American Field

Field Trial Report

U. S. Complete Southeast Regional Championship

By David E. Huffine | Apr 09, 2019
Championship Winners. Black River Ruby (right) and and Lambo’s Koby Kneeling Sean Melvin and Wendy Evans. Standing: John Outlaw, John McIltrot, Whitley Stephenson and Steve Stuart.

Rocky Point, N. C. — The U. S Complete Southeast Regional Championship was held at Five Eagles Partners Farm in Rocky Point, N. C., beginning on February 27 with an entry of 26 dogs. The Paul Walker Derby Classic and the Cape Fear Puppy Classic followed the Championship.

Our great friend, benefactor and the owner of the Five Eagles grounds died in the fall of 2017. John was a member of the Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame for his great contributions to Labradors and Labrador trials but enjoyed pointing dogs, field trials and people. We again missed John at this trial but those of us who knew John felt his presence, his absence and our loss. We thank the family for allowing us to continue the Championship at this venue.

The grounds faced challenges from Hurricane Florence which invaded southeastern North Carolina in September of 2018. The Five Eagles Tract is surrounded by the Northeast Cape Fear River on three sides. Torrential rains and flooding resulted in four feet of water on the grounds for in excess of three weeks. The February cover was sparse but areas that had been thick in the past were perfect for holding birds and viewing dogs. All in all, the grounds were the best they had been in the three years of holding the Championship at Five Eagles.

Judging the Championship were John McIltrot who traveled from Broadview, Mont., to look at our dogs and Whitley Stephenson who made the shorter trip down I-40 from Smithfield, N. C. They both have many years of owning, training and handling pointing dogs and it was apparent in their evaluation of the dogs performing in the Championship.

Championship Winners and Others

Sean Melvin followed his win at the National Championship the preceding week with another championship performance by Black River Ruby, setter female owned by Wendell Evans, Jr. of nearby Magnolia, N.C. Runner-up went to another dog handled by Sean Melvin, Lambo’s Koby, white and liver pointer male owned by Reid Cumbo and Donald Lamb of Clinton, N. C.

The judges had the first brace handlers on the line promptly at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Heavy Chevy Jason, a red setter male and last year’s runner-up handled by Sean Melvin, likes these grounds with finds at 9, 12 and 25. Jason’s last find was at Phil’s Garden at 46. Jason’s race was modest as was his finish. Bracemate Mooselook Mac, a handsome setter, was handled by Robert Little who has joined us every year with his fine string of dogs. Mac had a nice find at 7 but was surprised by a bird at 15 and was picked up by his handler.

Comeback Stella, red setter handled by Melvin, and Texas Freemason, setter male handled by Robert Ecker, constituted the second brace. Stella was up at 8 for a breach of manners. Freemason dog had an aggressive forward race with a find at the Peninsula at 25 and another at 30. Freemason had No. 3 at 35 but creeped a bit on the bird. He remained on the ground and finished his hour.

Setter males Phillips Half Moon and Attitude’s True Grit were paired in No. 3. Matt Phillips had some bad luck with Half Moon when he backed a plastic barrel used as a johnny house at 4 and then followed with an unproductive at 25. Matt opted to pick up. Robert Ecker handled Grit to a nice find at 6. He had an unproductive at 16, a back at 25 and another unproductive at 30.

Melvin’s Waybetter Bella and Earl Drew’s Ms. Lady W, both pointer females, were in brace No. 4. Bella had a second unproductive and was up early. Earl handled his beautifully moving dog to a find on the north side of the Peninsula at 20. The bird moved to the south side of the Peninsula and was again pointed five minutes later after Lady had made the entire loop. A third find at 36 was too much and she was picked up.

The afternoon running paired Melvin and Ecker in the fifth brace with Brown’s Miss April, the winner of the USCSDA National Championship the prior week, and Ecker running Miss Pennstar, a multiple champion setter. Miss had beautiful finds at 15, 21 and 25 but suffered a failure to back at 35 and was up. April had a beautiful ground race with finds at 15 and 35 and a stop to flush at 31. April finished her hour.

Two four-year-old setter males followed — Robert Ecker with Sterlingworth Jack, David Huffine with Cap’n Sam. Jack was up after a stop to flush and a short chase. Sam had a find near the cemetery and another at the Peninsula, both handled aptly. Sam finished with a reasonably good forward race.

Black River Ruby had her championship performance in the seventh and last brace on Wednesday. Ruby was paired with Bobby Phillips’ fine pointer female, Bob’s Elhew Holly, one of the most consistent performers on the USCSDA circuit. Scenting conditions were good and Ruby was on her game with finds at 11, 17 and 39. She finished with a find at 59 in the turkey patch. Ruby was one of the few dogs to stretch the course far enough to reach the turkey patch. Holly had another good performance with a find at 24 but was a step or two behind Ruby resulting in backs at 17 and 39. Holly finished her hour.

Rich Warters was present to watch his 2018 National Champion Bo of Piney Woods run with Lambo’s Koby in the first brace on Thursday. Conditions were good with decent moisture and temperatures. Bo and Koby had a divided find at 10. Bo was under a bird at 21 and picked up. Melvin claimed a bird at 21 but none was seen by the judges. A find at 23 produced a bird followed by a stop to flush at 31. Koby’s race shortened a bit before a find at 36 on the main ditch and a find at 49 at Phil’s Garden but lengthened in the long field before he produced again at 56 completing his bird work.

Ecker and Huffine were again on their whistles in the ninth and warmest brace of the trial. Ecker handled the stylish setter female, Upper Ammonusuc Violet and Huffine ran Crazy Mountain Buck, a setter male often intent on living up to his name. Violet was up at 9 with a breach of manners. Buck had a strong race with a find at the south side of the Peninsula and a final find at the Turkey Patch at 57. The heat was taking its toll on Buck and everything was low on the last find. Buck finished his hour at the Bee Hive field.

Ecker’s multiple champion Islander and Bob’s Elhew Lucy (Bobby Phillips) were in the 10th brace. Islander had a beautiful find at 11 but had a failed stop to flush at 13 and was up. Lucy failed to back at Islander’s find at 11 and was up.

Boston, Ecker’s muscular pointer male, ran as a bye in the 11th brace after bracemate was scratched. Boston ran an aggressive, forward race and handled superbly, with finds at 11, 23 and 49. Robert was quite pleased with his dog’s performance as he finished the hour.

Cairds Lefty, pointer male handled by Robert Little, was paired with Sunrise Star, setter male handled by Ecker. Lefty has performed consistently at these grounds since his Derby year. This year he was a bit behind his bracemate with backs at 12 and 25. Star was on his bird-finding game with a find at the swamp at 12, the Peninsula at 25, a stop to flush at 38 and a pretty find at Phil’s Garden. The last bird at 57 proved to be too much of a challenge and Star was up.

The final brace. Maximum Resistance, handsome setter male handled by Ecker, and Brown’s Ace, a strapping pointer male handled by Melvin. Ace was under a bird and up at 8. Ecker’s charge was putting pressure on the perceived leaders with a find at the swamp at 12 and at the thicket at 28, both in order and with exceptional style. However, he slowed perceptively over the last 25 minutes with no additional bird work. Max finished his hour.

Rocky Point, N. C., February 27 — One Course

Judges: John McIltrot and Whitley Stephenson


11 Pointers and 15 Setters

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

Runner-Up—LAMBO’S KOBY, 1661381, pointer male, by R J’s Long Shot—Harbor City China. Reid Cumbo & Donald Lamb, owners; Sean Melvin, handler.


The companion Paul Walker Derby Classic was judged by McIltrot and Jerry Raynor (Dunn, N.C.). The draw was small (six dogs) but the quality of the top three dogs was exceptional.

Bob’s Elhew Sage, a classy, pointer female owned and handled by Bobby Phillips, had “broke” finds at 10, 25 and 37. Her last find was spectacular as she pointed on a high mound profiling for the judges and the gallery. Bobby stopped to photograph his dog before going in for the flush. Sage would have been competitive in the Championship.

Bobby Phillips also captured second with Sage’s littermate, Bob’s Elhew Sushi. Sushi was impressive also with broke finds and a fine race but her sibling clearly had the better performance.

Wendy Evans capped off a grand trial experience, handling Rose Hill Becca to third place in the Classic. Becca is owned by Steve Stuart who always attends our trial and breeds really fine setters for field trialing and as gun dogs.

Judges: John McIltrot and Jerry Raynor

PAUL WALKER OPEN DERBY CLASSIC — 3 Pointers and 3 Setters

1st—BOB’S ELHEW SAGE, 1673975, pointer female, by Elhew Moneymaker—Bob’s Elhew Julie. Bobby Phillips, owner and handler.

2d—BOB’S ELHEW SUSHI, 1673976, pointer female, by Elhew Moneymaker—Bob’s Elhew Julie. Bobby Phillips, owner and handler.

3d—ROSE HILL BECCA, 1681700, setter female, by Joe Is Hot—Rose Hill Sally. Steve Stuart, owner; Wendy Evans, handler.


The final take was the John Thomas Puppy Classic which was judged by McIltrot and Raynor. This produced a large puppy entry — seven braces. Based upon the number and quality of these pups, the future looks bright.

Robert Little captured first and second with his “Cairds” dogs. Crackling Rosie was first followed by You’re So Vain. Robert doesn’t puff much about his dogs but you can see that he is excited about these two pups. Third was Montana Bullet, a handsome, black and white pointer female owned and handled by Gary Dowdy. Bullet lived up to her name with blazing speed that challenged Gary’s ability to keep up with the pup on his four-wheeler.

JOHN THOMAS PUPPY CLASSIC — 9 Pointers and 6 Setters

1st—CAIRDS CRACKLIN ROSIE, 1680683, pointer female, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Porter Meadow Bette. Robert Little, owner and handler.

2d—CAIRDS YOU’RE SO VAIN, 1678944, pointer female, by It Ain’t My Fault—Chasehill Baby Bella. Robert Little, owner and handler.

3d—MONTANA BULLET, 1682237, pointer female, by Montana Bud—Montana Missy. Gary Dowdy, owner and handler.


The Cape Fear Field Trial Association extends special thanks to the John Thomas family for sharing the Five Eagles grounds.

Bob White Johnson and Joab Johnson ably planted birds and told wonderful stories about the way it used to be. They also served as willing advisors for any participant who wanted to know the winners.

Bill Faust and Bland’s Barbecue catered the pig picking on Friday night. The food was delicious and plentiful but the banana pudding was the showstopper. Some can attest that it was good for breakfast and was still tasty a week later.

Each day of competition ended with fresh, local oysters “knocked” by Zan Batchelder and steamed on site. All trial stress disappeared with an oyster knife and fresh oysters.

And finally, this reporter would like to give special recognition to our youngest participants, John Outlaw’s grandsons Bladen “Buckshot” Whaley (12) and Myles Whaley (8). It appears that John gave them a “field trip” away from school on Friday. Buckshot ran dogs and scouted ably for John. Myles rode a good looking paint horse, followed and helped throughout. Buckshot also made sure that no oysters were wasted. We appreciate their attendance and commend John for his efforts to introduce these young men to our sport. D.H.

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