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Field Trial Report

Kansas Prairie All-Age Trials

Westfall’s River Ice Wins this National Qualifier a Second Time
By Doug Meyer | Nov 19, 2021
Kansas Prairie All Age Winners. L to R:  Joe Worsham, Judge Bill Owen, Andy Daughetry with Westfall's River Ice, Matt Cochran with Westfall's Wheels Up, Allen Vincent with Sadier Firefly, Tracy Torry Haines, Tierrra Hadley, Doug Meyer and Judge Jim Corpening.

Medicine Lodge, Kan — The Kansas Prairie All-Age held forth on the beautiful 43,000-acre Z Bar Ranch southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kan., beginning October 18, 2021.

After two days of running on the native bobwhite quail and ringneck pheasants on the three one-hour courses, Westfall’s River Ice was named first for Colorado owner Brad H. Calkins and handler Andy Daugherty. River Ice ran a tremendous, out front, handing all-age race with a nice find on a covey of bobwhites after dropping down into the Cottage Creek bottom. This was the second time in his career Ice has won this wild bird trial and he won it in style as Daugherty rode and sang while Ice took in huge chunks of prairie in his search.

Andy Daugherty also handled second placed Westfall’s Wheels Up, pointer male with a beautiful stylish find shortly after breakaway. Daugherty easily sent the bobwhites airborne with Wheels Up never moving a hair. From here, it was a matter of handling the Bill Westfall charge through the tighter spots along the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River and finishing him for the hour. Mission accomplished.

Third was Sadie Firefly. The pointer female ran a beautiful prairie all-age race, going to all the right places during wide swings and finishing strongly for handler Allen Vincent. Sadie didn’t contact game but ran the place right.

The Kansas Prairie All-Age was established a number of years ago to showcase prairie all age competition on the native birds in this Kansas area known as the Gypsum or Red Hills. Those who think they know Kansas and have never seen this little geographical masterpiece are missing out on some spectacular country. It is unlike anything else in Kansas and consists of pieces of only three of Kansas’ 105 counties. Roughly one half of Comanche County to the west, all of Barber County which sits on the Oklahoma line and roughly one third of Harper County to the east. Once you see this formation which makes up about one per cent of Kansas land, you’ll never forget it. No rocks, no cactus and a topography of mostly native bluestem and Indian grasses, sage, sumac and plum thickets covering the hogback prairie country.

Courses have been laid out to move across the prairie and along four different creek drainages plus the river. The Z Bar grazes sustainably with a herd of some 2,000-2,500 bison that are moved about between 4-5,000-acre traps to simulate much the way they once roamed naturally.

Being native, the bobwhites thrive here and the ranch improves the habitat with controlled burns, light disking and mowing with some food plots to benefit all the ranch wildlife. Prairie dog towns dot the landscape as do very thick areas of big bluestem which thrives in this red soil. This year, the pheasant population was up and seen along the courses.

The Z Bar is also involved in a multi-year effort to improve habitat for the Lesser Prairie Chicken which this ranch is in the easternmost area of their native range. We didn’t see any little chickens along the courses this renewal but did last year. Crossing our fingers, these top flight dogs will once again point them at our future field trials in this special habitat.

Our thanks to our judges, Bill Owen of Santa Barbara, Cal., and Jim Corpening of Topeka, Kan., for looking at the dogs. Bill is from Southern California and travels extensively running dogs from the West Coast to the deep South. He owns Ch. Northwood Charles and Ch. Lone Tree Splish Splash among others he is actively campaigning right now. I really appreciate Bill making the long pull to join us.

Jim Corpening is a Kansas native and has been involved in field trials well before I moved to Kansas twenty years ago. He has won a number of shooting dog championships, breaks his own dogs under the Warjam banner and runs the Rock Springs Field Trial Club in the Flint Hills. These men know a dog, wild birds and worked well together to arrive at the winners.

OTHER  NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Matt Cochran had a covey find with Big and Wild over the hill right along the prairie dog town on the first hour. Matt was regaining the front himself and when the covey lifted on its own, Big and Wild stood for a bit and then moved unfortunately ending his day. He was braced with Wheels Up. Randy Anderson turned loose a number of dogs with good races but didn’t contact game under judgment.

Dixon’s Rolling Stone, Bonner’s Bulletproof and Miller’s Justifiable all showed well in this country. Whippoorwill Forever Wild who won here twice in the past for Matt Cochran put in another good ground effort.

Lastly, Tiara Hadley ran her Mia, Hadley’s Honky Tonk Song, to a real nice all-age effort. Mia started in tight cover and made it through to the wide open prairie where she made some beautiful swings with speed and showed great stamina. Nice job. Just needed a bird!

Medicine Lodge, Kan., October 8

Judges: Jim Corpening and Bill Owen

OPEN ALL-AGE [One-Hour Heats] — 24 Pointers

1st—WESTFALL'S RIVER ICE, 1659988, pointer male, by Westfall's Black Ice—Westfall's Quick Gold. Brad H. Calkins, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

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

3d—SADIE FIREFLY, 1691207, pointer female, by Westfall's True Grit—Gin Smoke And Lies. Natlie Cooper, Steve Lightle & James Mills, owners; Allen Vincent, handler.

OPEN DERBY

The Open Derby was short on entries but had several quality performances.

Skydancer Marksman, setter male had two coveys pointed and was broke on the second one for Randy Anderson and Georgia owner Butch Houston. Westfall’s Power Trip ran a big out front race with birds contacted for Andy Daugherty to be named second. Greypointe Que Quiere was fast and powerful for Doug Meyer. An absence at the finish likely cost him but was still third place in the judges’ minds.

Que Quiere also contacted quail but unseen by the judiciary.

OPEN DERBY — 5 Pointers and 2 Setters

1st—SKYDANCER MARKSMAN, 1696327, setter male, by Skydancer Silver Spur—Skydancer Sweet Wind. N.G. "Butch Houston", owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

2d—WESTFALL'S POWER TRIP, 1693198, pointer male, by Westfall's Black Ice—Westfall's Cutter. Ryan Westfall, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

3d—GREYPOINTE QUE QUIERE, 1690521, pointer male, by Greypointe Izquierda—Never Can Tell. Doug Meyer, owner and handler.

A POSTSCRIPT

Our club wishes to thank all who support our efforts to showcase class birds on wild game in natural country. This includes the stewards of the Z Bar, the ownership trust, ranch management and the team of experts who safeguard this beautiful place.

Thanks to all the judges past and present who have come to ride with us and see this place for themselves and to all the participants who travel distances to run their dogs here.

We also thank Purina and Greg Blair for their continued support of this field trial and our sport.

A special thanks to Thane Yunker who takes time away from his ranch duties to help me host this trial, drives the dog wagon, takes spectacular action photos and video and adds color commentary to the running. Thane to this day holds the state high school record for the 100 yard dash, having set this mark many years before the standard was changed to 100 meters! You can look it up, as people are want to say!

Ranch Managers Keith and Eva Yearout joined us for supper in the clubhouse and kept in contact with the running asking about birds and game seen daily. Lastly a big shout-out to my lovely wife Grace who handles the kitchen and clubhouse hospitality without a hitch. This year, she was again joined by Tiara Hadley who prepared pulled pork for lunch one day and a fantastic chicken casserole one night.

Our thanks to longtime Brad Calkins for sponsoring the steak dinner Monday night in celebration of his dog Dream Chaser winning this trial last year under Andy Daugherty’s whistle. Congratulations, Brad, on your win this year and sure wish you could join us to eat a steak next October!

Our Gyp Hills Club's Amateur stakes give each of you an opportunity to run on this ranch shortly after the Open stakes end each fall. Come join us and challenge your dogs some time!

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