American Field

Field Trial Report

National Amateur Pheasant Championship

By J. Randy Hopkins | Nov 26, 2018
The Winners. From left: Randy Hopkins, Judge Keith Lowry, Ray Wheeler, Larry Smith with S F Saltwater, Jim Pendergest with Ascension, Judge Jon Lam, Matt Pendergest and Megan Henry.

Dresden, Ohio — The 2018 edition of the National Amateur Pheasant Championship commenced October 19 at the Tri Valley Wildlife Area near Dresden, Ohio.

As is customary, this trial followed the weekend after the International and National Open Pheasant Championships and completes the slate of all-age pheasant trials each fall in Ohio.

Leading up to the fall season, the Associated Bird Dog Clubs of Ohio work with the State Division of Wildlife to assist in the mowing and grooming of the grounds. Each year they are able to achieve more mowing, but most would state more could be done.

The grounds are reclaimed strip mine lands with a mix of cover, from warm season grasses to miscellaneous weeds with brush and treed areas. A few years ago, the state came in and sprayed areas that were starting to over grow in autumn olive. The next year the state had a crew in to remove the dead remains. We are pushing for and hoping for additional spraying and clearing by the state.

This trial is presided over by AFTCA Region 4 officer Ray Wheeler of Shelby, Ohio who also serves the sport as president of the previously noted Associated Bird Dog Clubs of Ohio. Ray was  assisted by locals Ted Goodyear and this reporter, Randy Hopkins, with marshalling duties and others familiar with the courses.

Due to several issues beyond any one individual’s controls the entries were lower this year than normal but this did not diminish from the quality of the trial or the enjoyment had by all attendees.

Judging this year were Jon Lam of Makanda, Ill., and Keith Lowry of Altamont, Ill. Jon was making a return trip to Tri Valley after judging one of the Open Championships in a recent renewal and Keith was making his first trip to the grounds.

Ample birds were available across all courses between birds released for the previous weeks’ Open Championships and supplemented by morning releases of pheasants by Ted Goodyear and Randy Hopkins.

As was started last year, the Ohio Division of Wildlife worked with the clubs donating some of the released birds to offset costs to enable the trial to release 100% roosters. The bird release duties were eased greatly over previous years when last year the Ohio Division of Wildlife approved the use of ATV for daily bird release as opposed to being forced to utilize horseback.

Bird planters hit the courses early each morning throughout the slate of trials supplementing the bird population. Pheasants were released for these events, in addition to the quail having been released pretty much every week for other events on the grounds from the beginning of September. Also spotted each morning by bird planters but not seen officially were numerous woodcock.


Starting the trial in brace No. 1 on Friday morning were Dr. Marion Brown with Stonefree B paired with Mac’s High Oh Silver (Tim McClurg).

S F Saltwater (Larry Smith) started the action with a stand at 5 near the first thickets to the right of the course on course No. 2. Larry was able to quickly produce a pheasant for his stylish entry. At 10 Miller’s Arctic Breeze (Jack Alexander) was also standing to the right of the course just before the course goes downhill to the ravine crossing. The initial flushing attempt and the relocation were unsuccessful for the stylish entry. As Jack released his entry to catch the front she stood again after covering about 100 yards. As Jack dismounted and started this flushing attempt Breeze failed to meet the expectations of her handler or judges. At 15 Saltwater was again standing stylishly with a well located rooster produced. Saltwater finished the hour after having started perhaps a bit slow but continually getting stronger and stretching farther but always being seen at the right places. S F Saltwater finished the hour strong to the front behind the Keyes Road Pond in an effort that set a high bar early in the trial.

Finishing the morning in brace No. 3 were S F Stetson (Smith) and Windy Hills Rayban (Kent Merryman). At 22 in the area approaching the barn Rayban stood after working to pin a running rooster for a nice piece of bird work. Stetson had been absent for awhile. After passing the barn at 28 Rayban was spotted under a moving rooster thus ending his bid. At 30 a bird was spotted in the air from the ravine in front. As Larry crested the hill Stetson was standing, a stop to flush credited. As the course was about to turn away from the clubhouse direction at 35 Larry elected to put the rope on knowing he was not moving anything.

Starting the afternoon after lunch were Ray Wheeler with his Nosam’s Rock Creek paired with S F Benchmark (Smith). At 5 Rock Creek was standing near the oil tanks to the left of the breakaway on course No. 1. A quick but wide flushing attempt produced a rooster for the stylish Rock Creek. As Rock Creek caught the front near the Rhine Road turn Benchmark was standing for Larry Smith who was able to produce a rooster. At 18 Rock Creek stood again in the bowl after the Rhine Road turn with an unproductive being carded.

Heading out in brace No. 5 were Wibaux Sun B (Dr. Marion Brown) and Dialed In (Jim Pendergest).

Ending day No. 1 in brace No. 6 were Mac’s Silver Chief (Tim McClurg) paired with Ascension (Matt Pendergest). The runner-up Ascension had a pheasant find at 16, an unproductive, a back at 31, a find on quail at 33 and a strong finish.

Away Saturday morning were Windy Hills Living Large and Kent Merryman braced with S F Fullcolor (Larry Smith).

Closing the stake in the final brace, No. 8, were Pendy’s Good Grace (Matt Pendergest) and S F Bandwagon (Larry Smith).

Dresden, Ohio, October 19

Judges: John Lam and Keith Lowry


[One-Hour Heats] — 14 Pointers and 2 Setters

Winner—S F SALTWATER, 1679750, pointer male, by Connor’s E Z Button—Yankee Trace Abby. L. L. Smith, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—ASCENSION, 1664823, pointer male, by Reloaded—Dialed In. Matt Pendergest, owner and handler.

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