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Field Trial Report

Kentucky Quail Classic

By John P. Russell | Jan 06, 2020
Kentucky Quail Classic Winners. From left: Stegan Smith with Touch’s Spaceman, B. J. Wright, judge; Mike Crouse with Crouse’s White Dragon, Alan Benson, Randy Anderson with Valiant and Michael Kennedy, judge.

Paducah, Ky. — For the 60th year, the major circuit of all-age competition came to Paducah for the Kentucky Quail Classic which commenced on Wednesday, December 4.  The scheduled start date for the trial was December 3 but winter storm Ezekial rendered the area unusable for the start of the Invitational Championship causing the delay of the program of trials by one day.

The WKWMA, under management of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, was well groomed for this year’s competition with productive food plots, effective mowing in fallow fields, and row crop and hay fields across the area.  However, no preparation could ameliorate the wet and muddy conditions caused by the flooding rains preceding the events.

As has become the norm in this part of the country, the area no longer supports a population of native quail sufficient for a high quality field trial and a pre-release of more than 700 birds in groups (coveys) of ten or more distributed over the six one-hour courses was accomplished in support of the program of open stakes.  These quail were of good quality, flushing and flying well throughout the week of trialing and providing opportunities for the canine competitors to demonstrate their bird-finding prowess as well as their manners around game.

Entries for this year’s edition of the Kentucky Quail Classic and Derby were somewhat disappointing — 23 for the All-Age and 14 for the Derby. The reduced entry was caused in part by United States Open Championship scheduled exactly on the advertised dates for the Kentucky Quail Classic. The Classic has been the companion trial for the Quail Championship Invitational for many years — the U. S. Open Championship has traditionally occupied a later period on the field trial calendar. Unfortunately, the practice of moving trials to non-traditional dates regardless of conflicts has become too commonplace and should be addressed by those who have sanctioning authority!

The Kentucky Quail Classic is conducted by the West Kentucky Field Trial Club. For this year’s edition, Mike Crouse continued with the responsibilities of the trial chairman assisted by the members of the club. Mike Crouse and Alan Benson served as marshals, Greg Veatch handled the dog wagon, John Russell served as reporter, and Greg and Martha Veatch helped out as needed, particularly with lunches. Other club members assisted as their schedules permitted.

The club benefits from support provided by its sponsors. Purina supports the Invitational Championship and Quail Classic program of trials with monetary support and dog food donations for the contestants and winners of the Invitational and Classic. Clifty Farms Hams provided well-appreciated country hams as gifts for the judges.

Other supporters provided items for the silent auction conducted as a fund-raiser the evening of the drawing. The support of all of the sponsors is greatly appreciated.

In addition to the sponsors, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources supports the field trial program through its management practices and the availability of the grounds for the trials.

Judicial responsibilities for this year’s edition of the Quail Classic were shared by B. J. Wright of Robards, Ky., and Michael Kennedy of Opelika, Ala.  B. J. Wright started as a small boy carrying a BB gun behind his grandfather’s pointers and setters. Those early experiences grew into a love of watching high quality bird dogs work. Michael Kennedy similarly had experiences hunting with bird dogs at an early age. He trains his own dogs and is an avid hunter, hunting guide, and field trial participant. The judges were attentive throughout and set a good pace, fair to all competitors.

The Kentucky Quail Classic features an Open All-Age listed in all of the major competitions, Purina Top All-Age Dog of the Year, Purina All-Age Handler of the Year, and is a National Championship qualifying event.

The Open Derby is a points trial for the Top Derby of the Year Award and for the Derby Invitational. This year the program attracted an entry of 23 for the All-Age with seven handlers and 14 for the Derby with five handlers.

THE RUNNING

Wednesday’s running began with the temperature in the low 30s with light breezes from the south-southwest. The temperature increased to about 50° and became quite balmy for the participants.

Dominator’s Rebel Squire (Jamie Daniels) and Touch’s Fire Away (Randy Anderson) cast away at 7:30 a. m. Both dogs were forward early and going well — Daniels still suffering significantly from laryngitis. Through the early portions of the course, no game contacts were scored, Daniels electing to pick up early at 26. Fire Away scored at 46 at top of slope beyond the five points creek crossing. The initial flushing attempt did not cause a flush and the dog was asked to relocate — in doing so he got within close proximity to a single bird scoring a stop to flush. Fire Away completed his hour without further contact.

Coldwater Spectre (Weldon Bennett) and Erin’s Battle Cry (Daniels). Because of the laryngitis, Korry Rinehart took over the handling responsibilities for Jamie Daniels, Jamie scouting. These dogs went the route without the encouragement of contact with game. They worked honestly and were mostly forward. Bennett elected to pick up late in the brace, Battle Cry suffering a late unproductive following an attempt to relocate.

Hilltopper Top Dog (John Russell) and Miller’s Justified (Anderson).  Both first-year dogs, they were vigorous in their ground application but at times displaying their immaturity. Approaching the pipe line turn at 25, Justified established a stylish stand, Top Dog honoring stylishly. As Anderson attempted to flush, Top Dog apparently decided that he did not know where to flush, became anxious, and proceeded to vigorously demonstrate the exact location of the birds, Justified exhibiting admirable composure through this disturbance. Going forward alone Justified was forward but not extreme until at 50, across Hwy 358, he scored on birds just to the left of course path. He finished on the power line stretch without further contact with game.

Crouse’s Smoking Joe (Mike Crouse) and Lester’s Jazz Man (Anderson) broke away following the lunch break on the No. 4 course. Both dogs made the Big Bayou Creek crossing in good order, Jazz Man considerably the wider in range. Smoking Joe pointed on line across the interior road at 17, Crouse in close proximity, Jazz Man ahead.  Shortly afterward, at 25, Anderson elected to end Jazz Man’s effort, the dog not pleasing. Smoking Joe failed to show following the target range turn and was counted out, the retrieval unit requested.

Crouse’s Samuri Warlord (Crouse) and Game Bo (Bennett) were away in vigorous fashion early, both forward with Game Bo showing more effectively. Warlord was in hand at the turn away from Woodville Road but was not shown afterward and was counted out as lost. Game Bo put down an attractive and forward ground pattern but without reward. Bo was showing the effect of the heavy, muddy going late in the hour.

Dominator’s Rebel Patch (Daniels) and Miller’s Hot Rod (Anderson). Korry Rinehart handling for Patch, Daniels scouting. Both first-year dogs exhibited great enthusiasm for their task early, Patch the wider. Patch had difficulty establishing rapport with his unfamiliar handler and was up early. Hot Rod went without incident until the pipe line turn scoring on the by now familiar covey — Anderson in close proximity.  All was in order at the flush and shot. Hot Rod scored a second find by the fishing pond at 41, again Anderson in close proximity, again all in order. The dog went the remaining portion of the brace without further contacts.

Wednesday morning began with temperature in the low 30s again but, again, as the day progressed it warmed considerably approaching 60° with light south-southwest breezes — quite pleasant conditions.

Dunn’s True Reign (Will Dunn) and Miller’s Blindsider (Daniels). Rinehart continued as the handler. After a delay to give Will Dunn the opportunity to arrive at the area, the dogs were cast away at 8:15. True Reign showed well early with Blindsider showing considerable ambition. True Reign scored on a single bird at 33 by the cinder road turn.  The bird found in heavy weedy cover, probably trying to escape predators. The dog stylish and mannerly for the flush and shot. Blindsider was out of pocket for a time but checked in unassisted. Going up the hill beyond the five points creek crossing, point was called at the top of the slope. Both dogs were standing, True Reign in front and Blindsider immediately behind. At the flush both handlers fired with a slight reaction from the dogs. Across the railroad  track crossing, True Reign scored at 55 pointing into roadside honeysuckle and bicolor cover. The birds exactly where indicated, the dog stylish and mannerly. At the same time, Blindsider scored on birds located in oak line ahead — the dog stylish, intense, and mannerly.

Neither of these coveys seen previously in the week of trialing. Blindsider scored a final find on birds located in hazelnut bushes between the morning and afternoon courses at the turn toward the Acid Road crossing. Again all was in order.

Crouse’s White Dragon (Mary Sue Schalk) and Touch’s Blackout (Anderson) handled the opening horseshoe turn well and proceeded forward on the course. Dragon showed regularly to good effect for handler Schalk. At 23 to right of course before iron gates road crossing point was called for Blackout.  The dog was standing facing into honeysuckle tangle. Despite a thorough flushing effort and attempted relocation, the stand proved to be unproductive. At 28, into the cemetery loop at the plant corner turn, point was called for the dogs to left of the course routing. Both dogs were standing in close proximity, Blackout in front. Handler Schalk accepted a back, Anderson firing at the flush, both dogs mannerly. At 48, at the second plant corner turn, Blackout was sent down the line to the right establishing a stand between partridge pea patch and thicket. At the flush Blackout jumped, earning him the leash. White Dragon continued the course shortening from his previous pattern. With less than a minute remaining scout sent Dragon into cover along old road bed. At the subsequent call of pickup, the judges apparently were unable to establish observation of the dog and a subsequent call of point about six minutes after time resulted in a find scored for the dog.

Touch’s Spaceman (Anderson) and Crouse’s Equalizer (Crouse) were away enthusiastically, but without incident prior to the TVA culvert. Into the field beyond, point was called for Spaceman to the left of course path in cover behind landfill — all in order at flush and shot.   At 30 Spaceman scored on the pipe line turn covey, Anderson in close proximity, again all in order. Down the stretch toward Hwy 358 neither dog was going independently of handler until at 36 point was called ahead in close proximity to course path. Spaceman was standing inside of a small copse of trees with honeysuckle and briars. Equalizer was stationed outside of the cover. Birds were observed sitting on limbs. At the flush a single bird was disturbed and shot was fired, Spaceman slightly reacting to the close proximity of the flush and shot. Equalizer with greater movement. After brief consultation with the judges, Crouse leashed Equalizer.  Spaceman continued toward Hwy 358 showing laterally on line along gravel road to left. Across the highway and down the power line stretch, Spaceman cast strongly, finishing in the big bayou creek bottom.

Valiant (Anderson) and Dogwood Bill (Daniels), Rinehart handling Bill. An action-packed brace! Away well, across the big bayou creek crossing, then up the muddy bottom field and across the interior road, Valiant scored at 16, standing facing into cover line, Anderson in close proximity. Valiant is very lofty and stylish, which makes a very good impression. Shortly afterward approaching the cinder road crossing, Rinehart spied Bill standing near where Dominator’s Rebel Heir had two stands during the Invitational. Arriving at the site, Valiant was pointing into the honeysuckle tangle, Bill backing stylishly. This time a bird was flushed, a limb find scored.

Returning to the course, at 27 both dogs were standing on edge of bean field, Bill to the fore, Anderson accepting a back on what appeared to be a divided find if viewed from a position not blocked by the presence of a small thicket. Both dogs were mannerly for the action. At 34 ahead Bill was seen pointing into cover adjacent to the course path, all in order. At 35 point was called for Valiant by cinder road; this stand proved to be unproductive following flush and relocation action. This likely a “memory point” from the Invitational. At 49 at cover between the morning and afternoon course gaps Bill scored for a third time, again all in order.  Across the Acid Road crossing, both dogs still going well. At time point was called for dogs standing in point of cover — Valiant ahead, Bill honoring. Anderson showed feathers in front of the stylish dog, electing not to flush or relocate.

Coldwater Odyssey (Bennett) and Crouse’s Oak Heights (Crouse). Randy Anderson scratched the scheduled dog, Miller’s Select Call, moving the bye dog, Crouse’s Oak Heights, into brace No. 11. Odyssey established a stand in the opening minutes at 4 on edge of bean field. This stand proved to be unproductive following flush and relocation effort. Going forward, Odyssey impressed with his ground effort showing well in bean fields adjacent to the course path. At 32 point was called for Odyssey standing facing honeysuckle tangle where Blackout had suffered an unproductive in the second brace. Again this stand proved to be unproductive, possibly a “memory point” for Odyssey which had scored at this location during the Invitational. A second unproductive earned Odyssey the leash. Shortly afterward, Oak Heights was picked up, not pleasing his handler, bringing the All-Age to a close.

The 2019 Kentucky Quail Classic was a good stake. Twenty-two finds were recorded for 12 of the 22 dogs that performed. The find count was likely affected by the balmy, blue bird conditions present both afternoons of the competition.

The judges awarded first place to Touch’s Spaceman, white and orange pointer male,  by virtue of his three-find effort and strong finish. Second was awarded to Crouse’s White Dragon which had a good forward race, a back of bracemate and a single find shortly after time. Third was Valiant which scored three finds, a back, an unproductive and a stand at time where feathers were shown without attempt to flush.

Paducah, Ky., December 4

Judges: Michael Kennedy and B. J. Wright

KENTUCKY QUAIL CLASSIC [One-Hour Heats] — 22 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st—TOUCH’S SPACEMAN, 1669610, pointer male, by House’s Ring of Fire—Touch’s Sandy. Matt Griffith, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

2d—CROUSE’S WHITE DRAGON, 1673939, pointer male, by Crouse’s Zippidy Do—Crouse’s Funseeker Dragon. M. D. Crouse, owner; Mary Sue Schalk, handler.

3d—VALIANT, 1649524 pointer male, by Miller’s Happy Jack—Tina’s Tear Drop. Jay McKenzie, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

OPEN DERBY

The Kentucky Quail Classic Derby drew an entry of 14 youngsters.

The top spot was won by Superstition’s Jake running in the first brace for Ike Todd. Jake ran a good forward race with an unproductive. The second spot was earned by Crouse’s Double Oak, setter male handled by Mike Crouse.  The placement was awarded by virtue of a solid forward ground effort. Third was awarded to Touch’s Dancing Nancies, pointer female handled by Ike Todd.

OPEN DERBY — 13 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st—SUPERSTITION’S JAKE, 1687334, pointer male, by Touch’s Adams County—Superstition’s Molly. Richard Peterson, owner; Ike Todd, handler.

2d—CROUSE’S DOUBLE OAK, 1683155, setter male, by Crouse’s Oak Height—Crouse’s Shadow Bandit. M. D. Crouse, owner and handler.

3d—TOUCH’S DANCING NANCIES, 1680402, pointer female, by Touch’s Big Whiskey—Black Hawk Sunflower. Keith Wright, owner; Ike Todd, handler.

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