In the Field Conversation with Chester Berry
By Tom DePriest
Chester Berry started beagling when he was ten years old. Since his father had died when Chester was only two, his brother got him started by going rabbit hunting. Chester said he and his brother hunted a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. They just had rabbit dogs at the time. It wasn’t until 1980 that field trials came into the picture. Chester went to West Alabama Beagle Club to observe a field trial. The next day he took some males back to compete. From that point forward he was hooked. Grey’s Linesman was the focus of his breeding program at that time, but he had exhausted the line in his kennel and needed a male to introduce to his string. That need would lead him to buy a seven-month-old pup from the daughter of Ollie Scott. That young pup was Del Ray Stubby. Ollie was the breeder of Del Ray Stubby and responsible for his start. Chester bought Del Ray sight unseen and would hunt him for three seasons. Then SPO trials came along. The first licensed trial was in 1981 at Pontotoc Beagle Club where Del Ray would place second. Another second came at South Mississippi and he won the fifteen inch male class at King City in 1982. Stubby was five years old at this time. His next win would be at Robeson County Beagle Club in the thirteen inch class. His third win came in 1982 at Central Alabama in the thirteen inch class. Del Ray would finish the following fall by winning at Cohutta Beagle Club in Dalton, GA. These were basically the only field trials for SPO at this time. In 1981 there were only four licensed AKC trials for SPO. Del Ray Stubby was the first male to finish with all wins and points in SPO. Another first for Stubby was to be advertised in Hounds and Hunting as an SPO stud dog. Unfortunately, Del Ray would die one year after he finished following a battle with kidney disease. However, his impact on beagling was far from over.
Del Ray Stubby would help to propel Chester into the beagling limelight. Chester said all he did was take Del Ray to the trials and he would steal the show. Chester said many people still remember his King City run. Del Ray ran the front during the first and second series. In the winners pack though, he just cut the pack up. That was common place for Del Ray. He could run a rabbit better than any dog out there. Chester believes Stubby would even do well today. He could run with the big dogs and cut them or take the front on slow dogs. Chester could not remember the number of field champions produced, but as you look at pedigrees you will see Del Ray’s name on a regular basis.
To read the remainder of this article, please see page 44 of our September issue.