American Field

Islander Wins Amateur Title; Bo of Piney Woods Named Open Champion

U. S. Complete Invitational Championships

By Margaret C. Drew | Jan 03, 2019
Islander Winner of the U. S. Complete Amateur Invitational Championship

Hoffman, N. C. — The U. S. Complete group voted at their annual meeting in July that a back-to-back event for these Championships would allow for sharing of responsibilities, less travel and hopefully open up one more weekend for trialing.

The amateur group had run the 2017 Invitational at the Sandhills Game Land area called the “Drop Zone” in Scotland County, Aberdeen, N. C. These wildlife lands are used by the military, thus the term “drop zone.” They do land helicopters in training on these very grounds. (In fact one was working in the area on Thursday around noon, although no conflict occurred.)

The state wildlife folks were once again very helpful in making sure the course was cleared of downed trees, as well as mowing some walking areas across heavy grass and brush. The committee wishes to thank wildlife personnel Brady Fisher for permits, Lee Crisco and Dallas Shoemaker for mowing and checking the course. Earl and Margaret Drew walked, measured and flagged the course, accompanied by John and Gretchen Adsit.

The course is 3.8 miles from beginning to end. This seems to be more than adequate for the amateur; however, the open folks held a faster pace on a few braces necessitating an extention of the course by swinging to the left along the field and woods.

Earl and Margaret Drew chaired the Amateur Invitational and were assisted by several people. Bird planting of 180 quail was undertaken by Earl Drew, Rich Warters, Brian McPherson and Mark Hughes via the use of a Kubota, as the state only allows one motorized veicle and a tractor for trial purposes. The one exception is if a handler has a handicap permit from the organization or the state of North Carolina. In those cases a handler may use an ATV and remain on course walkways.

On a few occasions this bird planting vehicle came in handy to pick up a wayward dog via the use of a tracking device. Driving the tractor to pull the dog wagon was Jeff Ruth. Nice to have Jeff and Donna relocated from Pennsylvania.

A few years ago Ted Riley had a hay wagon converted to a dog wagon with seats and room for dog boxes which he rents to clubs in the area. It is really a nice field trial addition.

The club rents a water wagon from former Maine field trialer Billy Fogg. Without this necessity, the trial would be in trouble as the ponds on this property are not close to the camping area where we set up headquarters.

The Southeast Region of the U. S. Complete had a bird pen built a few years ago and this was on the premises to hold 200 birds at a time. The birds were plump, well feathered and great flying birds from Williamson Game Farm here in North Carolina.

Thanks to Ted Riley and Earl Drew for their many trips to get all necessary vehicles and items to the trial grounds and home again six days later.

Chairpersons of the two Invitationals decided that a shelter was needed on the site. The two trials shared the expense of renting a large tent, with sides, tables and chairs. A club member donated a generator and large coffee pot daily. The rental company erected the tent and at the end took it down. Rain arrived on Saturday and the tent was a welcome addition.

Judges for the Amateur Invitational were past president of the Southeast Region and professional dog trainer Keith Pittman of Greenville, N. C., and veteran field trialer Roger McPherson of Chesterfield, S. C. Roger has handled, owned and chaired many trials, both walking and horseback. They were attentive to all dogs and equally helpful to all handlers. Thank you for a job well done.

Your reporter is very appreciative to these two who kept excellent notes, as following a surgery on November 27 I had been given the restriction of no horse or other “bumpy” riding for ten days. Between talking with the judges and their superior notes I am sure you will see that many birds were pointed and that both dogs and handlers had a good time.

National U. S. Complete Secretary Mike Spotts of Bloomsburg, Pa., keeps an excellent roster of points-earners during the calendar year; this is posted on line and can be followed during the year. He sends out the invitations to the competing dogs. If a handler declines, then he continues down the list until he has twelve entries.

Drawing for these shared events took place at the Drews’ home on Wednesday evening prior to the start of the first stake. The drawing for day No. 2 of the Amateur was held at the Thursday evening dinner, also at the Drews’ home. The dinner was prepared and served by Donna Ruth and Margaret Drew.

Drawing for the second day of the Open Stake also took place at the Sunday night dinner at the Drews’ home. The open dinner was hosted by Dennis Kivikko in honor his Pirate’s Mean Louise, last year’s winner.

Lunch was provided daily. In honor of last year’s amateur winner, Bob’s Elhew Holly, Bob Phillips provided lunch for the amateur group on the opening day.

Assisting the Open Invitational was David Keck as official bird planter. Tractor driving was shared by Pedrag Kazic, Earl Drew, Brian McPherson and Ted Riley. Rich Warters did not seem to have a lot of help, but managed to keep his birds fed and watered, assisted David Keck with filling bird bags, picking up lunch and various other details.

A very large thank-you to our sponsor Purina. Through the help of Purina’s Dean Reinke we were able to arrange for dog food to be shipped to the winners, as well as Purina product to be given to each invitational participant, including judges. This generous support was greatly appreciated by the participants and the committee.

Also, Garmin sent a Pro 550 Plug/TT15 collar for the winners and a Bark Limiter collar for each runner-up.

The committee arranged for plaques to be given to each winner and runner- up. Each participant in both the Amateur and Open received a florescent hat reading USCSD Invitational 2018 with the national logo embroidered.


Islander, setter male owned and handled by Pedrag Kazic of Greenlawn, N. Y., was named the champion after two days of competition at the Sandhills Game Land Area “Drop Zone.” Islander had finds at 30, 38, 43 and 50 during the first series. At the 30-minute mark he showed the gallery how a relocation should be done as handler taped him on several times before birds were flown. The dog’s posture seemed to say, “I told you so!” He had a forward race with a ranging medium pattern while displaying a classy gait. He also had two unproductives during this hour.

In the second series, Islander was called to the line for the 8:30 a. m. breakaway. He scored four finds, had an unproductive at 16 before a find at 27 that showed a tall and classy posture. He hunted the woods thoroughly, extending his pattern to edges when the cover  llowed an edge to be taken. Following finds at 23 and 40, he had his handler a bit nervous when not readily seen. Islander was found standing to the front at 47, scoring his fourth find. Requiring a little scouting on these grounds, Pedrag was lucky to have Earl Drew fill that role today. Islander finished this second hour with two wide long casts in the broomstraw before heading to the woodsline.

Runner-up went to last year’s runner- up, Phillips Half Moon, setter female owned and handled by Matt Phillips of Cobleskill, N. Y. Phillips Half Moon ran in the first brace of the Championship. She rendered a fancy, forward ground race at medium range. She swung through the woods with ease while scoring three finds, two backs and two unproductives. Everyone admired her pointing style. Half Moon slowed her pace a bit when finishing across the mowed end of the course toward the woodsline.

In the second series, Half Moon was drawn to run in the last brace, luckily before the rain began. During this second series, she handled with difficulty, ranging out during the first 40 minutes, while scoring finds at 4, 24, 28 and 35. During the last 20 minutes she settled into a pattern with handler, scoring one more find at 55. She had two backs this series and an unproductive. One judge commented on her natural fancy forward race on both days.


The first brace broke away after 8:30 a. m. due to heavy frost and a temperatures in the low 20s. With 50 birds released in the predawn hours the course awaited Phillips Half Moon (SF/ Phillips) and Little Miss Bella (PF/Tim Cavanaugh). Half Moon’s effort was covered earlier. Bella scored finds at 8 and 18 fairly near the path, had two  nproductives and was not seen much of the hour. She required the retrieval unit after time to be located.

In the second brace were two veteran field trialers, Bobby Phillips of Jonesborough, Tenn., and Earl Drew of Hoffman, N. C. Bobby Phillips had the misfortune of having to scratch his pointer female Bob’s Elhew Holly when she came in season so his Bob’s Elhew Kate became the bracemate of I’m Earl (PM/Drew). Bob’s Elhew Kate pointed hesitantly at 18 and 30, tightening up when handler approached. She also scored a good find at 34. As the handler walked the course Kate was seen less and less, being out of judgment when time was called. I’m Earl ran a good forward race, fancy on the ground making good casts at medium to long ranges. He scored eye-appealing, head and tail high with rigid body for quail at 27, 33, 46 and 58. A relocation was required at 33 and Drew and I’m Earl handled it well. I’m Earl received credit for two backs and had two unproductives.

Rich Warters’ pointer male Bo of Piney Woods, under the whistle of Andy Bogar, was braced with Wizard’s Albannach Drummer, setter male handled by Jim Hathaway of North Falmouth, Mass. It was nice to have Jim and his wife make the long trip from Massachusetts.

Bo of Piney Woods was presenting a good ground race until 43 when his excitement got the best of him and he took birds for a good run and returned for a second try. Bo had a nice find at 7, a back, and two additional finds before his unexpected regression at 43. He did not finish his hour. Wizard ran with a popping tail at close range. He showed some immaturity on his birds with some flagging, although tightening up as handler approached. He had finds at 8, 32, 50 and 57, with a mannerly back at 20 and an unproductive at 27.

Brace No. 4 followed lunch and a 15 minute additional delay due to military helicopter activities in the field which we cross at 25 and farther down again at 50. With the gallery wagon loaded, Pure Confidence (PM/Tim Cavanaugh) and Shadow’s Carolina Molly (PF/Verlene Stephenson) began their hour. Pure Confidence is co-owned by Peter LaBella. Pure Confidence ran a big forward race with one little loop, scored finds at 3, 48, 50 and 59. His manners and style on bird work were noteworthy. He was the only dog without backs or unproductives competing in the first series under judgment. Carolina Molly shared a divided find at 6, with additional bird work at 18 and 28. On a relocation attempt, she attempted to assist the handler. At the end of the hour she had not been seen for a long span of time.

Islander, the winner, was covered. Hog Hill Katie (PF/Cavanaugh) scored attractive and mature points at 9 and 18; however, she was ranging wide and lost contact with handler for the second half of the course.

Pirate’s Mean Louise (PF/Dennis Kivikko) and The Outsider (SF/Art Mourino). Both handlers in this brace are from Virginia. Mean Louise had a back at 22, followed by finds at 29 and 36. She was a little happy at wing and shot, although had a fancy-going ground pattern. She was lost when time was called. After waiting all day, Outsider jumped off the line with an eager spring; however, when she chased birds her time on the ground was quickly over.


The second day rolled around after an evening meal on Thursday and a drawing for the second day. Handlers were pleased to accept a 37.5 bag of Purina Pro Plan Sport and a florescent cap reading Invitational 2018, USCSD along with the organization’s logo. Drawing the early slot on this balmy 47° morning were Pirate’s Mean Louise and Islander, the latter covered earlier. Mean Louise was in a ranging bird-finding mode. She had six bird contacts, some sharp and precise, some requiring relocation and handler assistance.

At 16 Shadow’s Carolina Molly had an unproductive, then at 20 she scored a find, followed by a second bird encounter at 26 during which she gave chase and was leashed. Hog Hill Katie had an unproductive at 14 and a find at 23. She reached further into the broomstraw and into the piney woods which caused her to be absent much of the remaining time.

The third brace was called to the line just prior to lunch. Two of the judges’ favorites were braced here. Pure Confidence likely would have been the champion had he not had a breach of manners at 27. He was hunting through the woods and then reaching into the grasses with a determined gait, stopping at 7 and again at 27 on picturesque points. On this last find he chased and ended his championship chance. I’m Earl, having been taken out of retirement for this trial, gave his all in good fashion on day No. 1 but his old leg injuries prevented him from completing the full hour on day No. 2. When handler noticed his change in gait he was quickly picked up and given a wagon ride around the course.

Little Miss Bella had casual points at 25 and 42, followed by a nice find at 46. She had one back during her moderate hour. Bob’s Elhew Kate (Phillips) had finds at 33 and 41, during which she required a little handler assistance to maintain her pointing skills. She was credited with two finds with her bracemate at 25 and 42.

Phillips Half Moon’s effort was previously covered. Wizard’s Albannach Drummer began his hour with a powerful and forward attack to the course. He had four good finds, as well as two backs, although closed in for the last 20 minutes after exiting the piney woods.

Hoffman, N. C., November 29 — One Course

Judges: Roger McPherson and Keith Pittman


[One-Hour Heats on Two Consecutive Days] — 7 Pointers and 5 Setters

Winner—ISLANDER, 1641545, setter male, by The Insider—East Coast Bella. Pedrag Kazic, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—PHILLIPS HALF MOON, 1648257, setter female, by Long Gone Boston—Grouse Ridge Comet. Matthew Phillips, owner and handler.


As dates were drawn for the USCSD Invitational Championships in July, 2018, it was voted to run the Amateur and Open Invitationals back to back at the Drop Zone area of the Sandhills Game Lands. As an invitational needs to allow for a callback day if required by judges, the amateur drew November 29- December 1. The Open Invitational would be chaired by Rich Warters and his area field trial companions. It was decided to offer a half hour Open Shooting Dog to start on December 1 or at the completion of the Amateur Invitational.

The amateur group finished on Friday leaving Saturday, December 1, open for a full day of running. Twenty-seven dogs were drawn for this half hour stake; after a few scratches, only 25 ran, which allowed announcements to be made just before dark with light rain falling.

Judging were Andy Bogar of Berwick, Pa., and Dennis Kivikko of Powhatan, Va.

First was Sunrise Star, setter male owned by Dr. George Najor as part of the Midnight Kennel Team with handler Robert Ecker. Star had a powerful ground race with two mature pieces of bird work. Second went to Doug Dix’s setter female Rock Solid Casey, handled by Robert Ecker. Casey was very fast on the ground with a fancy gait. She had three nice finds and two backs. Third went to Maximum Resistance, setter male owned by Matt Phillips who was present, although handled by Robert Ecker. Maximum Resistance runs with exceptionally appealing style and points the same way, as evidenced on his one quail contact. He ran a somewhat shorter race than the other winners.

Judges: Andy Bogar and Dennis Kivikko

OPEN SHOOTING DOG — 19 Pointers and 8 Setters

1st—SUNRISE STAR, 1645029, setter male, by Harbor City Hammer—Sandland Cinnamon. George Najor, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.

2d—ROCK SOLID CASEY, 1672254, setter female, by Grouse Ridge Whitestone—Grouse Ridge Merri. Doug Dix, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.

3d—MAXIMUM RESISTANCE, 1661316, setter male, by Shadow Oak Bo—Hunter’s Run’s Dawn. Matt Phillips, owner; Robert Ecker,

Open Invitational Championship

The Open Invitational began at 8:15 a. m. on Sunday, December 2, following the same course as the Amateur. The group gathered at the Hunter Campground of Block B on the Sandhills Game Land. Breakaway is through the woods on the southern side and then following a fire path for approximately 18 minutes. A path to the left off the fire path leads you to the end of the military drop zone, a heavily grown section of grasses and broomstraw, although basically treeless. Traveling northeast for about 12 minutes we then enter a beautiful piney woods area. This continues until about the 45-50-minute mark which by that time we are headed south across the western end of the drop zone and back to the treeline and into the woods adjacent to the Hunter Campground and the breakaway.

The wagon is able to follow all but two small sections of the course.

Judging this stake was Sammy Giddens of Faison, N. C., an avid field trialer who has brought along many winning dogs. Rounding off the team was Bill Bonnetti of Marston Mills, Mass., whose family has been involved with setters and field trials for many years. A special thanks to these two judges and Nida Giddens for the great notes provided to your reporter making the report possible.


Winner of the 2018 Open Invitational was Bo of Piney Woods, three-year-old pointer male owned by Rich Warters of Pinehurst, N. C., who began Bo’s puppy training with the intention of keeping him to handle himself. However, when Bo began to show advanced bird sense, great mobility and style he soon became part of the Midnight Kennel program with Robert Ecker.

Bo turned thee years of age last spring shortly after winning the U. S. Complete National Open Championship on the premier Hoffman grounds a few miles from this Block B area.

During the first series here, Bo ran a very animated and fast hour. For the first 40 minutes his range bordered extreme for a walking stake. He then finished his hour with a nice hunting pace with plenty of style. He pointed proudly with mature manners at 5, as well as a second intense point at 45. He handled pleasingly.

On day No. 2, Bo ran a fast, forward race, once again very animated which had the gallery wagon watching closely and judges sitting high in the saddles. Bo had a pair of quail precisely indicated at 20 with perfect manners. At 38 he was found locked statuesquely awaiting the flush of a covey. As time was about to expire he was found standing at the far edge of the final field facing the woodsline for one final flush and shot.

As his exciting hour came to a conclusion, those observing knew this was the dog to beat.

Runner-up was Texas Free Mason, five-year-old setter male handled by Robert Ecker for owner Kevin Klein of Waterford, Pa. During the first series, Free Mason had coveys pinned with good style and advanced manners at 14 and 18. Handler did have to ask for a relocation on one of these and it was well executed showing intelligence for game.

In looking at his first hour, the only slight imperfection was an alteration of pattern during the last 15 minutes, perhaps because the two handlers became separated with noises in the distance. The judges’ notes indicate that he had a strong finish.

Texas Free Mason is a large white and orange setter that has a surprisingly big motor, which he used in a wide swinging hunting cadence as he traversed the course in a forward pattern from start to finish in the second series. He stood his game well, especially the find with quail tucked against a cedar tree at 19. He was found on point at 39, a limb find with precise indication requiring patience and stamina as he awaited handler for flush and shot.

Day No. 1

Runner-up Texas Free Mason (Ecker) was detailed previously. Suemac’s Sashay, pointer female owned and  scouted by Roger McPherson, handled by Mark Hughes, rendered a nice forward race with a consistent gait from start to finish. She had a polished point at 25 followed by a very intense stand at 32. As her classy hour came to a close, she was found standing at 55. All was in order as birds were located in the thick grass where she was buried up.

Mark Hughes was also in brace No. 2 with pointer male Thunderhills Pale Rider, owned by Harry Tsepelias. Pale Rider had his running shoes, dashing forward at the first opportunity with hunting on his mind. He was seen sparingly by the judges during his hour. He did score one fair find at 10. Boston, pointer male owned by Jim Kilrain and handled by Robert Ecker, had a good race with extreme animation and style. At 5 he located and watched a covey of quail walk away from him as he remained staunch for wing and shot. Again at 20 Boston stood as handler walked in to flush, a covey lifted wild around him as he remained solid. He had a single pointed in the woods at 30. He finished hunting spiritedly forward with another single being pointed at 51 in the tall grass. For this strong forward race with a strong finishing performance, Boston was named dog of the day.

This was Islander’s (SM/Pedrag Kazic) third hour on this course which resulted in an inconsistent pattern. (It was learned later that Islander had a three-inch foreign object in his throat that a veterinarian removed the next day.) He finished his allotted time with a find at 20. Sunrise Star, owned by Dr. George Najor and handled by Robert Ecker, traversed the course with a find at 35, albeit missing at pickup. Star was located via a retrieval device after the hour.

Following lunch, the judges were ready to see the remaining six dogs before the evening dinner. The southern weather had returned, temperatures rising into the low 70s with a measureable breeze.

Matt Phillips’ setter female Phillips Half Moon (Mark Hughes) and Ed Marquis’ setter female Upper Ammonoosuc Sadie (Robert Ecker). Ed was present for the trial and I believe he was a permanent fixture on the dog wagon. I later read that Sadie has been retired to a life of leisure and hunting following this Invitational trip.

No. 5: Robert Ecker with Gary Chlapaty’s setter female Rockland Ridge McGraw, braced with Robert Little from New Brunswick with pointer male Cairds Lefty, whose owners, Travis and Meghan Riggs, had recently moved from Maryland to Athens, Ga., allowing them to participate in the Championship. McGraw pointed at 10, although she was quickly picked up when she chased. Lefty put down a smooth race with an  ttractive gait. He scored two nice finds, at 40 and a second at 50.

The sixth and final brace of day No. 1: Dennis Kivikko’s pointer female Pirate’s Mean Louise, winner of last year’s Open Invitational. Like Islander, this was Mean Louise’s third hour on this course. She had a good race at a medium range with a find at 30. Bracemate was Rich Warters’ young pointer Bo of Piney Woods which was detailed earlier.

Day No. 2

Five dogs were drawn for the second day, each with a different bracemate and a different time of day to run. Due to her excessive bird excitement Rockland Ridge McGraw was not called back.

Cairds Lefty, a talented young dog which shows potential for a great future, catches your eye on the ground and showed strong intensity on a find at 10, followed by a covey find at 14 during which he could not contain himself and went with the lifting birds. Upper Ammonoosuc Sadie ran a moderate ranging, good, forward race, being stopped at 30 with an appropriate find. Sadie would have received a ribbon for the most finds of the stake if one were given. She pointed nine times during this hour!

Phillips Half Moon once again ran a good race on this, her fourth time around these four miles in as many days. She had no finds today, but two backs. Before entering the field at 52, both dogs were watered and both were pleasantly forward with good ending casts. Bracemate Bo of Piney Woods was covered with the winners above.

Pirate’s Mean Louise was running a nice smooth race, animated and forward. The temperatures had continued to rise, affecting her range in this fourth trip around the course. She had good finds at 30 and 44, plus an unproductive. When Islander was scratched, Sunrise Star was moved to be bracemate for Mean Louise. Star was picked up at 12; he had shown some stiffness from the breakaway.

Following lunch, brace No. 4: Suemac’s Sashay and Boston. Sashay ran a forward race, as one judge commented “very light on her feet” as she attacked the course in the manner which a dog should hunt. At 30 she stood over a hawk kill, but was sent on. At 40 she began searching a little lateral which led her into some heavy cover and as pickup was called she was not seen. After further looking, handler Hughes took the retrieval unit and located her standing. Boston had presented the judges with an exciting first-day performance; however, he was lost off the breakaway the second day.

The fifth brace had Thunderhills Pale Rider and Texas Free Mason, which was covered with the winners above. Pale Rider disappeared into the woods off the breakaway, requiring Mark Hughes to employ the retrieval unit at 23.

Judges: Bill Bonnetti and Sammy Giddens


[One-Hour Heats on Consecutive Days] — 6 Pointers and 6 Setters

Winner—BO OF PINEY WOODS, 1661644, pointer male, by Bud of Piney Woods—Medlin’s Dancin Abagail. Richard Warters, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.

Runner-Up—TEXAS FREE MASON, 1650873, setter male, by Merritt’s Zackery—Indian Creek Sunrise. Kevin Klein, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.


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