American Field

Touch’s Game Point, Reuben Richardson and Tony Gibson’s Pointer, Takes Crown

Tar Heel All-Age Championship

By Dwight Smith | Nov 13, 2017
Touch's Game Point Winner of the Tar Heel All-Age Championship

Hoffman, N.C. — Touch’s Game Point, seven-year-old white and orange pointer male, was crowned 2017 Tar Heel Champion by Judges John Milton of Jacksonville, Fla., and David Steele of Signal Mountain, Tenn., at the conclusion of the Championship that began on October 20 at the Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds near Hoffman, N. C. Game Point is owned by Reuben Richardson of Montgomery, Ala., and Tony Gibson of Union Springs, Ala., and was handled by Mark McLean.

Runner-up laurels were bestowed on Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa, five-year-old setter male owned by Larry Earls of Blacksburg, S. C., and handled by Mike Hester.

The champion and runner-up each carded two well-handled finds and all-age ground efforts. Their performances, as well as those of other entries, are described elsewhere in this report.

The Tar Heel Championship wasn’t held for the past two years for several reasons, the lack of entries among them. The North Carolina FTA rearranged its running schedule in order to attract entries from other areas of the country and the move paid off with a gratifying entry of 36 pointers and setters with ten different handlers participating.

Weather during the three-day trial was unseasonably warm and it is also very dry in the Sandhills of North Carolina. There had not been what a farmer would describe as a “good rain” in the area for about 35 days we were told. However, earlier rains during July and early August gave the cover the moisture it needed to grow and as a result the cover was heavy, which was good to provide cover for quail.

The Hoffman grounds had been tagged as field trial grounds with low quail count. All that changed last year when the grounds committee and Mack Hilliard took steps to establish more than an ample quail covey count. Plenty of game was found during this renewal. In excess of 22 coveys were counted one day, even under the harsh conditions that existed. John Ivester and about seven volunteers used Mack Hilliard’s concept to release 198 coveys over the nearly 6,000 acres.

With the abundance of game and the wonderful facilities that include stables, kennels, a clubhouse and proper grounds maintenance provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission make the Robert Gordon venue among the better venues in the country, in this reporter’s opinion.

John Ivester was stake manager. He had everything well organized. Those who helped with chores were Steve Mills, Fred Potts, Ted Riley, Dennis Snyder, Ruthann Epp, Gary Winall and Ellen Clements.

Judging was in the capable hands of John Milton and David Steele, who conducted themselves like judges should. They generated respect by using wisdom and authority expected from judges. It would have been hard to have found a better pair.

Getting the next brace of dogs to the right place at the right time is an important part of field trials. Larry McDonald was always on time and at the right place with the dog truck.

If for some reason some action took place that this reporter missed, or if some action was misinterpreted by this reporter it was not intentional. At times the reporter helped prepare lunch and perform other necessary duties to make the trial go smoothly.

Purina sponsored the renewal of the Tar Heel Championship. No banner was available for pictures, but Purina’s support was made known by this reporter and John Ivester.


Touch’s Game Point drew the third course, a course that some handlers would rather not have, but Point and Mark McLean took advantage of the situation to render a winning performance.

Point’s bracemate was Mohawk Mill Image, Gary Winall’s young pointer.

McLean called point at 15 and rode to Point’s stand. Image came in and backed. When quail lifted a few at a time, Image went with them for a short distance. Image was taken up. During all of this Point remained staunchly in place. McLean shot, gathered everything up and sent the Richardson-Gibson pointer toward the soldiers’ camp.

The area making up the third course at the Robert Gordon grounds contains long edges, and in some places high cover. Point handled the course well, always to the front, far front that is. He crossed the sand road before McGee’s Castle, hit the cover again and to the left edge of the course. McLean pointed him out several times then rode to find Point standing in a feed patch, game well located, all in order at flush. An exciting piece of work on a well deserved find. His finish was strong beyond the S turn.

This wasn’t Touch’s Game Point’s first placement at Hoffman. He won the Central Carolina trial in 2016. Mark McLean is also familiar with the SandHill courses, going back several years before he became a professional handler he won the Region 3 Amateur All-Age Championship. I believe he won Region 3 on course No. 3 also.

Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa was drawn in the second brace of the Championship and set the standard for the rest of the stake. Tekoa is a frequent competitor on the Hoffman grounds, placing often. He was fast and strong in the heat. One does not expect a setter to accept the hot dry weather like presented during this stake, but the weather didn’t bother Larry Earl’s setter.

Tekoa’s bird work was just as it should be. The first find came soon after the breakaway, the other at 38. Judges Steele and Milton cantered to the top of a hill so they could see his finish. Tekoa didn’t disappoint them; he was still reaching for more country at pickup.

Several other entries impressed. Miller’s Creative Cause had four finds; it might have been his foot work that kept him out of the money. Marques Lucky Star just about put it all together. Mohawk Mill Pirate had a good hour. Erin’s Full Throttle was getting it done with a good race and three finds but was lost at the end of the hour. Home Big Boy thrilled with his race and one find, only to be lost at pickup but found on point very near the judges after his handler got his retrieval unit.


Stake manager John Ivester introduced the judges. Judge Milton spoke for both judges and made it plain that they (the judges) wanted the handlers in sight and they wanted to see the dogs. He emphasized that neither he nor Judge Steele would chase handlers around the course to see their dogs. His tone was calm but displayed authority.

Coldwater Hammer (McLean) and Walnut Tree Fred (Mills) were released at 8:05. Hammer reached the bottoms before the clubhouse, topped the hills and went into the elbow area, had a find, was well mannered, watered and carried on. He was lost before the mile-long field. Fred, under the watch of respected amateur handler Steve Mills, reached the bottoms, had a find before the road crossing, then crossed into the elbow area while McLean was flushing for Hammer, and went into the oaks beyond the elbow. A shot was heard, another find for Fred. Mills couldn’t show Fred in the mile-long field and Fred was counted out.

Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa (Hester) was described earlier. Nyquist (Ray) started strongly and didn’t let up. He kept handler Doug Ray busy, but Ray held onto him early in the hour. Judge Steele called point for the pointer before the Christmas tree area, all in order, but Nyquist was lost before time.

Mohawk Mill Jacob (Winall) and Touch’s Mega Mike (McLean). The temperatures were in the high 70s by the 10:30 breakaway for this mixed pair. As usual the Winall setter attracted one’s

attention with his easy gait and his speed. He had an unproductive at 15 and another before 30 minutes and was taken up. Mega Mike flew along the edges of the course before the soldiers’ camp and seemed to be hunting the right places. He had an unproductive at 20, wasn’t seen much of early in the hour and then none at all later in the hour.

Miller’s Creative Cause (Ray) and Stoney Run Buddy (Winall). Owner Tommy Liesfeld was riding in the gallery to watch Doug Ray handle Cause which put on a bird-finding seminar. By the end of the hour he had carded four well handled finds and a back. A beautiful thing he is, moving and on point. One should remember that Cause had four finds in the low 80° temperatures and conditions were very dry. His range might have kept him out of the winners’ circle. Buddy had a similar ground race and three well spaced finds during his 60 minutes on the hot, dry sand with high cover, and he had it all in the style department. Buddy had an unproductive.

Cap N Jack (Hillard) and Touch’s White Knight (McLean). By release time for this brace temperatures were in the mid 80s and the wind was still. Horses were wet with sweat, riders

taking off coats, vests and the like. Not much can be said about this pair except that both tried but the conditions were anything but ideal. Neither pointer finished the hour under judgment.

Erin’s Full Throttle (Henry) and I’m Carolina Wild (Outlaw) started on the last part of course No. 5, temperature a few degrees less than an hour before. Throttle impressed with his ground work from the get-go, taking in the long edges of course No. 5, then the pine country and the naked creek country of course No. 6. Throttle had three good pieces of bird work, all handled well, but was lost just before time. Henry and his scout Mike Hester just could not find Throttle in the heavy cover. I’m Carolina Wild didn’t please handler-owner Johnny Outlaw and was taken up by 30.

Quickmarksman’s Dan (Hester) and Touch’s Boy Rock (McLean). Weather conditions the second day were very similar to the first day. Hot and dry with a blue bird sky. Dan adapted to the cover and terrain of the first course, hunted at extended range, returning often enough to stay in touch with Hester. He had a good piece of bird work and then had a wreck. Boy Rock had a similar ground performance as his bracemate, a good find at 45 and then two unproductives.

Marques Armed Robber (Henry) and Miller’s Armed and Dangerous (Ray) didn’t last long. Robber and Dangerous did not display proper manners around game and were taken up.

Mohawk Mill Pirate (Winall) and Cock’N’Fire Maggie (Raynor) started on course No. 2 and ended past McGee’s Castle. Maggie, the present National Open Shooting Dog Champion, started fast, responded to handler for awhile then was gone for the day. Pirate, a veteran competitor, quickly adapted to the long edges past the grapevine field, had an unproductive at 15 near a plum tree thicket. Winall gathered everything up and sent his strong gaited pointer toward the soldiers’ camp. Pirate showed often enough, always to the front. He showed endurance in the heat, getting everyone’s attention that was still riding in the gallery. Before the creek crossing just before McGee’s Castle, Winall called point in a place that looked like it would be impossible to flush quail. Winall didn’t hesitate to flush, started into the heavy cover and quail lifted, all in order at flush. Pirate had a strong finish beyond McGee’s Castle.

Marques Peaches N Cream (Henry) and Touch’s Blue Moon (McLean). Judge Steele said “Turn them loose” and Cream went straight ahead, not to be returned to judgment. It was reported that a dog got out of the kennel and raced away with Cream. Moon roamed the countryside that makes up the fourth course, seemed to be hunting but no quail were seen during the hour.

Conditions were not letting up. Hot and dry with heavy cover made game difficult to handle, or even find, plus a Carolina blue sky. Crouse’s Smokin Joe (Crouse), a setter, finished the hour which means he is tough under the conditions he ran in. He didn’t have a game contact. House’s Buckwheat Hawk (McLean), a strong moving pointer, handled the country on course No. 5 about as good as could be done but couldn’t find game. He might have had one of the better ground races of the trial. McLean jokingly asked, “Anyone have any blanks I could borrow?” after running two good ground working dogs without game contact.

Lone Tree Rod Iron (Hester) stayed around for 45 minutes but was counted out before time for being gone too long. Chasehill Double Trouble raced away from the breakaway headed toward the Naked Creek country, wasn’t seen enough and Ray got his retrieval unit.

It had been a tough day for field trials.

Chinquapin Legacy (Sikes) and Crouse’s Kentucky Wind (Crouse), the first brace of the third day, began with temperatures in the low 70s, still no rain or moisture. Legacy began like he was going to take all the money back to Florida, reaching forward, showing in the right places and scoring finds at 9 and 18, but before the turn back toward the clubhouse he was out of judgment. Wind hunted at acceptable range, impressed with his ability to stay in contact with handler Crouse.

Marques Lucky Star (Henry) and Swamp Fox Davey (Hilliard) began on the last part of No. 2 course, both full of energy and fire. Star didn’t make the turn to go out No. 2 course, was behind briefly, then came on toward the front when she pointed, all in good order at flush. Henry hurried to the front, sent Star across Ledbetter Road into the grapevine field. Quail were seen in the air, Henry calling point. Star was pointed out standing. Henry shot, all well and good for Star’s second piece of bird work. Star finished reaching for the far edges. Davey showed flashes of good speed, excellent gait, and range but was counted out at 40 when Hilliard asked for his retrieval unit.

Touch’s Game Point (McLean) and Mohawk Mill Image (Winall) were described earlier. Larry McDonald provided everyone with refreshments before this pair was released. Most of the time the break between the second and third braces each day is referred to as the coffee break. This day riders chose a cold drink over coffee. Temperatures were in the high 70s.

Chinquapin Reward (Sikes) and Home Big Boy (Hilliard) were released behind the barn at 1:30. Conditions were still hot and dry. Reward was not seen after the turn was made at the end of the old loop. Boy made the turn toward the new loop and was found pointing in a pearl millet patch at 15. The rest of his hour was spent reaching for more country, always to the front, searching for game. Hilliard wisely watered Boy when he needed it and on two occasions headed him to water holes. His ground race was exciting, especially to this reporter. Judge Milton called time near the concrete bunkers, Boy not in hand. Hilliard and his scout John Atkins spent the next 20 minutes looking for him while the judges patiently waited. Hilliard asked for his retrieval unit and located Boy standing within 50 yards of the judges on point. The breaks of the game.

Lester’s Private Charter (McLean) and Crouse’s Samuri Warlord (Crouse). Due to other field trial business this reporter had to leave the trial for the last two braces. Fred Potts, who is so helpful in so many ways, rode the last two braces and gave me the results. Charter wasn’t pleasing McLean and was taken up at 25. Warlord had two finds, an unproductive and finished the hour.

Lily On Bee didn’t please Littlejohn and was taken up early. Chinquapin Bean (Sikes) had an unproductive and wasn’t around at time.

Hoffman, N.C., October 20

Judges: John Milton and David Steele


Winner—TOUCH’S GAME POINT, 1628381, pointer male, by Miller’s Happy Jack—B C Angelina. Dr. Reuben Richardson & Tony Gibson, owners; Mark McLean, handler.

Runner-Up—QUICKMARKSMAN’S TOM TEKOA, 1650471, setter male, by Quickmarksman’s Tekoa—Quickmarksman’s Sue. L. S. Earls, owner; Mike Hester, handler.


The winner of the 2017 Tar Heel Championship was announced after the running at a special dinner. The clubhouse was decorated, tablecloths and all. Thanks to the cooks — Gary Winall, Ellen Clements, Johnny Outlaw, Jimmy Edmundson and probably others whose names that I didn’t get. A touch of class.


Ronnie Leonard, Wayne Lineback and Phil Moser came to ride on Friday. This trio  was instrumental in keeping the Tar Heel Championship going for a number of years.

Judges Milton and David Steele were presented Freddie Epp trays as gifts — a rare valuable gift they are.


Lee Crisco, head man at the Hoffman maintenance shop of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, was in attendance when he had time. He is a busy man. The grounds and facilities were in great shape thanks to Lee and his crew.


One could not help but remember the days when Paul Walker was president of the Tar Heel or the days when Paul and Fred Arant were competing on the North Carolina grounds. Both Paul and Fred enriched our sport.


Gary Miller, president of the Richmond County Field Trial and chairman of the U. S. Quail Shootign Dog Futurity, joined us for the winners’ dinner on Saturday. Had Gary not moved the date of his Richmond County trial the new date for the Tar Heel could not have happened. We owe you, Gary.


Ted Riley, who will chair a National Walking Dog Championship, was a big help, but man, he will be 50 lbs. lighter if he walks in the deep sand on Robert Gordon for his walking  championship. Don’t count on all us softies to come walk in your championship, Ted.


Margaret and Earl Drew of the New England Futurity rode on the dog wagon two afternoons. They are Yankees who came and stayed and are an asset to trials at Robert Gordon.


The Robert Gordon venue is multiple-use grounds, even the 6,000 acres used for field trials. There is dove hunting, deer hunting, pine straw gathering, timber growth, horseback trail riders, night coon hunting, pine snake protection and military dog training.

Another is by American armed forces as a training facility. When young American soldiers are encountered by field trialers they are treated with respect and are thanked for what they do for our country. D. S.

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