American Field

Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo Wins Second Consecutive Grand National Title

National Championship

By William S. Smith | Mar 06, 2018
National Champion Lester's Sunny Hill Jo

Grand Junction, Tenn. — Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again,” and that phrase certainly relates to the 2018 National Champion, Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo, when he accomplished what only five other dogs have achieved in the history of the National Championship, being named National Champion for the second consecutive year. Jo is a beautiful example of what defines class in a bird dog. When on game he stands the highest that his frame will allow with head and tail also at their maximum height. The only things moving are his nostrils as he soaks in the scent of his quarry. His muscles bulge under his tight skin as he anticipates the explosion to come. His demeanor never changes — he is intense and focused. He could be photo shopped on each of his finds because his style is always the same — exceptional.

The white, orange, and ticked pointer is in the third year of his all-age competition. He is a big dog weighing between 50 and 60 pounds, but there is something else that is also big about him. He has a big heart. He could not have run in the conditions he ran in without a heart that compelled him to keep going in spite of the temperature in the 70s and the ankle deep mud and standing water that he encountered with almost every step. It takes a big “want to” to endure for three hours in that environment.

It was also déjà vu again because Jo ran on the afternoon course, the same as last year and he also ran in 70° heat last year. His find count, however, was not the same. He was credited with seven finds last year and he upped that total this year to nine. As reported in the description of his performance in brace No. 12, he set the record for the quickest time to record a find at twenty seconds. He had four finds the first hour. A find, an unproductive stand, his only blemish, and a back of his bracemate in the second hour and four finds in his last hour. Going up Cox’s Ridge in the last hour he was like the ball in a pinball machine as he ricocheted off the first of his three finds in a six-minute span.

The breeding of Chris George’s bitch, Miller’s White Wall, a daughter of Lester’s Snowatch, the 2009 National Champion, to Ransom produced Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo’s litter. Gary Lester of Gracey, Ky., acquired Jo when he was a youngster from a very good friend. The friend had purchased Jo and believed he had the potential to be a champion and made the arrangements for Jo to go to Gary. Gary knew he had something special in Jo. Jo’s two qualifying wins were a year apart but Gary knew that Jo would eventually qualify. He not only qualified by winning the Alabama Championship only two days before the start of the National last year, he won the title the first year he competed in the National. He is now two for two, a figure Yogi Berra would approve of. Co-owner David Thompson of Edmonton, Ky., is also two for two thanks to Jo. It is a very difficult thing to defend the title of National Champion. Time will tell if Jo will be the first ever to capture the crown three consecutive years.


“If you don’t invest much in the process, then defeat doesn’t hurt and winning isn’t very exciting.” — Dick Vermeil

Brace No. 11 in the second week of the competition began on Monday morning, February 19, and a rare event occurred when the sun finally made an appearance. It was a welcome sight when Dunn’s Tried’N True and Touch’s White Knight were loosed at 8:02. True’s owners Will and Rita Dunn were present. Rita was riding in the gallery and Will was scouting for handler Luke Eisenhart. Knight’s owner Eddie Sholar was mounted to support Mark McLean and scout Nick Thompson. True went to the west edge in the Out Front Field and Knight went to the east. True was through the gap first with Knight close behind as they advanced to the pond dam. Both handlers and scouts were out searching at Heartbreak Hill. We crossed Ellington at 10 and it was reported that both dogs had crossed and along the north edge. McLean went into the Supermarket Field and Eisenhart stayed the course. At 12 Eisenhart asked permission for Tommy Davis to go out since Dunn had not returned. Eisenhart rode toward the west end of Morgan and his cap was in the air at 14. True was in the Supermarket Field on the south edge north of Morgan Swamp. Eisenhart flew the covey with True high and tight. Ten minutes later at 24 scout Dunn found True on the south end of the Morgan Field on the old course pointing into a small thicket. Birds flew when Eisenhart arrived, True staunch at wing and shot. The sun began to play hide and seek with clouds and periods of sun and clouds would continue during the brace. True crossed Turner Road at 30 and Eisenhart showed him as he made a pretty cast around the lower end of the Longneck Field. True was seen as he entered Turner Basin and at 39 Eisenhart’s cap was in the air again. A single bird left True when Eisenhart walked in front of the intense pointer. The third flawless find of the first hour was in the book.

Although the sun was shining, it was a dark day for McLean when he asked for the retrieval device at 43. True was not seen through the Turner Pines or the Turner Ditch Fields but after crossing Turner Ditch Eisenhart pointed him out in the Tom Hert Field. True rounded Govan Hill and was seen as he passed the old Dunn property. He crossed National Championship and took in the Mary Scott Out Front Field before heading across the dam. True was not seen at the entrance to the lowlands but Eisenhart kept to the course and dispatched Dunn. True was back with Eisenhart at the south end of the lowlands at the ditch crossing. True was out of Locust Turn and was motoring around the west edge of National Championship South when he styled up at 1:34. Eisenhart quickly waved it off and True crossed in the Tennessee Field and made a nice showing as he moved into the Big Oak Field. He went through the gap into the Morgan Field and Eisenhart raised his cap for the fourth time at 1:41. Eisenhart flushed a single bird and for the fourth time True was motionless at wing and shot. True was almost standing in the tracks he had made on his second find. The bird here was quite possibly a sleeper from that earlier find. When True was released he was seen at the T Piece crossing. Scout Dunn was dispatched but True corrected on his own and hugged the east edge where Eisenhart turned him into the Supermarket Field and handler and dog crossed National Championship at Kyle’s Barn at 1:57. Scout Dunn was sent into the lowlands at Climmie Clark South. True was not seen through Edward Clark South but showed to the front in No Man’s Land. True was absent through the cut into the Edward Clark northwest of pines and Eisenhart searched the Long Mudhole Field without finding True. After a conversation with the judges he asked for the retrieval device at 2:18.

Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo, the second of the three previous National Champions to compete and the reigning current National Champion, was handled by his co-owner Gary Lester and scouted by Mark Haynes. Jo’s other co-owner, David Thompson, was mounted to lend encouragement. Salem’s Annie Oakley was the second dog in the brace. Annie was handled by Andy Daugherty and scouted by Allen Vincent for owner Dr. James Santarelli, who was riding along with his daughter Gina to cheer on their entry. It was 72° at 1:15 p. m. when the brace began. Probably the quickest find in the history of the National was recorded today when Jo was credited with his first find at twenty seconds into the brace. He was loosed in a food patch on the north side of Ames Road and nailed the covey almost immediately after breakaway. He hit the scent hard and literally swapped ends on this find. They were together through the East Pasture and in Jim Miller Lester sent Haynes out toward Hog Town. Lester informed Daugherty that Annie was on the south side of Buster Graves and Daugherty went to investigate. Jo was back with Lester in Buster Graves. They were together in the Ames Horseshoe and crossed Ames Road at 22. Annie went around the small woods and headed for Cedar Hill. Jo was pointed out as he went to Cedar Hill out of George Kemp East. Jo was back with Lester in the horseshoe and he was standing again at 31 west of the center line of the course in sage grass. He was solid when the birds lifted and his second find was recorded. Annie had hooked up with Daugherty at the top of the horseshoe and was standing in Peter Pugh just south of Cedar Hill at 34. Daugherty was not able to produce a bird and an unproductive was credited. They were in tandem at 40 as they went ahead into the chute. Scout Haynes called point for Jo on the east side of the chute at 44 standing in a mowed strip looking into thick sage grass. Lester arrived and put another covey to wing with Jo steady at the shot. They left the chute and made haste through the Agronomy Unit and headed toward the Strawberry Patch. Daugherty saw Annie on point at woodsedge on the north side of Tyler Test east of the shed at 51. Birds flew when Daugherty approached with everything in order. Judge Rayfield and marshal Weatherly had taken a different route out of the Agronomy Unit when they got behind on Jo’s find in the chute in order to regain the front when Judge Rayfield saw Jo standing at the entrance to Tyler Test. They called point for Jo at 56. Scout Haynes was the first to arrive and the covey lifted wild when Haynes approached. Judge Rayfield told Haynes to shoot over the standing dog and Jo had notched his fourth find of the day. Lester arrived late and was informed as to what had transpired and to take Jo on. Jo was back with Annie at the Demonstration Plots and they raced ahead across the dry pond dam. Daugherty called point for Annie at the entrance to the Lawrence Smith Barn Field and Jo was backing. Daugherty was unable to flush a bird and Annie was harnessed at 1:16 after her second unsuccessful relocation. Jo was credited with a back.

Jo made some nice moves down Pine Hill and through Turkey and Alfalfa Bottoms. Lester went up Pine Hill and Haynes was dispatched west of Alfalfa Bottom. Jo was awol over Pine Hill but was back with Lester in the Harris Field. Jo swung through Kerry Seven Acres and headed toward the Agronomy Unit. He was standing again at 1:44 on the south edge of Tyler Test just north of Kerry Seven Acres. He was rock solid on his fifth find of the day. Jo was seen as he traveled through Wolf Crossing. At 1:56 in the Jack Harris Cabin Field Jo was styled up again. The initial flushing attempt was fruitless and Lester asked Jo to relocate. The relocation was also fruitless and Jo was given an unproductive. At 2:04 Lester was flushing again and a rabbit was officially seen leaving the vicinity in a hurry. No credit or discredit was given here. We crossed Caesar Ditch as Jo sprinted up Cox’s Ridge. Scout Haynes espied Jo standing in bicolor on the east side of the ridge at 2:16. Lester shot as the covey soared through the bicolor. Jo recorded his sixth find of the brace. Two minutes later at 2:18 Jo had another covey pinned at the apex of the ridge just west of the center line of the course for his seventh find of the day. His eighth find came only four minutes later at 2:22 just northeast of Carlisle Corner. Lester pointed him out as he raced through Carlisle Corner and into the woods gap. He continued to hunt through the chute and turned west toward Fason Bottom. He recorded his ninth find at 2:33 on top of the ridge just before descending into Fason Bottom. Jo had been faultless on all nine of his finds. He went through Fason Bottom, crossed the ditch and hunted up Fason Ridge and went into A. T.’s House Place. He rambled through the Supermarket Field, the Big Oak Field, and went through the gap into the Morgan Field. Lester had him at heel across Morgan to the road crossing at the T Piece. Jo completed his attempt to retain his title in the T Piece.

The mercury stood at 66° at 8:02 when the thirteenth brace began in the Out Front Field. Although there had been no rain the previous two days, the courses were still very muddy with treacherous footing in places and significant amounts of water still standing. Pendy’s Good Grace, handled by Luke Eisenhart, scouted by veteran Tommy Davis, had owner Matt Pendergest in the saddle along with Jim and Amy Pendergest to observe the action. Dominator’s Dotted Line was piloted by Jamie Daniels with assistance from Nick Thompson. Curtis Futch, Bill Hamilton, Field Norris and David Raines, all co-owners of Line, were riding in support. Jim Hamilton and Will Deupree, also co-owners, were not present. Grace took the west side and Line took the east when they were turned loose. Grace was first through the gap toward the pond dam with Line close on her heels. They went over the dam together and both made the turn at Heartbreak Hill, a relief to the handlers, and were seen crossing Ellington Road into the Morgan Field. They both took the west edge in Morgan and held it to the south end. Both scouts were sent out at the old course intersection. Eisenhart pointed out Grace in the New Basin. Line joined Daniels in the New Basin and both dogs entered the L. B. Avent Field. The Turner House Field was quickly left behind and Grace made a pretty move around the lower end of the Turner Longneck Field. Daniels said Line was standing at 29 on the west side of the longneck. Line was almost concealed by heavy weeds as he stood in the pine woods. It was a beautiful setting and to see a covey rise there would have been a picture never forgotten, but Daniels could not put anything in the air. A gallery rider informed Daniels that he had seen a rabbit leave the vicinity, but the judiciary had not seen a rabbit and an unproductive was carded. Grace went over the Turner Basin Dam and into the Turner Pines. Thompson was sent out at the old course to look for Line, Davis in the Turner bicolor. The dogs joined up as they negotiated the Turner Ditch crossing. Line was in the Tom Hert Field as Grace ranged ahead around Govan Hill. Grace notched her first find at 58 in a food patch just west of National Championship Drive across from Mary Scott. Eisenhart dried her off and sent her into the Mary Scott Out Front Field. Line and Grace crossed Mary Scott Dam together and turned into the lowlands. Davis was out as Eisenhart rode the rough terrain calling on Grace. Eisenhart had Grace at the ditch crossing; they moved ahead together crossing National Championship Drive. Grace came to a sudden stop at the edge of the strip of pines between National Championship North and South. A large covey lifted as Eisenhart approached and fired. Grace displayed plenty of class as she watched her quarry fly away. Neither Line nor Daniels had been seen since the lowlands. When we crossed Turner Road at 1:28 Daniels handed the tracking collar to the judges informing them that he had picked up Line. Grace was through the Tennessee Field and made a swing around the west edge of the Big Oak Field before going through the gap into the Morgan Field. Eisenhart conferred with the judges, deciding to save the promising three-year-old for another day.

Brace No. 14, Tuesday afternoon. Oakspring Big Time Warrior, owned by Jeff Miller, was handled by Allen Vincent, assisted by Andy Daugherty. Miller’s Dialing In was handled by his owner Gary Lester and scouted by Mark Haynes. Dialing In was the last of the three former National Champions to compete this year. The temperature reached an almost record high this afternoon, 75°. Clouds moved in and maybe lessened the impact of the unusually hot weather for this time of the year, but regardless it was warm for field trialing. Warrior seemed impervious to the wet, soggy ground and the high temperature as he tendered his bid. They went their separate ways through the East Pasture and Jim Miller. Lester informed Vincent that Warrior was standing on the east end of Jim Miller at the entrance to Buster Graves. Warrior was intense when Vincent flew the covey and was solid at the shot. Dialing was reunited with Lester at Ames Road and crossed into the Mounting Block Field. They crossed George Kemp East and both scouts were out in the George Kemp West Field. Warrior made a swing around the Horseshoe Field and then he and Dialing took in Peter Pugh, Dialing on the north and Warrior on the south. They went into the chute together and at 40 scout Daugherty called point for Warrior standing on the east side of the chute. Vincent flushed a nice covey as Warrior watched the action. They were neck and neck as they departed the chute and raced across the Agronomy Unit and turned toward the Strawberry Patch. At 49 Daugherty found Warrior on point again on the north side of Tyler Test. Vincent arrived and Warrior had his third find recorded with no exception taken to his manners at wing and shot. Dialing was not seen by the Strawberry Patch or the Demonstration Plots and Haynes was out. At 58 Warrior was stacked up on the west side of the Water Truck Field adjacent to the old roadbed that leads to the cut over hill. Another covey filled the air when Vincent flushed and Warrior remained true to his training. Dialing reclaimed the front before reaching Prospect Church and Vincent pointed out Warrior as he advanced to Prospect. They went down the terraced hill and Warrior was spotted in the Dairy Pasture. Lester and Vincent had their caps in the air at 1:12. Warrior and Dialing were on the south side of the Lawrence Smith Barn Field standing about 30 yards apart and looking into the woods. Handlers flushed and birds lifted in front of both dogs. Each was given credit for a find. They went down the hill into Turkey Bottom and Warrior journeyed down the south edge and met Vincent at the crossing into Alfalfa Bottom. Dialing also went into Alfalfa Bottom where he was shown by Lester. Dialing was seen on Pine Hill just before going into the Harris Field. Daugherty was searching for Warrior. Warrior was spotted in Kerry Seven Acres and then was quickly out of sight. Dialing was MIA. At 1:36 Vincent called point as Warrior was styled up north of Tyler Test and south of the Strawberry Patch. Warrior exhibited perfect style and manners at the shot. Warrior was sent ahead and he made the turn toward Wolf Crossing. Dialing was still absent and Lester asked for the retrieval  device at 1:41. At 1:43 Vincent was flushing for Warrior north of Wolf Crossing and just south of the Agronomy Unit. The seventh find of the day was logged when the birds boiled out of the briars as Warrior remained motionless. Past Wolf Crossing Daugherty was dispatched and at 1:50 he found Warrior locked up for the eighth time. Warrior was hard to see as he stood encased in the briar patch. The birds began to lift one and two at a time from all around Warrior as Vincent approached. Warrior remained staunch through the commotion and Vincent fired for the eighth time. Warrior showed his grit and conditioning as he explored the likely places through Jack Harris Cabin Field, over Cox’s Ridge, around Carlisle Corner, and across Fason Bottom. At the apex of Fason Ridge Warrior’s ninth and final find was documented at 2:28. He investigated the territory through A. T.’s House Place, the Tennessee Field, the Supermarket Field, the Big Oak Field, and the Morgan Field before crossing Ellington Road at the T Piece. He completed his effort in the T Piece still moving to the front.

Rain moved into the area Tuesday night. Moderate to heavy rain continued into the morning and flash flood warnings were issued for the Grand Junction area. After conferring with the weather maps and area forecasts, it was decided to cancel the morning running. Every effort was being made by the NCFTA and the judicial panel to afford each contestant an equal opportunity. It is the desire of everyone involved, officials, owners, handlers, and plantation staff, to confine the competition within a two-week period; that desire will not forsake safety in order to end the event. An evaluation later in the morning determined that the running would resume for the afternoon brace.

The fifteenth brace was moved from the morning course to the afternoon course and the few people in attendance were dressed appropriately for the continuous rain. Co-owner Ted Dennard braved the elements to watch his Touch’s Mega Mike compete. Mike’s other owner, Eddie Sholar, was not present. Mark McLean handled and Ike Todd assisted. Andy Daugherty brought Westfall’s River Ice to the line for owner Brad Calkins; Allen Vincent was to lend a hand when needed. It was 52° with a steady light rain at the 12:30 breakaway. The course conditions had worsened overnight with rain, and more rain to come. They both took the south edge and then they cut across to the East Pasture to the hedgerow under the power lines. Mike went to the north and Ice took the south. They were in Jim Miller on the east edge going north when Ice doubled back into the corner. Daugherty called point at 9. Ice was between Jim Miller and the Jim Miller Hay Field standing next to some small treetops that had been cut for removal. Daugherty flushed without success and the relocation attempt was also fruitless; an unproductive was credited. At 16 in Buster Graves McLean called point. Daugherty went that way and when he arrived he saw Ice standing with Mike backing. The covey flew as Daugherty walked in front of Ice, the dog steady to wing and shot. Mike was credited with a back. They went around the Ames Road Horseshoe and crossed Ames Road together. Vincent was out in the George Kemp East toward Cedar Hill and Mike went through the gap into George Kemp West. Ice was back with Daugherty in the Horseshoe Field and moved ahead toward Peter Pugh. Mike came out of the horseshoe and styled up at the west entrance to Peter Pugh at 34. Mike carded an unproductive. Meanwhile at 36 Ice suffered his second unproductive in Peter Pugh and was harnessed at 38. Mike scored his only find at 45 on the east side of the chute. He went out the north end of the chute and headed toward the Strawberry Patch. His performance was somewhat hampered by his inexperience and McLean, after a conversation with the judges, decided to save the three-year old for another time at 56 near the Strawberry Patch.

Daniels Creek Whitehawk, owned by Terry Reinke and handled by Travis Gellhaus, regrettably was withheld from competition in the sixteenth brace because of an earlier injury. It was 46° at 8:08 when the leash was unsnapped for House’s Buckwheat Hawk, owned by Bruce and Karen Norton, handled by Mark McLean with help from Luke Eisenhart. Substantial thunderstorms during the night produced three and one-half inches of rain. The saturated courses now had water standing in places where none have ever seen it before. A visual check of the Turner Ditch crossing was made to determine if it was fordable prior to the start of the brace. The usually quiet channel measured two feet deep and was moving swiftly. The consensus was favorable for a safe crossing and the morning brace was a “Go.” A mist filled the air and a light opaque fog hovered over the Out Front Field as Hawk hurried to the east edge food patch. He roamed through the patch and was through the gap. He was seen as he went over the dam of the overflowing pond and raced ahead toward Heartbreak Hill. A deer was seen at the base of the hill as we approached. Hawk was south of the hill working through the food patches. He was with McLean at Joe Woody and McLean sent him across Ellington Road into the Morgan Field. Hawk motored up the north edge into the neck and heeded McLean’s call as he turned in the neck and took the west edge of the field. Eisenhart was dispatched when Hawk veered into Morgan Swamp. Hawk came through the Morgan woods and was seen at the intersection of the old course. He joined McLean at the entrance to the New Basin and streaked across the Basin Dam and on into the Avent Field. Hawk made quick work of the Turner House Place and made a move along the east edge in the Turner Longneck Field. Hawk was not in sight through Turner Basin nor the Turner Ditch Fields. Eisenhart was out. McLean stayed the course. We crossed Turner Ditch without incident with McLean already across. McLean went to Govan Hill to look for Hawk and the gallery spotted Hawk in the Tom Hert Field making a nice cast down the west edge. He had crossed Turner Ditch on his own and had not slowed down any since the brace began. He was running as if the sloppy, cold, wet conditions were of no concern to him. McLean arrived and sent Hawk on ahead toward the Dunn property. Without the benefit of any bird work at 1:03, McLean picked up when we reached National Championship Drive.

The seventeenth brace on Thursday afternoon showcased Stardust Chaz and Whippoorwill Blue Blood. Chaz is owned by Bob and Sarina Craig, Scott Kermicle, and John Sayre. Bob and Scott were mounted to support their entry. Steve Hurdle piloted Chaz and Korry Reinhart assisted. Dr. J. D. Huffman and Keith Wright co-own Blue Blood. Larry Huffman guided Blue and Nick Thompson scouted. Dr. Huffman was in the road gallery for Blue. The thermometer stood at 52° at 1:10 when the action began in the East Pasture. The conditions had not improved for man or beast. The horses were working hard to negotiate the precarious footing and the canines were also dealing with the same difficulties. They broke away and then went their separate ways. Chaz was on the north side of the hedgerow under the power line and Blue on the right. They took the west line in Jim Miller and Thompson was sent into the Jim Miller Hay Field. Piper Huffman spotted Blue at Hog Town and notified Huffman. Blue joined Huffman at the entrance to Buster Graves. Chaz had not returned. Reinhart was sent to the south side of Buster Graves. Chaz was back with Hurdle at the gravel drive and both dogs went into the Ames Horseshoe. They crossed Ames Road and were together in the Mounting Block Field. Both scouts went toward Cedar Hill in the George Kemp West Field. Huffman pointed out Blue in the Horseshoe Field as he made a pretty swing around the field. Thompson was sent to investigate the south side of Peter Pugh. At the entrance to the chute Huffman went toward the Apple Tree Piece and came back with Blue. Blue raced ahead into the chute and Thompson was sent to the west side of the chute. Chaz was still MIA. Blue was not seen leaving the chute and Huffman rode on ahead toward the entrance to the Agronomy Unit calling on Blue. North of the Strawberry Patch Blue was seen at Tyler Test. Huffman was notified and decided that there was too much for Blue to overcome in the next two hours and he snapped a lead to Blue’s collar at 52. Chaz was still out of pocket and Hurdle asked for the retrieval device at 52.

The mythical sun appeared when the clouds parted prior to the start of the eighteenth brace. However, the condition of the course had not had time to benefit to any reasonable degree. Luke Eisenhart handled True Confidence for owners Frank and Jean LaNasa and Tommy Davis scouted. Scott Griffin and son Will came from South Carolina to watch their entry, Miller’s Happy Jack. Randy Anderson handled and Tiffany Genre assisted. It was warm, 66° at 8:04 when the competition kicked off. They left the Out Front Field behind as they raced through the gap toward the pond dam. Both scouts were out at Heartbreak Hill and both handlers went to A. T.’s. Scout Davis found Confidence on the south edge of A. T.’s and Eisenhart was summoned. The initial flushing attempt was not successful and Confidence was asked to relocate. An extended relocation took place with Confidence succeeding in pinning the running covey on the opposite side of the small scope of woods where he had originally established point. Anderson went toward Fason Ridge looking for Jack. Eisenhart crossed Ellington with Confidence at 22. Confidence took the west edge and carried it into the cut over south of Morgan. Eisenhart saw Confidence on point at 26 in the cut over. A nice covey flew when flushed with no exception taken to Confidence’s manners. He crossed Turner Road and made a swing through the lower end of the Longneck Field. Jack had not returned and Anderson asked for the retrieval device at 32.

Confidence was spotted in the Turner Basin as he roamed ahead toward the Turner Pines. Eisenhart called point for the third time at 52. Confidence was in a mowed strip in the south Turner Ditch Field facing a feed patch. Another covey took wing when Eisenhart flushed, again everything in order. Confidence crossed Turner Ditch and Davis was sent out at Govan Hill. Confidence was united with Eisenhart at the Dunn property and rambled on toward National Championship Drive. He made quick work of Mary Scott and turned the corner into the lowlands. He went out the south end of the lowlands and Eisenhart brought him back into National Championship North. It was getting hot. The mercury had climbed to 74°, up 8° since breakaway. Confidence was still game but the harsh and uncompromising conditions had taken a toll on him. Eisenhart humanely picked up at 1:29.

Brace No. 19. For the second time during the trial the temperature reached 75°. It was not favorable for field trial weather and especially with the miry condition of the grounds. Handler-owner Dr. Fred Corder brought Game Bo to the starting line and Ike Todd came to help if needed. Westfall’s True Grit was the second dog in the brace. Ryan Westfall owns Grit and he scouted for handler Andy Daugherty. Ryan’s son Austin was also mounted to ride in his first field trial. Rita Corder was in the road gallery to cheer on her husband and Game Bo. Bo was released in the food patch at 1:03 and he carried it all the way to the west edge of the field. Grit went to the north side of the hedgerow and went west. Bo and Grit were in Buster Graves with Bo on the north side and Grit on the south. They went around the Ames Road Horseshoe and crossed into the Mounting Block Field. In the George Kemp West both scouts were dispatched to Cedar Hill. Scout Todd found Bo in the west side of the horseshoe field just east of Peter Pugh. Corder arrived and birds were seen under the large dead log just in front of Bo, which was unmoving at the shot. Grit was seen as he left the horseshoe headed for Peter Pugh. Grit went through the chute and Daugherty sent him on toward the Strawberry Patch. Bo had not been seen but he was back with Corder at the Strawberry Patch. Daugherty called point for Grit at 54 on the north side of Tyler Test. Daugherty could not produce any birds and put a lead on Ice at 55. Bo was in and out through the Water Truck Fields, past Prospect, and Lawrence Smith. He showed in Turkey Bottom and was sent up Pine Hill by Corder. He was sighted as he departed Pine Hill and entered the Harris Field. He was across Kerry Seven Acres and through Tyler Test as Corder blew him on. It was evident that the humidity and the rough going were taking a lot out of Bo. He had slowed considerably in the Agronomy Field and Corder decided that Bo had given enough at 1:45.

The weather forecasted for Saturday morning, February 24, included severe thunderstorms that would move into the area in mid-morning Saturday. Accompanying the thunderstorms would be flood warnings, already in effect, and the possibility of tornado alerts. The judges and representatives of the NCFTA met Friday night to discuss these issues. It was decided that the first brace Saturday would run on schedule if the weather permitted and that, weather still permitting, the second brace would be put down one hour after the conclusion of the first brace. The second brace would run on the afternoon course regardless of the start time.

Brace No. 20. The clouds were rolling Saturday morning when Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa, handled by Mike Hester with assistance from Steve Hurdle, came to the line. Tom’s owner, Larry Earls, braved the forecast to watch his color-bearer. Skyfall, for co-owners Bob Walthall and Thorpe McKenzie, was handled by Steve Hurdle and scouted by Korry Reinhart. Bob and Thorpe were not present. It was 66° at 8:02 when the leads were removed. They raced across the Out Front Field and were through the gap quickly. They were seen as they neared the pond dam. Both scouts were out at Heartbreak Hill and both handlers went to A. T.’s in search of their dogs. The ugly forecast may have been an omen of things to come. After a futile search Hester and Hurdle asked for their retrieval devices at 23. Heartbreak Hill had claimed two more casualties.

Brace No. 21. Although ominous, the conditions were deemed favorable enough to run the last brace. It was 68° at 9:35 a. m. when the brace commenced. Travis Gellhaus piloted Lone Tree’s Showbiz for owner Mitch Solt, who was riding. Steve Hurdle was assisting Gellhaus. Robin Gates handled Shadow’s Full Throttle; Nick Thompson scouted. Throttle’s owner Larry Lee was not able to attend. Showbiz held the south line in the East Pasture to the west end of the field. Throttle went to the hedgerow under the power line on the north side. They were together in the Jim Miller Field as they hugged the west edge. They were apart but together in Buster Graves. Throttle crossed Ames Road and slid to a muddy stop in the Mounting Block Field in a soybean strip at 22. Gates flew a big covey with Throttle high and tight. Showbiz was absent. Both scouts explored Cedar Hill. Throttle hooked up with Gates at the top of the horseshoe and Gates sent him toward Peter Pugh. Showbiz was seen at the entrance to the chute and Throttle was close behind. Gellhaus called point at the north end of the chute at 45. As Gates neared Showbiz he also called point for Throttle. Throttle was in in lead with Showbiz backing. Throttle was credited with his second find. Gellhaus decided to pick up at 47. Throttle roamed through the Agronomy Unit, the Strawberry Patch, and by the Demonstration Plots without any other bird work. Thompson was out at the Demonstration Plots. Gates asked for the retrieval device at 1:04. The wettest National that anyone could remember was history. The storms came later in the day.

Grand Junction, Tenn., February 12

Judges: Dr. R. J. Carlisle, James W. Crouse and Jadie Rayfield

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP [Three-Hour Heats] — 40 Pointers and

2 Setters

Mega Blackhawk’s Progeny, w & b, pointer male, by Rock Acre Blackhawk—Mega Ruby. Brad Kennedy, owner; Steve Hurdle, handler. With

Touch’s Game Point, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Miller’s Happy Jack—B C Angelina. Dr. Reuben Richardson & Tony Gibson, owners; Mark McLean, handler.

Erin’s Redrum, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Erin’s Whiskey River—Erin’s Wild Rose. Sean Derrig, owner and handler. With

Lester’s Jazz Man, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Lester’s Snowatch—High Point Jesse. Dan Hensley, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

Dominator’s Rebel Heir, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Rivertons Funseek’n Scooter—Pearl Again. James Hamilton, owner; Jamie Daniels, handler. With

Erin’s Muddy River, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Erin’s Bad River—Thoman’s Miss Annie. Tommy Hamilton, owner; Robin Gates, handler.

Phillips Field Line, w, o & tk, pointer male, by R W Scarface—Phillips Southern Star. Don Stroble, owner; Randy Anderson, handler. With

Cassique’s Boss, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Elhew Fibber McGee—Magic Carpet. Rick Stallings, owner; Steve Hurdle, handler.

Touch’s Adams County, w, lm & tk, pointer male, by House’s Line Up—Line of Beck. Richard Peterson, owner; Randy Anderson, handler. With

Shadow’s White Warrior, w, o & tk, pointer male, by In The Shadow—Rester’s Whistling Dixie. Carl Bowman, owner; Robin Gates, handler.

Coldwater Thunder, w, lv & tk, pointer female, by Coldwater Warrior—Thunder Bess. Doug Arthur & Rachel Blackwell, owners; Steve Hurdle, handler. With

Whippoorwill Foto Op, w, o & tk, pointer female, by Ransom—Whippoorwill Wild Wing. Ken Blackman & Heath Barnett, owners; Larry Huffman, handler.

Whippoorwill Wild Assault, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Boxwood Bang. Jim & Stephanie Bickers, owners; Larry Huffman, handler. With

Strut Nation, w & o, pointer male, by Game Strut—High Value Special. Scott & Julie Jordan, owners; Tommy Davis, handler.

Whippoorwill Justified, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Ronnie Spears, owner; Larry Huffman, handler. With

Shadow’s Next Exit, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Exit Lane—Weber’s Little Snowball. N. G. (Butch) Houston III, owner; Robin Gates, handler.

Sleepless in Sacramento, w & o, pointer female, by L B Iron Horse—Super Express Nash Begone. Jim & Cami Wolthuis, owners; Sheldon Twer, handler. With

Dazzling, w & o tk, pointer female, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Bob Walthall & Thorpe McKenzie, owners; Steve Hurdle, handler.

Erin’s Longmire, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Erin’s Whiskey River—Erin’s Wild Rose. Brad Calkins, owner; Robin Gates, handler. With

Cole Train, w, b & tk, pointer male, by Lance’s Last Knight—Quinton’s Pretty Baby. Dr. Fred Corder, owner and handler.

Dunn’s Tried’n True, w & o, pointer male, by Miller’s Dialing In—White Royal Pain. Will & Rita Dunn, owners; Luke Eisenhart, handler. With

Touch’s White Knight, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Lance’s Last Knight—Prairieland Lucy. Eddie Sholar, owner; Mark McLean, handler.

Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo. With

Salem’s Annie Oakley, w & lv tk, pointer

female, by Smokey Knight—Good Knight Tramp. Dr. James Santarelli, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

Pendy’s Good Grace, w, o & tk, pointer female, by Reloaded—Dialed In. Matt Pendergest, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler. With

Dominator’s Dotted Line, w, lv & tk pointer female, by Double Rebel Dominator—Sinbad’s Diamond Lill. Curtis Futch, Will Deupree, Bill & Jim Hamilton, Field Norris & David Raines; owners; Jamie Daniels, handler.

Oakspring Big Time Warrior, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Oakspring Big Time—Barshoe Eclectic. Jeff Miller, owner; Allen Vincent, handler. With

Miller’s Dialing In, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Miller’s Happy Jack—Phillips Silver Star. Gary Lester, owner and handler.

Touch’s Mega Mike, w, o & tk, pointer male, by House’s Ring of Fire—Touch’s Blaylock Bess. Eddie Sholar & Ted Dennard, owners; Mark McLean, handler. With

Westfall’s River Ice, w, b & tk, pointer male, by Westfall’s Black Ice—Westfall’s Quick Gold. Brad Calkins, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

Daniels Creek Whitehawk, w, b & tk, pointer male, by Rock Acre Blackhawk—Brown’s Northern Light. Terry Reinke, owner; Travis Gellhaus, handler. With

House’s Buckwheat Hawk, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by House’s White Hawk—Quinton’s Flying High. Bruce & Karen Norton, owners; Mark McLean, handler.

Stardust Chaz, w, o & tk, setter male, by Wild Wing Warrior—Stardust Coco. Bob & Sarina Craig, John Sayre & Scott Kermicle, owners; Steve Hurdle, handler. With

Whippoorwill Blue Blood, w & o, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Keith Wright & Jack Huffman, owners; Larry Huffman, handler.

True Confidence, w & o, pointer male, by Two Acre Bulldog—Bar P Anex. Frank & Jean LaNasa, owners; Luke Eisenhart, handler. With

Miller’s Happy Jack, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Lester’s Bandit—Bryson’s Powder Twist. Scott Griffin, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

Game Bo, w & lv, pointer male, by Rock Acre Rambo—Regret C. Dr. Fred Corder, owner and handler. With

Westfall’s True Grit, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Erin’s Brave Heart—Westfall’s Irish Bell. Ryan Westfall, owner; Andy Daugherty, handler.

Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa, w, o & tk, setter male, by Quickmarksman’s Tekoa—Quickmarksman’s Sue. Larry Earls, owner; Mike Hester, handler. With

Skyfall, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparkles. Bob Walthall & Thorpe McKenzie, owners; Steve Hurdle, handler.

Lone Tree’s Showbiz, w, o & tk, pointer male, by Wiggins River Wild—Wiggins Miss Reba. Mitch Solt, owner; Travis Gellhaus, handler. With

Shadow’s Full Throttle, w, lv & tk, pointer male, by Erin’s Stoney River—Twin Lakes Wishbone. Larry Lee, owner; Robin Gates, handler.

Winner—Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo, 1655546, pointer male, by Ransom—Miller’s White Wall. David Thompson & Gary Lester, owners; Gary Lester, handler.

Sidelights and Recognitions

Purina, Garmin, Ainley Kennels, Harvester’s Land Co. and Avery Outdoors sponsored the annual National Field Trial Championship Kickoff Reception and Dinner at the Bird Dog Museum on Sunday evening, February 11. This event is probably the most anticipated occasion associated with the National. The sponsors of this affair go all out to insure that the several hundred in attendance do not go away hungry and this year was no exception. It is a great way to introduce all the other activities that transpire during the National Championship weeks.

Purina, the official dog food sponsor of the 2018 National Championship, began operations in 1894 two years before the first National Championship. Not only does Purina sponsor the National and many other events held at the Bird Dog Museum each year, they also sponsor many other field trials throughout the year in many different breed trials. Their generosity is not only appreciated but it is also a life line to some of the trials. Their support makes a huge difference in the cost of operating a trial. This year Purina  again furnished a year’s supply of Pro Plan to the winning handler and a sample to each handler in the National. Purina also furnished shirts and vests for the officers and directors of the NFTCA, the judges, and others for their service to the National. Purina will also make a monetary contribution to help defray the cost of conducting this event. We tip our caps to Purina. Purina was represented by Bob West who is a consultant and the founder of the Purina Sporting dog segment. Karl Gunzer, also in attendance, is the senior manager in charge of all of the Purina Sporting Dog segments. Greg Blair, who was on hand for most of the trial, is area manager in charge of the entire Bird Dog segment. Consultant Jim Smith also was present.

Sportsman’s Pride sponsored an “all invited” Brunswick Stew on Monday evening, February 19, at Bryan Hall. Sportsman’s Pride also provided a year’s supply of dog food to the winning handler. In addition pet food samples and souvenir caps were available every morning to everyone stopping by the Rhea Clubhouse while supplies lasted. They also furnished outer wear to all of the officers and directors of the NFTCA, club officials and individuals accountable for managing the trial. They also made a monetary contribution to the NFTCA to help defray the cost of conducting this quality event. Their contributions and support are very much appreciated. Brad Kennedy and David Brown were on hand representing Sportsman’s Pride.

The National Field Trial Championship Association is grateful and thankful to all the sponsors who donate their products and their support in order to make this event the most prestigious of all field trials. For a listing of all the sponsors see the January 6 edition of The American Field, pages 2-3.

The Hardeman County Chamber of Commerce, the Hardeman County Mayor’s Office, City of Bolivar, and the Joint Economic Community Development Board of Bolivar, Tenn., provided free BBQ sandwiches, chips, and a soft drink in Bryan Hall on Saturday evening, February 10, for those who attended the drawing. A very much appreciated function by the volunteers who came from Bolivar to serve the dinners.

The Bank of Fayette County provided a cash purse of $2,000 to the winning handler. The J. F. “Tobe” Stallings Memorial Award, provided by the Stallings family, also donated $2,000 to the winning handler.

The Hickory Valley Women’s Club, and women from Grand Junction, Saulsbury, Bolivar and Somerville, Tenn., and Shannon, Miss., arrive each morning in the Rhea Clubhouse at 6:00 a. m. and are on hand until 12:00 p. m. They answer questions and offer information about the merchants and service providers around the Grand Junction area and vicinity and they also distribute sausage and biscuits every morning that are furnished by The First Baptist Church of Grand Junction, Tenn. The coffee is free and on those frigid mornings they offer hand warmers for sale.

The annual Catfish Supper was held on Thursday, February 15, at the Bird Dog Museum. The event is sponsored by Budweiser, Central Distributing of Jackson, Tenn., and Purina. This event rivals the Kick-off Dinner in terms of attendance. It is the second most anticipated occasion of the season.

The museum staff’s official count of the attendees was 301. That’s quite a lot of catfish and hush puppies.

Ms. Catherine Bowling Dean of Me and My Tea Room Catering provided the mid-day meals at Bryan Hall from 11:00 a. m. until 1:00 p. m. each day of the trial. Bryan Hall is a popular place during the noon break. Some do not ride in the trial but come to get updates of the previous braces and of course to enjoy the appetizing meals.

Tonya Brotherton and her staff at the Bird Dog Museum put in some very long days and hours during this time. In addition to the hundreds of visitors who visit they also host the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, the Kick-off Dinner, and the annual Catfish Supper. Sissy Pierce, Renee Houston, and Lucy Cogbill are the three full time employees of the museum along with Tonya. There are also many volunteers whom Tonya says she could not do without their help and support. The museum is open seven days a week during the running of the National. A visit there is certainly worth your time.

Aubrey Green is the head of the security team that patrols the grounds and roadways during the National.

Several of the team members are mounted members who ride every brace. Greg Tapp is a paramedic on horseback who provides medical attention in cases of accidents and injuries. Moses Allen and Marilyn Woody are Sheriff Department employees who provide protection for the riders at every road crossing along with Aubrey. The other members are: Kelly Green, Joe Thompson, Chris Kelly, Zack Parsons, Kerry Kimmery, Dustin Kee, and Johnny Pattat. Their presence makes it a safer place for all.

With the exception of the plantation offices, the Rhea Building, located at the field trial stables, is the most utilized building on Ames. Rube Rhea, Sr. was affiliated with and was a director of the National Championship for many years. After his passing his family, as a way to honor his memory, spearheaded the drive to construct the building. Rube Rhea, Jr. took on the responsibility to organize and oversee the endeavor. Rube Jr. is also a director of the National. He has been faithful to promote and to participate in the National each year. After years of farming and of managing a cattle operation he has decided to turn over the farm and cattle to his sons, Matt and Scott, and to retire. The NFTCA wishes him many years of leisure but also hope that he will not retire from being a part of the National and Ames Plantation.

The roster of the NFTCA reads as follows: Chairman of the Board is Dr. Dorwin E. Hawthorne. Charles F. Bryan is president. Vice-President is Dale E. Bush. Dr. Rick Carlisle is the secretary/treasurer. Directors are: Nathan Cottrell, James W. Crouse, Freddie Epp, Dr. J. D. Huffman, John Ivester, Bobby McAlexander, Rube Rhea, Jr., Dr. Terry Terlep, Douglas Vaughn, and Joe G. Walker. This group of men have the responsibility of operating the trial as near as possible to the stipulations of Mrs. Ames’ will.

W. S.

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