American Field

Maybellene Wins Title; Electric Lady Named Runner Up

Region 11 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship

By Tom Griffin | Feb 07, 2020
Region 11 Amateur Championship Winners. From left front: Jeff Gilbertson with Maybellene and Tom Griffin with Electric Lady. Behind: Jim Rose, Tim Schillereff, judge; Jamie Griffin, Rich Heaton, judge, and Angela Schillereff.

Valley Springs, Cal. — The San Joaquin Valley English Setter Club teamed up with Region 11 officers to host the 2019-2020 Region 11 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship on Lynn Stinson’s Moonlight Ranch near Valley Springs, Cal.

The Championship kicked off November 23 following the conclusion of the West Coast Shooting Dog Championship on the same grounds. Most of the amateurs who had competed in the West Coast remained to run in the Amateur Championship. Their participation and support are appreciated. They were rewarded with mild temperatures, overcast skies and a great shooting dog venue.

The AFTCA 2019  edition  of Standards To Field Trial Procedures, Judicial Practice, Handler and Bird Dog Performances notes at the outset that “the most important ingredient for a successful field trial lies in the selection of qualified judges.”

By this yardstick this year’s Region 11 Shooting Dog Championship was an outstanding success. On page 1 the Standard lists the desired attributes of a qualified judge — “respected in home town, business and field trial community”; “good physical condition”; “good horseman”; “successfully trained and competed in shooting dog and all-age field trials”; and “blessed through analytically decisive mind” — qualities that judges Tim Schillereff of Portland, Ore., and Rich Heaton of Boise, Ida., abundantly exemplify. Tim, a professional trainer who handled Tian Elhew Verbena to runner-up honors in the West Coast, traded his blank pistol and whistle for the judge’s book. Rich Heaton agreed to judge both the open and amateur championship. Although these gentlemen are not from the region their bird dog resumes and reputations are well known to all who competed. We thank them for their knowledge and attentiveness as well as for volunteering their time.

Given the challenge of recruiting such extremely qualified judges from outside the region’s membership, the 16-dog entry was disappointing.

The Championship followed the usual course on the Moonlight Ranch venue. As is often the case at Moonlight, although quail are released at numerous birdy areas every morning and during the trial following finds, after several days of running the number of bird contacts dropped. It is this reporter’s observation that over ensuing days birds from the initial releases have moved into the heavy cover and creek bottoms and birds released in succeeding days are called off the course to covey up in areas difficult for the dogs to search.

The winner, Maybellene, five-year-old white and black setter female owned and handled by Tom Griffin, showed independence but required minimal handling. She ran the front on the edges of the treelines and emerged from the cover just often enough to demonstrate she and her handler were in sync. Over the hour “Pat” was found styled up three times. Her manners and intensity remained excellent as birds were produced. Pat further proved her bonafides about a month later by winning the 2020 AKC All Breed National Gun Dog Championship in Sonoita, Ariz.

Runner-up Electric Lady, coming four-year-old white and orange setter female sired by Tekoa Mountain Patriot, is also owned and handled by Tom Griffin. “Tess” was in the first brace of the second day of running. Released from in front of the bunkhouse, she disappeared into the trees on the rise leaving camp. At the top of the rise the course turns west and continues through a series of open pastures. At that point with no sign of Tess the handler feared she would not be seen again. As handlers and judges reached the stacked rock wall she was spotted on point in the bottom of the dry creek. Birds were flushed and all was in order. Tess made a nice move high on the north side of the steep wooded slope as the course travels through the long chute toward the two bowls at the far end of the ranch. She finished her hour with a single find.

The usual Moonlight Ranch crew pitched in as needed. Jeff Gilbertson generously offered his horses for Rich who traveled from Boise by plane. Jan Corbitt handled the dog truck duties flawlessly throughout the trial. Jim Rose had breakfast burritos and pancakes each morning. Jamie Griffin provided the lunches and dinners. While it is not often you will find everyone at a field trial in agreement on any topic, the unanimous consensus was that her chicken enchiladas were delicious.

No trial report from this region is complete without acknowledgment of Purina’s unparalleled support for our sport. Purina provided financial assistance with the ad in The Field and donated Purina Pro Plan Performance feed to the winner and runner-up. Of course, the lure of earning points for Purina’s Annual Awards Programs is a great motivator and encourages entries.

Valley Springs, Cal., November 23

Judges: Rich Heaton and Tim Schillereff


[One-Hour Heats] — 10 Pointers and 6 Setters

Winner—MAYBELLENE, 1660385, setter female, by To The Point—Iron Mistress. Tom Griffin, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—ELECTRIC LADY, 1667716, setter female, by Tekoa Mountain Patriot—Zenyatta. Tom Griffin, owner and handler.

A Postscript

This year was the 59th renewal of this Championship. Along with three bags of Purina Performance feed, the champion takes home the traveling trophy, a large silver bowl with an attractive etching of a dog on point and the engraved names of the winners.

The bowl now sits on a wooden pedestal created in recent years to hold plaques with the names of the winners when there was no longer room on the original stand. The trophy was on prominent display at the trial headquarters, Lynn Stinson’s converted garage, where the social hour and meals take place. Someone commented that the names on the trophy are a snapshot of the history of the AFTCA on the West Coast. The point was well made and worthy of consideration. I thought readers might enjoy seeing some of the names of the persons and dogs engraved on this trophy; the list is a veritable who’s who of the last half century plus of amateur field trialing in the Region.

The first name on the trophy is Ed Toy who won the inaugural event in 1961. Ed was still competing 25 years later. Witnessing Ed and his saintly wife, who served as scout and designated flusher, run his dogs was like watching a hurricane blow through town.

Max Holland appears as the winner in 1966. In the early 1960s Max lived and trained his dogs in Hayward on the substantial native pheasant population that thrived in the marsh that at that time bordered the San Francisco Bay — now freeways and shopping centers. Two years later Max turned pro and was instrumental in bringing many of the well-known field trialers from the 1970s and 1980s into the sport.

In 1972 one of those individuals Max mentored, Charles Hjerpe, DVM, emerged as a prominent amateur. He won this Region 11 Amateur Championship three times. First in 1972 with Round Daylight, next in 1978 with Summertime. Nineteen years later Charlie won again with Sand Creek Bud. From the outset Charlie was involved in all aspects of West Coast field trialing, Sacramento Bird Dog Club, president, Region officer, trainer, breeder, competitor and historian. Charlie only recently retired from field trialing.

Ron Bader, Region 11’s iconoclastic luminary, put his name on the trophy in 1977 with a pointer named Youngblood Black; nine years later won it again. With help from a few friends Ron has spent more than ten years of hard work developing Moonlight Ranch, this year’s venue for the amateur championship, into top field trial grounds.

Ron continues to train and campaign his own dogs. In 1981 Brad La Verne, a one-time Ron Bader protege, took the region’s shooting dog title.

Region 11’s multiterm trustee Mack Smith won this stake in 1984. For 25 plus years Mack was very involved in the sport as a competitor and judge in numerous regional and national trials. A testament to Mack’s good nature is the fact that through the years he has remained good friends with the Honorable Lee West and Dr. Pat Mclnteer.

Rick Mercer, a successful amateur in the 1980s, won this Championship in 1985. Two years later in 1987 Date Line’s Protocol, owned and handled by Jack McNamara, was named champions. Jack, a tax attorney, was instrumental in obtaining AFTCA and Region 11’s non-profit tax status.

Protocol was also a regular winner in the open stakes under the whistle of the popular professional trainer Dave Lachance.

As I visually scrolled through the names of the winners from the 1990s to the present, in my mind’s eye I could picture many of the dogs and performances. Bruce Hale’s Vizsla Nitro’s First Class Act, one of two continental breed dogs which have won this Championship, took the title in 1992. In 2015 Bruce’s pointer Hale’s Cool Hand Luke was the winner. In addition to winning this Championship Bruce has twice judged the trial.

In the 2000s, Torben Hansen was the face of West Coast field trialing in the AFTCA, first as trustee, then as an officer, and ultimately as president.

Torben first won the Region Shooting Dog Championship in 1993 with Nevada Copper Jim. He repeated in 2002 with Bullet’s Ricochet. Before he retired from field trialing in 2017 and redirected his competitive passion to golf, he amassed 102 open and amateur championship placements in addition to the aforementioned Region 11 Amateur Shooting Dog Championships.

All of us competing in the early 2000s remember Ron Young’s exceptional pointer Orange Crush.

Orange Crush is the only dog to have won this trophy three times, being named winner in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Ron’s dogs by virtue of their style, training and endurance, raised the bar that had to be met to remain competitive.

Paul Wells was in the winners’ circle in 2005 with Wells Fargo Tater. Many of the consistent winners in West Coast field trialing over the past ten years are a product of Paul’s breeding program. Paul, another long-time competitor who retired from the sport, can be found at the Paul Wells’ Classic named in acknowledgment of he and wife Wanda Wells’ contributions.

For three years in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sean Kelly owned this trophy. The first two years were with Kelly Talk’N Smak followed by Saddle Up Non Believers. Both these pointers were known for their ability to adapt to the different venues winning frequently in both all-age and shooting dog championships. In five short years Smak racked up nine championships and five runners-up and Saddle Up finished his career with 16 championships and 7 runners-up.

In 2013 Hal Meyer, DVM, handled his bird-finding phenom Rikki’s Rockin On to the title. For over two decades Hal was the president and the energy behind two of the Region’s most active clubs. Although he has retired from field trialing his love of the sport and generous contributions will long be remembered. Ron Schuman, who spent several years as a professional, regained his amateur status and in short order won the Region’s Amateur Championship in 2017.

I have had the good fortune to have competed in Region 11’s Amateur Shooting Dog Championship for at least 30 years. I rather immodestly, and with great pride, note I find my name and dogs that have brought me great joy on this Region 11 treasure alongside a long list of great competitors and dogs whose names are engraved.

T. G.

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