National Open Shooting Dog Championship
Union Springs, Ala. — High Drive Rocky, four-year-old white and black pointer male owned by Allen Linder of Livingston, Tenn., and handled by George Tracy, was named National Open Shooting Dog Champion by the advertised judges, Johnny Atkinson, Bobby Fox and Don May, at the conclusion of the running. No runner-up is named in this stake.
Braces are ninety minutes long and four braces are run each day under ordinary circumstances. Monday, February 4, was the starting date; the last brace was run Sunday afternoon, February 10.
Sedgefields Plantation at Union Springs, Ala., has become the home of this Championship and no finer grounds could be found for this event. Alvin Nitchman once described Sedgefields as the “greatest field trial grounds in America.” The dentist from Cranbury, N. J., was correct. Grounds don’t get any better than Sedgefields Plantation, especially for a good-going shooting dog championship.
Lots of improvements have been made on the grounds and the field trial facilities. Another bedroom has been added to the clubhouse for use by the club officials. New roads have been made throughout the plantation. Creek crossings continue to be improved for the safety of horses and riders. It seems like the improvements at Sedgefields are a work in progress — never ending.
Without the generosity of Raymond Harbert this event could not have been held at Sedgefields. He has gone far beyond what the Championship’s directors expected from the plantation when the stake was moved from Hoffman, N. C. Everyone is made to feel welcome and everyone is treated well.
Jason Howard is plantation manager and he sees that everything from light bulbs to mowing courses and other important things are taken care of. Jason is a genteel man, concerned about the plantation as well as the field trial.
Bill Lee served as marshal along with his son Ed and Clay Corbett. But Bill Lee is more than the marshal; he is interested in the field trial and its wellbeing, and works year-round not only to improve the plantation but also the two Championships that run on Raymond Harbert’s holdings in Bullock County. He knows about dogs, horses and fairness.
Sedgefields is near the rural town of Union Springs — truly a unique municipality as far as field trials are concerned. The community is definitely involved in the Championship and other field trials in the area. The Tourism Council of Bullock County strongly supports field trials. The National Open Shooting Dog Championship, the Gulf Coast Championship and the National Amateur Free-for-All Championship bring dollars and people to the town of about 4,000 residents.
The Tourism Council had someone serving breakfast each morning and helped with other functions of the trial. It was nice to see Diane Renfroe, the late Billy “Scope” Renfroe’s wife, serving breakfast with other board members.
Some merchants on Main Street had windows decorated honoring field trials since the Amateur Free-for-All follows this Championship in about ten days.
At road crossings Charles Klinck was always there to trailer a horse if one needed such service. Heather Klinck performed any service that helped visitors to Bullock County. She made sure everything went smoothly as far as the community was concerned.
Harold Johnson, whose good pointer Street Sense died last summer, trailered horses from one point to another also. The long and short of it is that local folks, the business community, the local government of Union Springs are involved.
Quail were plentiful, ranging from 26 coveys per six hours of running to a low of one. Readers realize that finding quail depends on several factors, especially pointers and setters that are well trained and have the God-given talent to find game. The quail were healthy, good flying birds.
Weather is described in the brace by brace account. Part of the fourth day was lost due to rain. Some days were hot, some days just right.
President Jerry Champion directed the mechanics of the trial, making sure that every detail was covered and Vice-President Joe Maddox rode several days.
Ray Jeffers was Johnny-on-the-spot with the dog truck, which also was loaded with refreshments. He is an asset to any field trial and the field trial fraternity.
Meals were served free of charge to anyone who cared to come. Becky Champion headed up a crew made up of Stephanie Smith, Jean May, Bobbie Smith, Amy Roberts, Reba Jeffers and Lindsey Roberts.
Jim Smith from Purina was present for a few days and rode several braces. Purina has been a strong supporter of this Championship for at least 15 years. Their support is greatly appreciated.
Plantation Supply and Purina provided dinner one night. Seems like most of Union Springs turned out for the event. B&B Saddles also made a contribution to the Championship and one of its saddles was given to the owner of the winner.
The judges were three well known gentlemen from different parts of the South. Johnny Atkinson, Bobby Fox and Don May are well known in the sport. The bottom line is that they did a really good job of zeroing in on the main purpose of the National Open Shooting Dog Championship: to find a real sure enough National Open Shooting Dog Champion.
Action came fast and furious at times during this event. If some finds or other things go without a description in this report it is not intentional.
THE WINNER AND OTHERS
High Drive Rocky ran in the 21st brace on the third course that begins at the field trial barn and ends at the gate to the south Duck Pond. George Tracy had handled Erin’s War Creek through the same country two days earlier when War Creek had ten finds, so he knew where he was going.
A detailed description on Rocky’s performance is described in the brace-by-brace account below so we will just emphasize the most outstanding parts of his performance.
From the breakaway one had the feeling that something special was going to happen. There was excitement in the air. Allen Linder was riding in the gallery. He had expressed his pleasure of owning Rocky, due to his recent runner-up in the Georgia Shooting Dog Championship.
From the 1:30 p. m. breakaway until his finish, Rocky never let up. He was full speed ahead at all times, no matter how high or thick the cover was. It is agreed that he was a handful at times and that he was scouted some, but in most cases when he was scouted he was to the front and the scouting wasn’t necessary, just a precaution.
Rocky hunted every step he took, not just racing up and down horse tracks, but hitting cover that other dogs went around. It seemed the only thing on his mind was finding quail no matter where he had to go.
And he found game, tallying five finds in his 90 minutes. The best one was probably No. 4. George Tracy’s scout found him far to the left in a thicket — a beauty of a find. All his finds were to the front, usually limb finds.
It was noted earlier that Rocky wasn’t just running but hunting. That is based on his six finds, all well spaced out over the 90 minutes; one could say he was hunting from the get-go until the end.
Rocky is beautifully finished around game, never letting down at flush or shot, but acknowledges his handler as the handler walks back toward him after the shot. A trait not all pointers possess.
At about the hour mark, Tracy rode up a covey of quail. Rocky happened to be crossing the front as the quail flew. He slammed into point, honoring the flight. He stood stanuchly until Tracy rode to him and shot, something not often seen these days.
Rocky is four years old and could be a poster dog for the pointer breed. He was bred by Carl and Sue Lefler who live in the tiny village of Georgeville near Concord, N. C. The Leflers have bred many outstanding pointers for field trials and hunting, among them: Rocky River Buck, Rocky River Master, Rocky River Hawk and Lucky Country Boy.
Carl Lefler works dogs with Tommy Kimrey of Albemarle, N. C., several days a week. Tommy bred Carolina Storm which won the National Open Shooting Dog Championship in 2002 with John Ray Kimbrell blowing the whistle when the running was at Shell Creek Plantation near Catherine, Ala.
Carl and Tommy don’t attend many field trials; they just breed and train good shooting dogs.
Rocky was a stud puppy for a litter bred by the Leflers. His sire is No Rules, his dam, Rocky River Suzie. No Rules was sired by Rock Acre Blackhawk. Rocky River Suzie was a female that the Leflers had put all of the genes of Bases Loaded into that they could. She has produced several winners.
High Drive Rocky is not the first winner of the National Open Shooting Dog Championship that Allen Linder is associated with. He and the late Gary Howell owned Bly Spy Master which won the Championship in 1995 under the tutelage of Mike Wrenn. There are those who have followed this Championship who think Spy Master’s performance ranks among the best in the history of the stake.
Allen Linder has supported shooting dogs stakes, both open and amateur, for a long time. He had six entries in this event.
Linder received Rocky and a female littermate from the No Rules-Rocky River Susie mating as stud puppies. He kept the pair at home and Rocky’s early development was under Linder’s guidance along with help and advice of Buddy Morrison.
When asked what he liked about Rocky most of all, he replied: “He is a powerful dog,” then pointed out that during Rocky’s 90 minutes he never slowed up. He is right about that.
Before turning Rocky over to George Tracy, Rocky had seven placements. He now has nine. As a Derby he had three shooting dog placements, one amateur and two open shooting dog placements. He was named the Southern Circuit Dog of the Year as a Derby.
Both Morrison and Linder feel Rocky has a lot to pass on to the next generation of shooting dogs because they say he is so powerful, a real bird dog and is trainable.
This is the third win of the National Open Shooting Dog Championship for George Tracy. He had won previously with Calico’s Lap Dancer in 2003 and last year with Sugarknoll Snow Warning. There is really nothing one can say about George Tracy that hasn’t been said. So to put things into the right perspective he is one of the greatest bird dog field trial trainers of all time.
Several other entries impressed, perhaps five were considered at one time or the other. Three of these five were handled by George Tracy and owned by Allen Linder. As one handler said, “They were ready for this trial.”
Less than ten entries finished the hour and a half heat, not because they weren’t in condition to go the 90 minutes but because the handlers knew from the beginning of the stake that a high standard had been set by Calico’s Dyno Mite in the first brace. Dyno Mite ran a good race and had five finds. In times past, dogs with lesser performances have been named champion. He was handled by George Tracy and also owned by Allen Linder.
Another entry that pressed for recognition was Erin’s War Creek, which had an exceptional 90 minutes. There were some who thought Creek should have been named champion. Creek was handled by George Tracy. Guess who owns him — Allen Linder.
Creek had ten finds. Judge Johnny Atkinson said, “Not one bobble.” There was some criticism of Creek’s ground work — but he was on point often and was found on point six times in the 90 minutes.
In the open country, near the Avant line, Creek reached to the end of the big fields then at the finish, just past the hog traps, Tracy sat still on his grey horse and watched Creek fade from sight going toward the ladies’ restroom. He was plenty strong.
By now the reader realizes that the Tracy-Linder team had three outstanding entries in the 2013 National Open Shooting Dog Championship.
Another favorite of those who rode most braces was Sedge Surfer, owned by Bill Perry, bred by Tim Moore and handled by Doug Ray. The Perry pointer had a near perfect ground race for 70 minutes and six finds. Near the end of the heat, after crossing Sedgefields Road, his application wasn’t as good as the first part of the hour, but more than adequate. Ray watered Surfer at 86 and his finish could have been better. However it was a creditable performance with race, bird work and excitement.
Cassique’s Blue Ridge, another Doug Ray handled pointer, thrilled with her ground race but she likely didn’t have enough bird work; only two finds.
Doug Ray, like George Tracy, came to Sedgefields “ready.”
After a short welcome and a few instructions, Calico’s Dyno Mite (G. Tracy) and Skydancer Dancing Bell (Shawn Kinkelaar) were released at 8:00 a. m., sent toward the Fork Church. The setter Bell hunted the long edges on the swamp side, while Mite hunted the edge and area along Sedgefields Road. The usual covey along the road wasn’t home today; Tracy gathered up Mite and joined Kinkelaar and Bell at the gate to hunt toward the Mossy Oak country. Both applied themselves well, Bell making some good moves, Mite always forward it seemed. Just before reaching the Mossy Oaks Tracy called point, indicating Mite standing far ahead, a pretty picture in the morning sunlight. Tracy flushed a large covey, shot, gathered everything up and joined Kinkelaar at the front. Bell went left, Kinkelaar sent his scout Taylor to look. He found the white and black setter standing. Kinkleaar arrived to flush, everything in order. Six minutes later Kinkelaar called point for Bell, another good piece of bird work for the first year setter.
Mite was sailing through the countryside, never scouted, hitting cover. At 60 Tracy pointed Mite out going away then called point, pointing out Mite about a half-mile ahead. A beautiful find, handled just right. Things started heating up. The gallery began to get excited.
The setter was applying himself well and it paid off at 65 with a good find when Kinkelaar flushed a big covey that scattered into the small pine thicket ahead. Bell then pointed about 200 yards ahead. Kinkelaar flushed, a single lifted. Bell moved toward the airborne quail a few feet too far. She was taken up.
Mite crossed the front, slid into point and Tracy flushed a single, all in order, probably a bird from the covey that Bell had pointed earlier. At 60 Tracy called point again, rode toward Mite and the covey lifted as handler approached. Dog behaved, Tracy shot, good bird work. For the next 30 minutes Mite hunted to the front, showing on the far hillsides just as strong as he was when he broke away. He had an unproductive at 45, then went bird hunting, always in the right place at the right time it seemed. Just before pickup Tracy pointed Mite heading south of the Coke barn, still full of energy. He finished far to the front. Good performance for Mite. A great way to start a trial. Seven covey this brace — five handled correctly by Mite, and two by Bell, plus two single finds.
Grand Heritage Motion (Jeanette Tracy) and Max Jack’s Butch (Jack Herriage). After a short break at the Coke barn site, all arranged by Ray Jeffers, this mixed pair began at 9:56 heading toward the Joe Varner line. Motion had a find at 10, the pretty moving setter outstanding on point with excellent manners to boot. Jeanette Tracy, all 5 foot 4 inches of her, mounted her 17.2 black horse, hurried Motion to the front. Herriage had Butch on the far edges of the big field before the Joe Varner line, eating the edges up, but no game by 30. Handlers sent Motion and Butch into the big country of the triangle. Herriage had his hands full trying to get Butch to take advantage of the big country near the cattle ranch line. Motion took better advantage on the edges to show her heels. She was then far ahead on point at 50. Butch came in and failed to back properly and was taken up. Motion held her ground through these carryings-on, never letting down. In the area near May Pola’s house, Motion’s range began to dim and by the time the course reached the chicken dump Jeanette decided she wasn’t beating the performance of her “Old Man” and she took Motion up. Motion had two finds during her 70 minutes. Butch had no game. He was seen standing at 40 but Herriage didn’t flush, claiming instead he was backing a large bunch of grass.
Spectacular Attraction (Eddy Taylor) and Erin’s War Creek (G. Tracy) were released behind the field trial barn at 1:30 p.m. A large gallery was riding to enjoy the afternoon. Weather for the day was about perfect — blue skies and temperatures in the 30s early and low 60s by lunch time. Point was called at 4, both pointers standing about 20 feet off a plum thicket. Both handlers tried to flush. Tracy put quail in the air. Attraction flagged a little then took a step or two then another step or two. Taylor took her up. All the while Creek stood his ground. Tracy sent Creek straight ahead across a hay field then found him standing 15 minutes later, a covey directly in front of him, well located with style to burn plus excellent manners. What happened for the next 50 minutes is something seldom seen these days. Eight coveys were pointed, all handled well. On two occasions quail lifted as Tracy rode to the stylish immobile pointer. Finds were at approximately 25, 30, 35, 38, 43, 48 and 80 after the first two. Earlier, at 20, Tracy called point, rode to the standing dog, couldn’t flush and asked Judge Atkinson to come look. A freshly killed quail was on the ground, a hawk lifting as Tracy tried to flush.
At 53 Creek was gone for awhile then Doug Ray called point from the gallery. Tracy rode back to the standing dog. Ray said quail had lifted. Tracy took Creek to the front without trying to flush. “George Tracy might teach a few people a little something about handling field trial dogs,” said Judge Atkinson. In the open country near the Avant line Tracy took the bridle off Creek and he responded by reaching to the far ends of the big open country. He hunted the country near the hog traps, then the terrain opened up again just in time for Creek to finish in the open country. Again the white and liver pointer took advantage of big open country. Tracy stopped his horse as did the judges and watched Creek fade out of sight. Then Judge May called time. The Tracys cantered their horses to get the far-reaching pointer. Ten coveys this heat, all handled well by Creek. The first was counted a divided find.
Ray Jeffers was in the right place again with the dog truck loaded with refreshments. Merrihill’s Carolina (Kinkelaar) and Conecuh Station’s Fadeaway (Ray) started at the gate to the south Duck Pond. Well liked Tony Gibson of Union Springs was riding to watch Doug Ray handle Fadeaway. They sped away, Carolina far ahead in the open country on an edge, Fadeaway hunting in the tall pine country early. They were gathered up at the south Duck Pond and sent toward Mote Crossing and Turkey Hill. Carolina had an unproductive at 35, a find near the Bill Lee house, then faded to the front out of sight not to be returned to judgment. Fadeaway got stronger with time and better at choosing the right objectives. Ray called point at 40 for the Gibson female, all in order at flush. Her next find, at 40, was on a sunny hillside beyond Bill Lee’s house. The course then turned toward Town Creek where Fadeaway had an unproductive just before the Stone line. Ray then sent her down the Stone line where she had another find — her bird work just like it is should be. Four coveys this brace, three handled well by Fadeaway, one by Carolina.
The second morning began under clear skies, temperature about 40° and a weatherman calling for rain showers.
Andrea Clark was riding to watch her multiple-champion Klee’s Shooting Star (Mike Tracy). Dr. Bob Dow jad come from Arkansas to see his Max Jack’s Tot (Herriage). Released at 7:57 a. m.they raced side by side for awhile then Tot went left and was returned to the front at 10 at the gate behind the Fork Road Church. They were released again and directed toward the Mossy Oak area. Not much was seen of Tot and just beyond the dam of the big lake Herriage asked for his tracker. Star’s first stand proved to be fruitless, charged with an unproductive. She hunted the area along Hardaway Road then crossed Plantation Road, made the turn toward the big lake and was pointed out far ahead standing. The results, after a relocation, was the flush of the covey that Cassique Boss had two years ago — all in good order. Tracy sent her on toward the hill country; the white and liver female reached to the far ends of the course. At 59 she had a second find then a stand where Tracy said a single left but no game was seen officially. He watered Star, started to mount but didn’t before Judge Atkinson asked him to take her up. Three coveys were pointed or seen during this short brace.
Ray Jeffers had the dog wagon at the Coke barn in plenty of time for everyone to enjoy refreshments before Erin’s Silver Wings (G. Tracy) and Sliced Bread (Stacy Perkins) were released. Wings broke straight ahead. Bread went left. Tracy called point on the breakaway. A covey of about 40 quail, according to Bill Lee, flushed, Wings withstanding the temptation of chasing one that nearly hit him in the head at flush. All in order for this find. Perkins was trying hard to keep in touch with Bread early; the strong striding pointer was “carrying the mail” as they say. Wings had another find at 15, the well located covey rising from a ditch as George Tracy walked toward Wings, all in order at this piece of bird work. Perkins was showing Bread often enough, usually on a far away hillside, reaching for the next hill. Meanwhile, Wings hunted more moderately and had another mannerly find at 25 in the tall sedge cover. In the triangle area Bread was charged with an unproductive. Wings was credited with a back here. Bread disappeared after the hour, not to be returned to judgment. Before May Pola’s house Wings began to cut some of his casts short and Tracy took him up. Four pieces of bird work, all by Wings.
Skies were beginning to look like rain, forecasters predicting it. George Tracy said there would be no rain until after the day’s running.
Stormin Steely Dan (Herriage) and Klee’s Handsome Hank (M. Tracy) were started behind the field trial barn at 1:30. Charlie Jackson and Mike McClanahan were riding to support Dan, both happy as usual and a delight to others riding. In the big hay fields Dan was seen only once or twice. Jerry Hailey, scouting for Herriage, stayed out a lot. Hank was more bidable and more moderate in range. Point was called for Dan at 14 but it turned out that point wasn’t really called. Someone in the gallery didn’t see what they thought they saw. Herriage and Hailey worked fiercely to keep Dan in hand but Dan finally won the battle and was gone for the day. Tracy called point for Hank at 15, flushed a covey from the heavy cover, manners acceptable at flush. The Duerkson contender is named correctly. Hank is a good looking pointer. At about the hour Tracy decided he wasn’t making any money and took Hank up. Only one covey pointed by Hank early in the hour.
Sedge Surfer (Ray) and High Drive Cobra (G. Tracy) started at the gate to the south Duck Pond, just off what used to be Sedgefields Road. Surfer and Cobra hit the course in the tall pines before the duck pond and action came quickly. Ray called point at 10; Cobra came in to back. A beautiful picture — both dogs standing in tall sedge, quail flushing as Ray walked into cover. Manners just as they should be. The pair of fleet footed pointers were sent toward Turkey Hill; Mote Crossing was reached, then the Avant line. Surfer was reaching to the limits, Cobra taking the Avant line to the far front. About middle way up Turkey Hill Ray called point for Surfer again at 21. He was standing beautifully in tall cover and didn’t let down as Ray flushed, shot and took hold of his collar — exciting. Ten minutes later Ray was off his horse again flushing a big covey in front of Surfer, again all in order. The Bill Perry pointer had another find at 38. Man, oh man, a sure enough good one. He had everyone’s attention now.
Cobra was hunting to the front but not connecting with game. Surfer was found on point at 38 by Tim Moore, Ray’s scout. The same procedure was followed. Flush, shot, great style and good manners. In the area past Turkey Hill, going to Bill Lee’s house, Ray showed his confidence in Surfer, sending him to the far away bottoms then calling on him so that the white and liver pointer would cross the front to be sent ahead. Cobra and Surfer hunted the Town Creek bottoms both reaching in the tall sedge brush. Near the stone line at 60 Ray called point again. Cobra came in, didn’t back just right and was taken up. Surfer’s manners remained intact through all of this. In the bottoms before the Stone line Surfer seemed to close in a little but there was plenty of range and speed left. The Stone line area was hunted and Sedgefields Road crossed into the railroad country. Ray watered Surfer at 86 then sent him toward what used to be the Herb Holmes place. Then Judge Fox called “Pick him up”. It had been an exciting 90 minutes — good bird work, good ground work. What we came to see. This brace produced six coveys, five by Surfer and one by Cobra.
The third day began with a heavy cover of fog and it was friendly because it stayed around for two hours. The breakaway was at 9:38 a. m. under clear skies and warm temperatures.
From the breakaway both Great River Class (G. Tracy) and Jayhawk (Hailey) looked ready. Hawk went left, Class right, the Hardaway Road crossing was made and the field trial party went toward the Mossy Oak country with Class up front, Hawk to the left toward the big lake. Jack Herriage called point for Hawk at 23. The judges went toward the big lake to find Hawk standing, all in order at flush, a real limb find. Hailey then headed toward the front. Hawk nailed a single probably from the covey just flushed. Hailey gathered everything up again with the help of Jack Herriage and the large gallery then went to the front. Upon getting to the front Judge Atkinson reported that Class had a wreck and was picked up. Hailey let Hawk roam the countryside and he took advantage of his freedom. He had a find at 40 just past the dam crossing of the big lake then an unproductive at 75. His long absence before the unproductive and the unproductive conntributed to being taken up at 80. The pair of pointers produced three coveys and a single.
The break for refreshments at the Coke barn site was short due to the late start of the first brace.
Miller’s Atomic Rain (Kinkelaar) and Richfield Silver Belle (M. Tracy) began at 11:19. Rain was seen only once or twice and was counted out of judgment. This just wasn’t Belle’s day. The usually far reaching, hard charging female didn’t respond well in the 84° humid heat and was taken up at about the hour mark. There was no bird work this brace.
The weather didn’t improve any after lunch. A temperature of 85°, clear skies overhead didn’t encourage the hopes of finding quail. The setter, Octavio (M. Tracy), and and the pointer, Elhew G Force (Ray), raced across the big hay fields behind the field trial barn and headed toward the tall pines, hunted toward Town Creek, both applying themselves well in the open country. Handlers called point at about the same time. The result was a divided find. A well located covey was flushed by Tracy and Ray. The countryside toward Dan’s mountain was hunted without results. Man, it was hot. Octavio was doing a good job under the hot sun. Tracy called point near the road to Bill Lee’s home and two minutes later Doug Ray called point. Two dogs pointed at different locations this time. Neither handler could produce game; both handlers asked their dogs to relocate. Tracy flushed over a large area for a long time, finally flushing a covey about 400 feet from Octavio’s original stand. Doug Ray decided to take Force up for the day. Tracy headed Octavio to the front, sent him across Bill Lee Road and the setter slammed into a point. Tracy flushed a single, probably from the covey flushed earlier. All was in order at flush. The temperatures continued to rise and Octavio, recent winner of the Atlantic Coast Championship, was taken up. The brace produced two coveys in its 48 minutes.
R J’s Carbon Copy (G. Tracy) and Happy Tobe Here (Perkins) were away from the south Duck Pond gate. Copy was to the left, Happy to the right, and then both showed up in the bottoms before the duck pond. Tracy and Perkins rode to make sure both dogs made the turn toward Mote Crossing and Turkey Hill. Happy was out of pocket for awhile near the Avant line then returned to make the crossing of Sedgefields Road. Judge Fox reported that Copy had an unproductive at 20. At least three horses were loose with no riders on them near the road crossing; Bill Lee was terrified that someone would get hurt. Luckily no one did. Judge May reported that Happy had a breach in manners near Smith ditch and was taken up. Just past Bill Lee’s house Copy made a couple of bad moves and Tracy took him up realizing that the 81° weather was causing problems. This brace produced one covey, that by Happy Tobe Here.
The rains came Wednesday night, then again and kept coming until 10:00 a. m. Thursday morning and a half-day of running time was lost.
Pete Del Collo was in the road gallery and Chris Del Collo was riding to watch Geroge Tracy handle Sugarknoll Snow Warning. Dr. Jim Mills was riding to support and Gin Creek Onyx and help Jack Herriage keep track of the Mills pointer. Breakaway was at 1:00 p. m. in a light rain but soon the sun appeared. Warning was seen two or three times in the big hay field then reached for more open country. Onyx hunted the country before Town Creek, had a good find at 15, then hunted Dan’s mountain on the Town Creek side. Just before crossing Bill Lee Road, Tracy found Warning pointing. Gin didn’t back properly and was taken up. Tracy flushed and shot for Warning. A few minutes later Tracy asked for his tracker. Two covey this brace, one by each dog.
Moonlite Magic (G. Tracy) and Cassique’s Blue Ridge (Ray) raced away before the south Duck Pond under sunny skies. Bill and Muriel Primm were mounted to watch George Tracy handle Magic. In the big fields before Turkey Hill Magic was far ahead, faded out of sight, not to be returned. Blue Ridge hunted Turkey Hill, the Avant line then started toward Sedgefields Road when Ray called point. He rode to her, asked the judges if they saw birds. Jude May responded “No.” He reached down, took her by the collar and sent her toward Sedgefields Road and into the open country past the ladies’ restroom. She impressed with her ground work for the next 20 minutes then Ray called point at the Reed patch, a dependable covey throughout the trial, but this stand turned out to be an unproductive. Ridge then pointed about 100 yards ahead, a single was flushed. All was in order at shot. Ridge got everybody’s attention with her speed, style and application in the area along Town Creek, when she had a second find near the Stone line. Seven minutes later Ray’s scout, Tim Moore, called point for Ridge. She was standing in a green grain field pointing into cover, a beautiful picture, all in order at shot. With 11 minutes to go the course crossed Sedgefields Road toward the railroad country. Ridge finished strongly. Two coveys and one single, all by Blue Ridge.
Weather conditions had improved for the fifth day. Skies were cloudy, temperature about 50° and very wet underfoot. Avalon Creek (M. Tracy) and Conecuh’s Black Market (Ray) were away. Two minutes later Mike Tracy called point along the edge of Sedgefields Road. Judge Atkinson dismounted to get a better look into the thick cover. Tracy crashed into the thick undergrowth to flush. Creek held her ground as quail flew all around her — good work. Tracy joined Doug Ray and Market at the road crossing at the Fork Church. Handlers watered their dogs even though they had been down for only 8 minutes. The turn was made toward the big lake, both pointers up front. Ray showed Market far to the front at 20 then he was gone for the day. Creek applied herself to the country well, showing in the right places. She suffered an unproductive at 37 then another at 49 across the dam of the big lake. Creek had a good ground effort for 47 minutes and one piece of bird work.
A long break was between the first and second braces. Everyone wanted coffee. Ray Jeffers ran out of the strong black liquid. Judge Fox called for the dogs. Hot Topic (Kinkelaar) and Chiseled In Stone (J. Tracy) were off at at 9:16. Both were gone for a few minutes but were soon gathered up and sent toward the Joe Varner line. Kinkelaar called point for Topic at 30. Stone came in and backed nicely. Topic never looked exactly right so Kinkelaar moved her up about 100 feet and she pointed more positively. A large covey flushed, Topic exhibiting good behavior. While all that was going on Judge May reported that Stone had an unproductive. Before crossing the Cattle Ranch Road, Topic was far to the front. Stone went to the left and failed to return. In the triangle area, Topic put on a display of running. Kinkelaar’s scout, Eddy Taylor, was kept busy for the remainder of the hour. At the turn toward May Pola’s house Topic had another absence. Kinkelaar went to get her and returned the pointer female to the front. Before the road crossing near the chicken dump Judge May and Kinkelaar conferred, then Kinkelaar carried Topic on toward the power line and the Stone line. Topic was pointing at 75. Kinkelaar rode to her, never dismounted and sent Topic on. Before the turn at the creek crossing Kinkelaar picked up Bill and Mary Sands’ champion. This brace produced one covey, by Topic, several others ridden up during the 80 minutes.
White Spider (J. Tracy) and Calico’s Touch of Class (G. Tracy). National Open Shooting Dog Championship history was made in this brace. It was the first time a father and daughter were braced together. Everyone was pulling for Spider and Jeanette. They broke away at 1:27 p. m. going toward the big hay fields. Jeanette called point at 10, rode to the stylish setter on the edge of a grain field. Class came in to back. No game could be flushed, Spider charged with an unproductive, then had another unproductive 10 minutes later and was taken up. Class had the course to herself and Tracy encouraged her to take advantage of the situation. She hunted Dan’s mountain, then the Town Creek area and the Mossy Oak area near the Avant line. Tracy found Class on point just before crossing Bill Lee’s driveway, buried in deep cover, a good find handled correctly. Sent on, Class applied herself well enough but seemed to lose a little speed in the mud and water under footing. Tracy took the white and liver female up at about the hour mark. Only one piece of bird work this brace, it by Calico’s Touch of Class.
Great River Ice (M. Tracy) and Touch’s Hard Times (Kinkelaar): A large gallery was mounted to watch this pair of multi-champions that included Brian Sanchez to support Ice. Released under cloudy skies and a few drops of rain, they raced away into the open grain fields before the duck pond. Both pointer males had a full tank of energy — both strong and animated. Hard Times had a find at 10, all in good order at flush. Kinkelaar hurried not to let Tracy get too far in front of him. Mote Crossing and Turkey Hill were hunted today without bird work. What a difference a day makes. Sedge Surfer had three finds on Turkey Hill 48 hours earlier. Times and Ice were gathered up, sent toward Bill Lee’s house, both reaching across the big grain fields. Ice had an unproductive near Smith’s ditch, was gathered up and carried to the front to join Hard Times, then hunted the area near the North Duck Pond, had another unproductive at 40 and was taken up. Judge May reported that Hard Times had another find but wasn’t pleasing Kinkelaar and was taken up. Two coveys this short brace, both pointed by Hard Times.
The sixth morning began under clear skies, muddy underfoot and temperature about 36°. Brent Cox was riding to watch Kinkelaar handle his Cox’s Arc Fault; Jerry Hailey had Wild Covey Coldfront, the pair away at 8:04 a.m. They hunted the first open field, were gathered up and released again at the road crossing behind the Fork Church. Both pointers were out of pocket for awhile before the dam crossing without bird work at 45.
Due to some of the duties of the secretary, this reporter had to miss the last 45 minutes of this brace. Judge May reported that Fault and Front each had two finds and each had an unproductive. Four coveys were produced in this brace.
Ray Jeffers had refreshments ready at the Coke barn site. Coffee in the cool weather went fast; oatmeal cookies faster. This would be a short brace. Not’ta Snow Balls Chance (Perkins) and Cassique Low Rider (Ray) were loosed at 9:54 going toward the Joe Varner line. Rider had an unproductive at 10 then another at 23. As Joe Maddox said, “He looked good doing it.” Chance was seen little and not returned to judgment by 30.
High Drive Rocky (G. Tracy) and Wild Covey Heatwave (Hailey) started at 1:30 p.m. behind the field trial barn. Rocky’s owner, Allen Linder, was in the gallery. Rocky was gone for about 8 minutes on the breakaway, Wave taking in the big open country in big chunks. Tracy and Hailey gathered up Rocky and Wave and sent them toward Dan’s mountain. At 21 Tracy called point before the crest of Dan’s mountain, all in order for the flush. Rocky was watered and sent ahead but he didn’t make it. He was stopped by a covey that he pointed. Man, he looked good. Tracy watered Rocky again and sent him up Dan’s mountain. He faded from sight in the heavy cover.
Hailey and Herriage were doing all they could to keep in touch with Heatwave. He was a handful but so was Rocky. Mike Tracy stayed busy early on keeping track of him. At 37, going toward the ladies’ restroom, Mike Tracy called point for Rocky to the far left of the course. The pointer was buried in heavy cover. George Tracy tried to flush but couldn’t. He asked Rocky to relocate and he did — a sure enough relocation that isn’t seen too much these days. George flushed, shot and took Rocky by the collar to get him out of the sticky briars. A limb find, handled correctly.
For the next 20 minutes Tracy policed Rocky through a pine and hardwood area, barely able to hold on to him. Still in the woods and sedge cover area Rocky had his fourth find at 60 in heavy cover handled right. Tracy then sent Rocky toward the Avant line. Handler rode up a covey of quail just as Rocky crossed the front. Rocky alertly stopped for flight. This got everybody’s attention. During this, Hailey took Heat up.
In the big red field just before the Avant line George Tracy turned Rocky loose and he responded by reaching the far hedgerows, taking the field edge to the end, then turned toward the ladies’ restroom. Rocky was AWOL for a few minutes but soon returned from the rear near the hog traps. He was watered then sent toward Smith ditch and faded from sight again. Mike Tracy found Rocky once again on point, and as all the others displayed excellent manners at flush and shot. At 85 George Tracy sent Rocky down the edge of a big grain field. He disappeared from sight just as the judges called time. It had been an exciting 90 minutes. Someone once described a field trial dog as one that almost runs away — but doesn’t. Rocky filled that description today. Five coveys by Rocky and one covey ridden up by his handler.
A quick break. Everyone seemed relaxed on this beautiful Saturday afternoon and had to be encouraged to get Sugarknoll War Paint (G. Tracy) and Carol’s Elhew Goldie (Herriage) to the line. Chris Del Collo was riding to watch George Tracy handle another Del Collo entry. They started toward the South Duck Pond, went through some tall pines then a long green field where Jerry Hailey, scouting for Herriage, called point for Goldie at 10. She had pointed the dependable covey before Mote crossing. All was in order as Herriage put up a feeding covey of quail in the afternoon sun. Meanwhile, Paint had an unproductive. Turkey Hill was hunted, but no game pointed in the usually quail productive portion of the fourth course. In the areas near Sedgefields Road, Paint reached for the pine country at the far end of the open fields. Herriage had Goldie to the left toward Smith ditch trying to point game and he was successful with a find before Bill Lee’s house. By the time the course reached Town Creek and the Stone line both pointers were taken up.
The seventh an final day began under clear skies but the forecast called for heavy rain and thunderstorms by late afternoon.
Ridge Creek Cody (Kinkelaar) and Land Cruiser Scout (J. Tracy) broke away at 7:56 a. m., a small gallery attending. These setters are littermates and they produced fast-paced action for the next 70 minutes. Kinkelaar drew first blood with a find at 10, a sure-enough limb find, all in order at flush. He hurried to the front with Cody ahead just before Scout had his first find, and that’s the way this brace went. Due to the rapid action on different parts of the first course it is difficult to describe each piece of bird work. Scout had five finds and a back; Cody had four finds and a back. Scout had a stop to flush as Tracy was carrying him to the front after the fourth find. With all the action going on and maybe some other reasons the judges asked Tracy and Kinkelaar to pick up ten minutes early. This brace produced nine pieces of bird work, four by Cody, five by Scout.
After a short coffee break, Conecuh’s Pressure Test (Ray) and Covey Rise’s Offlee Amazin (Kinkelaar) began at 9:40. Test, a white and black setter, was handy for the first few minutes, then adapted to the long edges near the Joe Varner line. Amazin went right and was charged with an unproductive at 15. This mixed pair was up front at 25, Amazin taking in large chunks of country in the burned combine area. In the triangle area near the cattle ranch line Amazin was gone for awhile then returned by Eddy Taylor, Kinkelaar’s scout. “Braxton” had a find at 45, all as it should be. Released after the find he went left and was not returned to judgment. Judge Fox reported that after Kinkelaar asked for his tracker Amazin was found on point. Before the chicken dump Doug Ray decided that he wasn’t making any money and took the Gibson setter up. One covey this brace, by Amazin.
Easy Terms (Taylor) and Richfield Finnegan (M. Tracy). Due to the prediction that stormy weather was on the way, the judges decided to start the afternoon braces a little earlier. A good thing, because a severe storm developed that lasted for about 24 hours. The breakaway was at 12:30 p. m. Term’s owner Mike Looby was riding to support Eddy Taylor and Terms. Shawn Kinkelaar, scouting for Taylor, called point for Terms at 5. Game could not be produced. At 18 Terms suffered a second and was taken up. Finnegan adapted well to the open country at the first part of the first afternoon course hitting the edges, reaching for the big fields edges before Dan’s mountain but he couldn’t find game. In the area past Dan’s mountain he pointed once then moved on. In the area along Bill Lee’s driveway, which is about a mile long, he closed in a little then hunted the pine and sedge country before the Avant line, still not a contact with game. He was taken up at about the hour. No game this brace.
Clouds were rolling, replacing the blue skies. The storm was only a few hours away.
Nemaha Free Way (Kinkelaar) and Heritage (M. Tracy) were released at the gate to the south Duck Pond at 2:39. Free Way headed for the open country along the creek before the duck pond. Herriage chose to hunt the tall pines with sparse ground cover. The turn was made toward Turkey Hill and the Avant line. Heritage not reaching to the extremes, Free Way taking in the open country in big casts. Turkey Hill is usually birdy country but not today. Both dogs hunted the area known as the home of coveys but without any success. Back across Sedgefield Road Free Way had a mannerly find at 40. Kinkelaar gathered up everything, mounted and sent the white and orange Free Way toward the front. Less than two minutes later he slammed into a point. Turned out the quarry was a single from the recently flushed covey — again all in order. Before reaching the Stone line both pointers were taken up.
The field trial was over and riders were beginning to feel the first of many drops of rain from the oncoming storm.
Union Springs, Ala., February 4
Judges: Johnny Atkinson, Bobby Fox and Donald H. May
NATIONAL OPEN SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP
[Ninety-Minute Heats] — 52 Entries
Winner—HIGH DRIVE ROCKY, 1615373, pointer male, by No Rules—Rocky River Suzie. Allen Linder, owner; George Tracy, handler.
A cocktail party was held the night of the drawing. It was well attended by field trialers as well as residents of Union Springs. Ray Jeffers handled most of the chores of the drawing while everyone else enjoyed fresh seafood brought up by Drs. Linsey and Amy Roberts.
Several nights a dinner was held at the Sedgefields clubhouse. Monday’s meal was low country boil; Tuesday night’s dinner was ribs and Boston butts. Watch out scales. Wednesday was a steak dinner.
Chris and Pete Del Collo, owners of Sugarknoll Snow Warning, last year’s National Champion, provided dinner for about 80 folks. A painting was presented to the Del Collos by the Championship directors and a print of the painting was given to judges of this renewal. Chris and Pete also presented a print of the 2012 champion to George Tracy, handler of Sugarknoll Snow Warning.
Charles Jackson and his daughter Kris O’Toole and granddaughter Kathleen O’Toole came with the group from west of the Mississippi. Others included Dr. Bob Bon, Mike McClanahan, Dr. Jim and Marian Mills. Of course, Jack and Peg Herriage also.
Thursday night’s dinner was provided by Plantation Supply and Purina. A huge crowd attended from those associated with the National as well as those associated with Tony Gibson’s amateur trial. Like this writer has said, field trials in Union Springs are an event. Eddie Sholar, well known field trialer from Georgia, is one of the proprietors of Plantation Supply.
The National Derby Championship was being held at Frank Rutland’s place about 30 miles from Union Springs. Tony Gibson’s Amateur Stake was being held at Tony’s plantation nearby and the National Open Shooting Dog Championship on Sedgefields. Just think about it. Two National Championships and an amateur trial all going on in a ten-day time frame. Tell me that Union Springs, Ala., is the “Field Trial Capital of the World.”
When George Tracy moved his southern headquarters to nearby Hurtsboro, Ala., he brought about half the population of the Northern States with him, including Bill and Muriel Primm, Pete and Chris Del Collo, the Jack Sanchez family, Tom Hance, Kevin and Maureen Joyce and others to run in Tony Gibson’s amateur event.
A Dutch dinner at the Union Springs Country Club was held on Friday night. Tony Gibson paid for a live band to play. Good food, good music and good fellowship followed as locals mixed with field trialers from ten different states.
The directors of the Championship held their annual meeting on February 3. A pledge that all the directors agreed on was to increase the purse in 2014. Two directors were added to the board of directors. Brent Cox and Jason Howard were made directors. Bill Lee was added as a special consultant to the board. Lee wasn’t made a director because the by-laws don’t allow professional handlers to be on the board. His advice will be valuable.
Parrish Atkinson brought her jumping horse up from Florida and several days had a short display of the jumping horse’s talents. By the way, Parrish is a doctor — takes after her mother.
This reporter spent a few hours riding around Union Springs. Not many things have changed over the years but we couldn’t help feeling the presence of Verle Farrow, Parke Brinkley, Bill Hembree, Herb Holmes, Alvin Nitchman, George Harden, Dan and Sandy McArthur, Bob Wehle and Ed Mack Farrior, and of course Mr. Maytag. A great bird dog town — no — the best Bird Dog Town in America.
Another interesting thing about Union Springs, located about 50 miles from Auburn University, is that some folks don’t answer the telephone by saying “hello” — some greet callers by saying “Go Tide” and “War Eagle” — are they referring to college basketball teams?