2009 Maryland Retriever Gundog Championship

Congratulations Rex, a CBR of Rainbow Farm owned and handled by Marston Jones of Cambridge, Maryland for wining this year's event!
Congratulations Rex, a CBR of Rainbow Farm owned and handled by Marston Jones of Cambridge, Maryland for wining this year’s event!

Sunday December sixth dawned cold and breezy. But that didn’t chill the enthusiasm of 21 dog and handler teams competing at the MDWFA’s annual Maryland Retriever Championship held at Lowe’s Ramble Farm in Trappe Maryland. Judges were Mike Kates and Justin Aimone, . Their task was to find the retriever and handler team who best displayed hunting skills that day. There were three series with about half the field eliminated after each.

The first test consisted of a cold blind preceded by a duck call/popper shot diversion. Then a double marked retrieve was done with a last bird flyer. Each mark was about 100+ yards. A second blind, halfway between the initial blind and dead bird mark, and deep to the woods line, completed this test.

Thirteen dogs were carried to the second series which was another double mark with a blind done before picking up the second of two flyers. Basically this was a poison bird blind. The temptation to retrieve the second flyer was great. Only 7 dogs were left after this series.They would compete for the championship

The final series was another double flyer but this time both birds were shot simultaneously, 50 to 75 yards across a pond. The starting line was on a knoll overlooking the pond. Dogs had to negotiate a small island to get either bird. The handler’s dilemma was to decide which of the two marks the dog actually saw. Once these two birds were in hand, the dog was sent for a long blind whose line ran between the flyer stations with the island in the middle.This blind, about 200 yards long, carried the pond and island, negotiated a field and ran almost to the far woods. It was a fitting challenge to decide whose dog was the 2009 MDWFA retriever champion!

Finalists included Jack Scanlon, with Gabe and Stella, Butch Chambers with Quinn, Phyllis McGinn with Louie and Frank Durham with Magic. The winner was
Marston Jones with Rex of Rainbow Farm. Rex, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was perfect in the last series. By lining the blind Rex left no doubt about who won.
MDWFA, the voice of waterfowlers in Maryland, wishes to thank everyone who helped with this event. Great appreciation goes to Butch Chambers for putting this stake together and for volunteering the use of Lowes Ramble Farm for all series.

2008 Maryland Waterfowlers Association Gundog Championship

Mike Boyle with Toots
Mike Boyle with Toots

On December 7, 2008 the Maryland Waterfowlers Association held it’s third annual Maryland Gundog Championship in Trappe, MD. This event is open to all breeds and is specifically oriented towards finding the best gunning dog. The event features a simple yet effective scoring system that separates the dogs. All dogs are handled to the marks and only whistle commands are used to mark the dogs down. That is until the final series where in addition to the number of whistle commands given the dogs are timed to see who can complete the retrieves in the shortest amount of time. Here is how this years event unfolded.

It was cold and blustery with northwest winds up to 30 mph; a real ducking day for the 16 stalwart dog-handler teams. They were judged by Mike Galante from Preston and Matt Mahoney of Oxford, both experienced dog men and avid waterfowlers. Sponsored by Avery Outdoors, who provided a variety of prizes for each entrant and some phenomenal prizes for finalists there was more at stake than just a trophy and pride. However the winner would also receive a beautiful crystal trophy and retain possession of the perpetual Mayors Trophy, named for Steve Meyer (aka ” The Mayor of Seneca”) founder of MDWFA. Also sponsoring the event wasTudor Farms, who generously donated enough mallards so that 2 live :” flyers” could be shot in each series. The flyers presented not only realistic hunt conditions but also a challenge for the handlers to steady their dogs in every series.

In the first series the dog was required to pick up a short blind (unseen bird) bird. Then on return 2 fliers were shot simultaneously. This distraction proved to be the separating factor for some of the entries. After retrieving the first three birds a longer blind retrieve was run downwind from the short flyer’s fall. A real challenge for these very intense canine competitors. Since a penalty was assessed for each whistle blown, the best jobs were handed in by dogs who took straight lines to each bird.

The next series two more fliers, 180 degrees apart were shot by the gunners. This time the dogs worked over water on a pond that is actually hunted during the regular waterfowl season. Then a long blind over land and water was required. The challenges for the first two series, although difficult, did exactly what they were intended to do. Separate the dogs and handlers from the field. This separation allowed the judges to tally the whistle commands used and announce that only half of the original field of 16 dogs would return for the final series.

The final series was a triple marked retrieve using two flyers plus a short bird thrown behind the dog. But before any marked retrieve could be picked up, a long blind across the pond was used to challenge the handler’s ability to control their dog and send them in a direction that required the dog to trust the handler. If any of the first three birds were brought back the dog was dropped. This so called “poison bird blind” is the mark of a truly trained “finished” retriever who must do as its handler asks rather than what instinct dictates. A testament to the quality of teams in the finals only one dog was dropped for picking up a poison bird first and this dog had been a previous year’s winner! To assure a clear winner and to further challenge the teams, the final round was timed in the case a tie in the number of whistles needed to complete the tasks was recorded. As expected there was a tie and the winner was decided by time. Toots, owned and handled by Mike Boyle of Elkton was crowned as the Maryland Gundog Champion for 2008. Congratulations to Mike and Toots for outstanding work!

The Maryland Waterfowlers Association would like to thank all of the volunteers and especially Butch Chambers who organized and ran the event. If you are interested in entering next years event simply send an email to and an application will be sent to you once the 2009 event is set.

Youth Hunt – November 1, 2008

Jack with Will
Jack with Will

The Maryland Waterfowlers Association (MDWFA) sponsored an essay contest where youths were asked to describe why they wanted to hunt ducks and geese. One of the winners was 13 year old Will Waibel from Bel Air. Will’s prize was a youth day hunt last Saturday at Garyview Farm in Cambridge hosted by Dr Jack Scanlon.

Will with his birds
Will with his birds

More elaboration on yesterday’s wonderful youth hunt at Garyview Farm. Bill, Will’s father, is a fine gentleman. Bill is a head football coach and teacher in Bellaire. He also had guided for ducks and geese in the past and carved his own dekes (he generously gifted one to me). Bill is also a fly fisherman for trout and smallies. We had many mutual friends from my old Trout Unlimited days fishing local streams. I personally want to thank MDWFA for this opportunity to give something back and watch a boy grow into adulthood doing those things MDWFA stands for.

High School Students Lend a Hand to Help the Ducks

Students in Courtland Lilley’s Transportation Technology class at James M. Bennett High school in Salisbury, MD recently transformed 25 empty Freon canisters into Wood Duck nesting boxes. Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and to promote their come back (seasons were once closed do to low population numbers) artificial nesting boxes are placed in critical habitat locations to increase their nesting success. Wood (primarily cedar) is traditionally used to make a rectangular box that we hope they call home for a few months.


The Freon canisters were donated to Maryland Wood Duck Initiative (MWDI), extreme home makeover by Mr. Lilley’s class, and will be installed, monitored, and maintained on a Lower Shore Wood Duck box project by the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. Six of these nesting boxes are installed on Nassawango Creek in Worcester County as part of a 2008 nesting project.


As all raw material prices rise, the use of alternative sources such as this one benefits both man and nature. All eyes will be focused on the hatch/use data that comes from these boxes to evaluate their success. MDWFA works in cooperation on with MWDI on many Wood Duck box projects throughout the state to increase the success of Maryland’s Wood Duck population.


The students that participated in this project (Jalonzo Bateman, Tai’Rell Copper, Eric Farrell, Nathan Hetzler, Tim Hull, Vince Lowery, TJ Martin, Jeremay Moats, and Grendi Zunun) not only gained service learning hours required by all high school students for graduation, but a deeper knowledge of what everyone can do for their environment.




2007 Maryland Retriever Gundog Championship

Mike Galante and WOW
Mike Galante and WOW

Mike Galante of Preston MD and his dog WOW , a yellow lab, are the 2007 Maryland Gundog Champion! Congradulations Michael!!!

Other finalists are:
Kali, Jeff Riebling, Thomasville, PA
Thor, Nick Steen, Joppa, MD
Dazy, Jim McCready, Rhodsdale, MD
Mac,s Perfect Storm, Gary Lanham, Deal, MD
Jimi, Mike Moss, State College, PA
Rosie, Jim McCready, Rhodsdale, MD
Orion, Dora Newman, Bear, DE

Way to go finalists and Thanks to all who helped make the event fun and successful.