Thirty-some springs ago two friends and I loaded up our bird dogs and headed east to J & H Game Farm near Shiocton. It was there we competed against 60 other handlers and their dogs in a two-day National Shoot to Retrieve Association (NSTRA) field trial.
Trucks, cars and dog trailers overflowed the gravel parking lot. Many dogs were staked out in the grass, some walked by the sides of their owners on leashes, while still others barked protest from dog crates back in scattered vehicles.
Organizers and judges of the trial stood by the clubhouse, taking in registrations and entry fees. We watched from the sidelines, taking it all in. For us, this was the big times – the Olympics of gun dog field trials.