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Championship Titling - Memorable Moments

With all of the competing that has taking place since 1994, what are the most memorable moments? With so many it was tough to narrow them down to this list.

These are Craig's most memorable moments. They are listed in order from oldest to most recent.

*1995 Wisconsin Series
Dog of the Year with Buddy

OH BOY is right! Tooling around one day, Bernie Birkenholz said, "Craig, we should run that series." That's all it took. 14 tournaments and too many shells later, they were hooked. When they started, they didn't know the difference between a coon dog and a bird dog. And, to give you an idea of the infancy of the game, Bernie and Craig won an event with a 16 minute run and 3 extra shots. Of course it took some time to create their team strategy. But in the end, Craig ended up in fourth place for Dog of the Year with his family dog Buddy, an English springer.

Read about the competitive history of Bernie and Craig. And, see some pictures of them from the early days.

PHOTO: Greg Steinbach (Craig's dad, who also gets into the game on occasion), Buddy, and Craig

NOTE: the Wisconsin Series is formally titled Wisconsin Championship Hunting Series

*2000 NATHA US Open Pheasant Championship
Puppy Flusher Champion with Ebony

If you have never hunted behind a field bred English cocker, you are missing out on something special. This moment goes back to our courting days. Yup, dog and sporting clay events were where we went on our dates. : ) This run was Teri's first time running behind Ebony. At the gate, game faces were on. We were in cover over our head with a little pocket rocket. No problem. While making game we were all business. But on the retrieve, Teri couldn't help giggling at our little buddy. Even though the bird was just about as big as he was, his speed didn't slow. Ebony is owned by Chad and Yvette Koehne.

PHOTO: Chad Koehne, Ebony, and Craig

NOTE: NATHA stands for North American Tournament Hunter Association

*2001 NATHA Runner-up High Point Flusher of the Year and 2001 Wisconsin Series Runner-up Dog of the Year with Trapper
Trapper was Craig's first dog, a field bred English springer. Trapper was always as pumped to make a run as Craig, maybe even more so. And, he would let everyone know just know ready he was. Trapper was notorious for sitting patiently by Craig's side, barking at him uncontrollably, just waiting for his whistle to tweet. I guess this was just Trapper's way of telling Craig to hurry up! Competition in the Wisconsin Series and NATHA was tough. Trapper was up against some late greats: Stash, an English springer owned by Dan Sojka and Fletch, an English springer owned by Will Pick.

PHOTO: Craig and Trapper

NOTE: NBDCA stands for National Bird Dog Challenge Association, now titled the National Bird Dog Circuit (or BDC)

*2002 Wisconsin Series
Dog of the Year with Abby

During the 2001-2002 season of the Wisconsin Series, we ran our Abby, a Llewellin setter. At this time in the Series, all events counted toward Dog of the Year, so it came down to the Invitational. Teri was a rookie to the game, Craig not so much. We had to put together two clean runs to remain contenders. We did that. But, was our time enough? The final Dog of the Year standings were kept secret until the trophy presentation at the Invitational. You can imagine the suspense. And, sure enough, we ended up pulling it off. Truly a special moment for us.

PHOTO: Teri and Craig

*2002 NBDCA National Champion with Abby
Abby, like Trapper, has a very special place in our hearts. She was Teri's first dog and Craig's first attempt at training and running a pointing breed. For many years it was the four of us. When we began running Abby, we didn't expect her to do so well. In her first year in the tournament world, she earned a National bid (a time in the game where you needed to win at the state/regional level to attend). On top of this, Craig entered the pointing division with one dog, Abby, and won.


*2007 Wisconsin Series
Dog of the Year with Tesa and Dick Hynes

Tesa is a daughter of Trapper and is owned by Craig's mom and dad. Dick Hynes, who we met through Little Creek Lodge Hunt Club, quickly became friends of the family. Since Dick was a long time avid hunter, it didn't take long for him to develop a love of the game. During the 2006-2007 season, he offered to sponsor and run Tesa with Craig. This season not only gained Tesa a Dog of the Year title, it also brought us great memories.

PHOTO: Dick, Greg, and Craig

*2007 BDC World Championships
Third Place with Trigger and Jamie Palmer

Although Trigger, a German shorthaired pointer, has had many noteworthy titles added to his name (4 BDC Super Major and 2 BDC Major wins), the most memorable is the World Championships doubles run with Jamie Palmer and Craig. At the time of this run, Jamie was only 16 years old. His wonderful family was there to support him, as always. Coming off of the field they knew this was a great run. It was hard to contain emotions during the awards presentation. Running with Jamie and Trigger over the years has been truly meaningful and unforgettable.

PHOTO: Trigger, Craig, and Jamie

*2009 BDC Hall of Fame
Induction of Trapper

Trapper battled to obtained BDC Legendary Status earning 302 over the course of his lifetime. This was a time in the game when 5-3-1 BDC Championships points were prevalent. And, the concept of the BDC Major and Super Major didn't exist.

Besides Trapper's NATHA and Wisconsin Series Dog of the Year titles, his other most memorable wins included: N.A.T.H.A. U.S. Open Pheasant Championships 1996 Top Gun Puppy Flusher Reserve Champion (w/ Craig), N.A.T.H.A. U.S. Open Pheasant Championships 1999 Top Gun Flusher Reserve Champion (w/ Craig), N.A.T.H.A. U.S. Open Pheasant Championships 2002 Top Gun Flusher Champion (w/ Craig), and Wisconsin Series 1998-1999 4x Top Gun Flusher Champion (w/ Craig).

PHOTO: Trapper

*2009 BDC World Championships
Reserve Champion with Dusty and Jack Heim

We have had the pleasure of knowing Jack and Jan Heim and their hunting companions for several years now, which leads us to our next memorable moment. Jack and Craig took to the field at the 2009 World Championships with Dusty, a brittany spaniel. At the time, Jack was approaching his 70th year of life, but you couldn't tell. Anyone who knows Jack can plainly see his passion for the game and competitive spirit; something this dogs feed off of. The run earned them a reserve champion status. Old Schmucky Boy...greatly missed, not forgotten!

In 2010, the duo came back to the World Championships. In defending their title, they were able to repeat. They earned the 2010 World Championships Reserve Champion title with Annie, also owned by Jack and Jan.

PHOTO: Jack, Dusty, Annie, and Craig

*2010 BDC Hall of Fame
Induction of Abby

In Abby's lifetime, she earned 568 BDC Championship points. It was Teri's ladies third place win at the BDC Top Gun Championships that gave her the points that pushed her into Legendary Status. In 2010 she was inducted into the BDC Hall of Fame at the BDC National Championships in March. (Thank you letter to BDC, addressed to former owner Dan Sojka, after Abby's passing in July 2010.)

Abby's memorable wins included: 2001 NATHA US Open Pheasant Championship Puppy Reserve Champion (w/ Craig and Teri), 2002 NBDCA National Champion (w/ Craig), 2002 and 2003 Menz Tournament Hunter Players Championships Champion (w/ Craig and Bernie), and 2005 BDC World Championships Reserve Champion (w/ Craig and Bernie).

PHOTO: Craig, Abby, and Teri

*2010 Ruffed Grouse Championship of America

Craig believes this to be his biggest accomplishment in the 25 plus years he has owned bird dogs. Why? It tests hunter and dog on wild birds. He shares this honor with Jerry Brost, his dog Tikka, and our Llewellin setter and Abby's daughter Emily, who has only hunted wild birds. In this event, each hunter must scout and hunt cover of their choosing in a designated area. Furthermore, each hunter gets 6 shells and can put one bird dog on the ground at a time. Jerry and Craig concluded their hunt bagging 6 grouse and 3 woodcock. This win was such an honor that even Jerry had to partake in a few old fashioneds.

PHOTO: Craig, Emily, Tikka, and Jerry

*2010 and 2011 BDC Pointing Dog of the Year with Madelyn
Madelyn is the daughter of Abby and has her best qualities. Anyone who knows her will agree that she is sweetheart, who truly wants to please. The summer we learned we were expecting with Aubrey, Teri put the collar foundation on Madelyn. Craig checked her work, then picked up where she left off and finished Madelyn out steady to shot. We have been fortunate to have many people, beyond us, run Madelyn during these BDC seasons. Thank you from us and Madelyn, who loves the game too.

PHOTO: Madelyn

*2011 BDC World Championships
Dual Champion with Jackson and Mark Hanson

Jackson, a German shorthaired pointer, came into Mark's life as a 2 year old dog and we are so happy he looked to us for his training. When Mark learned about BDC events, he jumped in with both feet, eventually bringing him to the World Championships. At the time, he was relatively new to the game with only a few years under his belt. That didn't limit him. He and Craig achieved a rare feat for sure. Top Gun and Doubles World Champion Jackson had an outstanding weekend.

PHOTO: Mark, Jackson, and Craig

*2011 and 2012 Ringneck Festival Champion
Team Fly-n-Gun, which consisted of Matt Biesterveld, Jerry Brost, Mark Hillman, Dick Hynes, Jake Smazinski, and Craig, was the 2011 Ringneck Festival Champion. Success came with 18 birds harvested with three shells remaining (24 max), an average weight of 2.76 lbs, and a total weight of 49.6 lbs. The hunt took place on Wedel Farms owned by Sam and Brad Wedel of Yale, SD.

*Then Team Fly-n-Gun did it again in 2012! The team consisted of Matt Biesterveld, Jerry Brost, Mark Hillman, Jeremy Hoyt, Jake Smazinski, and Craig.  They bagged 18 birds with five shells remaining (24 max), an average weight of 2.601 lbs, and a total weight of 46.81 lbs.  This six-hour, wild bird hunt took place on the property of Larry and Dulcy Wipf of Doland, SD.

Thanks for the memories!

2011 Ringneck Festival Results and 2012 Ringneck Festival Results can be found at the Plainsville Newspaper website.

PHOTOS: 2011 Ringneck Team & 2012 Ringneck Team



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