American Field

Miller Unfinished Business Triumphs Over 63 Entries

National Open Shooting Dog Championship

By Mike Husenits | Mar 12, 2018
Miller Unfinished Business Winner of the National Open Shooting Dog Championship

Union Springs, Ala. — The 2018 renewal of the highly coveted National Open Shooting Dog Championship was the 58th running, this the crème de la crème annual event of the major shooting dog circuit. Sixty-three were drawn, and all started.

The quail paradise known as Sedgefields Plantation located near Union Springs, Ala., was made available through the generosity of owners Raymond and Kathryn Harbert. The Harberts have spared nothing in their efforts to revive the habitat at Sedgefields and return it to the wild quail haven it once was. They have employed the Tall Timbers Research organization to assist in the effort. The Tall Timbers program enacted specified a wild quail release in pairs over a designated number of acres. This year, 42 wild coveys were moved on the acreage referred to as the wild bird side, an 80 to 90 per cent improvement over last year’s count. There are few places as rich in tradition and history as Sedgefields. Founded in the late 1920s by Lewis B. Maytag, the original 1,700 acres blossomed through acquisitions into currently nearly 14,000 acres.

The National Open Shooting Dog standards of performance seek to crown the nation’s premier horseback shooting dog and to glorify the ideal hunting dog that works indefatigably in the interest of the gun, a dog with character and courage. Eligibility to compete in this event must be satisfied by having placed in a Purina Top Shooting Dog Awards points trial during the current or past season. The winner of last year’s trial is automatically qualified for three years. First held in 1961 at Hawfield, Va., for nine years, then moved due to new ownership to Di-Lane Plantation for three years, then to Shell Creek Plantation and Hoffman, N. C., before returning to Sedgefields after the Harberts made the acquisition. Hopefully this is the permanent home.

Eleven handlers have accounted for 30 wins of the 58 renewals with veteran George Tracy in the lead with five championships here, followed by Dean Lord and Jack Herriage with four each, John Ray Kimbrell with three, Harold Ray, Mike Tracy, Dave Grubb, Harvey Jordan, Doug Ray, Robin Gates and Gordon Hazlewood with two each.

The championship club puts forth a tremendous effort to make this a premier event. President Jerry Champion spearheads the planning while Secretary Dwight Smith carries the load handling many secretarial details that sometimes go unnoticed. Board of Directors members on hand and contributing to the effort included Dr. Joe Maddox, Dr. Lindsey Roberts, Jason Howard, Perry Hicks, Bill Lee and your scribe.

Plantation manager Jason Howard and field operations manager Bill Lee were available daily to give guidance and advice. Their knowledge of the plantation and field trial operations are unsurpassed. This year the course order of running was reversed — the normal a. m. side used after lunch, the p. m. side in the morning. This decision worked well with each side producing bird contacts nearly equally, 42 in the morning and 44 in the afternoon.

The bulk of marshalling duties fell on Bill Lee, Harrison Lee and Hunter McDuffie. Courses covering huge amounts of acreage combined with large galleries requires a bit of supervision at times to maintain order and safety. These marshals performed their duties in exemplary fashion. I don’t think Hunter missed a single brace.

Owners expect a trial of this magnitude and importance to employ the best judges. This year’s three-judge panel: Derek Bonner of Shelby, N. C., Dr. Jim Mills of Searcy, Ark., and Tim Ruff of Irmo, S. C. Derek trains Tennessee walking horses and competes actively as an amateur with his own dogs. Dr. Mills operates a veterinary practice and also competes throughout the Midwest region. His spouse Marian accompanied him. Tim is nearing retirement from the business world and also runs his own dogs successfully throughout the Southeast.

These men paid close attention to every dog and analyzed every detail. They set a reasonable pace and gave fair consideration to every competitor and arrived at a logical conclusion.


Miller Unfinished Business, strongly built orange marked pointer male owned by Benjy Griffith of Leesburg, Ga., and handled by Joel Norman, was declared champion over a strong starting field of 63. The handsome pointer qualified for this event by winning the Mill Pond Club’s Jeb Wade Open Shooting Dog Classic in January. Benjy Griffith, owner of the 8,400-acre Senah Plantation near Leesburg, Ga., is an avid bird dog enthusiast. He acquired his new champion from Jack and Fran Miller, who raised the litter sired by Just Irresistible out of their winning female Miller’s Bring The Heat, a cross that has produced multiple champions from two litters. Jack and Fran are also credited for training this great dog and for giving Benjy Griffith the opportunity to own him.

Business impressed the judges with his big going forward ground heat coupled with three well-handled coveys, all located with pinpoint accuracy and statuesque pointing style. He required little to no scouting or excessive handling, the judges noting he was always where he should be — hunting forward.

One of the closest contenders was Waybetter Rocky, pointer male handled by Mike Tracy, which made his appearance in the 22nd brace on the first afternoon course. His was a stylish hard hunting ground heat with five finds and an unproductive.

Braced with Rocky was Zorra, pointer female handled by Shawn Kinkelaar to what the judges felt was a superior ground race coupled with five mannerly finds. Her shortfall was around birds.

Tommy Rice had three of his entries render worthy performances. Seekin A Thrill, Charitable Deed and Just Thrillin gave the judges reasons for conversation.

Three others handled by Mike Tracy gave good accounts of themselves: Shadow Oak Doc, Cory’s Easy Holy Water and Miller’s Vanilla Snow.

Good performances by Caladen’s Davinci, handled by Jerry Raynor, and Sedgefields Power House Turbo, handled by Bill Lee, were also noted.

Readers are referred to the account of the running for more details.


A large gallery assembled at the starting point. Director Perry Hicks introduced the judges, plantation manager Bill Lee for directives and turned it over to your reporter who announced the brace by brace introductions. Monday started at 8:00 a. m. under cold temperatures but sunny skies. Released on the traditional afternoon course from the barn were Mobile Strike (Doug Ray) and Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt (Shawn Kinkelaar). Strike hunted left, Thunder right, a bit wider in range. Strike pointed at 14 near farm road in heavy cover and had a covey well located, steady for the shot. Thunder backed mannerly. Strike was forward toward the hill country and horseshoe bend, pointed at 21 unproductively. He hunted ahead along the ridge and stood again at 50 but moved up as handler flushed, ending his bid. Thunder went wider and wider, not always in the right direction. The retrieval unit was requested at 51.

Erin’s War Creek (Mike Tracy) and Zumbro Stinky Pete (Travis Gellhaus) broke away headed toward the drained north duck pond, both ahead and across the dam into piney woods. Point was called by scout for Creek at 38 off to right, nothing flown, an unproductive charged. Sent on, Creek advanced about 150 yards and nailed a covey to perfection at 42. After crossing behind the barns, point was called for Creek at 53 along open field edge, a small covey flown. Creek hunted ahead through weed fields, found pointing at 66 at ditch crossing with another large covey handled perfectly. Sent along the ditch line he carded another find at 68 in the bottom, again well mannered. Creek wheeled into a solid stand at 72 in sedge grass, a long relocation proving futile and ending his bid. Pete failed to make the turn at the deer stand near 50, the retrieval device requested.

Seekin A Thrill (Tommy Rice) and Shadow Oak Doc (Mike Tracy) broke away at 12:51 from the traditional start at Gunsmoke gate, the course paralleling county road 130 about 10 minutes, then crossing hardtop county road 23, right into what is known as mossy oak country, then a left following plantation road passing the main house and on around the big lake. Point was called for Thrill at 21 at plum thicket just off plantation road, nothing flushed or relocated. Thrill followed with a covey handled stylishly at 30 along right side, all in order. Doc was shown on impressive forward swings, aggressively eating up the country. He scored at 61 after rounding the big lake and again at 67 in bottom, proceeding to go wide, finishing strong. Thrill added two finds quickly at 77 and 80 in tall sedge then rambled forward to finish strong out front.

Hale’s Southern Touch (Kinkelaar) and Hollow Creek Lilly (Stacy Perkins) were loosed from the coke barn. Touch went wide, Lilly more medium to wide. As we rounded the first hilltop Lilly stood at 11, seemed uncertain as handler approached, a huge buck rousted from the heavy brush. Lilly was then ahead until road crossing into triangle property where she was picked up at 45. Touch reached wide to objectives but not always in contact with handler, who asked for the retrieval device at 54.

Shagtime Scout (Kinkelaar) and Sugarknoll War Paint (M. Tracy) began at the barn at 7:58 under sunny skies and rising temperature. Both  up over the hill and across farm road, War Paint wider and mostly out of sight. Scout scored at 14, same thicket they were in yesterday, then reached wider and wider until the retrieval device was called for at 42. War Paint showed once or twice far ahead, pointed in thick area at 47 resulting in a long fruitless relocation effort. After another brief absence the judges sent Mike his retrieval device at 61.

Caladen’s Davinci (Jerry Raynor) and Conecuh’s Shoe Shine (Doug Ray) began from the corner headed toward the drained north duck pond. Shine straight away, seen crossing the dam and fading into piney woods, returned briefly at 32 then gone again, the retrieval device needed at 43. The setter Davinci looked for direction at times early but soon began to reach wider. After dam crossing and into piney woods call of point at 30 to far left with a covey pin-pointed, Davinci rock steady for flush and shot. Forward and past the barns into the old railroad property fields the setter nailed another covey along an edge at 58,  added a third at 72 below Bill Lee’s place, had a short letdown, then finished the 90 minutes going away strong.

Miller’s Honor Code (M. Tracy) and Lancelot’s Tall Knight (Chuck Stretz) started the afternoon at 12:55 under the power line at Gunsmoke Road. Code laid out wide to the front, hunted the right places with power to spare but birds were not moving, none found, up at 60. Knight wasn’t quite as rangy but hunted the cover without benefit of game contact, picked up at 60.

Go Johnny Go (Jim Tande) and Conecuh Station’s Joe Kid (Ted Roach) were loosed at the old coke barn, both dogs quickly out of sight. Johnny was found by scout at 12 at far left ridge top with a covey handled perfectly. On to the front, Johnny was far right as the course veered left, eventually coming from the side and hunting ahead with no further contact, picked up at 70. Joe was out of pocket early, came from behind, then straightened out and covered a lot of ground with a classy way of going. He pointed positively at 54 in the triangle country with nothing produced, then nailed a single near cedar tree, followed by a second unproductive near the old May Polla home place, picked up.

Bully Bragg (M. Tracy) and Nehawka Tall Boy (Mike Martino). Wednesday’s weather forecast was for heavy rain but under cloudy skies and light rain the start was made at 8:00 a. m. sharp. Both were away quickly up over the hill, making the turn toward the lake. Boy scored a good covey find at 15 on hilltop near the farm road, followed by an extended absence, the retrieval unit called for at 45. Bragg was running strong and forward. After second road crossing below Bill Lee’s place and into the young hardwood area he scored mannerly stylish covey finds at 51 and 58. Unfortunately the brace terminated at 65 when a storm front blew in torrential rain and sleet horizontally, the judges deciding Bully would be given another chance at the end.

Thomas Adirondack Turbo (M. Tracy) and Hale’s Kickstarter (Kinkelaar) were away at 12:54 from Gunsmoke gate, both up front to county road crossing where Turbo kicked in the afterburners, seen only once or twice, the retrieval unit requested at 35. Kick hustled through the country in style, making several impressive casts. He suffered an unproductive at 31 at cross road junction, scored a nice covey find to the left of sand road and looked mighty pretty on hillside stand at 49, this one again unproductive and he was picked up.

C S Coldwater Rex (Ray) went over the hill from the coke barn, gone about 15 minutes, returned to the front, then an unproductive in sedge grass at 32 before crossing into the triangle country, then gone again, the retrieval unit requested at 54. World Class Cash (Stacy Perkins) started strong making his way around distant edges and swinging forward. Approaching the open field beyond Bonner line, call of point came from scout at 28. Cash stood high and tight with birds called, unseen officially, but fortunately scout Shawn Kinkelaar had marked down a single and it was flown. Into triangle country Cash impressed with his wide swings and classy movement, nailed another covey at 41 in thin pine row, then ahead to vanish at flooded creek crossing and counted out at 65.

Charitable Deed (Rice) and Sedgefields Shadow Rising (Bill Lee) broke away at 7:58 from the barn with sunny skies and cool temperature. Both up over the hill, Deed with a nice covey find at 8 in sparse pine treerow to the right, then an unproductive along distant treeline at 18. She made several extended casts through the hill country adding another mannerly find in tall sedge grass at 52 followed by a long absence and finally located near the road at 1:02, espied by riders on the dog truck during her grace period standing her third covey which she had obviously held for at least 20 minutes. Shadow notched a good find at 30 prior to hill country, then stood at 52 near bracemate’s stand, sent on without flushing attempt, then a mannerly find at 76 along ditch line, finishing well ahead.

Miller’s Handsome Ransom (M. Tracy) ranged wide to the outer limits but failed to find birds, up at 70. Urban Fantasy (Matt Basilone)  hunted forward at medium to wide range, scored a well-handled covey find at 33 in pines but was up at 70 after no further bird work.

Northwoods Charles (Gellhaus) and Denton (Stacy Perkins) broke away at 12:58 from Gunsmoke gate, ahead to county road crossing and on through the old mossy oak area and left on the farm road toward the lake. Charles hunted at medium range, had a pretty find at 30, standing high on both ends. He added a back at 48, suffered an unproductive at 57 on far side of big lake crossing, then shortened and was up at 62. Denton was off to the races showing well on several extended forward swings. He had an unproductive at 48, continued hunting hard but lack of birds had him up at 62.

Miller’s Armed and Dangerous (Harvey Crosby) and White Knight’s Prophecy (Stretz) were loosed at the coke barn. Dangerous started wide, then wider and wider until counted out at 35, the retrieval device requested. Knight was handy early on, pointed solidly to left of trail at 14 with nothing produced, then reached well forward, seen once or twice and gone for the count at 33.

Joho’s Full Moon (Perkins) and Bail Me Out (M. Tracy) were loosed from the barn at 8:00 a. m. Moon took the outside track, shown on a few impressive swings but out of pocket at 40, the retrieval device requested. Bail hunted with a stylish way of going, pointed in thin pine strip at 5 where a covey was found the day before, but none today. We made the hill country, passed horseshoe bend, point called for Bail along ridge at 36 near Wahoo Trouble Doc dead tree, a covey handled cleanly. We crossed the road and back across toward the Avent line where Bail handled his second covey at 48 on hillside, picked up at 75 after shortening.

Sedgefields Power House Turbo (Lee) and Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane (M. Tracy) began toward the drained duck pond. Action started quickly at 3 when Turbo pointed in pines, Jane backed, but nothing produced. Across the dam into the piney woods both hunted well ahead and were showing in the right places. At the hilltop turn toward the clubhouse call of point at 43 to far right, both dogs high and tight about 40 yards apart, a covey put to wing, both mannerly for the shot. Jane was then forward, last seen at 70 and eventually counted out. Turbo disappeared at 75 but returned in time during the grace period.

Touch’s Mae Mobley (M. Tracy) and Knight’s White Lady (Gellhaus) broke away at 12:55 from Gunsmoke road, both forward to county road crossing where both had to be rounded up. Lady was first to return but Mae was soon back and on through the mossy oak area and left toward the big lake. Mae whirled and pointed into roadside cover at 25 with Lady in for a back, nothing raised or relocated. Sent on, Mae was spotted once or twice on the outer perimeter but did not respond, the retrieval device requested at 46. Lady scored a covey to the left of roadway at 37, pointing with classic old time style, manners for flush and shot perfect. After rounding the big lake, Lady notched her second find in broom sedge grass at 53, again classic retro style, deportment perfect. The judges deliberated briefly and Lady was in the harness.

Jacked Up Jasper (Virgil Moore) and Backcountry Tornado (M. Tracy) left from the coke barn. Jasper ran a smooth handling forward ground heat but suffered unproductives at 55 and 65 and was up. Tornado had similar bad luck with a sterile stand at 8 and another at 20 along left edge and picked up.

World Class Cliff (Perkins) and Cory’s Easy Holy Water (M. Tracy) were up first Saturday, away at 8:01 under gray skies and mild temperature, seemingly ideal bird hunting weather. Cliff was wide, handling kindly to the front. He backed at 11 and 45, picked up at 72 with no birds. Cory started strong, notched a find at 11 in broom sedge where relocation was required; the covey was finally pinned and handled nicely. Scout called point at 45 below Bill Lee’s place, a covey put to wing, Cory mannerly for the shot. Across road and through the big oak country and beyond toward Avent line, Cory scoured the thick cover area below the open field, found standing at 68 for her third well handled find. Across creek and road then turn toward Bill Lee’s, Cory out of pocket a short spell but back in front to finish going away.

Cock’N’Fire Maggie (Raynor) and Just Thrillin (Rice) were released toward the drained duck pond. Last year’s champion Maggie went with plenty of jump through the opening fields and on across the dam where she showed once in the pines then disappeared, the retrieval unit requested at 40. Thrill started fast along the left side and took the hard way across pond. Although drained, there was plenty of ponding water and mud with Thrill swimming across to the piney woods where he nailed a covey at 19 near the ridge. Sent ahead, we approached turn toward the barn when scout called point to far right at 40 where Thrill handled his second covey to perfection near bicolor patch. Thrill rambled ahead going strong through the old railroad country, responding nicely and handling his third covey at 88 near the Lee place, finishing well forward.

Zorra (Kinkelaar) and Waybetter Rocky (M. Tracy) started at 12:56 from Gunsmoke gate. Action came quickly with point called for Rocky at 5 in cut lane along county road. Initial flushing attempt failed. Rocky was asked to relocate and nailed a trio of Tennessee reds about 20 yards down the line. Sent ahead and across county road 23 through the mossy oak turn, Rocky swept left, found by scout at 15 along field edge where he handled a covey perfectly, a true dug up find. Zorra swung right at plantation road, point called at 20, a covey handled to perfection. Rocky swung right, found pointed solidly at 23 in bicolor with his third covey handled with perfect manners. Rocky ranged well forward from here, gone about 14 minutes when the call of point sounded as we crossed the big lake dam. This proved unproductive and a long ride to the front ensued. After rounding the lake Zorra hunted the cover out front and was rewarded at 52 in broom sedge, Zorra mannerly but a bit low stationed. Zorra scored her third find at 59 in broom sedge, her manners above reproach. Headed back along the ridge toward coke barn, both put on a show with far ranging footwork. Zorra notched her fourth find near hilltop at 82, classic pointing style but manners perfect. Rocky scored at 84 in grassy dip, the covey exploding while in route, Rocky steadfast for the shot. Near the coke barn finish, Rocky swung across the front and slammed on solid point at 89, his fifth covey handled to perfection. Meanwhile, Zorra went far right out of sight as time expired, the call of point at 92 where she correctly handled her fifth covey, bringing an end to a most exciting brace. Each scored five coveys, plus an unproductive for Rocky.

Thrill Me (Rice) and R J’s Deicer (Kinkelaar) were released at the coke barn, both over the hill handling kindly. As we approached Joe Bonner line, both shared a covey find at ridge top at 26, then forward into the triangle country where Thrill notched a second pretty find at 44 to left side. Deicer swung right and failed to return in time, the retrieval device requested at 48. No further contacts for Thrill resulted in her being picked up at 52.

The morning’s first brace — Steel City Karen (Jeanette Tracy) and Tallokas Storm Bandit (Jason Loper) — left from the barn at 8:00, light rain falling. Both crisscrossed the front, each scoring an independent find along the thinned out pine tree strip, Storm at 7, Karen at 8, both perfectly mannered at flush and shot. Storm handled a second covey at 37 with Karen backing, then across the road at Bill Lee homestead and back across headed toward the Avent line. Karen scored her second mannerly find at 53 in the valley along left side. Storm shortened, picked up at 65. Likewise for Karen, up at 80 near the old stone line.

Miller Unfinished Business (Norman) and Ramie’s All In (Perkins) broke away toward the north duck pond, both forward across the dam and into the pines. Business handled a covey perfectly at 24 along hilltop, then stretched far forward, found on a second well earned find at 37 near the tri-pod deer stand. Sent ahead, Business hustled up the hill past the barn and on through the old railroad country fields, notching his third stylish well handled find at 70, then on to finish out front going away, a definite contending performance. All In hunted hard through likely cover but couldn’t come up with birds, picked up at 44.

L F Dyno Mike (Kinkelaar) and Miller’s Vanilla Snow (M. Tracy). Rain caused the start to be delayed to 1:55 at Gunsmoke gate. Both were down the strip to county road 23 crossing, Snow found pointing at 11 at thicket, Mike backing properly, both mannerly at flush and shot. Mike pointed at 18 near the farm road but moved too much at flush and was picked up. Snow impressed with several far-flung forward casts and was handling kindly. She handled a covey perfectly at 26 to right of farm road, then made several wide swings along the left side where she was found at 38 on her second mannerly stylish find. Sent ahead across the dam, Snow forged well ahead, found standing in tall sedge at 60, this one a blank. Around the bend and back toward the coke barn, Snow showed several impressive swings, always to the front and responding kindly, finishing her stint out front.

In Swami’s Shadow (Kinkelaar) and Palara (M. Tracy) started at the barn at 7:58. Both looked good in the opening fields. Swami checked back a couple times and was running a well-directed forward race. She handled a covey nicely at 21 in the valley prior to hill country, then suffered an unproductive at 30 along the ridge, crossed the road and back across toward Avent line where she pointed her second covey in piney woods near the big field at 58. A second unproductive at 62 had her harnessed. Palara was wide and mostly unseen, the retrieval device requested at 40.

Bo Bunda (Martino) and Walden’s Ridge Shadow Dancer (M. Tracy) broke away toward the duck pond. Bo handled a covey perfectly at 11 before dam crossing. Dancer was forward, had an unproductive at 18 in low bottom, a find at 39 requiring relocation on hillside near the tripod stand. Bo added a second covey at 60 on hillside. Both were ordered up at 66 after the judges collaborated.

Supernatural (Virgil Moore) and C S Pressure Test (Ray) broke away at 12:50 from Gusmoke gate under cloudy conditions. Super hunted hard at far range, seemingly in the right places, but birds were not home, birdless and up at 63. Test experienced a similar fate after his stand at 45 beyond dam crossing resulted in an unproductive. He was picked up at 48.

Miller’s Unbridled Forever (M. Tracy) and Miller’s Stray Bullet (Norman) were loosed from the coke barn. Unbridled scored first at 7 on the way up the hill, Bullet backing, both mannerly at flush and shot. Unbridled then made a cast far right. Birds were in the air at 11, ending his bid. Bullet suffered an unproductive at 24 beyond cattle farm road, then scored cleanly in the pines at 33, but was up at 41 along the flats after a second unproductive.

Osceola’s Gunsmoke Man (Loper) and Coosawhatchie Smooth Ride (M. Tracy). The start was delayed until 8:40 due to thick fog. Up the hill to the front, Smoke scored a mannerly find at 10 near hilltop crossing and hunted hard through the hill country but without further bird contact he was in the harness at 80. Ride scored a well-handled find at 18 prior to hill country but suffered a pair of sterile stands at 30 and 36 that ended his bid.

Erin’s Prometheus (Ray) and Bully Bragg (M. Tracy) headed toward the duck pond. The sun was shining for the first time all week. “Pro” went forward and wide, scored on a covey at 34 on pine ridge, followed with a short absence, eventually back in front to notch a second stylish mannerly find at 58 below Bill Lee’s place, then out of pocket again, the retrieval device sent at 80. Bully locked up shortly after release at 3 with nothing raised. Sent ahead he looked great hustling through the country, adding a second exemplary find at 20 beyond the dam crossing but his effort was terminated at 60 after a second unproductive. All headed to the barn to await the announcement.

Union Springs, Ala., February 5

Judges: Derek Bonner, Dr. Jim Mills and Tim Ruff


[Ninety-Minute Heats] — 56 Pointers and 7 Setters

Winner—MILLER UNFINISHED BUSINESS, 1661405, pointer male, by Just Irresistible—Miller’s Bring The Heat. Benjy Griffith, owner; Joel Norman, handler.


Purina is the major sponsor and again offered generous support as they have for many years. Area manager Greg Blair attended the first day’s running before departing for the National Championship at Grand Junction. He furnished hats, jackets, Purina Pro Plan product and monetary support. Field rep Jim Smith also attended several days and rode many braces. Thank you Purina!

The Union Springs visitor and tourism council supports field trials and visitors. Heather Klinck deserves praise for the effort she puts in to insure everyone attending has an enjoyable experience. The pastries and other goodies sent for morning and afternoon breaks were most appreciated.

Charles Klinck handled the dog truck duties in expert fashion. The truck was always at the right place at the right time and always loaded with refreshments and goodies. Thank you Charles.

The trials at Sedgefields are well known for their festive celebrations.

A crowd of 40 kicked off the program Saturday evening at the field clubhouse where the drawing was conducted. Becky Champion and Amy Roberts served heavy hors d’oeuvres, sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, dips, nuts, crackers and cheese aplenty, not to mention various brands and types of liquid refreshments. President Jerry Champion made introductions and pertinent announcements and Secretary Dwight Smith conducted the drawing aided by Perry Hicks, Dr. Lindsey Roberts, Harold Johnson and Becky Champion. Your reporter recorded the draw on his laptop, and then sent it to be posted on the internet and inserted in a program booklet being printed by the Union Springs Herald newspaper.

The entire week featured daily luncheons expertly prepared and served by Becky Champion, Dr. Amy Roberts and Stephanie Smith. Additionally, many of the evening meals were also due to their much-appreciated efforts.

The ladies Becky and Amy prepared Sunday evening’s dinner — spaghetti with meat sauce along with fresh salad and Italian bread. Club officials met with judges and reporter for a general review of traditional running procedures and championship standards.

Monday all gathered for a wonderful lasagna dinner complete with salad and dessert prepared by Dr. Lindsey and Dr. Amy Roberts.

Tuesday featured a pulled pork barbeque dinner with slaw, beans and potato salad. All served following a delightful cocktail hour with fresh shrimp and snacks.

Bright and early every morning Savannah Fitzpatrick and Cierra Likely prepared breakfast complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits, gravy, sausage, jams and jellies.

Wednesday evening about 70 gathered at the Union Springs Country Club and were treated to a sumptuous steak dinner compliments of Purina. Field rep Jim Smith was in attendance and was introduced by Secretary Dwight Smith. Country club president Becky Blanton welcomed all and invited everyone to return at any time during their stay in Union Springs.

On Thursday evening the Union Springs Country Club hosted a celebration and painting presentation for last year’s winner, Cock’N’Fire Maggie. Owner Allen “Coach” Johnson sponsored cocktails and a shrimp and grits dinner accompanied with many scrumptious sides.

President Jerry Champion unveiled and presented the Ross Young painting of Cock’N’Fire Maggie to the delight of Allen, handler Jerry Raynor and everyone in attendance.

Friday evening everyone gathered at the Sedgefields field house for a fish fry complete with many side dishes. The meal was expertly prepared by Joe and Robert Mora, assisted by Hunter McDuffie. Nearly 60 attended.

On Saturday, Sedgefields Plantation owner Mrs. Kathryn Harbert joined us and rode her favorite horse Major in the gallery for the afternoon braces. Field trial folks are thankful for the generosity shown to them by the Harberts.

Saturday evening Dr. Lindsey and Dr. Amy Roberts barbequed cedar smoked Boston pork butts that melted in your mouth. Many were noted returning for seconds and even thirds. The second Sunday evening dinner included spaghetti with meat sauce, lasagna, potato salad plus cheesecake for dessert.

The second Monday, all were treated to a southern fried chicken dinner prepared by Savannah Fitzpatrick and Cierra Likely; all who attended appeared satisfied and a little heavier.

Many owners and visitors attended throughout the week. The long distance award goes to Bill Owen who came from the West Coast. Others noted include: Dr. Jeff Hale, Mick Marietta, Allen Linder and granddaughter Madison, Dr. Elaine Barber, Tony Gibson, Bill and Muriel Primm, Jim and Donna Crayne, Jim and Nadine Thomas, John Holt, Bill Cignetti, Allen Johnson, Carl Bishop, Bob and Karen Reed, Greg Strausbaugh and Karen, Jack Arlington and David Steele. Apologies to those missed.

The hardest workers at a field trial are the handlers and scouts who are up every morning before everyone loading trucks and trailers, staking out dogs, feeding and watering, saddling horses plus numerous other chores. Those participants here included Cole Henry, John David Smith, Josh Norman, Bo Brewer, Harrison Lee, Doug Ray, Shawn Kinkelaar, Mike Tracy, Travis Gellhaus, Tommy Rice, Stacy Perkins, Chuck Stretz, Jim Tande, Ted Roach, Mike Martino, Bill Lee, Matt Basilone, Virgil Moore, Jerry Raynor, Joel Norman, Jeanette Tracy and Jason Loper.

This reporter is grateful for the generosity extended by Mike and George Tracy in making sure I was well mounted every day on a horse capable of navigating the muddy south Alabama conditions encountered due to the heavy rainfall.

Veteran trainer-handler George Tracy is recovering from surgery but that didn’t keep him away. He and Mary attended several days, George noticeably fighting the bit and eager to get back in the saddle. All wish George a speedy recovery.

The championship officers and directors elected Bill Lee and Mike Husenits to membership on the board of directors.

M. H.

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