American Field

Mills Hodge Amateur Classic and Phil Gould Open Puppy Classic

Region 3 Amateur Walking Shooting Dog Championship

By Michael Spotts | Mar 05, 2018
Championship Winners.  From left: Robert Ecker, Earl and Margaret Drew with Deacon Jones, Tony Bingham, judge; Ted Riley, Bobby Phillips with Bob’s Elhew Holly and Mills Hodge.

West End, N. C. — The beautiful Sandland lease near West End, N. C., was the setting for a great weekend of field trialing. The facilities here are topnotch for conducting class events. Professional Robert Ecker of Midnight Kennel and Mills Hodge were gracious in the use of their land and lease. The terrain and cover is mostly wooded with plenty of objectives for a dog to hunt. The open long leaf pine stands gives a dog room to show but there are also some creek bottoms and scrub oak flats that require a dog to dig in and hunt. Birds are also unique on these grounds. Quail were flown freely from the dozen or so bird pens on the property each morning. These birds flew freely and worked themselves into natural cover. Several coveys were also pre-released on the grounds prior to the trial. Birds were found in good supply and in natural locations.

The West End Setter and Pointer Club and its members put on a class trial. Handlers’ cocktail party, free lunches, and an oil painting to the winner were all donated by the club. Chairman Richard Warters took care of all of the details from taking entries, conducting the drawing, announcing each brace, and tending to all of the minor details as they popped up.

We were thankful to Purina for once again sponsoring this event. Their support was crucial to the success.

We had excellent judges for the Championship. Tony Bingham of Shelby, N. C., and Phil Champion of Louisburg, N. C., are not only experienced and knowledgeable, but were positive and fair and a joy to run under. Tony is a very successful professional trainer and handler who has won many handler of the year and dog of the year awards. Phil is an amateur who has judged many championships and is a well-known and sought after judge. We thank these gentlemen for giving us their time!


Deacon Jones, Earl and Margaret Drew’s four-year-old white and liver pointer male, took the title with an exciting performance on the first day. Deacon Jones was handled by Earl Drew of Hoffman, N. C., and ran in the fifth brace with Shadow’s Carolina Molly, handled by Verlene Stephenson. Both dogs broke away strongly. We found Deacon pointing a small covey at 5 near some young pines, Molly backing nicely. From there Deacon made a big move across the water crossing and turned on course by the old house. He was reaching but checking back with his handler. He was fast over the ground and hunting likely cover. At 35 he made game and styled up into a beautiful point on top of the hill. Birds were flushed and all was in order. At 50 Deacon backed Molly from a great distance and with excellent style. From there the pair was released and sent down the hill. Molly went forward and Deacon made a big cast up the hill to the right. Scout Margaret Drew called point and we all rode up there to find him standing on the edge of scrub oaks. A long flushing attempt ensued and a bird was put to flight. Deacon was composed throughout. He finished his hour with a forward, out of sight cast and had plenty let in the tank.

Named runner-up was Bob’s Elhew Holly, white and liver pointer female owned and handled by Bobby Phillips of Jonesboro, Tenn. Holly has several notable championship placements in the past year: winner of the U. S. Complete Amateur Invitational and runner-up in the U. S. Complete National Open Championship. Holly was braced with Double Deuce Molly (Doug McMillen). Both dogs were reaching with Holly showing more forward. Molly hunted hard for the hour, got hung up in some of the corners and finished without bird work. Holly was found pointing with great style near the old house at 20. A strong flying single quail flushed quickly. At 35, after a big move through the bottom, Holly pointed a covey in a thick patch left of the course. She continued to hunt nicely and again pointed at 53 just left of the course in a swampy area. A long flushing attempt was made and a single, tight sitting quail was finally put to flight.


Attitude’s True Grit (Dennis Beauford) and Lady Of North (J. C. Hudgins) were strong off the breakaway. Lady made brief contact with her handler and then was seen under a bird at 17. True Grit was putting on a good show and had beautiful finds at 5, 12 and 17. At 20 he was working a bird in a creek bottom and got too close and put the bird up.

Mac’s Gunny Lou (Tim McClurg) and Double Deuce Dexter (Doug McMillen) hunted the course nicely early. Gunny Lou pointed early but no flushing attempt was made. She had a stop to flush at 20, mannerly finds at 25, 41 and 48, and another stop to flush at 55. Dexter was wide at times, had a nice find at 15, a covey at 25, but then bobbled at 40.

Waybetter Butch (Dave Park) and Backcountry S H Sassy (Chris Catanzarite) had plenty of work early. Butch was credited with finds at 10, 25 and 30 before being picked up for failing to back at 31. Sassy had a nice find at 10, an unproductive at 15, backed her bracememate at 25, but bumped a bird at 31 and was leashed.

Backcountry Polly (Catanzarite) and Bob’s Elhew Kate (Phillips) made a big move off the breakaway and then settled in nicely. Polly was doing a nice job with a find at 5 and an unproductive 25 but had some bad luck when she ran over a bird sitting in the middle of the sand road at 52. Kate was hard to turn at times. She had finds at 10, 25 and 55.

Phillips Half Moon (McMillen) suffered two unproductives and was up at 10. Bob’s Elhew Lucy (Phillips) was running a good race but bumped birds during a relocation on her first stand.

Grouse Ridge Gambler (Spotts) ran a wide race, had a good find at 15, but had unproductives at 20 and 45 and was picked up. Wicked Thunder Alley (Propst) was out of the pocket at 15 and the retrieval unit was requested.

Haywood’s Cindy (Butch Haywood) and Bud of Piney Woods (Spotts) were first up on day No. 2. Both were strong and running the type of race the judges were looking for. Bud had finds at 5, 12 and 30 before making a mistake on his fourth stand. Cindy made some good moves but failed to handle her first bird properly and was taken up.

Miss Penn Star (Spotts) and Cantor’s Sweed (Lonnie Cantor) raced up the right side of the breakaway with Miss Penn Star quickly pointing in the oaks to the right. No birds could be produced. She suffered her second unproductive at 10, with Sweed failing to back, and both dogs were taken up.

Double Deuce Peter (McMillen) and Pistol Grip (Sarah Gomes) ran with style and purpose. Peter had finds at 20 and 40; his pace slowed near the end. Pistol had a nice find at 17, backs at 20 and 27, and an unproductive at 58.

Riviera (Propst) and Quail Hollow Jessie (Ted Riley) had their running shoes on. At 20 Riviera was seen under a bird and picked up. Jessie was gone too long, the retrieval unit used at 30.

Islander (Lazar Ramovic) ran as a bye with his bracemate scratching. He had an unproductive at 15, a good find at 20, but another unproductive at 30.

Wayward Flyin Tomato (Gomes) and Sunrise Star (Andy Bogar) made big casts off the breakaway. Tomato was found standing at 15. Star came by too closely and failed to back. No bird could be produced for Tomato. Tomato ran a strong race, checked in some, and had a nice covey find at 20.

Bo of Piney Woods (Bogar) and Suemac’s Sashay (McMillen) pointed closely together at 5 with Bo moving up during the flush. He was taken up. Sassy moved with class and had another find at 25. She had a stop to flush at 55 and finished her hour at a moderate pace.

West End, N. C., January 26 — One Course

Judges: Tony Bingham and Phil Champion


Winner—DEACON JONES, 1659500, pointer male, by Chasehill Little Bud—Racey Kate. Earl & Margaret Drew, owners; Earl Drew, handler.

Runner-Up—BOB’S ELHEW HOLLY, 1653300, pointer female, by Elhew Moneymaker—Bob’s Miller Daisy. Bobby Phillips, owner and handler


Judges Eric Russell and Brian Tiffany looked over a nice entry in the Amateur Shooting Dog  that was held prior to the Championship.

The stake is named in honor Mills Hodge,  who was on hand to watch most of the running. Mills has dedicated much of his life to breeding, training and competing with his setters and pointers. It was an honor for us all to spend time with him.

Bob’s Elhew Holly separated herself from a strong field to take the blue ribbon. She had a good race, several nice finds, and an expert relocation at time.

Bo of Piney Woods, handled by Andy Bogar for owner Rich Warters, was strong and forward over the ground with stylish bird work to earn second place.

Deacon Jones, handled by Earl Drew, ran a big race and had one good find to round out the placements.

Judges: Eric Russell and Brian Tiffany

MILLS HODGE AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG CLASSIC — 8 Pointers, 12 Setters and 1 Irish Setter

1st—BOB’S ELHEW HOLLY, 1653300, pointer female, by Elhew Moneymaker—Bob’s Miller Daisy. Bobby Phillips, owner and handler.

2d—BO OF PINEY WOODS, 1661644, pointer male, by Bud of Piney Woods—Medlin’s Dancin Abagail. Richard Warters, owner; Andy Bogar, handler.

3d—DEACON JONES, 1659500, pointer male, by Chasehill Little Bud—Racey Kate. Earl & Margaret Drew, owners; Earl Drew, handler.


A big field of 24 puppies competed in the Phil Gould Classic. Phil was a wonderful friend to field trials and owner of several champions, most notably his setter Taz. Phil’s family was at the trial to share memories of Phil and in the fellowship that he so enjoyed. We were glad to have them.

Judges Andy Bogar and Margaret Drew commented on what a competitive stake this was.

Joe Dahl’s fancy setter female Magic Mist Carolina ran with snap and speed to win the stake. Joe always has nice puppies and she is no exception. Knob Mountain Monarch, handled by Robert Ecker, ran a powerful race with mature application to place second. Rounding out the placements was Dwight Ingram’s speedy red setter Hatcreek Lady Red which scorched the course and looked good doing it.

Judges: Andrew Bogar and Margaret Drew


1st—MAGIC MIST CAROLINA, 1671497, setter female, by Backstep Rudy—Fernwood Cove’s Bella. Joseph Dahl, owner and handler.

2d—KNOB MOUNTAIN MONARCH, 1674678, setter male, by Erin’s Hidden Shamrock—Bo’s After Party. Michael Spotts, owner; R. J. Ecker, Jr., handler.

3d—HATCREEK LADY RED, 1676024, Irish setter female, by Come Back Cutter—Come Back Doodle. Dwight Ingram, owner and handler.


What a great weekend in West End, N. C. We had participants from up and down the East Coast and a strong entry in all stakes. Most nights were spent at Dr. George Najor’s home just a short distance from the grounds. We conducted the public drawings, the handlers’ cocktail party, and a tribute to our good friends Mills Hodge and Rich Warters there. Mills and Rich were each presented Bird Dog Foundation Life Patron Awards at the Friday cocktail party. These awards, donated through contributions made by their friends, will hang in the Bird Dog Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, Tenn. A fitting tribute to two men who have given so much to the sport we love. The Najor house was packed with their friends and family and we celebrated them well into the night!

M. S.

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