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Kansas Prairie Open All-Age

Gyp Hills Field Trial Club

Whippoorwill Forever Wild Wins National Championship Qualifier Stake
By Douglas P. Meyer | Nov 01, 2018
Open Derby Winners. From left: Judge John Russell, Greypointe Ocho with Allen Vincent, Westfall’s Red Man with Ryan Westfall and Andy Daugherty, Miller’s Hot Rod with Tiffany Genre and Dustin Kee, Randy Anderson and Judge Bill Holtan.

Medicine Lodge, Kan. — The Gyp Hills Field Trial Club was again blessed to run our Purina Points and National Qualifier over the beautiful Z Bar Ranch southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kan. This 43,000 acre mecca for all things wildlife was in beautiful shape with wild native grasses in abundance and what appeared to be a very good bobwhite quail population on the ranch. Everything from white tail and Mule deer, pronghorns, an occasional elk, lesser prairie chickens, pheasants and the wild bobwhites call this ranch home among some 2,000 bison that graze the pastures and canyons. Ranch management has spent years restoring the native prairie to near its original form by limiting grazing during periods of low rainfall to rotating and keeping individual sections well rested.

The ranch was visited with a major burn from the 400,000 acre Starbucks wildfire that came through the ranch in 2016 nearly scorching the entire landscape. What nature destroyed actually reinvigorated the land by killing much of the invasive cedar trees and speeding up clearing thick brush and other undesirable trees to let the native species flourish. And flourish they have. It was a dry summer but you could not tell looking at the vegetation such is the grazing and maintenance plan the Z Bar has in place. The week before, the most recent dry spell was broken with a ten inch rain providing roughly half the annual rainfall over the area in three days. Wonderful for us as it put water in all the creeks and depressions so dogs and horses were never far from a cooling dip. We experienced wonderful dog running temperatures as well which made for an excellent renewal.

Ranch manager Keith Yearout allowed us to come out and do a little strategic mowing to facilitate the running and several coveys of quail were spotted along the roads and fields a few weeks before our trial. We were very encouraged by what we saw. In the Derby, run first in an adjacent section of the ranch thick with plum bushes, sumac and native grass, we were moving multiple coveys on every 30-minute brace.

Excitement for all riding and especially for the handlers and their dogs!

In the All-Age, we utilized three continuous courses winding along the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, Cottage Creek and East and West Dry creeks plus an irrigated waterfowl migration area which is usually a hot spot for bobwhites and some pheasants during the drier periods. The courses are very equal with draws, hillsides and the bottoms to hold game and provide showy places to display the dogs’ running gear.

The club is blessed with a clubhouse with a full kitchen which was supervised by Grace Meyer providing breakfast, lunch and supper for the assembled. Last year’s winning owner, Brad Calkins, sponsored steaks Tuesday night in celebration of Westfall’s River Ice’s win of last year’s renewal. The club provided grilled pork chops another night and everyone enjoyed the meals.

Judges for this renewal were John Russell of Bowling Green, Ky., and Bill Holtan of Kensal, N. D. John needs little introduction as he has chaired the Quail Championship Invitational at Paducah for years as well as judged widely from Florida and all across the southland. John was returning to judge this trial having arbitrated last year. Bill Holtan cut his teeth on the prairies and later competed in the grouse woods before a change of career sent him into the pro shooting dog ranks. Bill has chaired, judged and run as an amateur as well as professional.  Bill is also the one mostly responsible for laying out the courses at Namekagon Barrens in northwest Wisconsin. Our thanks to these men for traveling a distance and expertly looking over the dogs.

The Winners

Whippoorwill Forever Wild, white and liver pointer male owned and handled by Oklahoman Matt Cochran, ran a showy out front race seen at extended distance early and credited with a nice find at 40 on a big covey along the Cottage Creek bottom. He continued to hold the front and finished strongly to capture this national qualifying win. It was a good performance and coming in the next to last brace, moved everything down a notch. Matt had previously run Forever Wild as a shooting dog and annexed at least one shooting dog championship before realizing the dog was certainly an all-age contender.

Miss Stylin Sue, first year pointer female handled by Allen Vincent, ran a very nice front-running race showing up when you were wondering if she would and scoring a dug-up find at time. These bobwhites were left of the course where Sue went past a fencerow along a hillside to point the covey hiding in heavy cover. You would have to call it the find of the stake, for sure.

Sue won runner-up in last season’s Derby Invitational Championship under Allen’s whistle so her adult career has a good start with this win.

Westfall’s Black Ace, pointer male, is no stranger to the winners’ circle and is requalified to both Ames and the Invitational. He ran a solid all-age race with a find off breakaway where both handlers fired over their dogs surrounding the big covey of birds. Ace had an unproductive midway and was later credited with a find on a pheasant that had snuck off some distance before flushing as the other handler crossed behind the dog. In a wild bird trial in prairie country, it was certainly feasible that this bird had run that direction. Ace went on to finish strongly.

A dog no doubt under consideration was Touch’s Spaceman (Randy Anderson) with a single find and a race not quite up to the standard set by the winners.

Medicine Lodge, Kan., October 16

Judges: Bill Holtan and John P. Russell

KANSAS PRAIRIE OPEN ALL-AGE [One-Hour Heats] — 23 Pointers

1st—WHIPPOORWILL FOREVER WILD, 1661663, male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Matt Cochran, owner and handler.

2d—MISS STYLIN SUE, 1674906, female, by Ransom—Coldwater Snow. Dr. Jim Mills & Steve Lightle, owners; Allen Vincent, handler.

3d—WESTFALL’S BLACK ACE, 1641946, male, by Westfall’s Black Ice—Black Bama. Bill Westfall, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

Open Derby

What a blast we had running eleven Derbies in a tight area where birds seemingly were everywhere. Anytime one of them made a cast into a section that looked birdy, point was called or birds were in the air and we’d ride over to find one or more of them standing!

Having watched all this, the judges had lots of choices but ultimately picked three driving type races where the dogs showed strength and bird sense along with their contacts. Greypointe Ocho was powerful, forward and credited with at least one find and an unproductive in an exciting hour under the whistle of Allen Vincent. Dr. Robert Rankin of Edmond, Okla., is Ocho’s owner.

Second with a solid, handling but aggressive Derby race was Westfall’s Red Man for Andy Daugherty. Ryan Westfall was scouting and watching their dog as Red put on a show as well. Randy Anderson piloted Millers’ Hot Rod through the country showing him on some big casts and firing over him after birds left a thick area and he was found standing. Good performance for his owner Greg Reed. Lots of potential in this group for sure. It looks like a very competitive Derby class for these guys and others this year.

The Gyp Hills Club thanks Purina Pro Plan and Greg Blair for their sponsorship and support of the field trial game.

We also thank the support and assistance of Z Bar management; Thane Yunker who was ever present to see that things went smoothly and kept our dog wagon in position for timely exchanges. Thane also took a bunch of pictures we shared with handlers and gallery participants.

It would not be a trial on the Z Bar without Don Gerstner, coming age 90, who was instrumental in gaining access to these grounds for our club and manned the dog wagon again for this renewal. Don is an inspiration to me personally and to many of us who run dogs and have the fire in our belly to turn loose a good one.

Thanks to Chuck Maxson for his help with the dog wagon as well and to all club members who marshalled and opened and closed gates — a team effort like field trials should be!

We look forward to seeing everyone next year and to you amateurs wanting to challenge these grounds and the wild birds in December for the Region 17 Amateur All-Age Championship and companion Open Derby.

Come join us! It will be a good time.

OPEN DERBY — 10 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st—GREYPOINTE OCHO, 1678564, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Justified—Greypointe Invierna. Dr. Robert Rankin, owner; Allen Vincent, handler.

2d—WESTFALL’S RED MAN, 1676062, pointer male, by Frontline Rebelator—Honky Tonk Country Girl. Ryan Westfall, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

3d—MILLER’S HOT ROD, 1680644, pointer male, by Miller’s Speed Dial—Jackson’s Silver Arrow. Greg Reed, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

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