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Field Trial Report

National Amateur Pheasant Championship

By Jim Pendergest | Nov 18, 2020
Pendy’s Good Grace Winner of the National Amateur Pheasant Championship

The 88th consecutive renewal of the National Amateur Pheasant Championship was concluded on Saturday afternoon, October 10, with Judges Mike Jackson and Mary Sue Schalk naming Pendy’s Good Grace the 2020 Champion. Grace is owned and handled by Matt Pendergest of Georgetown, Ky.

The National Amateur Pheasant Championship is the second oldest of the AFTCA National Amateur Championships, following only the National Amateur Quail Championship.

The inaugural running of the National Amateur Pheasant Championship was held in 1933 in Oneida, N. Y., and was won by Rumson Farm Queen for owner and handler Raymond Hoagland. Hoagland would also win the second running with Four Winds Arrow.

Information from the archives on the AFTCA website shows that the trial was subsequently moved to Buffalo, N. Y., until 1946 when it moved to Cranbury, N. J., where it was contested through 1952.

In 1953 it was hosted by the Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania Club for one year. In 1954 it was contested in Woodland, Cal., and then, in 1955, it moved to Baldwinsville, N. Y., where it remained until 1963.

From 1963 through 2009 the trial was held at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area near Harpster, Ohio. When field trials were discontinued at that area, the stake was moved to the Tri-Valley Area near Dresden, Ohio for the 2010 renewal and has been held there annually through this running.

Ohioans Ray Wheeler and Randy Hopkins have been the mainstays behind the running at Dresden, along with support from Ted Goodyear and Tim McClurg. The International Pheasant Championship (open) and the National Open Pheasant Championship, along with the Tom Honecker Memorial Open Derby have been held in conjunction with this amateur stake for several years, but due to issues with scheduling they were cancelled this year.

In the history of this event, two dogs have captured the title three times. Lawless Boy won consecutive titles in 1941, 1942 and 1943 for owner Dr. Harold E. Longsdorf and handler George M. Rogers. Miller’s True Spirit was named champion in 1994, 1997 and 1998.

A total of nine other dogs have captured the title twice, including Four Winds Arrow in 1934 and 1938, Elhew Marksman in 1957 and ’59, Cannonade in 1965 and ’66, Miller’s Silver Bullett in 1990 and ’92, Chief’s Bandit in 1989 and ’91, Erin’s Tin Soldier in 2006 and 2007, Erin’s Bad River in 2008 and 2009. The last to accomplish the feat was Game Maker in 2010 and 2011.

Successful handlers in this event naturally include Ferrel Miller with a leading nine titles by five different dogs. Sean Derrig follows closely with eight championship titles by six different dogs. George M. Rogers won five titles with three dogs. Two handlers, Herb Holmes and Tom Honecker, each won the title four times. Herb Holmes won the title four consecutive years with three different dogs and Tom Honecker won his four with three dogs.

The roster of winners glows with many famous dogs of the past, including numerous National Champions.

Judges for this year’s renewal were Mike Jackson of Battle Ground, Ind., and Mary Sue Schalk of Dixon, Ky. Mike has been more than generous with his time and talent judging field trials from the Dakotas to South Georgia. Mike has a great eye and instinct for dissecting a performance. He sometimes sees more than you want him to, as this scribe can attest.

Mary Sue comes from a strong field trial heredity, with her father Mike Crouse and her late uncle Jim Crouse mentoring her since early childhood in the field trial and bird dog game. Mary Sue has learned her lessons well and is currently chair of the Quail Championship Invitational, one of the most highly sought titles in the all-age division. She has also earned her stripes in field trial competition, with her Crouse’s White Dragon placing second in the Kentucky Quail Classic against numerous top professionals.

All of us involved appreciate the time and sacrifice both Mike and Mary Sue gave to make this trial happen.

A number of factors came together to create a low number of entries for this renewal. Conflict with dates caused the cancellation of the open championships, which generally create some carryover of entries for this trial. While the number was low, the quality of the field was certainly high. This year’s field included the 2018 National Champion, the 2019 National Amateur All-Age Dog of the Year, and the 2017 Purina Open Derby of the Year as well as the defending National Amateur Pheasant Champion.

THE WINNER

Pendy’s Good Grace carried on a family tradition at this pheasant trial. Her sire, Reloaded, was runner-up champion in 2015 and was named champion in 2016. Her littermate Ascension was named runner-up in 2018.

Grace’s turn came in the first brace of the stake and she set a standard in this first hour.

Breaking from the clubhouse, Grace was pointed out making the 45°  left turn to the front well ahead. She returned from the front as we passed ??Rine Road and set out on another ambitious cast. After making the turn back to the right as we passed the clubhouse for the first time, Grace was pointed out far to the front right at 38 minutes. Next seen at 50 where she was standing on point near the oil well. The cock pheasant was put to wing promptly with all in order for the stylish female. After being watered and released, Grace shot to the front and was pointed out crossing the ridge to the far right of the clubhouse. At the ridge top she was sent down the hill to the left of the clubhouse and finished making a good swing to the left front.

THE RUNNING

The winner, Pendy’s Good Grace was down with Wibaux Sun B (Dr. M. Brown). Sun made the first big swing with his brace mate and was putting on a good show on the ground in the first half. As we passed the clubhouse for the first time, he got caught to the far left and had to be brought back to the front after the sharp turn to the left. Sun continued with good application, but without the benefit of birds.

Rare N Rich (R. Wheeler) with Mac’s Silver Chief (T. McClurg). Chief was lost shortly after breakaway and the retrieval device was requested at 24. Rich had his running wheels on today and gave Wheeler a workout keeping up with him. His hard hunting effort was in vain, as no birds were pointed.

Redeemed (Pendergest) with Mac Golva B (Brown). Redeemed started with a couple of nice swings through the country and suffered an unproductive at 23 after a lengthy relocation. His effort moderated in the middle of the hour, but he regained energy with a nice pheasant find at 50 and finished strongly. Golva B was using the country to his advantage early, but suffered an extended absence in the last half and was leashed prior to pick up time.

Dialed In (Pendergest) with Nosam’s Rock Creek (Wheeler) were off ambitiously from the start with big swings to the front. Creek was pointing at 25 near the turn by the clubhouse but nothing resulted from the initial flushing attempt. A relocation ensued and a pheasant got up during the attempt with Creek stopping for the shot. Creek was pointing again at 40 with Dialed In backing. When no birds resulted, Creek was asked to relocate and Dialed In was taken on. No birds resulted from the relocation and Creek was charged with an unproductive. Dialed In was making good use the country and point was called at 55 but this stand also proved unproductive.

Dunn’s Tried’n True (W. Dunn) with Storm’s End (Pendergest). A foot race ensued between this father and his Derby-age daughter that carried both far to the front off of break away. True was next seen standing at 8 with a beautiful pheasant find. True shot to the front again and was next seen standing at 15. Again a picturesque stand and another pheasant flushed with all in order. True was released from this stand and would be seen no more, an unfortunate end to a very promising start. End continued for the first half with some strong casts, but the mid-day heat seemed to take its toll and she was leashed at 45, concluding the stake.

Dresden, Ohio, October 10

Judges: Mike Jackson and Mary Schalk

NATIONAL AMATEUR PHEASANT CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] —

8 Pointers and 2 Setters

Winner—PENDY’S GOOD GRACE, 1664858, pointer female, by Reloaded—Dialed In. Matt Pendergest, owner and handler.

 

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