American Field

Luncheon with the Legends

By David A. Fletcher | May 19, 2017
From left: Robert Milner (Labradors), Roy Jines, Bill Hunt, Billy Morton, Freddie Epp, John Rex Gates, (behind) Collier Smith, Garland Priddy, Ferrel Miller, Harold Ray, Dave Fletcher, (behind) Bud Moore, Buddy Smith, Hoyle Eaton, Peter Kainz, Delmar Smith, Capt. Gary Lockee and Joe G. Walker.

What a great idea! Bring all the field trial legends together for a story-telling get-together session at the Bird Dog Foundation facility in Grand Junction, Tenn. Do it before they add any more years to their illustrious lives, and video tape it for posterity. This is not a young group.

The able Ken Blackman of Williston, Tenn., manned the video equipment, as he does at a host of field trial events, meetings and the like. The husband and wife team of Rex and Tonya Brotherton came to the podium microphone not only to welcome the assembled group but to give background information on each of the legends as an introduction to their presentations. Tonya is Bird Dog Foundation Executive Director and Rex a local Grand Junction banker. Both were excellent MCs.

The field trial “legends” was indeed an all-star cast who gave their assigned ten-minute stories as follows:

Freddie Epp, Dexter Hoyle Eaton, Billy Morton, Peter Kainz, Roy Jines, Capt. Gary Lockee, Delmar Smith, Harold Ray, Collier Smith, Bill Hunt, Ferrel Miller, Bud Moore, Garland Priddy, Robert Milner, John Rex Gates, Buddy Smith and Dave Fletcher.

At home recovering from pneumonia was Marshall Loftin. Jack Herriage regretted not being in attendance but last minute events kept him from attending. Colvin and Mazie Davis and other deserving legends were unable to be contacted and invited successfully.

The individual presentations were nostalgic, extremely well delivered, and at times had the audience of near one hundred rolling in their seats with laughter.

A buffet style luncheon was presented by Me and My Tearoom of Dancyville, Tenn., assisted by the Bird Dog Foundation staff consisting of Tonya Brotherton, Cissye Pierce, Renee Houston, Frank Bell and other volunteers.

Several generous sponsors stepped in. Sunshine Mills, makers of Sportsman’s Pride dog food, took on the cost of the buffet luncheon. Others supporting the occasion were Nestle Purina, and Ed and Shannon Cotter. Shannon is a daughter of Hall of Fame handler Clyde Morton’s niece, Paula Sensing.


The idea for this Luncheon with the Legends was the brain child of BDF Executive Director Tonya Brotherton during a National Bird Hunters function at the museum. John Rex Gates and Hoyle Eaton were invited to speak at the Bird Hunters dinner and it was such a rewarding presentation that the thought occurred to have this repeated on a larger scale involving a host of field trial “legends”. Plans were laid and the idea came to fruition and the Bird Dog Foundation staff spearheaded by the husband and wife team of Tonya and Rex Brotherton simply made it happen.


In the “legends’” packet were gifts for each of the personalities invited to take home as mementos of the inaugural Legends Luncheon. One of the items was a small pewter cup with Living Legends engraved on its face.

Hoyle Eaton placed it on a shelf alongside a silver cup he had won in 1960. It was Hoyle’s first ever entry of a dog in a trial. He had been prompted to run by Booneville, Miss., pointing dog stalwarts Dick Brown and Martin Davis. He won the puppy stake with a pointer in the Northern Mississippi Field Trial Club’s event held near Tupelo. Hoyle said he “caught the field trial bug” right then and there.

Two silver mementos in the Eaton home earned sixty years apart.

In the 1960s, at Gainsborough, Saskatchewan, the Shaw family, Jimmy Sr. and Jr., conducted the Dominion Chicken Championship for many

years. Attending the Legends Luncheon was Jimmy Shaw, Jr. and his wife Donna. Jimmy mentioned to me how glad he was that he attended this

function and how he enjoyed the stories the legends told. He was cited as the person who had traveled the farthest to attend and was called to the podium to be acknowledged, and receive mementos for that distinction.

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