American Field

Field Trial Report

National Free-for-All Championship

By Ruthann Epp | Feb 07, 2019
Dunn's Tried'n True Winner of the National Free-for-All Championship

Greensboro, Ala. — Greensboro, Ala.—Dunn’s Tried’N True, six-year-old white and orange pointer male handled by Luke Eisenhart and owned by Will and Rita Dunn of Lebanon, Ky., is the new National Free-for-All Champion. The winning team was presented with a monetary payout plus certificates for Purina dog food and an engraved silver trophy donated by the McDuffie family in memory of Hunter McDuffie, Sr.

Tried’N True, aka Jack, added this title to his ever-growing list of wins. He had three finds in the qualifying heats and four finds in the finals, each with a strong attention-getting race. The finals began on a Thursday morning. The judges the afternoon before handed the list of six finalists to a club official for the announcement. There were numerous good performances, so it was no easy task to whittle the number down.

Dunn’s Tried ’N True was announced to be in the first brace with Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo (Gary Lester). The second brace was Game Bo (Steve Hurdle) and Touch’s Red Rider (Eisenhart), third brace, Erin’s Wild Justice (Eisenhart) and Coldwater Thunder (Hurdle).


Dunn’s Tried’N True and Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo were loosed under overcast skies, 46° with little wind. At 2 a dog was pointing on top of breakaway hill. The judges loped up the hill to find True locked on birds. Jo saw him from a distance and immediately backed. Birds were flushed from under the cedar trees, with both dogs high on style.

They made their way across the road and at 7 Lester raised his hat as the gallery topped the hill above the warden’s pond. Jo was standing along the woodsedge. Lester stepped in front and a lone bird flew prompting pistol fire. Both dogs took the edge all the way around warden’s pasture. Just before entering bodoc pasture, the gallery heard the call of point. Judge Wright spurred his horse to get there quickly and saw the birds fly as Eisenhart’s horse stepped into the covey. The gun was fired and Eisenhart sent True down the line toward the red barn. Jo was last seen leaving the warden’s pasture. He evidently stayed straight instead of making the turn at the gap resulting in Lester asking for his retrieval device at 45. At 28 the marshal was up ahead and yelled, “I think I hear someone calling point.” The gallery raced through the muddy fields to see True stylishly pointed in the feed strip along the lower treeline of bodoc pasture. Eisenhart flushed the birds and shot to add find No. 3 to the judges’ books. As the gallery topped power plant hill, Eisenhart pointed out True crossing the dog truck road at least a quarter of a mile ahead and running down the right fenceline to encase that end of black cow pasture. True took the next pasture and at 1 hour and 3 minutes popped out on top of the hill near the metal barn. Never slowing, he disappeared straight to the front. His next sighting was ten minutes later. As the gallery got to the eagle’s nest tree, True was going across the next hill. At 9:06 Judge Little yelled, “Pick ’em up!” Eisenhart cantered ahead and one final call of point was heard. Judges and gallery raced up the hill to see True pointed in the edge of the planted milo and Egyptian wheat. Eisenhart walked in front of his dog, still full of intensity, flushed and shot ending the hour and a half endurance race in cold, wet and muddy conditions.

Judges for this prestigious event were Scott Little of Woodlawn, Tenn., and B. J. Wright of Robards, Ky. Scott and his family have been instrumental in hosting the trials run at Fort Campbell. B. J. is active in many of the Ohio Valley Circuit trials and helps with the Quail Championship Invitational. Both gentlemen were very attentive and excellent horsemen. They did an outstanding job of setting the pace to give the dogs the opportunity to hunt.

The average covey count per day was over 12. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of property manager Bill Mason and Carson Hill and the oversight of State Director Patty Powell and State Manager Doug Deaton of the Alabama State Lands Division, we can have assurance that the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area will continue to be available to host this Championship plus three others held in December. Thirty-six acres of plots planted in Egyptian wheat and milo provide food and protection for the released quail. The AFTCA’s 20th Century Fund has awarded the Cahaba Bend Field Trial Club with money each year to assist with this effort.

The National Field Trial Club is appreciative of Greg Blair and Purina for sponsoring the trial. Purina’s Jim Smith, joined us for parts of two days. With rain suit in tow he rode along either on horseback or in the dog truck. Thank you, Purina, for having your reps riding side by side with us at these trials. Others to be thanked include John Henry Kitchens for driving the dog wagon and Allen Linder, owner of last year’s winner, for sponsoring a dinner at the conclusion of the Free-for-All (refer to the sidelights).


Erin’s Redrum (Eisenhart) and Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo (Lester) broke away at 7:30 a. m., with the temperature near 32°, not much wind and frost on the ground. Both dogs were pointed out going up breakaway hill. At 4 both handlers cantered to the top. Jo was backing Redrum standing through the gap. All was in order. Lester turned his dog down the line; he went about 200 yards and pointed at 6. Lester quickly flushed and fired and caught the front. From the top of the hill above the warden’s house, both dogs showed going down the left treeline to the front. At 20 a faint call of point was heard. Both dogs were standing along the fenceline with different coveys. At 24 Redrum had an unproductive. Lester pointed out Jo going to the next objectives. Both dogs were in front at 28. At 35 point was called for Redrum with Jo backing to tally another find. Both dogs finished going out the front.

Game Bo (Hurdle) and Erin’s Full Throttle (Henry) turned loose inside black cow pasture. At 9 Bo had a stylish find. Throttle was in the distant front. Hurdle caught up and Bo took the right edge and moved across the front. Upon entering little prairie pasture, neither dog was seen. Throttle was spotted going along the top of the hill across turkey lake from the gallery. The judge held back, prepared for the call of point, and at 35 the call came. After a half-mile ride to warden’s pasture, Throttle was standing along a ditch bank. Henry stepped in front, flushed birds and fired his gun. Shortly thereafter Hurdle called point for Bo near the dove field. Again, birds flushed and all was in order. Both dogs were still strong at the call of pickup.

Erin’s Wild Justice (Eisenhart) and Skyfall (Hurdle) took the treeline down to the end. Each was seen about once until they got through the woods. Reaching the power line pasture, their running abilities were highlighted with both at the extreme. At 23 Hurdle raised his hat as the gallery topped the hill. Skyfall was pointing, Wild Justice backing. A relocation ensued but nothing was produced. At 42 Eisenhart’s scout called point from the opposite end of the fenceline. Birds flew out of the feed strip for a find with two minutes to go.

Lester’s Pete Rose (Lester) and Erin’s Hidden Shamrock (Eisenhart) were released into a heavy wind. Shamrock took the left fenceline off the breakaway and disappeared from sight. Pete Rose was pointed out on the fenceline then he took a turn and never returned. Both handlers called for their retrieval units.

Dunn’s Tried’N True (Eisenhart) and Marques Armed Robber (Henry) started the afternoon’s fifth brace. At 5 True had a mannerly find on breakaway hill. At 22 point was called, both dogs standing in different locations along the fenceline going back toward the red barn. Eisenhart flushed birds. Henry found a pile of feathers. Robber had a find at 30 along the dove field line. True had one at 32 on the backside of black bottom pasture. True rimmed Taylor field and was out of sight when pickup was called.

Touch’s Red Rider (Eisenhart) and Stardust Chaz (Hurdle) were strong and fast. They made a big cast from the power plant to beyond the dog wagon road. At 23 Eisenhart called point on the hillside near the metal barn. A nice covey flushed with all in order. After making the turn above turkey lake, Red Rider was pointed out on the hill near the red barn. At 33 point was called, both dogs standing across the fenceline from the feed strip on the upper end of the dove field. Both handlers flushed birds and shot. As the gallery went through the muddy ditch both dogs were pointed out at the far end of the treeline before disappearing to the front.

Erin’s Black List (Hurdle) and Stash the Cash (Lester) made their way through the woods and showed up under the big power lines. Cash pointed twice but came up empty both times.

Coldwater Thunder (Hurdle) and True Confidence (Eisenhart) left the red gate taking the mowed strips to the top of the hill. Both dogs were pointed out on the northeast fenceline. Thunder edged Taylor field beautifully. At 31 Hurdle called point under the big pines in new ground. Thunder looked stunning throughout the flush and shot. Both dogs went behind VIP pond. At 37 Thunder took the left edge of show bottom and came up along the ditch and crossed over into gum springs to finish the heat. Scout Tommy Davis called point for True Confidence near the top of the hill. When Eisenhart stepped into the feed strip, the birds came boiling out. He shot and all was in order to finish his time.


The first brace was covered above.

Game Bo and Erin’s Red Rider  were released on the hill near the red barn. At 15 Hurdle called point; the gallery raced to the opposite side of little prairie pasture. He flushed to no avail and Bo did not want to move for a relocation — a pile of feathers was the reason. Just a minute later, Eisenhart called point at the other end of the line near the catch pen. As he stepped in front of the statuesque Rider birds came up and the gun was fired. Both dogs were pointed out edging the upper end of black cow pasture and evidently got too far ahead so both handlers requested retrieval units.

Erin’s Wild Justice and Coldwater Thunder were loosed under cloudy skies and strong winds after a quick lunch. They both made big, fast casts off the breakaway independent of each other. Thunder took the left tree edge of warden’s pasture to the front while Justice went the other way and had to be rounded up to return. As the judges neared the gap into bodoc pasture Hurdle raised his arm to point out Thunder going over the hill. No dogs were seen until 28 when a distant call of point prompted a three-quarter mile gallop to the hillside near the metal barn. Both dogs were standing and both scouts were there but only one handler — Hurdle. Birds were flushed, two guns were fired and then the partial gallery took the long ride back to the course. Unfortunately, Eisenhart did not know that his scout had his dog and had just asked for his retrieval device seconds before the dogs emerged through the treeline. At 46 Hurdle called point in the feed strip just entering black cow pasture. The white and liver female stood head and tail high as the birds were flushed right in front of her for find No. 2. After crossing the dog truck road, Thunder took the right edge and was next seen going across the distant front. As the gallery emerged from little prairie pasture she was skirting the trees on the next hill and at an hour and 16 minutes she was across turkey lake headed to the front. With four minutes to go, from the gallery’s position, Thunder looked like an aspirin tablet going over the warden’s hill. She crossed the road and finished across the hill near the red barn.

Greensboro, Ala., December 6

Judges: Scott Little and B. J. Wright

NATIONAL FREE-FOR-ALL CHAMPIONSHIP [Forty-Five Minute Qualifying Heats; Ninety-Minute Finals] — 14 Pointers and 2 Setters

Winner—DUNN’S TRIED’N TRUE, 1655258, pointer male, by Miller’s Dialing In—White Royal Pain. Will & Rita Dunn, owners; Luke Eisenhart, handler.


This is the first year that the Hunter McDuffie Memorial Trophy has been given to the National Free-for-All winner. Hunter McDuffie, Sr., was a colorful figure in Alabama field trial circles in the 1960s and ’70s. He lived in Camden, Ala., not far from Jimmy Hinton’s Sedgefields Plantation, so he visited there often and was a fixture at most of the trials held there.

His son, “Little Hunter”, said he remembered being taken as a small boy and that it was so cold that he and his friend holed up in the dog boxes on the dog wagon to try to get warm.

Hunter Sr. helped several of the trainers if their regular scouts weren’t there. He loved the sport and especially the National Free-for-All. That love of the sport was passed down to his son Hunter and now his granddaughter, Addison, both active field trialers.

Olivia Alison of Birmingham decorated the white house and was the hostess for the event sponsored by Allen Linder and his winning dog Erin’s Wild Justice which, incidentally, won the United States Open Championship just prior to this trial. There were 25-30 people present on the cold, rainy evening. The tables were dressed with table clothes and deer antlers and the event was quite festive with holly, berries, and pine boughs in trophies from the National Free-for-All and National Derby of yesteryears.

Melissa Henry of the Mustang Restaurant in Greensboro catered the food. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served followed by the main course of brisket, macaroni and cheese, green beans and salad. Mary Epp’s pecan pies and Olivia Alison’s pound cake completed the dinner.

There is a rather “primitive restroom” inside the red barn. Claudia McNamee attempted to flush the toilet and it wouldn’t, so she took the lid off the tank to adjust the flap, but thought it too dark. She asked one of the guys to bring a light to fix it. Tommy Davis looked in with his light and there was a big long snake. He jumped back and Korry Rinehart took over. Korry reached in, grabbed the snake just below the head and threw it. Needless to say, Claudia did not go back in there.

Owners who rode included Bob Craig of Hatchechubbee, Ala., John Ivester of Huntersville, N. C., Rick Stallings of Mathews, Ala., and David Thompson of Edmonton, Ky.

R. E.

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