American Field

Smoke Rise Cece Named Champion; Black River Ruby is Runner-Up

U. S. Complete Open Invitational Championship

By Margaret C. Drew | Jan 02, 2020
Smoke Rise Cece Winner of the U. S. Complete Open Invitational Championship

Hoffman, N. C. — The U. S. Complete Open Invitational Championship ran for the second year at the Drop Zone Area of the Sandhill Game Lands near Hoffman, N. C.

Chairing the details of the trial’s daily operation was Rich Warters of Barkhamsted, Conn. Keeping track of the points for the year, inviting dogs, contacting sponsors Purina and Garmin for their support, as well as seeing that the ad is well placed in The American Field falls to the national secretary Mike Spotts. Job well done to both gentlemen.

Thanks also to our sponsors for their generous donations of food and product. Plaques, ribbons and a check are presented by the national association. Making the presentation was your reporter Margaret Drew.

Judges this year were Larry Wade of Dunn, N. C., an experienced member of the field trial family. The U. S. Complete Southeast President David Huffine of Wilmington, N. C., served as the second judge. These two kept the pace even, watched and discussed all dogs with detail.

Planting birds was Calvin Curnutte of Drowning Creek Bird Dogs. A quiet side by side was used to transport birds, as well as used to pick up some dogs and people as needed along with the wagon. This vehicle also serves as a backup emergency vehicle should the need ever arise.

On these state grounds, known locally as Hunter Campground, there is no building; consequently, a tent is rented with tables and chairs. A porta john arrived the day before, as well as a water buffalo with four large water tubs with drinking water for animals.

Rich Warters saw to it that bottled water and snacks were available in the tent, as well as Margaret providing hot coffee all day.

Lunch was brought in on day No. 1 from a local store; however, day No. 2 was provided by Southern Pines Pointing Dog Club, with president Gerald Movelle preparing burgers, sausage and hot soup.

The grounds are part of the state’s burn program and were in great condition for hunting with natural cover for birds to covey up. The state crew from the local wildlife had done some mowing prior to the season which made seeing and walking good for this group, as well as some other bird dog groups that use the area.

Ted Riley had a people wagon built a few years ago, which once again was used by the association.

Earl Drew brought his John Deere over to tow the wagon. Road signs for direction and safety were provided by Ted Riley and Quail Hollow Kennels.

The drawing was held at Dr. George Najor’s house on Tuesday evening, with a small crowd gathering to assist. The second day’s running was drawn there after Wednesday evening’s dinner in honor of last year’s winner Bo of Piney Woods.

Participating in the trial were Tony Bingham, Sean Melvin, Robert Ecker, Dennis Beauford and Mark Hughes as handlers. Owners attending were Rich Warters, Matt Phillips, Pedrag Kazic, George Najor and Hope Beauford. Others attending and assisting were Earl and Margaret Drew, Gerald Movelle, Tim McClurg, John Outlaw, Dave Hughes, Bill Faust, Carylin Quinn, Ted Riley, Mills Hodge, Roger Hussey, Lee Laymon and his friend whom I did not meet.

I think I have covered everyone, if not, please excuse me. It was a fun two days with great weather, good food and many good dog performances to be observed by all either by horse or from the dog wagon.

Chairman Warters offered a special thank you to Earl and Margaret Drew for their assistance with obtaining permits, checking the grounds, providing phone numbers and answering whatever questions arose.

The Winners

The winner ran in brace No. 5 on  Wednesday and brace No. 1 Thursday. Tony Bingham gained the honors with   pointer female Smoke Rise Cece, owned by Fred Rose of Pinehurst, N. C.

On day No. 1 Smoke Rise Cece scored a find at 19, which required a relocation where she took two steps and locked up. Handler flushed three quail with all in order. At 35 she had an unproductive before going on to score tall and solid finds at 42 and 51. Her bird work was perfect, her animation and ground pattern commendable, all at a moderate range as she hunted most of the hour as a bye dog.

On day No. 2, Smoke Rise Cece was found pointing 4, her bracemate backing. All in order for both dogs. As she moved forward, Cece stopped again at 7, albeit stopping so quickly she stood a little low in the front. Rounding the corner at 13 we found the pair face to face honoring each other; consequently, they were collared back to the road and whistled on. Cece backed again at 19. This brace had everyone’s attention as both dogs toured the countryside with eye appeal, as well as pleasing points and backs. Cece stood proudly for quail to be flushed at 25 and 37.

With time elapsing, both dogs reaching out, scouts were dispatched. Soon point was called for Cece when someone spotted her standing well into the cover on the right side. As handler Bingham walked to flush, bracemate Miss Penn Star approached for a back. Time elapsed and both handlers leashed their dogs.

Smoke Rise Cece was named the Open Invitational Champion after two days of intelligent hunting. She hunted independently, although her desire to please her handler was evident in her proud poise on birds, whether pointing her own game or backing her bracemate.

This coming six-year-old white and liver dog had recently undergone surgery for an embedded thorn in the side of her face; however, despite still being on antibiotics, she showed her desire and stamina to hunt and stand game.

The runner-up spot went to five-year- old white, black, tan and ticked setter female Black River Ruby, owned by Wendy Evans of Magnolia, N. C., and under the whistle of Sean Melvin.

Black River Ruby located quail and handled them well at 11, 16, 20, 30, 41 and 57. Her composure varied, standing positively, loosening a little on long flushing attempts and then regaining her composure. Her happy running gait and medium range sat well with the judges in the first series.

On the second day, Ruby had a stylish back at 15, hunted in a reaching pattern for the hour with finds at 43 and 52. Her find at 52 was located by her bracemate’s scout, where she stood for a good five minutes awaiting handler. As handler arrived, a single lifted,  then a covey of 25-30 birds erupting as Sean reached for his dog. Ruby stood approvingly solid and pleased with her find. She finished her hour going away with energy to spare.

Black River Ruby had been eligible to attend in 2018, however,  the invitation was declined. With performances like this week we can see why she had been invited two years and probably will be next year.

Day No. One

The U. S. Complete National Open Invitational began with promising hunting conditions on December 11 on Sandhill Game Lands in Scotland County, N. C., just nine miles from the famous Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds off Derby Road in Hoffman, N. C.

The opening brace found Islander, setter male owned by Pedrag Kazic, handled by Robert Ecker, and Sean Melvin with Danny Lamm and Reid Lambo’s pointer male Lambo’s Koby. Following a welcome by Chairman Rich Warters, the reporter to introduced the two dogs, which were quickly forward as judges nodded that they were ready. The pair was on a mission; however, they were stopped at 9 by quail. Koby was pointing, Islander, backing. With all in order, they were off again. Islander stopped momentarily, although no birds were flown. The course had a wider turn at 16 minutes this year, with most dogs finding birds in this wooded area. As the group reached the new turn, both dogs were among the scrub oak, Kobe self-relocating for a better “whiff” of game before both dogs were solid to await handlers. Koby indicated game at 22, moving slightly before handler flushed his quail. His third find at 34 was a little hesitant, although well indicated. At 36 he stood with an anxious poise, followed by mature finds at 37, 48 and 55. At 48 as Koby stood Islander caught the front and scored another back. At 32 Islander had point called by scout where he stood well hidden by small pines and more oak. He was tapped to relocate several times, although no birds were flown and he was allowed to hunt forward.

Before the hour was up he tallied three backs. At the end of the first hour the score had Koby with seven finds, a back and a fair race, while Islander had three finds, three backs and two unproductives with a wide searching race.

Robert Ecker handled setter male Texas Free Mason belonging to Kevin Klein, braced with Wendy Evans’ setter female Black River Ruby under the whistle of Sean Melvin. Free Mason found and pointed game five  times during this hour, although his frequent absences hindered his influence with the judges. He had two backs, one a command by opposing handler as Melvin was attempting to flush for Black River Ruby. Black River Ruby was covered with the winners.

Owner Matt Phillips’ was in attendance to watch his setter male Maximum Resistance (Robert Ecker), braced with Rev. Andrew Brown’s pointer female Brown’s Miss April (Sean Melvin). Both of these dogs pleased the judges with their style on point as well as ground races. Maximum Resistance stood attractively at 11, 16, 19, 23 and 37. He had a back at 40,  but also suffered unproductives at 32 and 45. After exiting the wooded area and starting across the lower edge of the “drop zone,” Resistance stopped for a pile of feathers. He was taken on by handler. Resistance’s flowing race and commendable bird work earned him the title of “dog of the day.” Miss April stood at 9 and 11, as well as scoring a back at 16. As the pair moved up the hillside through the piney woods section, Resistance stopped at 40, with Miss April seeming to join for a back; however, both moved on before point could be called. This pair had given the judges two topshelf races, style to spare and multiple pieces of bird work: 12 in their one-hour bid.

Following the group photo shoot and a cheeseburger luncheon, brace No. 4 had another of Matt Phillips’ setters, female Phillips Half Moon, this time the handler was Mark Phillips, braced with chairman Rich Warters’ pointer male Bo of Piney Woods (Ecker). Half Moon laid out a race showing style, range and a nose for finding quail. Venturing off course and swinging to the front she was found standing at 24, 35 and 42. As we exited the woods into the southeastern end of the drop zone, point was call for Half Moon. Bo was crossing east to west just ahead. This find had some controversy, some saying a divided find, others saw it as a find for Half Moon and a back for Bo. It really came down to where you stood as the event transpired. Half Moon had an off-course find at 50 when most had considered her absence was leading to her being lost. Bo stood with absolutely beautiful style at 12, 18 and 23. The pair scooted out of the woods and started down the lower hillside where at 27 Half Moon slid over the edge of a tractor mound ridge and was joined by Bo as Ecker cautioned. Seeing only a pile of feathers, both handlers took their dogs on. They covered the ground beneath the piney woods when the call of point rang out for Half Moon. As handler approached with judge and reporter, Bo appeared from the right, turned toward Half Moon, hesitated, then took six very deliberate steps,  stopping by a clump of scrub oak nearby. Both handlers fired, exchanged looks, then collared their dogs back to the walking path. The judges considered this a find for Half Moon and a back for Bo. Before the hour had finished the judges’ books read five good finds for Half Moon, a note of how “she handled kindly” and had a find as time was called. Bo was credited with five finds, two of which were limb finds. There was also a memo that indicated his challenging pattern, which required a lot of scouting.

Tony Bingham handled Fred Rose’s pointer female Smoke Rise CeCe as bracemate to pointer male Boston, owned by Tim Kilrain under the guidance of Robert Ecker. Smoke Rise Cece’s effort was detailed earlier. Boston scored an unproductive at 8 and then bolted forward and out of sight. As the group exited the woods to enter the drop zone area Boston had not been seen since shortly after 8. Consequently Ecker requested his retrieval device leaving Cece as a bye dog.

Brace No. 6 was called to the line a little after 4:00 with Miss Penn Star (Ecker), setter female owned by Dr. George Najor, and Hope and Dennis Beauford handling their own setter male Attitude’s True Grit. True Grit was found standing sure and solid at 5 along the pathway, followed by an unproductive in the woods as he marched forward. After several attempts to relocate game, Beauford finally got True Grit moving. He had a brief forward search, as well as several more unproductive stands before Beauford leashed him for a ride back on the people wagon. Miss Penn Star scored a stylish find with all in order at 13, which was followed by a 17-minute absence. Upon returning from a cast along the lower woods near the brook, Miss Penn Star scored a find at 33, turning to mark flight. She was credited with a mature find at 43, which required a relocation in which she showed advanced experience in tracking the quail’s location. At 59 she pinned a quail as time was called. She had a total of five finds, an appropriate hunting range and pattern, with good style moving and pointing.


Smoke Rise Cece was covered with the winners earlier. Miss Penn Star backed Cece at 4, with all in order for both. As Miss Penn Star moved forward she stopped again at 7, albeit stopping so quickly she stood a little low in the front. Rounding the corner at 13 we found the pair face to face backing each other; consequently, both were collared back to the road and whistled on. By 19 Miss stood,  Cece backing, Ecker conducting a wide search to put birds to flight. Miss Penn Star had a find at 25, with scout calling point at 37 buried deep among some young pines. This was followed by a 14-minute absence when she swung down off the hillside to back  Cece. This brace had everyone’s attention as both dogs toured the countryside with eye appeal, as well as pleasing points and backs. Miss Penn Star was backing as time expired.

Brace No. 2 — Boston and Attitude’s True Grit had not completed the first hour on Wednesday; handlers scratched their entries.

Brace No. 3 was soon on the line with Mark Hughes bringing Phillips Half Moon to the line as bracemate with Bo of Piney Woods. Departing quickly these dogs left the gallery to walk the first 15 minutes through the typical piney woods showing remains of the controlled burning program where scrub oaks begin to grow, along with waving season grasses. As we reached the first left turn off the fire road into the woods, which quickly leads to the drop zone field and into the open piney woods, we found Half Moon standing rock solid to the right of the road at 16. Despite several attempts to tap his dog on,  Half Moon insisted that game was in the area, requiring handler Mark Hughes to get on his whistle while moving on. Looking to the left into the woods at 17, Bo was found standing. Birds were flown with all in order and the dog was collared to the lower walkway and whistled to return to hunting. By the time we had covered the woods and reached the drop zone open area both dogs were hunting together, although each pretty defiant of handler commands. Bo was stopped by quail at 38, 41, 51 and 55, although often found by his scout, John Outlaw. At 58 Bo was watered at the edge of the course and turned into the grassy cover to finish his hour. Half Moon was seen sparingly as he hunted the hillside among the thickly growing pines. As time closed in neither scout nor dog had returned and Hughes took his retrieval unit.

Islander’s owner Pedrag Kazic was in the gallery. Bracemate was Black River Ruby which was covered with the winners. Islander and Ruby were first seen at 15, where Islander had quail nicely indicated off the path among downed tree branches, with Ruby backing at the edge of the cover. All in order for both dogs. As we moved along the course, first one dog and then the other was pointed out, Islander seeming to be on an independent tour today. He did get credit for a second find at 35 when he was found by a scout.

Following lunch prepared and provided by Gerald Movelle and the Southern Pines Pointing Dog Club, the last two braces were summoned to the line.

Maximum Resistance (Ecker) and Brown’s Miss April (Melvin) had the unfortunate distraction of a military helicopter performing landing and lift-off maneuvers in the adjacent drop zone.  Neither dog was seen after the first few minutes.  As we entered the drop zone area at 22, Melvin requested his retrieval unit to find Miss April. Ecker surveyed the hillside as he pondered the situation; however, Resistance appeared just in time, continuing her hour. Resistance swung forward at a distance for the remaining time. This tricolor setter had nice finds at 34, 46 and a large covey find at 50 well off course.

Texas Free Mason and Lambo’s Koby were quickly into the bird-finding mode with multiple quail flushing at 8. Free Mason stopped and swung slightly when quail lifted as handler approached to quickly flush more quail and fire his pistol before taking Mason on. Koby had stopped further in the woods, self-located slightly before standing to await handler. After a few minutes Melvin put an additional quail to flight and Koby was taken on. Free Mason scored a second quail find at 18; however, by 40 he had not been seen and the retrieval device was used. Koby had nice finds at 18 and 36. He located and handled with excitement coveys at 49 and 57.

Hoffman, N. C., December 11 — One Course

Judges: David Huffine and Larry Wade


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

Winner—SMOKE RISE CECE, 1657469, pointer female, by White’s Solid Reward—Smoke Rise Caroline. Fred Rose, owner; Tony Bingham, handler.

Runner-Up—BLACK RIVER RUBY, 1663048, setter female, by Rose Hill Bill—Rose Hill Mariah. Wendell Evans, Jr., owner; Sean Melvin, handler.

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