American Field

Whippoorwill Forever Wild Qualifies for 2020 National Championship

Gyp Hills Field Trial Club

Kansas Prairie All-Age
By Doug Meyer | Oct 31, 2019
Open All-Age Winners. Front (l-r): Whippoorwill Forever Wild with Matt Cochran, Westfall’s River Ice with Andy Daugherty and Lowrider Frank with Allen Vincent. Behind: Doug Meyer, Judge Ralph Short, Than Yunker, Judge Dr. Pat McInteer and Joe Worsham. [Photo by Grace Meyer.]

Medicine Lodge, Kan. — The Gyp Hills Club hosted the Kansas Prairie All-Age National Championship Qualifier on the Z Bar Ranch southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kan., beginning October 14.

The 43,000-acre Z Bar is a wildlife haven and a pristine piece of South

Central Kansas prairie nestled in a fairly unique area nothing like the rest of Kansas. The Gypsum, or Red Hills, form a dramatic backdrop of rolling topography bisected by wooded draws in the

native prairie.

The Z Bar is managed for grazing some 2,000 bison, an impressive whitetail deer herd, pronghorns, native bobwhite quail, lesser prairie chickens, pheasants, songbirds and raptors. All native species are encouraged and habitat provided including one full square mile set aside in a single prairie dog town among other prairie dog habitat.

When a massive wildfire engulfed the Z Bar and much of Barber County three years ago, nearly the entire bison herd was saved when they retreated to the prairie dog towns where the low vegetation prevented the fire from spreading. Everything has a place on a truly wild prairie and proved how diversity in the environment can benefit all wildlife when a natural disaster occurs.

The Gyp Hills Club was formed seven years ago for the express purpose of hosting wild bird only trials on this venue. The South Central Kansas rolling prairie and the ranch’s ecosystem of native grasses and native species provide an excellent test in identifying great bird dogs that accepted the challenge.

While it has rightly been acknowledged that the prairies are a major and important test for all-age bird dogs, most of those trials are now conducted on prairie chicken, sharptail grouse and Hungarian partridge. The native bobwhite quail at the Z Bar further provides a final examination as the dogs that can find and point these coveys in the vast and often dry grassland definitely have singular qualities. It takes a pretty special dog to place here.

The Gyp Hills Club has laid out three one-hour courses that are routed through the expansive prairie and between three different creeks plus the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River. A separate loop was utilized for the Derby course to facilitate those 30-minute braces.

This year areas of thick cover were encountered making scouting and handling a challenge. The plum thickets on the side hills with a few feed strips planted solely for the benefit of all the wildlife that use the ranch are often attractive resting places and feeding locations for the quail and pheasant. Dogs can often be seen at a quarter to a half mile range and then must want to stay with their handlers through the creek bottoms. A real challenge for dogs, handlers and scouts to keep showing up at the front while hunting the likely haunts where the quail live.

We had the judicial services of Hall of Fame  member Dr. Pat McInteer of Falls City, Neb., who has judged far and wide, and Ralph Short of Meriden, Kan., who knows a dog and field trialed for many years prior to taking a hiatus for raising kids. Both got along well and shared their experiences and knowledge with this reporter as they watched the performances. They knew what they were looking for and found three worthy performances to honor with placements.

While there was water all along the courses, the low humidity which is typical for the area made bird-finding difficult yet we did have a dog with three contacts in the hour.

The Winners and Others

Whippoorwill Forever Wild, pointer male recently acquired by Ric Peterson of Hickory Valley, Tenn., ran a solid all- age race with a nice covey find where the dog was nearly ridden past before being spied by the back of the gallery. Handler Matt Cochran easily sent the covey airborne and then ran the rest of the hour sending him across the prairie at range.

Forever Wild won this same trial last year for his first qualifying win and now will be at Ames next spring for the National.

I had the pleasure of naming him a champion at the Sunflower Open Shooting Dog Championship in 2016 on the Westfall Brothers Ranch near Longton, Kan. Shortly after, Matt moved “Tip” into the all-age ranks. His fellow pros were genuinely pleased for Matt and congratulated him in earnest.

Westfall’s River Ice, pointer male in the ownership of Brad H. Calkins of Denver, Colo., was second for recently elected Hall of Fame handler Andy Daugherty after a wide forward race and an honest stop to flush on a pheasant as he exited the Arkansas River flood plain.

River Ice is a product of Westfall’s Black Ice and was started by Ryan Westfall before Daugherty took over and Brad Calkins became owner.

Third place went to Lowrider Frank in the ownership of Dr. Jim Mills and Steve Lightle of Searcy, Ark., after a formidable all-age race taking him deep and forward yet turning with his handler at distance. He suffered an unproductive early in a place where birds could have easily escaped detection.

Others with good efforts in the order they ran included Westfall’s Black Ace with a scorching race on the first warm afternoon for Andy Daugherty. Miss Stylin Sue ran a very attractive all-age race for Allen Vincent. Sue took the second spot in this trial last year.

Westfall’s Red Man, run by Ryan Westfall, had a nice relocated covey early, a covey that was accidentally flushed before the judges arrived and a stop to flush on a pheasant. His race, though, was not quite enough to displace the winners.

Medicine Lodge, Kan., October 14

Judges: Dr. Pat McInteer and Ralph Short

KANSAS PRAIRIE OPEN ALL-AGE [One-Hour Heats] — 27 Pointers

1st—WHIPPOORWILL FOREVER WILD, 1662663, male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Ric Peterson, owner; Matt Cochran, handler.

2d—WESTFALL’S RIVER ICE, 1659989, male, by Westfall’s Black Ice—Westfall’s Black Cold. Brad Calkins, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

3d—LOWRIDER FRANK, 1650933, male, by Miller’s Happy Jack—Fairchase Jiggs. Dr. Jim Mills & Steve Lightle, owners; Allen Vincent, handler.

Open Derby

We had another excellent Derby and again utilized a separate multiple loop that started toward the now unpopulated town of Aetna, crossed Dry Creek which was running water this year and then wound through an area of plum thickets and native grasses.

Double D Betty ran a nice race with a beautiful covey find with advanced manners to take first for Allen Vincent.

Westfall’s Wheels Up ran fast and forward to capture second with a race that showed true all-age potential for Andy Daugherty.

Third place was S S S Stormy, another pointer female handled by Allen Vincent, after a great forward race.

Others showing much potential included Big N Elhew Boo, run by Matt Cochran, with a nice find on a covey. Matt elected to pick him up here when he couldn’t be stopped after flush or he might have garnered a placement.

Hadley’s Honky Tonk Song had a very good race for Tierra Hadley who traveled from near Breckenridge, Colo., to turn him loose. He will be a good one.

The club thanks Purina and Greg Blair for their unwavering support of our sport and for this National qualifying stake. Thanks to the Z Bar ranch ownership and management for their superb husbandry of this land and allowing us to visit and run our bird dogs on this beautiful natural landscape.

Many thanks to the Z Bar team of Keith and Eva Yearout, Trent Humphrey and Thane Yunker who escorted our dog wagon and even drove the last day. MUCH appreciated Thane!

Special thanks to Grace Meyer for handling all the kitchen duties and providing wonderful meals in the clubhouse. Monday night was our winner’s supper in honor of Whippoorwill Forever Wild’s win last year and Matt Cochran provided the rib eyes!

We look forward to seeing everyone back again next year to challenge the Kansas prairie!

OPEN DERBY — 15 Pointers

1st—DOUBLE D BETTY, 1686313, male, by Westfall’s True Grit—Westfall’s Cutter. Doug Burns, owner; Allen Vincent, handler.

2d—WESTFALL’S WHEELS UP, 1680653, male, by Westfall’s Black Ace—Westfall’s Quick Trick. Bill Westfall, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

3d—S S S STORMY, 1684479, female, by Chelsea’s Thunderbolt—S S S Jill. R. A. Snipes, Jr., owner; Allen Vincent, handler.

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