How It Began
In 2009-10 myself, Allen Rosenbarger, a coon hunter of 25 years and Black & Tan guy, had made the decision to trade in his passion of coon hunting for the day time excitement of squirrel hunting. Work and coon hunting is a hard mix, so for many years prior I had used my hounds in the pursuit of coon & squirrel, more so for coon, but the occasional squirrel hunt with hounds was just as fun. In the first year of hunting solely squirrel with the hounds I enjoyed it, but felt I was only pursuing this new adventure with half of the necessary equipment. I needed to select a dog that was bred and designed for the specific game I now pursued. I was familiar with some Cur dogs, however, I really didn’t know any bloodlines or traits specific to these breeds. I began with looking on the UKC forums, Squirrel Dog Central, and any other groups dedicated to the squirrel hunting sport. I also watched the conversations of hunters of Cur, Feist, and other breeds to help determine what may suit my wants and needs best. During this educational period I noticed that unlike the hounds I was so familiar with there was very few Associations for these breeds. The hounds have one for every breed. These dogs had little representation other than the OMCBA & ATFA, so the questions started. What is the breed? Mountain Feist v. Treeing Feist, Hound bred in or no Hound? First off, let me just say some of the answers given weren’t the friendliest and lines were being drawn. As a new guy this was very confusing, and not very welcoming to the sport. Treeing Feist and Mountain Feist traits and hunting abilities, the fact they they where able to use all three senses with a heavy drive to hunt had caught my eye. After some serious research I decided on the Mountain Feist breed!
The Birth of the MFA
I started digging further into the breed in 2013/14. What I found was there had never been a true breed standard for the Mountain Feist! NKC had and does use the Treeing Feist standard for both breeds! I started asking for the opinions of other hunters on the differences between the two breeds. What a debate that started! Certain guys screamed, “There is NO difference!”. Meanwhile others, including myself, saw there obviously was. During the battle to share my opinion that there was obvious physical and hunting trait differences, I was contacted by a gentleman by the name of John Roberts Williamson. He reached out to me through a private message that read, “I agree with you. We need our own breed standard and association. Call me.”
Building the Group
In the early part of 2014. John and myself started discussing how to create a Mountain Feist Association and who would be on the board of directors if we did. John suggested I reach out to Marcus Gray of Gray Mountain Feist. I did and Marcus and I had our first conversation about what we, John and I, intended to do and why. It was simple really, I just stated that I thought we needed representation, to be defined as a breed, our own breed standards, and to protect the lineage of the Mountain Feist. The three of us agreed, so John suggested using Facebook to spread our message. I had never been on Facebook so I was a little skeptical about what kind of impact it would have. But I created the MFA page and things really took off from there. Next the LLC was created and we started gathering members. Earl Reynolds, also on the BOD and owner of Reynolds Mountain Feist, had been following our discussions and was now fully on board supporting our mission too. The new FB group members started pouring in and from there our BOD positions were filled with guys like Landon Hinkle and Steve Long.
What do we stand for
Believe it or not our mission statement was easy, with little debate from any of us. Our goals were to protect the bloodlines and to be a lobbyist for the breed. The hard thing was how? We knew we first needed a breed standard. No kennel club other than NKC recognized the Mountain Feist but had no breed standard specific to the breed, so we would have to come up with one on our own. That’s when in 2014 I decided to ask for the help of UKC. I reached out to Todd Kellams VP at UKC by email. Todd was very receptive to this ideal and called me shortly after the original email. He loved it and was glad to see squirrel hunting breeds getting organized. He passed me on to Vicky Rand, head of the breeds committee for UKC and a terrific person to work with. She asked, “What makes you different from the Treeing Feist?” So we started gathering that information from participating members, long time breeders, and the BOD. We then scripted the draft of breed standards and with very little disagreement, most determined that the pricked ears, 18″ max. height, and of 30lbs & under set them apart from the Treeing Feist. Those who were opposed to this standard and the separation of the breeds made sure we heard about it. They believed the breed should remain the same and be recognized as one like in years past. They believed we were “purists” attempting to allude to some idea that there was such a thing as a 100% pure bred Mountain Feist. That was not our stance but we did know that certain lines produced those pricked ears, 18″ max. height, and 30lbs and under dogs. Despite the naysayers we presented this to UKC and with Vicki Rands and UKC approval, the first ever Mountain Feist Standard was created and our breed was now recognized by UKC! I was excited to register my Rosie female and my male Bandit to become the first male and female UKC registered Mountain Feist ever.
There has been many misconceptions from plenty of people about our mission so let me make a few things clear. We do not want to be a registry. We do not hold hunts (we may participate or sponsor) but the hunts will be by a recognized Kennel Club. We do not want to change the Treeing Feist. We only want to protect the historical bloodlines of the Mountain Feist breed. We are an advocate for our breed and are working hard to get all kennel clubs to recognize our breed and breed standards.