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Field Trial Report

Southern Open Championship

By Elton Bray | May 10, 2018
Marques Armed Robber Winner of the Southern Open All-Age Championship

Blue Mountain, Miss. — The Southern Championship concluded March 28 at the Hell Creek Wildlife Management Area near Blue Mountain, Miss. Twenty-four dogs — 20 pointers and four setters — competed. Over twenty coveys of birds were moved during the two and a half day event.

The grounds were in excellent condition, and the weather was very cooperative.

The trial was originally scheduled to be run starting January 1 at Hendrix Farms but due to single digit temperatures and precipitation, the club decided to postpone the stake.

We are all very grateful for the help of Jack Griffin, Steve Coleman, Hoyle Eaton and Brad Kennedy, so the club could host its trial on the grounds of Hell Creek. Also, the club would like to thank the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for allowing us to use their property and first-class facilities. Griffin oversees the property for the state and does an excellent job preparing the courses. He was also in charge of the dog wagon duties, and was a huge part in the trial’s success. Hell Creek WMA is the venue for several trials, both open and amateur. For that all involved are forever grateful to have such a nice place to compete their dogs.

One of the main debts of gratitude is due Brad Kennedy and Sportsman’s Pride. Brad took over this past year as president of the club. Sportsman’s Pride wanted to sponsor a prestigious championship, and is able to do so for this trial. They also sponsored the fish fry on Tuesday night. Brad did most all the work. He was in charge of the drawing, food, putting out birds, marshalling and taking care of the judges’ needs. Without his help, the trial would not have been complete.

The Southern Championship is one of the oldest, most prestigious championships of our sport. It’s been held at many different venues, but most of those have been in the great state of Mississippi. One of the first trials I attended as a child was the Southern when it was held in Slayden, Miss., on the property of Mr. Tootsie Hurdle. For the past two years the trial has not been held. The previous grounds were near Red Banks, Miss., on the property of Mr. Sonny Hawks. After his death and farming changes, the club was no longer able to host the Championship there. We are all very thankful to be able to keep the trial going and hope to do so for many years.

Judging this year’s event were Mike Norris of Furman, Ala., and Alan Atkins of Phoenix City, Ala. Both gentlemen have been involved with the sport for many years. They rode hard and were attentive as each athlete vied for the title.

QUALIFYING HEATS

Kennedy’s Chocolate Chip Man (PM/Steve Hurdle) started the trial off on the right foot with a find at 11. He was also credited with a second find at 33. Chip competed at a nice forward pace the entire hour. Pointer female Whippoorwill Foto Op was not seen at 4 and Larry Huffman called for the retrieval device at 18.

Lone Tree’s Rod Iron (PM/Mike Hester) had one nice piece of bird work and finished the 60 minutes. Southern Renegade (PM/Bubba Spencer) was picked up at 17.

Whippoorwill Blue Blood (PM/Huffman) and Skyfall (PM/Hurdle) put on quite the show proving their all-age stamina and hunting technique. They were both found on point to the front at 33. Both handlers flushed, each crediting with a divided find. The two top qualifiers in the callback finished their hour heat far to the front with lots of go left in them.

Pineywoods Firestorm (PM/Hurdle) and Cole Train (PM/Fred Corder). Due to unforeseen circumstances Dr. Corder was forced to scratch Cole. Firestorm was credited with two finds, his first at 8 and his second at 20. Both were far to the front and very stylish. His speed and endurance were a pleasure to watch.

Stardust Chaz (SM/Hurdle) was found on point at 19. Quickmarksman Tom (SM/Hester) was also there but failed to honor his bracemate which earned him the rope. Chaz was awarded a second find just before the judges called pickup. He was fast and smooth for his 60-minute heat.

B K’s Ransom (PM/Hurdle) and Marques Armed Robber (PM/Lefty Henry). Hurdle called for the retrieval device at 35. Robber went birdless, but his strong speed, rapport with his handler and smooth hunting capability earned him a spot in the callback.

Starting off Tuesday morning — Erin’s Black List (PM/Hurdle) and Boxwood Vortex (PM/Michael Shears). Both were harnessed at 45.

Competing in the 8th brace were Coldwater Thunder (PF/Hurdle) and Erin’s Full Throttle (PM/Henry). Thunder set out with birds on her mind. She had game contacts at 31, 35, 40 and 52. Only two of these were witnessed by the judges. She was strong and forward until the end. Throttle competed at a nice pace, also completing the hour.

Dazzling (PF/Hurdle) was harnessed at 5. Bad Prairie Billboard (PM/Quintin Wiseman) was credited with a nice find at 17, then suffered an unproductive at 27, and recovered again at 40 with a second find.

Mega Blackhawk’s Progeny (PM/ Hurdle) and Whippoorwill Wild Assault (PM/Huffman). Hurdle requested the retrieval device at 31. Assault was far forward and hunted with a smooth classy gait the entire heat and was awarded a pretty piece of bird work at 27. This performance earned him a spot in the callback.

Cassique’s Boss (PM/Hurdle) and Quickmarksman’s Dan (SM/Hester) completed the hour, and Boss was noted as having a nice find at 43.

Attitude’s Iron Will (SM/Hurdle) finished the hour and was credited with one find. Hendrix’s Signature (PM/ Burke Hendrix) was picked up at 39.

THE CALLBACK

Judges called back four dogs to compete in the ninety-minute finals for the title. Running on Wednesday morning was a bit doubtful with winds and thunderstorm threats. Fortunately we were able to complete the finals.

In the first brace were Whippoorwill Blue Blood and Skyfall. Both dogs were eagerly hunting the front, but after crossing the blacktop into the pines at 8 neither handler had his dog. Both scouts dispatched and handlers cried out pleading. Unfortunately, both handlers asked for their retrieval devices at 32.

Marques Armed Robber, owned by John and Sue Ivester of Huntersville, N. C., and Whippoorwill Wild Assault, owned by Jim and Stephanie Bickers of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., competed in the second callback brace. Five minutes after the  dogs were loosed, the rain set in. Weather conditions did not hinder these competitors as they both put on a championship performance the entire 90 minutes. Crossing over into the bean field which leads to the “big bottom”, scout Mike Hester called point for Armed Robber at 28. Henry flushed around some limbs that had fallen on the field edge and was able to put them in the air, awarding his dog with a nice all-age find. Robber was unable to produce game at 1:02. He stayed bold, fashionable throughout his bid and seemed to have an excellent rapport with Henry, a performance that earned him the championship title.

Wild Assault was just as bold on the ground. He was found pointed at 1:05 on the left edge of the bean field alongside Hell Creek. Huffman flushed the nice covey and all was in order. He stayed strong and classy the entire heat which allocated him the runner-up title.

Blue Mountain, Miss., March 26

Judges: Alan Atkins and Mike Norris

SOUTHERN OPEN ALL-AGE CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Qualifying Heats; Ninety-Minute Finals] — 20 Pointers

and 4 Setters

Winner—MARQUES ARMED ROBBER, 1659975, pointer male, by Reloaded—Dialed In. John & Sue Ivester, owners; Lefty Henry, handler.

Runner-Up—WHIPPOORWILL WILD ASSAULT, 1644982, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Boxwood Bang. Jim & Stephanie Bickers, owners; Larry Huffman, handler.

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