American Field

Thrill Me Named Winner; Bittersweet War Cry is Runner-Up

Gulf Coast Open Shooting Dog Championship

By Allison Stewart | Mar 20, 2020
Championship Winners. Front, from left: Tommy Rice, Michael Martino with Thrill Me, Allison Stewart, Steve Hutto, Casey Foster Hollander with Bittersweet War Cry, Mike Tracy and unidentified participant. Behind: Tim Hammons and Chris Sellers, the judges.

Union Springs, Ala. — The 2019 Gulf Coast Open Shooting Dog Championship began on December 2 at Conecuh Station in Union Springs, Ala.

As in years past, Becky and Tony Gibson made this trial just as enjoyable as the ones before. Warm southern breakfasts were served each morning by Steve Hutto, George Cole, and Jimmy Duncan. Lunches were provided by Judy Maddox and her daughter Alicia, followed by fellowship and supper each evening. An outstanding pig roast was most certainly one of the culinary highlights of the trial.

A gracious thank you to Kenneth Newman for driving the bird dog wagon and ensuring we all had plenty of snacks and drinks to enjoy between braces.

The club would also like to thank Purina for their generous donations and support of this Championship and the sport of field trials, as well as Jim Morehouse, a longtime friend and supporter of field trials, for his donation for SportDog training collars to our winners.

Judges Tim Hammons of Berea, Ky., and Chris Sellers of Selmer, Tenn., presided over the running and gave each dog a watchful opportunity.


Thrill Me, five-year-old white and orange pointer female handled by Tommy Rice and owned by Keith Finlayson of Tallahassee, Fla., earned the title with five stylish finds, all exhibiting her fine grace and manners.

Thrill Me is by Just Irresistible ex Snow Thrill. “Pea” set herself apart from the other entries with her great ground work as well as the way she carried herself through the country, always in a forward manner. Pea was drawn in the first brace after lunch on a Wednesday under sunny skies and cool temperatures providing an opportunity for fine bird work. Pea made a dashing cast across Little Green Field before bounding over both creeks and hitting left cover in the pines of the first open field where she notched her first covey at 17. Her second find came at 25 in the pines on the left after first water tank where she stood firm through flush and shot.

Pea charged through the course climbing the hill to the plum thicket before making a wide cast around Horseshoe Ridge and carding her third find at 45 in the pine row. As the course looped around to pass the first water tank again, Pea bounded up the fire lane to card her fourth find at 49, her stature sturdy and steady as birds were flushed.

Pea’s last find came at 56 in the thicket on left before climbing the hill to the Chicken House Gate. A covey of four lifted with all in order and the young lady ended her time with continuous forward strides.

The champion’s name is engraved on of the beautiful Gulf Coast Open Shooting Dog silver trophy that was donated by the Harold Ray Family in honor of Smith Setters.

Bittersweet War Cry, handsome three-year-old white and black pointer male handled by Mike Tracy, scouted by Casey Foster, and owned by Joe Lordi, Jr. and Ralph Gillota, was awarded runner-up. “Pete” exhibited fine ground application along with desirable range and stamina and finished his hour running with just as much passion as he started.

Coming to the line in the last brace before lunch on Friday, Pete and his bracemate were loosed at the Shop Road. Coming across the open field with gusto, he made the loop down into Sawtooth Bottom at 13. After crossing the creek bed, he was found standing in woods on the left of Buster Gap at 23 with a lofty rise of quail taking flight. Pete dashed through the pines on the ridge above the pond before sailing down the hill. He hunted the rows by Brother’s Resting Place and stopped at 42 at the field edge with all in order on his second find. Pete’s third find came at 50 at the end of pines just before Little Hidden Pond and he stood tall and proud through flush and shot. Pete cast across field before big oak and stood firm on edge as Tracy raised his hat one last time at 59. Birds rose as time was called to end a fine race for Pete.


Sunny, windy and 40° as Miller’s Heat Seeker (PM/M. Tracy) and Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt (PM/Shawn Kinkelaar) began the trial. Both pointers made strides through the course and showed in front but were not able to get bird work done. Heat Seeker was in the harness at 30, and Thunderbolt at 50.

Dominator’s Ghost Rider (PM/Doug Ray) and Town Creek Hardaway Jill (PF/Michael Martino) started with beautiful casts around Chicken House Gate at 5. Ghost made a big cast deep into Chopper Field followed by Jill hitting edges. Jill climbed left side and into cover and Ghost on right at 27. Jill was found standing on left edge above lily pad at 28 with a thick rise of quail. The pair cut through pines at the Love Oak at 36 and climbed hill toward shop at 40. Jill made a nice short cast around Little Pond, climbed through trees and into the open field at 54 and hit far edges. She continued through Sawtooth Bottom and was in front at time.

Silver W Jill Z (PF/Kinkelaar) and Bombs Away (PM/Tommy Rice) broke away at Buster’s Gap. Jill pointed at 8 on far left edge, almost at end, but failed to produce birds. Both pointers hunted the pines on The Ridge behind pond at 18 and made steady, forward strides through Brother’s Resting Place and up the hill into the pines. Jill Z showed in front at 30. Bombs Away made the loop around Little Hidden Pond at 40. Unfortunately, the conditions were not favorable and Jill Z was harnessed at 47.

The retrieval device was requested for Bombs Away at 51. Jill Z’s owner Dr. Debbie Ozner came from Tallahassee, Fla., along with George Hickox to watch her stylish pointer female. Jill Z was the Purina Top Shooting Dog Derby Award winner for the 2018-2019 season.

Grand Prairie Thrill (PF/Rice) and Osceola’s Seminole Wind (PF/Tracy). Seminole Wind’s owners, Jim and Teresa Morell, rode the brace, Casey Foster Hollander scouting. Grand Prairie Thrill carded her first find 4 on right at top of hill before Little Green Field with Seminole Wind backing. They then bounded over creeks and into pines with high momentum. As course turned right, Casey called point and the gallery rode to find Seminole Wind far back in the pines edge at 20. She maintained her confidence through flush and shot. Both pointers crossed through the cover climbing the hill at Plum Thicket at 30, came across ridge, down hill and across creek for a divided find at 42. Prairie Thrill ended her bid with a powerful cast up the lane and another beautify across the hill at the Chicken House Gate.

C S Coldwater Rex (PM/Ray) and Hale’s Southern Touch (PF/Kinkelaar) both pointed at 1 on right edge after breakaway at Chicken House Gate but no birds were found. Both pointers hunted cover and showed in front at 11 just before Chopper Field. Touch came past Lily Pad Pond and stopped on far right edge just before Small Green Field at 26 with a successful flush and again at 50 on far edge of big open field with bird flying. Rex pointed in left cover over creek between Sawtooth Bottom and Buster’s Gap at 58 but no birds flew.

Cheyenne Jack (PM/Tracy) marked birds at 16 after climbing hill just before the Pine Ridge behind the pond. He continued into pines to point birds again at 18 but suffered an unproductive at 20. Upfront’s Southern Star (PF/Kinkelaar) was picked up at 42.

Quail Roost (PM/Martino) and Just Thrillin (PM/Rice) began the morning Tuesday under sunny skies, temperatures in the low 30s. The pair came into Little Green Field at 5 and hunted cover on right before casting across lower edge and over creek bottoms. They hunted on left and took right on course, moving though the field and showed in front at 28 just over power line. Just Thrillin bounded up hill toward Plum Thicket. He raced down into bottom and made loop around Horseshoe Ridge. Thrillin crossed creek bed and was found standing in thick at 42 with an attractive flush. He came back around first water tank and crossed green field strongly as he climbed uphill and hit cover on left. Thrillin made handsome casts through pines as handler pointed him out at 55.

C S Li’l Anne (PF/Ray) and True Choice (PF/Kinkelaar) hunted both sides of course before coming into Chopper Field at 16. The pair took the hill and both showed ahead above Lily Pad Pond at 20 and stopped on left in little pines at 23, birds up for a divided find. Anne went on to card a second stylish find at 26 on Green Field edge.. They dashed into pines at the Love Oak, True Choice selecting the left side and marking a find at 24 while Lil Anne chose the right for a successful find at 30. True Choice pointed again as we passed the old driveway at 33 with all in order. Anne came across open field and pointed on far edge at 43 before we headed down to Sawtooth Bottom but did not produce birds.

Hillhavyn’s Drug Money (PM/Martino) and Waybetter Rocky (PM/ Tracy) began at Buster’s Gap. Both maintained a forward pattern, combing the edges before heading into woods and across creek. “Luke” ran down treeline and up hill into pines on the ridge at 20. The pair came over field at Brother’s Resting Place and moved up hill dashing through pines. They made a nice edge cast as we came onto road before Little Hidden Pond. Rocky made the loop around Little Hidden Pond and into pines, came through field and crossed into woods. Rocky ran down the line of Little Clear Pond and took course to right, found standing on edge with birds lifting at 48. Rocky swung through the edges in pines, hunting rows with a high tail. Point was called once more for Luke at 52 but only feathers were found.

Hale’s Kickstarter (PF/Kinkelaar) tallied her first find at 2 on the left edge before Little Green Field. Charitable Deed (PF/Rice) pointed a covey at 15 with Kickstarter backing. After a smart relocation, a lofty covey took to the air. The pair crossed power line at 18, both showing stylishly in front. Deed was climbing hill to make wide cast around ridge at 38 with Kickstarter popping out in front. Deed crossed in front at 42 and both looped back into pines at 45. They passed first water tank and Deed leapt up hill and pointed a covey at 50. As the birds rose around her, her stance was unwavering. Deed ended her hour with a lovely cast across ridge at Chicken House Gate.

Button’s Up (PF/Ray) and Piney Woods Bellaire (PF/Darron Hendley) had good efforts but their time ended early.

Shag Time Scout (SM/Kinkelaar) and Bail Me Out (PM/Tracy), the latter with owner Casey Foster Hollander scouting. Bail Me Out pointed15 just before Old Driveway but birds flew before judge arrived. He ran beautifully up and down the hilly pines and crossed driveway where he made a cast around Little Pond and flew up hill toward Big Open Field. Bail Me Out hunted the woods at 25 while Scout came over hill and hunted outer edges. Bail Me Out made wide cast around and stopped to find birds at 20. Scout had an unproductive at 30 in Sawtooth Bottom on edge. Bail Me Out stopped on far right edge of Buster’s Gap and though no birds were found, he ran a fine and stylish race from beginning to end. Scout ended his time with a firm point at 55 and a nice flush of birds.

Sunny and warming up to 38° on Wednesday morning as Pineywoods Cotton (PM/Martino) and Zorra (PF/Kinkelaar) began the day. The pair requested retrieval units at 20 and 30, respectively.

Bully Rock (PM/Tracy) and Tallokas Sun Dial (PF/Rice) broke away in the Plum Thicket and cast down into bottom. The two took dirt road with speed gliding across the countryside. Bully Rock pointed at 6 in middle Horseshoe Ridge in thick but no birds produced. They came through the pines and over green field by First Water Tank with gusto and bounded up hill. They made graceful casts around the Chicken House Gate Ridge with commanding strides at 28. “Ruby” was standing firm in thicket on right of lane at 32 with birds up and pointed again at corner of Chopper Field at 44 with quail rising. Bully Rock made run down line into Chopper Field before leaping up hill and hitting cover on left above the Lily Pad. Ruby pointed at 52 but failed to produce birds. In keeping with her brace style, Ruby was hunting out front when time was called.

Conecuh Station Trump (SM/(Ray) and In Swami’s Shadow (PF/Kinkelaar) began their hour hunting through in the pines at the Love Oak. They crossed old driveway and the pair crossed through the hilly pines, over driveway and around Little Pond at 26. Swami suffered an unproductive at 30 and handler elected to pick up. Trump made strong cast across open field and found birds on far edge at 38. Trump ended his hour with another successful find at 55 on corner by Brother’s Resting Place.

Miller’s War Bonnet (PF/Tracy) was braced with the previously noted champion, Thrill Me. War Bonnet carded her first find behind pond after bounding over Little Green Field and crossing creeks. She maintained a forward race with notable casts during her hour.

Class Act Express (PM/Ray) carded a find at 2 with all in order but ultimately the retrieval unit was requested. Hillhavyn’s Drug Runner (PM/Martino) was picked up at 24.

Armstrong Mountain Dustie (PM/ Tracy) and Stoney’s Tried and True (PM/Ray) came through pines at the Love Oak and made handsome casts across hill but ended their bids at 24 and 29, respectively.

Sunny, 41°. Coosawhatchie Smooth Ride (PM/Tracy) and Master’s Touch (PM/Ray) began the day on Thursday. Both showed in front at 10 as course turned to right and maintained forward races throughout their hour. Smooth Ride suffered an unproductive at power line at 25. Master’s Touch pointed in Plum Thicket but no birds were produced. Smooth Ride pointed again at 51 by Second Water Tank in thicket as the road divides just before the green field then leads to the Chicken House Gate. An intelligent relocation produced a massive rise of birds.

High Drive Whirlwind (PM/Tracy) and Bo Bunda (PM/Martino) broke away with passionate speed. Bo Bunda carded his first find at 8 in thicket on the right of Exit Would Alley with a large covey of quail rising while he maintained his confident and handsome stance through flush and shot. They sailed up the hill above the Chopper Field at 15. Tracy collared Whirlwind at 25. Bo Bunda came around Little Pond at 46 and came through open field with rapid speed. He glided across field below Big Pond, light as air, and into Sawtooth Bottom to end his time.

Pinson’s Imagine That (PM/Ray) and Hightailing Penny (PF/Tracy) began their hour in Buster’s Bottom. “Spot” stood firmly at 20 in corner of field by Brother’s Resting Place and maintained his stance through flush and shot. Tracy requested the retrieval device at 26. Spot climbed hill by Old Catch Pen and took to the pines. He carded his second find at 35 with a single bird up. Spot crossed in front as we came into pines by Big Oak and was hunting the edges when time was called.

Ryan’s Big Ben (PM/Martino) had the retrieval unit requested at 18. Unbridled Forever (PM/Tracy) carded his first find at 2 on left edge before making strides through Little Green Field. He climbed hill into Plum Thicket at 30 and bounded up Horseshoe Ridge. Cruising the edges back in the pines at 42, past first water tank and pushed up far right edge and into the cover at 44 to handsomely point a covey. He climbed far right ridge, cast across the ridge at Chicken House Gate, took to cover before time was called.

Dominator’s Kid Rock (PM/Ray) and Miller’s Vanilla Snow (PM/Tracy) both hit right cover at breakaway but ended their time early.

Miller’s Extreme Heat (PF/Tracy) and L F Dialing Samantha (PF/Ray) shared a divided find at 3 on right edge of hill before crossing road to the Love Oak. Samantha moved on. Heat relocated to right edge on road but no birds were produced. The pair crossed driveway at 20 and shared another point by Little Pond on left edge but no birds flew.

Sunshine peaking through the clouds and the temperature was 48° on the last day of the trial as Denton (PM/Ray) and Miller’s Lock and Loaded (PM/Tracy) came to the line. Lock made cast around First Pond and took off through the pines. He showed in front at 10 and had an unproductive at power line at 26. Denton was found standing firm and tall in pines at 28 with many birds. The pair looped around Horseshoe Ridge. Denton carded another find at Second Water Tank curve at 58 with all in order and a handsome stance.

Hillhavyn’s Good Time Rail (PF/Martino) and Sand Mountain Icy (PF/Tracy) broke away at Chicken House Gate and hit cover, hunting both sides of Exit Wound Alley. Martino called it a day at Chopper Field at 18. Icy took to cover on right as we climbed the hill above Chopper Field. Tracy requested the retrieval unit at 41 before old shop.

L F Silver Belle (PF/Ray) broke away at Shop Road with the aforementioned runner-up, Bittersweet War Cry. The bracemates came across open field with speed and made the loop down into Sawtooth Bottom at 13. Belle marked birds at 39 in far corner of field by Brother’s Resting Place. Belle continued a forward race into pines and pointed again at 43 but did not produce birds. She was in front when time was called.

Phillips Wind Line (PM/Ray) ran a forward race but suffered two unproductives. Reedy Creek Dial Tone (PM/Tracy) was steady to the front.

Mobile Strike (SM/Ray) and Miller’s Calamity Jane (PF/Tracy) broke away at big pine. Jane made a beautiful cast around ridge at Chicken House Gate at 5 and leapt into cover on right in green field at 10 but failed to produce birds. Mobile Strike stood firm on left edge of Exit Wound Alley with birds up at 20.

Union Springs, Ala., December 1

Judges: Tim Hammons and Chris Sellers

GULF COAST OPEN SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] — 55 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner—THRILL ME, 1661569, pointer female, by Just Irresistible—Snow Thrill. Keith Finlayson, owner; Tommy Rice, handler.

Runner-Up—BITTERCREEK WAR CRY, 1674743, pointer male, by Sugarknoll War Paint—Mohawk. Ralph Gillota & Joe Lordi, Jr., owners; Mike Tracy, handler.

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