American Field

Darron Hendley

Cross Keys Youth Trial

Jan 04, 2018
Youth Trial Participants and Well-Wishers. Front (l-r): Addison McDuffie, Anna Grace Tompkins, Ella Grace Montgomery and McKenzie Powell. Behind: Hunter McDuffie, Trisha Rentz, Joe Rentz, Mindy McDuffie, Darron Hendley, Robert Moorer and Todd Montgomery.

The 2017 Cross Keys Youth Field Trial was held Sunday, November 12, on beautiful Feathers Plantation in Fitzpatrick, Ala. For eleven years this trial was held on the Wayne Chancey property near Hardaway, but due to extensive timber harvesting, the trial was moved to Feathers Plantation. Feathers is owned by Mr. Ray Allen of Auburn, Ala. The Cross Keys Club greatly appreciates Mr. Allen and Tom Lanier for making this property available for the youngsters to show their dogs.

Beck Johnson of The Hilltop Grill provided some of her world famous delicious barbecue for lunch. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Alabama youth trials are held on horseback. The dogs are judged on gun dog standards. Handlers must be younger than 18 years old. Two dogs are run per brace for 20 minutes. Their purpose is to find bobwhite quail, point the birds and give their handler a shot. Blanks are used; no birds are killed.

Two judges ride behind the handlers over a predetermined course. Each handler is allowed a scout to help locate their dog on point. Youth trials always have a large gallery consisting of family and friends following on horseback to watch the fun.

The trial started shortly after lunch under cloudy skies and a cool light drizzle, perfect quail hunting weather.

Joe and Tricia Rentz of Fayetteville, Ga., kindly gave of their time and expertise to judge. Joe and Tricia are a very accomplished husband and wife team who compete at the highest level of shooting dog trials. They train their own dogs on the northern prairies during the summer and hit the field trial circuit in the South during our cool months with great success. After the trial Joe and Tricia said, “This was the highlight of our weekend!”

Many thanks to Robert Moorer for marshalling and Willie “Byrd” Owens for driving the dog wagon.

The young handlers included:

McKenzie Powell from Prattville, Ella Grace Montgomery from Union Springs, Addison McDuffie from Cecil and Anna Grace Tompkins from Fitzpatrick. Eight dogs were entered.

Addison McDuffie handled a handsome young pointer called Jazz to first place. Jazz found four coveys and handled each one of them with perfection. It was probably the best kids’ brace this writer has ever seen. Anna Grace Tompkins earned second with her pretty pointer female Meg which scored twice on birds and had a nice forward ground race. Ella Grace Montgomery took home third with her mannerly liver pointer Kate. McKenzie Powell took her little all white pointer female Sue around the course with ease, earning her the fourth place spot.

Harold Johnson of Shorter, Ala., is the man behind the scenes who put it all together. Harold is a great blessing to the field trial community. His time and effort are invaluable to the sport. Cook Chevrolet of Elba donated some very nice horse tack for the winners. Purina also helped sponsor the event.

The Cross Keys Club wishes to thank the family members and friends who encourage and support these young bird dog enthusiasts. Watching them improve from year to year and having fun doing it is very satisfying. Very few young people understand quail behavior and have the ability to ride a horse, shoot a gun and control a bird dog all at the same time.

Each year a college scholarship is awarded in memory of Miss Hartley Carter to the youth handler who accumulates the most points in qualified Alabama youth trials.

If you would like to help promote youth field trials, please contact Darron Hendley at (334) 300-5836.

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