American Field

Deserving Nominees Elected in 2017; One Dog and Three Persons Honored

Field Trial Hall of Fame

Aug 15, 2017
Lester's Snowatch


The third and final step in the election process for candidates for the Field Trial Hall of Fame has been completed.

First, readers submitted their endorsements for Dogs and Persons they deemed deserving of election to the Hall of Fame; then the nomination voting followed. Step No. 3 occurred when the names of the leading candidates (top ten nominees, Dogs and Persons) were forwarded to members of the Election Committee (54 in all) who were asked to vote for two Dogs and two Persons for Hall of Fame honors.

When Committee members’ ballots were returned and tallied, one Dog — Lester’s Snowatch — received overwhelming support from the Committee. Seven other Dogs on the list of leading canine candidates also received votes, but none was the recipient of a sufficient number of votes for election.

In the Persons category,  similar to the scenario that unfolded in 2015, when three individuals received the Election Committee’s strong support, the same has occurred in 2017. The electees are: Tommy Davis of Dawson, Ga., N. G. (Butch) Houston of Nashville, Ga., and John D. Seawright of Bigelow, Ark.

Five other Persons in the top ten also received votes.

The successful career of Lester’s Snowatch came to a close in the spring of 2012 when he recorded his final placement at the Carroll County (Tenn.) Lynn Taylor Open All-Age in Huntingdon, Tenn.

His name first hit the win column in the fall of 2005, seven years earlier, when, as a Derby, he won first in the Memphis Amateur Club’s Amateur All-Age, and another first in the Kentucky Lake Open All-Age, but it was the spring of 2006 when he really lit up the “leader board” with a series of titular wins: the National Derby Championship, runners-up in the National Amateur Derby Championship, the All-America Derby Championship, the All-America Quail Championship back to back, and concluding with the American Derby Invitational Championship crown.

Lester’s Snowatch was bred by his owner Gary P. Lester of Gracey, Ky., who handled Snowatch to all of his 53 wins in both open and amateur competition.

Snowatch was whelped February 3, 2004, and began his Derby season in the fall of 2005. His sire was Miller’s Date Line, which proved to be a producer of some significance, accounting for some sixty winners which accumulated 374 wins, Snowatch contributing the lion’s share of these placements.

His dam Lester’s Leeza’s pedigree shows dogs of minor influence in pointer breeding but the Date Line and Leeza nick proved to be special indeed.

Highlights of Snowatch’s win record are carried in the accompanying box (below), but of significance are four of his titular wins: Twice winner of the

National Free-for-All (2009 and 2011); winner of the National Championship (2009), and winner of the Quail Championship Invitational (2009), all considered “endurance” stakes.

Added to his titular laurels was his win of the Purina Top Dog Award for the 2008-2009 season.

Win records are impressive, but add to this production — sire of winners — and the influence of a dog on the field trial sport can be significant.

As a producer, Lester’ Snowatch sired 153 winners which to date have amassed 773 wins. He has sired twenty championship winners, and an additional seven other dogs that have won runner-up laurels.

Among his get are National Champion and Purina Award Winner (2010-2011) Touch’s White Out; National Open Shooting Dog Champion Sugarknoll Snow Warning (2012), and Not’ta Snow Balls Chance and World Class Cliff, both notable multiple winners of top-flight shooting dog stakes.

Several dogs elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame possessed the unique attributes of performance and production meeting the criteria for election overwhelmingly. Riggins White Knight and Red Water Rex readily come to mind, both dogs having won top-flight stakes and both producers of top-flight winners. Lester’s Snowatch joins their company.

Lester’s Snowatch died on Christmas Eve, 2016.

Highlights of Lester’s Snowatch’s Major Circuit Career

1st Memphis Amateur All-Age (F) 2005

1st Kentucky Lake Club Open All-Age (F) 2005

Wr. National Derby Championship (S) 2006

R-U National Amateur Derby Championship (S) 2006

R-U All-America Derby Championship (S) 2006

R-U All-America Quail Championship (S) 2006

Wr. American Derby Invitational Championship  (S) 2006

R-U National Amateur Pheasant Championship (F) 2006

R-U National Amateur Pheasant Championship (F) 2007

R-U National Amateur All-Age Invitational Championship (F) 2007

R-U Southeastern Open All-Age Championship (S) 2008

1st Kentucky Quail Open All-Age Classic (F) 2008

1st Kentucky Lake Field Trial Club Open All-Age (F) 2008

1st Fitch Farms Galena Plantation Open All-Age (F) 2008

Wr. National Free-for-All Championship (S) 2009

Wr. National Championship (S) 2009

Wr. Quail Championship Invitational (F) 2009

1st Rend Lake Harvey McCowen Memorial Open All-Age (F) 2009

1st Daviess County (Ky.) Field Trial Club Open All-Age (F) 2009

1st Kentucky Quail Classic (F) 2009

Wr. Region 6 Amateur All-Age Championship (F) 2009

Wr. Region 5 Amateur All-Age Championship (F) 2009

1st Hell Creek Field Trial Club Open All-Age (F) 2010

1st Kentucky Lake Field Trial Club Open All-Age (F) 2010

1st Kentucky Lake Field Trial Club Open All-Age (F) 2011

Wr. National Free-for-All Championship (F) 2011


(F) First six months of Field Trial Season

(S) Second six months of Field Trial Season


There is a common thread connecting the three Hall of Fame electees for 2017. It is the number 40, or perhaps 45.

Each of these men can trace their start in field trials and their support of the sport back forty or more years, to the 1970s.

That’s when Tommy Davis got his start, when he went to Canada with Tommy Olive at age 19. Then, as a twenty-year-old, he worked for Jack Presley, then Dr. Jack Huffman, winning his first major circuit all-age championship — the 1975 Southern Championship — with Dr. Huffman’s Sweet Bippie, the first of his more than fifty all-age championship titles in a career as a professional handler of more than forty years.

Endorsements for Tommy Davis appearing in The American Field in June and July detailed his accomplishments over that span of time, noting his four wins of the National Championship — El Sauz Doll (1983), Bluff City Mike (1986), and Whippoorwill’s Rebel (1987 and 1989); his five wins of the Purina Award: Whippoorwill’s Rebel (1982-1983 and 1986-87); Redemption’s Reward (1988-1989), Strut (2009-2010) and Stallion (2012-2013).

Added to this, Tommy also won the coveted Handler of the Year Award for the 1988-1989 season.

Among other aspects of his notable career is Tommy’s singular accomplishment of winning both the American Field Pheasant and Quail Futurities in the same year, 1978, with the same dog, Giveaway Penny.

He also has the distinction of winning, as earlier noted, the National Championship (four times), and also the National Open Shooting Dog Championship with his Davis Final Touch in 1996.

He’s won the National Free-for-All Championship three times, the Southern Championship five times, the Continental Championship and the Quail Championship Invitational, all endurance stakes that require special dogs and equally adept handlers to reach the winners’ circle in those premier stakes.

Tommy has been equally successful on the prairies, winning the Border International Championship (four times), and the All-America and Saskatchewan Chicken Championships.

“Tommy has spent a lifetime dedicating himself to the field trial sport,” noted North Carolinian Sammy Giddens. “He has always given his dogs the opportunity to be the best they can be and they in turn, with Tommy’s leadership, have won many championships for him in shooting dog and all-age competitions . . . In his quiet demeanor and calm, easy-going sportsmanlike manner, Tommy has been and continues to be a mentor to many amateur and professional trainers — a leader in our field trial sport.”


N. G. (Butch) Houston III of Nashville, Ga., has been a prominent, though low-keyed, field trial participant and patron for 40 years or more.

Mr. Houston was born in 1942 in Putnam County, Georgia. He was active in school sports — football, basketball and track — and academic activities, speech club and glee club.

He attended Emory University in Atlanta and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity, earning his college degree from Emory.

Butch Houston began sponsoring field trials more than forty years ago, at the time engaged in shooting dog competitions, having dogs with professional handlers Eddie Rayl and Jim Heckert.

His setter Silky Sullivan was a consistent winner for the Georgia sportsman back in the 1980s, notching some eighteen placements that included runner-up in the Masters Quail Championship, winner of the Gulf Coast and Canadian Chicken Shooting Dog Championships.

He gradually moved to the all-age arena and engaged the services of handler Robin Gates. His Joe Shadow was elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame in 2006. Now Mr. Houston joins an elite coterie of field trial sports figures who themselves are members of the Hall of Fame and also have a dog enshrined in the hallowed hall.

Live Oak’s Bo, Phillips White Twist and Three Rivers are among other contenders carrying the Houston colors that won major circuit stakes.

Butch Houston has had a successful career in the field trial sport, supporting the game in various facets, as an owner, providing a venue for field trials, and campaigning top-flight dogs for forty years or more.

He is the father of three children, Lowery Houston May, Bo and Adam Houston.

Butch was equally successful in business, starting his career in the insurance industry in 1964. In 1976, he formed a credit life insurance company, Life of the South. When the company was sold in 2007, it was one of the largest credit life insurance companies in the United States.

In 2013, Butch Houston and the late Dr. John Dorminy made field trial history as co-owners of Shadow Oak Bo, the first setter since Mississippi Zev in 1946 to win the National Championship. Bo added to their laurels by winning the title again 2014!

Butch Houston feels deeply about field trials. “Some of the greatest pleasures have come from the friendships I’ve made through my association with field trials,” he said.

“In order for our sport to survive and thrive we must sponsor and promote events that attract young people.”

Over the years he’s given well bred pups to folks, especially the young, hoping to get started in the game.

“Those of us who love the sport, and who are able, should take seriously the responsibility of fostering it in the next generation,” he added.



At a special meeting in June, 2014, in Lexington, Ky., John D. Seawright was among the invited attendees. John always looks at issues and questions from a deeper perspective, and he cogently observed at the meeting that “we are ‘stewards’ of the field trial sport.” His meaning: Those of us in the field trial sport have the “responsibility for the management promotion of the game that has been entrusted to our care.”

This has been a hallmark of John Seawright’s tenure in the field trial pastime for more than forty years.

John was born in Memphis in 1939, educated there at the Catholic high school. He, like his counterpart Butch Houston, engaged in athletics — football, basketball, baseball — the choral club, and was an academic honor roll student. John earned his college degree at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.

He started hunting and fishing at a young age, and followed his uncle’s bird dogs at Tunica, Miss., before the casino era. He moved to Arkansas in 1968 at age 28 and there discovered field trials, the Camp Robinson Area and the Central Arkansas Field Trial Association. As club members aged and/or retired, he was left with the Association’s Arkansas Open Shooting Dog Championship.

After having attended the Quail Championship Invitational at Paducah, Ky., he brought the invitational format to Arkansas, the stake eventually evolving into the highly popular United States Shooting Dog Invitational Championship.

In 1979, the late W. A. “Dick” Dumas and Mary Oliver “bestowed”, as John termed it, the Southwestern Open Championship on the Central Arkansas Association.

During this time (1970s, 1980s and 1990s) John owned a busy title insurance company, and invitations began to arrive to judge several important stakes: the All-America, National Free-for-All, West Tennessee, Buck-Tuck All-Age Classic, the American Field Quail Futurity, the Colorado Open Shooting Dog Championship, et al.

When the Handler of the Year Awards program was initiated in 1988, John’s name was on the “short list” of field trial personalities to serve on the Awards Committee, and he did so with distinction for several seasons.

While John has always been a staunch supporter of the Camp Robinson venue, when “an opening” occurred at the Johnson Ranch in South Dakota, and with the encouragement of handler Marshall Loftin, John deemed it a fitting venue for the Southwestern Championship and where it has been held successfully for nearly twenty years.

John campaigned two major circuit all-age winners — Humnoke Hal and Kreole. Hal, which John broke himself, accumulated 22 wins, and twice was invited to the Quail Championship Invitational. Kreole, handled by Marshall Loftin, won the National Free-for-All Championship in 1987, was runner-up in the Southern Championship and won the Texas Open Championship in 1988.

John’s resumé includes: club official, judge, reporter, owner, handler.

His field trial philosophy:

“Conduct a fair drawing and let the trial unfold. Protect your judges at all times, and remove those who do not conduct themselves properly. Simple.”

It is stewardship.

For a list of Hall of Fame inductees dating back to 1954, click here.

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