UKC judge’s panel boasts experience
By David Magee
The 2018 Winter Classic is a UKC major event, and one of the largest and most prestigious events in the country.
The UKC is in town this weekend, starting today, for the fifth straight year. Last year boasted the biggest hunt in UKC history with over 1,100 dogs in attendance.
UKC Winter Classic judges are well qualified and come with the experience as owners, breeders and handlers. Judging the 2018 show will be Johnny Hager and Megan Perez.
Hager, 44, currently resides in Dingess, West Virginia. He is married to Christina Hager, and the two of them have four children ranging from four months old to 23 years old. Nick is their oldest at 23, followed by Brenna at 18, Makayla at 15 and Matthew at 4 months old.
Hager has owned and bred Plotts for around 30 years now. He has done his fair share of winning in both the show ring as well as the woods and always enjoyed both ends of the coonhound events.
He has been a Bench Show Judge and a Master of Hounds for about 24 years. He has judged a fair number of events, and some of his bigger events have been Plott Days, West Virginia State, Ohio State, and Winter Classic.
Perez currently resides in Clarksville, Missouri, with her husband, Danny Perez, and their kennel full of hounds. “Danny and I are a team. We are able to work, train, show, and hunt these hounds together and its a continuous passion we share and love,” she said.
Perez has been around the hounds since the day she came home from the hospital. Her parents, Cheryl Mares and Rick Rimel were avid coon hunters.
“I have been involved with coonhounds my entire life. As a young girl, barely 6 years old, I remember watching both my mom and dad load the hounds into the truck and pulling out of the driveway. At that time, they thought I was too young to go. We would get the Coonhound Bloodlines and while they were in the woods I would look at those magazines and see win pictures, and I would later attempt to make our hounds look like the ones in magazines. In doing this, I began to learn what makes a hound look the way it does.”
“When I was 13 years old, my dad gave me a puppy we named her Spring Creek Sassy. I trained her in many things. Not only did she grow to be my hunting dog, she was what taught me how to train a hound to stack and stand for a long period of time.”
The first time someone had asked Megan to show a dog for them, she was about 13. The dog was Night Heat Abby, who was owned by Don Heavin at the time. It was a local bench show at Geauga County Coonhunters Association, and Megan ended up putting a Best of Show with competition on Abby.
Megan has accomplished quite a bit since her teenage years. Sheldon Swanson had trusted her enough to contribute and take part in the Southfork River Kennel. Shes shown and won at various national level shows with a few different dogs and made a few crosses producing dogs of the same caliber.
“I had always dreamed of winning the National Grand title at Autumn Oaks,” Megan said. “I think that’s a dream that a lot of us have. In 2009, I was showing a Treeing Walker male that I owned at the time, Southfork River Wonder Boy, at the 50th annual Autumn Oaks. He was two years old and he was out of Sideshow Sunny Boy and Hares Dark Moon JJ. I went in ready and excited to show, just like any of us do, but not necessarily expecting to win. It was a surreal moment when Wayne Cavanaugh picked him as the 2009 National Grand Show Champion!”