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Field Trial Report

United States Open Championship

By Ruthann Epp | Jan 04, 2019
Erin's Wild Justice Winner of the United States Open Championship

Greensboro, Ala. — The United States Open Champion for the 2018-2019 field trial season is Erin’s Wild Justice, seven-year-old white and liver pointer handled by Luke Eisenhart for owner Allen Linder of Cookeville, Tenn. Runner-up was pointer female Coldwater Thunder handled by Steve Hurdle and owned by Doug Arthur of Eads, Tenn. Both of these canine athletes have previously been winners in championships held in Alabama.

The newly crowned champion won the last renewal of the National Free-for- All Championship headquartered at Frank and Colleen Rutland’s Panther Creek in Fitzpatrick, Ala., and Coldwater Thunder was the runner-up in the National Derby Championship in 2016.

The newly named winner is on a roll. He won the Georgia Quail Championship in January, 2017, the National Free-for-All Championship the following year in 2018, the Tar Heel Championship last fall, and just a week before this stake, Justice won the Quail Championship Invitational at the West Kentucky Wildlife Area near Paducah, Ky.

Erin’s Wild Justice wowed the gallery when handler and scout called point four times (three of which the judges saw birds).

Erin’s Wild Justice wowed the gallery when handler and scout called point four times (three of which the judges saw birds).

It was sunny, breezy and 37° on that Tuesday morning that had even the eagles soaring. Justice and his bracemate both stopped momentarily going up the breakaway hill but then went on. He edged the Warden’s Pasture and then disappeared over the hill in Bodoc Pasture at 20. At 28, as the judges’ horses were splashing through the water-filled crossings before going into Black Bottom Pasture, point was called.

The gallery raced through the gap and cantered down the fenceline to see the pointer standing with head and tail high. Eisenhart walked in the thick brush and fired his gun. He joined up with his bracemate coming out of Taylor Field and at 38 had a find in the feed strip between Britton and Black Cow Ponds. Birds got up quickly and flew across the fence with all in order as the shot echoed in the crisp air.

Justice took the line and disappeared from view; a few minutes later point was called up near the cedar trees on the upper end of Black Cow Pasture. Eisenhart showed how much confidence he had in Justice when he flushed the birds from under the trees straight back over the dog’s head.

Wild Justice then took the mowed strip all the way across the gravel road and made his way around the fenceline. The judges called pick up as they neared Little Prairie Pasture. They did not wait long before point was called for the fourth time for another flawless flush and shot in front of the still stylish dog to end the brace.

Runner-up Coldwater Thunder had a strong forward race throughout her hour heat. The brace released at the culvert in Taylor Field. Thunder made it through the Wild Woods and when the gallery emerged into New Ground, Hurdle was pointing her out at the top of the hill.

At 25 she took the entire edge down and across Show Bottom like no other in the stake. After crossing the road to the water tower, she took Gum Springs Bottom to the end and disappeared from view. As the gallery crossed the road into the hayfield at 45, Hurdle called point ahead. The gallery watched along the woodsedge as Hurdle walked in front of his charge making the birds lift and firing his gun for a stylish find to be marked in the books.

Thunder then crossed Little German Creek and took the right edge all the way around the Dove Field and between the two fish ponds. Hurdle next pointed her out showcasing across the side of the hill near the tin barn. She finished strong going out of sight over the hill beyond the head of Turkey Lake.

Judges for this Purina-sponsored Championship were John Moses and Mike Moses, businessmen from Lake City, Fla. Both grew up hunting wild quail in north Florida and converted more to field trialing as hunting grounds disappeared and the wild quail population became limited to private land holdings. The judges got to see true all-age performances in the big edge country at the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area between Greensboro and Demopolis, Ala.

Over the years numerous field trial clubs have used this venue for their grounds. The first trial was run here in 1984 — the Blackbelt (organized and run by Larry Walters, Thomas Barnes — the State of Alabama Department of Corrections owned the property and warden Charles Farquhar held the reins).

The Forever Wild Land Trust Program and Alabama Lands Division joined forces in 2008, the Trust purchasing the property and the two setting up the area with a primary purpose: field trials.

The Forever Wild Board of Directors, the director of the Alabama State Lands Division, Patty Powell and manager Doug Deaton deserve our thanks and respect for being the keepers of these grounds as well as the other state trust lands.

Thanks are in order also to property manager Bill Mason and assistant Carson Hill who implement the plans by planting food plots, repairing crossings, and mowing and grooming the courses to get these 3,000-plus acres ready for the nine trials being held here this season. They also assist with marshalling duties that include monitoring the crossings and guiding the handlers and gallery.

John Henry Kitchens is another invaluable person for the field trial club. He handles dog wagon duty each year and makes sure dogs are on the wagon, that he is in the right spot for pickups and has refreshments in the truck.

All the clubs that run here at the field trial area are appreciative of the dog wagon that Bill Mason, Bob Craig and Guy and Burke Hendrix arranged to be a permanent fixture for the grounds.

The AFTCA 20th Century Fund again provided grant money through the Cahaba Bend Field Trial Club for funding the seed and fertilizer for fifteen acres of food plots that have proved very successful in holding the quail. Over twenty coveys were moved in the two days.

Because of the short amount of daylight in December, no time could be lost  so the lunch break was short. Thankfully, the Mustang Restaurant, fifteen miles away in Greensboro, delivered delicious sandwiches everyday so everyone could grab and go and be ready for the afternoon braces.

Before the first brace of was unsnapped, Club President Rick Stallings welcomed everyone. He recognized the judges, marshals and reporter and thanked Purina and Greg Blair for sponsoring this event.

The weather was more pleasant than usual—mostly sunny and cool the entire time.

Owners present in the gallery during the running included Scott Jordan, Sean Hauser, Bob Craig, Claudia McNamee and Rick Stallings.

The Running

Strut Nation (Davis) and Game Bo (Hurdle) were standing at the top of the breakaway hill at 2, Nation pointing and Bo backing. All was in order as the birds were flushed and the gun fired. At 9 both handlers pointed their dogs out as the gallery topped the hill above Warden’s Pond. At 28 Game Bo had a stylish find along the Black Bottom Pasture fenceline, but at 42 he was charged with an unproductive. Both dogs showed on the far north fenceline headed for the power plant. Strut Nation took the edge of the mowed path, Game Bo grabbed the fenceline. They crossed the dog truck road and stayed ahead. Davis called point right at pickup time and everyone raced into Little Prairie Pasture where Nation was standing in the feed strip along the old fenceline. Davis stepped in front and birds flew in every direction followed by the crack of gunfire. Scott Jordan was in the gallery for his dog’s performance.

Skyfall (Hurdle) and Erin’s Redrum (Eisenhart) took the left edge of the second course breakaway field. At 4, as the gallery approached the first cut, Hurdle called point. We raced through the ditch and to the left Skyfall was standing just out from the trees with the sun beaming on him — beautiful style throughout but no birds could be flushed. At 12 Eisenhart called point along one of the mowed strip edges before making the turn through the gate but failed to get birds up here. Both dogs made some big casts through the power line pasture and at 36, two hats went up; the dogs were pointing under the canopy of a big oak tree. Both handlers fired as a big covey left. After crossing the road, each handler was pointing out their dogs running from left to right across the top of the power plant hill before disappearing from view. The two pointers were strong throughout.

Miller’s Dialing In (Eisenhart) and Coldwater Thunder (described earlier) started at the culvert in Taylor Field. Dialing In’s owner Sean Hauser was riding in the gallery but the dog’s performance was short lived. Dialing In was not seen once getting to New Ground and the retrieval device was requested at 23.

Erin’s Blacklist (Hurdle) and True Confidence (Eisenhart) made the pass through Warden’s Pasture and at 22  crossed the road at the red barn. At 30 True Confidence had a good find on the fenceline before crossing the creek. Hurdle asked for the tracking device. At 42 Eisenhart called point at the feed strip just before getting to Black Cow Pond for a second find. Confidence finished the hour still strong.

Smokin Joe Bandit (Brunner) and Ascension (Eisenhart) had the second brace of the afternoon. At 10 Brunner called point near the little pond and Ascension backed. No birds were flushed. Ascension made a nice cast beyond the ponds in Power Line Pasture and stayed forward but went birdless. Bandit hunted diligently, got birdy several times but never had a flush either.

Erin’s Hidden Shamrock (Eisenhart) and B K’s Ransom (Hurdle) were turned loose at the red gate headed back toward headquarters. Both dogs took a big swing off the break away. B K’s Ransom evidently took the wrong turn before going into Taylor Field and didn’t return and Shamrock appeared to lose focus in the Wild Woods and ended his bid.

Erin’s Wild Justice (reported earlier) and Stardust Chaz (Hurdle). At 21 point was called for Chaz buried up under the cedars with the birds right at his nose. Hurdle fired the gun and went on. The white and orange setter made big casts throughout the hour and finished strong making his owner Bob Craig happy to witness.

Dragon Fly (Hughes) and Dunn’s Tried’n True (Eisenhart) made their way around the pastures, and through the tunnel of woods. They disappeared in the Power Line Pasture. At 38 Eisenhart rode up on Tried’n True pointing, but even after a relocation nothing came of it in an area that commonly holds birds. While relocating, a distant cry of point was heard. Dragon Fly was at the far end of the fenceline next to the field road. Birds were flushed from the edge of the feed strip as Fly stood at attention. He had not been seen for 10 minutes prior to the find. After crossing the road, both were extreme. Tried’n True disappeared over the hill and Dragon Fly traced the edge of the course from left to right. At 50, Hughes lifted his hat along the cedar line for Dragon Fly, with Tried’n True backing. Hughes flushed and then had Dragon Fly relocate. It was a successful relocation down the feed strip. Hughes stepped in front again, and birds flew in all directions, the pointer still tight. Both dogs filled the country and then some.

Erin’s Calvin Klein (Hurdle) and Dubose’s Daddy Boy (Dubose) started at 10:30 a.m. Rick Stallings was in the gallery for his Calvin Klein. At 17 Boy had an unproductive on the first hill in New Ground, then 3 minutes later at VIP pond, birds were sitting right in the horse path and it proved to be too much temptation for the young dog. Just minutes after, Bobby Dubose harnessed Boy as Hurdle’s scout was calling point. Riding back, there was Calvin Klein standing in the middle of a feed strip along a muddy trail. Hurdle flushed and shot with all in order. The young pointer then rimmed Show Bottom at 30 and pulled the lower part of muddy Gum Springs Bottom with ease. Hurdle raised his hat at 47 near the lower jut out of the Wild Woods near Little German Creek. Birds flushed and Klein took a hop.

Touch’s Red Rider (Eisenhart) ran as a bye. He rimmed the warden’s pasture and was last seen taking the hill back toward the red barn. Eisenhart came for the tracking device at 40.

Dunn’s True Issue (Eisenhart) was also a bye. His owner, Claudia McNamee, was in the gallery. She rode every brace of the stake. Issue was released just after crossing the culvert along Britton pond. Issue went left instead of right and never came back to be in contention.

Awsum Country Justice ( Eisenhart) was the third bye of the stake. He was turned loose at the red gate headed back toward the headquarters for the last brace of the stake. Country Justice took the fenceline and was last pointed out going over the hill just beyond Black Cow pond.

Greensboro, Ala., December 3

Judges: John Moses and Mike Moses

UNITED STATES OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] — 18 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner—ERIN’S WILD JUSTICE, 1643384, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Sparrowhawk. Allen Linder, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.

Runner-Up—COLDWATER THUNDER, 1655558, pointer female, by Coldwater Warrior—Thunder Bess. Doug Arthur, owner; Steve Hurdle, handler.

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