xCH Rails Ramblin Taylor

2xCH Mac’s Predator

Just to name a few.  Those dogs along with Jeff’s 20xCH Cherry Bear-e made a lot of noise in Shoot To Retrieve.

Some of you may remember when Amo only had 2 fields.  A National trail would take all week long, no joke! (insert laughs) Seeing this and now being a member of The Conservation Bird Dog Club, Butch brought out equipment, Yeary supplied the men and they began a transformation of Amo.  They diverted the run-in ditch to the pond and moved the A field fence into B field making A field much bigger.  They bulldozed the ravines and hollers and pushed trees out to expand B field. Butch then went back and opened up a new field by clearing the trees and cleaning up what we now know as C field.  Now Amo could host a National Trial and run it in a much timelier manner.  What an accomplishment!

Butch later became President of NSTRA in 2012. As President Butch was instrumental in establishing an ATV variance for all the trailers unable to walk so, they could continue competing and enjoying the sport they had come to love. He also found, procured, remodeled and helped NSTRA purchase its home office in Plainfield. The building cost NSTRA $102,000.  When Butch wrote up the paperwork there was a clause stating that the rent money NSTRA had been paying of $600.00 a month would continue to come out and be deposited in an emergency fund for NSTRA.  To date that amounts to over $72,000 set aside for NSTRA instead of being lost to rent.

While President, Butch was approached by Bob West and Ed Radar and together with their help put together The Distinguished Member Award that ironically, he has now received for all his sacrifice and dedication to NSTRA.

Butch is still as active in NSTRA as his health will allow.  Sam Ashmore runs Butch’s latest trial dog for him.  Annie is one first place point from being a Champion, the passion continues.

Thank you, Joe Jackson, for everything you have done for NSTRA so that we may continue to enjoy this great sport we have all come to love.

Mikael Mulberry

Kentucky Region


He has cut his teeth in NSTRA at a very early age.  His excellent string of English Setters are a threat, no matter what part of America we trial in.  He is a fierce competitor with an excellent personality and a friendly smile everywhere he goes.  He has razor sharp number skills and is a proud graduate of the University of Northern Kentucky.  All these attributes best describe this individual.

               During the tragedy of President Fellers’ son’s severe accident back in 2015, this individual stepped up and assumed both positions without batting an eye; carrying National Shoot to Retrieve Association on his back.  With the help of others, during this time, this individual was instrumental in creating the draw system which we all enjoy today.  Thanks to his countless hours, today we enjoy a state-of-the-art draw system, and we are the envy of everyone. 

               He is a true, true family man with a wonderful wife and two beautiful little girls.  He is a treasurer for his local fire department in Corinth, KY and is a member of St. William’s Catholic Church in Williamstown, KY.  He is a 2021 and 2022 back-to-back winner of the Jim Harmon Ironman Award.  His professional life finds him as Branch President at Forcht Bank in Dry Ridge, KY and is well respected for his banking knowledge by his peers. 

               He served two consecutive terms as Kentucky Regional President and then served on the National Rules and By-Laws Committee until his election as National Officer First Vice President in 2015.  He served as National First Vice President for two consecutive terms as well. 

               He is the poster child of what an NSTRA member should be, in his home life, in his community life, and in his NSTRA life. 

Gary “Doc” Ramsey, DVM

South Carolina Region


There are truly not enough words in the Webster’s Dictionary to describe this amazing husband, father, grand-father, Veterinarian, intelligent, fun-loving, outgoing, avid bird dog breeder, hunter, competitor, role model, friend and what we feel is truly a “DISTINGUISHED MEMBER” of NSTRA … Gary “Doc” Ramsey, DVM!  This incredible man has NEVER met a stranger and if you have ever had the blessed opportunity to meet this one-of-a-kind man, you will never forget him.

He has been a member since 1994 and has remained in good standing for twenty-eight (28) years.

He is a HIGHLY respected member throughout the US.  From our observations over the years, he has never attended a trial where he has not been asked to thoroughly explain rules, various field situations/issues, discuss possible rule change scenarios, etc.  NSTRA members new and seasoned have 100% confidence in his knowledge of NSTRA rules, guidelines, timeframes, etc.  He is not afraid to make recommendations to the national officers and to the board of directors.  While he might not have been a “founding member” or an “early years leader”, Doc began with this organization in 1994 and has never stopped making suggestions on ways to improve NSTRA, increase membership, build sponsor relationships, and motivate regions, officers, board members as well as ALL the members he encounters.

Out of his twenty (28) years with NSTRA, he has served twenty-one (21) of those in various duties.  He has been South Carolina Region President for six (6) years and VP for seven (7) years.  He has also been the Chairman of the “Nominating Committee” for four (4) years, was Chairman of the “Distinguished Member Committee” for two (2) years and served as a member on this committee for two (2) years.

He has judged numerous weekend trials in many different regions.  He has judged multiple Regional Trials in the Dixie, Virginia, Kentucky, East Carolina and Big Sky Regions.  He has led MULTIPLE Judging Seminars in the South Carolina and Big Sky Regions.  Doc has made numerous suggestions regarding rules and by-laws throughout his membership.  There has not been a day that this man has not actively pursued the opportunity to improve NSTRA.  This organization is a true passion of his and improving one’s passion is the definition of success!

During his many years of active veterinary practice and ownership, many upland hunting events, field trials at every level for almost thirty (30) years and the thousands of relationships he has made over the years with professionals that impact NSTRA are limitless.  His ambassadorship as a NSTRA member to the many organizations, sponsors and professionals has been invaluable to NSTRA.

The “Mentor Rule” was thought of and submitted by Doc.  He is the first to meet and greet new members.  His desire to educate, motivate and make himself available to ALL members (all regions) is impeccable.  Doc’s passion for NSTRA is truly contagious.  It is this contagiousness that makes new members want to be the very best NSTRA member, exemplifying a high level of sportsmanship while having fun at the same time.

He has never received any disciplinary action and quite the contrary as he is the first to handle issues with NSTRA’s best interest in mind.  His calm nature, non-partial assessments of any questionable issue make him a terrific mediator.  His moral character is one of his traits that makes him the amazing man he is and exemplifies what we believe an outstanding NSTRA member should be.

Written By Wanda Greenway, SCR Region

Nominated By Many



More Info

Extend The Season!

NSTRA was conceived by a group of hunters in the late 1960's as a way to extend the normal open upland bird hunting season from a few weeks to a longer period of time.

Over 1000 Local Field Trials!

Over 1,000 local field trials are held annually for seasoned competitors and dogs as well as amateurs.

Family Fun!

Our trials are held in family friendly environments. many families take advantage of our reduced membership pricing for associate members