American Field

Game Wardon Claims Title

Tar Heel Open Championship

By Dwight Smith | Nov 11, 2020
The Winners. Front row, from left: Luke Eisenhart, Tommy Davis and Game Wardon,  and Claudia McNamee with Awsum's Country Justice. Second row: Judge Grayson Francis, John Ivester, chairman; Judge George Kimbrell is in on third row and others not identifiable due to required masks.

Hoffman, N. C. — Dr. Fred Corder’s white and liver four-year-old male pointer, Game Wardon, annexed the 2020 Tar Heel Championship title. Forty-three other qualified entries competed for the laurels, but all came up a little short. They competed on the Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds near the village of Hoffman, N. C. Wardon was handled by Luke Eisenhart and scouted by Hall-of-Famer Tommy Davis.

Awsum's Country Justice, five-year-old white and orange pointer male owned by Bill and Margie Ricci and Dr. Bill Bruchey, was awarded runner-up honors. Justice was handled by Eisenhart also, who took home all the marbles.

The Tar Heel Open Championship was brought to life years ago by Ronnie Leonard, Wayne Lineback, Don Lineberry, Phil Moser, among others. Three years ago, the North Carolina Field Trial Association was awarded the Championship when those involved decided they would not continue with the workload.

John Ivester, North Carolina Field Trial Association secretary/treasurer, was made chairman of the Tar Heel and has done a masterful job of continuing the class field trial started by the group earlier mentioned. Ivester is helped by Gary Winall, Ellen Clements, Robert (Lefty) Henry, Ruthann Epp and various Association members.

The 2020 entry is among the highest in several years.

As all seasoned quail hunters are aware, weather plays an important part in field trials, as it did in the 2020 Tar Heel. The first day’s temperature was about normal; the second and third day afternoon temperatures reached 82° and a bright sun. The last day was greeted with light rain and temperatures about twenty degrees cooler. Entries that ran during mid-day on day two and three found weather conditions less than ideal. The winner did run on the second day, however.

Quail were plentiful when weather conditions were favorable. After struggling with the availability of quail for a few years and earning a reputation of “no birds” for several seasons, the method of releasing quail was changed, led by Mack Hilliard, to a successful method.

John Ivester is in charge of things now and it's paying off. The release is too complicated to discuss here but Robert Gordon venue at Hoffman, no longer lives up to the “no bird” reputation thanks to Ivester, Mike Hester, Steve Mills and Robert Henry among others who work with the Squire of Sawtooth Plantation.

Needless to say that the abundance of quail, the great facilities for people, dogs and horses would not be available without the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s help and support.

The Commission’s effort to provide outdoor recreational opportunities are fully recognized on the Sandhills Wildlife area, of which the Robert Gordon portion is a part of the 60,000-acre Sandhills area.

Lee Crisco, the man in charge on the grounds, is protective of the property, but very accommodating to field trialers in every way.

The two main supporters of the event were the Purina’s division of Nestle Purina. What would field trials do without them – suffer, I believe.

The Richmond County Tourism Development Authority supports the North Carolina Field Trial Association by making a sizeable contribution to the quail program. Field trialers can find motels, restaurants and retail outlets for other supplies in Rockingham.

The guidelines for COVID-19 pandemic were followed in order to help stop the spread. The clubhouse was used very little. Masks, hand sanitizer and wipes were available at all times.

Ted Riley provided dog truck service. He is a likeable person who helps out in any situation he can, besides driving the dog truck.

Judges were George Kimbrell from Fort Mill, S. C., and Grayson Francis from Brookneal, Va.  Kimbrell returned from judging duties here last year. Francis is fast becoming a much sought-after judge. They were alert, helpful at times when needed, knowledgeable and excellent horsemen.

One could not help feel as they drove from the grounds that field trials in North Carolina were very much alive and well.


Game Wardon was drawn in seventh brace and ran on course No. 1. Temperatures were in the high 70s at the 8 o’clock breakaway.

Wardon and his bracemate, Mohawk Mill Trail Warrior, reached to the bottoms in front of the clubhouse where point was called for the Corder pointer at about the 7-minute mark. All in order at flush. Eisenhart and Davis gathered everything up and headed to the front, Wardon went far ahead and hunted more country.

Eisenhart called point again at 49, a pretty picture on an early fall morning. The white and liver ticked male pointer looked just like one would want their performer to look – it was a good start to a new field trial season in North Carolina.

Up to this point in time Wardon had done about as well as anyone could ask. An excellent ground effort and two good pieces of bird work. But he wasn’t finished yet. Eisenhart called point again at 59 minutes, rode to the standing pointer, flushed, shot and smiled.

Wardon had just added icing to the cake at the end of the hour.

His performance was one that burns itself into your mind and one uses it to judge other performances by future competitors.

Runner-up honors were awarded to Awsum Country Justice. Co-owners Bill and Margie Ricci were riding the dog wagon to witness what was probably the best ground work of the stake.

Justice drew the fifth brace when weather conditions were not ideal. He was always to the front, it seemed, showing far ahead. The Riccis had to be proud of the way he handled the mile-long field and the area around the bear trap. His finish was about ideal.

Justice had one find; it was in high cover midway of the mile-long field. He was given a divided find on another piece of bird work – a true all-age performance.

Several other entries had good performances. Mohawk Mill Trail Warrior was braced with the winner in No. 7. He had finds at about 17, 40, and 44. He had more bird work at 50 that wasn’t seen by this reporter. He had a strong and exciting hour.

Raw Law Sugar Trouble appealed to several in attendance with his two finds and good finish. Dunn’s Hell'n High Water had the kind of finish that everyone wants, but lacked in some other areas.

Marques Armed Robber ran in a dense fog, stayed ahead and looked like he was going to change things for a while, but misbehaved on his third find.

The last brace of the trial ended near McGee’s Castle. The field trial party returned to the clubhouse for the announcement of the new Tar Heel Champion.

Some handlers knew they weren’t going to be in the winners' circle, so they began getting ready for the start of the Central Carolina trials. There was still hope and dreams of becoming winners.

Hoffman, N. C., November 22

Judges: Grayson Francis and George Kimbrell


40 Pointers and 4 Setters

Winner—GAME WARDON, 1676189, pointer male, by Caladen’s Rail Hawk—Game Creek. Dr. Fred Corder, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.

Runner-Up—AWSUM’S COUNTRY JUSTICE, 1666724, pointer male, by Erin’s Wild Justice—Awsum Country Girl. Bill & Margie Ricci & Dr. Bill Bruchey, owners; Luke Eisenhart, handler.


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