Blackbelt Retrievers was based off a long hunting relationship that dates back to 2000. At first, owners, Brandon Smith (left) and Mark Bedsole (right) just wanted “duck dogs” but then really began to see how much more a retriever could be. The two started running AKC/UKC Hunt Test with their personal dogs around 2001, they became fascinated with the intricacies of getting everything they could out of a retriever. So, before too long, people would hunt over their dogs and ask a lot of questions…one thing led to another and they began to take other dogs to train. Finally, in 2010 the two built a kennel on 120 acres of rolling pasture land near Demopolis; soon a 4 acre Tech Pond and all the “stuff” that goes with it. In 2019 we expanded with another indoor 30 slip kennel that is heated and cooled and added 5 outdoor play/airing yards. In 2023 we added another location in Wisconsin! Blackbelt Retrievers – Great Lakes and added Anthony Cavalli-Singer to the team.
Mark is married to Jennifer; they have 3 boys, John David, Thomas, and Andrew. Mark is also a forester, hobbies include: baseball with the boys, turkey hunting, cook outs with the family at the kennels, volunteering at Trinity Episcopal Church, Kairos Prison Ministries.
Brandon is married to Kelley with 2 children, Camilla and Crosby. Brandon’s hobbies include: boat rides with kids, turkey hunting (or turkey missing), Sunday drives with the family, volunteering at Fairhaven Baptist Church, Kairos Prison Ministries.
Anthony was first introduced to gun dogs at the age of 10 by his grandfather and uncle. When he was 17 he was given a Lab (Henry) and actually had it trained at Blackbelt! A few years later he bought a Lab (Annie) from Blackbelt. After completing college at the Univ of Minn Anthony moved to Alabama and worked at Blackbelt to get a better understanding of gun dogs. This move led to our expansion to the Great Lakes in 2023!
Mark is an award winning Knitter…and had higher batting avg. in high school than former Yankee, Andy Phillips
Brandon is the current Leg Wrestling Champion of North Dakota
Anthony is also an accomplished birdhouse builder and has taken numerous county fair ribbons with his working knowledge of the exact dimensions of a GREAT bird nest!
Our kennel was finished in 2010 and comes complete with 14 individual indoor/outdoor runs for dogs. Every dog has a clean, safe, individual run in our kennel where they are protected from the weather while having indoor and outdoor areas individually. During the hot summer months, the inside areas are air-conditioned. During the cold winter months, the inside areas are heated. Each run has a 4’x5’ inside area with a barrel house and a 4’x6’ outside area. Each run is cleaned twice a day and all dogs have unlimited water. Each dog is fed PURINA PRO dog food for optimal nutrition. As dogs are trained, they are checked physically to ensure they are healthy as our first priority is the care of all dogs in training. All dogs are supervised and allowed to run and play in our 5,000sq foot fenced-in play yard twice per day, this helps grow dog socialization while limiting anxiety.
Our location is ideal for waterfowl hunting training. We have constructed a 3 acre technical pond complete with duck blinds, cypress trees, points, and varying water depths so that dogs are exposed to all hunting environments. Dog that go through training here are exposed to situations similar to timber duck hunts, rice-field hunts, blind hunts, river hunts, lake hunts, and field hunts. We created this kind of a facility so that different hunting environments do not surprise graduates from Blackbelt Retrievers.