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Field Trial Report

United States Open Championship

Dragonfly Wins Title; Miller's Speed Dial is Runner-Up
By Ruthann Epp | Feb 20, 2021
The Winners. From left to right: Korry Rinehart with Miller’s Speed Dial, Gary Lester, Dr. Justin Howard, judge; John Ivester, Bill Mason with Dragonfly, Jim and Rhonda Hughes, Ed Epp, judge; Rick Stallings, and Kirsten Givhan.

Greensboro, Ala. — The United States Open Championship was won by Dragonfly, owned and handled by Jim Hughes of Bessemer, Ala.  Dragonfly ran the first brace of the second day under cool and cloudy conditions that scream “perfect field trial weather”.  He had four finds, a back and a very strong forward race. The five-year-old white snd liver pointer male is byThe Crowd Pleaser.

Runner-up to Dragonfly was his bracemate, Miller’s Speed Dial, the 2020 National Champion owned and handled by Kentuckian Gary Lester. Speed Dial also had four finds with plenty of run.

The M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area, venue for the trial, is situated between Greensboro and Demopolis, Ala., and has been the home for the United States Open since 2012. The 3,000 plus acres of Black Belt prairie habitat has German Creek running through it, with multiple lakes located on the property. Both retriever and pointing dog trials are held on the Alabama Lands Division property from October through May. At least six pointing dog trials have the Field Trial Area as their venue each year.

The gallery of riders had the privilege of riding on these well managed grounds watching the handlers maneuver their top tier bird dogs through the cover, along the edges and through the turns to be rewarded with the call of point and the flush of quail.  Upwards of fifteen coveys a day were not uncommon to be flushed in front of the keen nosed English pointers and English setters.

Bill Mason manages the Area with a total understanding of what field trial courses should be. He and Carson Hill are instrumental in the success of these grounds. The field trial community is grateful to them and to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner, Chris Blankenship and Alabama Lands Division personnel for keeping the Forever Wild Field Trial Area in top form and available for field trialers.

Judges for the 2020 renewal were Ed Epp of Tallahassee, Fla.,  and Dr. Justin Howard of Sardis, Ala.  Both are avid hunters.  Ed Epp has been the manager of Horseshoe Plantation for over thirty years and was under the tutelage of his father, the late Hall- of-Famer Freddie Epp before making his own way.  He has spent many years in all aspects of field trialing as well. Dr. Howard, practicing veterinarian in Central Alabama also benefited from the tutelage of Freddie Epp albeit a much shorter time.  He is active on the board of several field trial clubs in Alabama and competes on the amateur circuit.

THE WINNERS AND OTHERS

It was an exciting hour for those in the gallery. The two already multiple-champions were unsnapped from the scouts’ reins at 7:55 a.m. at the red barn. They were pointed out going over the first hill and soon the call of point was heard.  At 6 Hughes was flushing a covey in front of his motionless, stylish Dragonfly along the fenceline with all in order.  Both dogs crossed the road and shortly two hats were raised with dogs in different locations around the big briar thicket poised above the Warden's Pond.  The birds finally flushed for a steady to wing and shot. The briars were pretty intense to the point that the marshal joked he thought he may need a chain saw to get one handler out.

Dragonfly edged the Warden’s Pasture and then both dogs were out of sight as the gallery passed into Bodoc Pasture. At 24 the call of Lester’s scout was heard from the direction of Turkey Lake.  Speed Dial was statuesque as Lester stepped across the ditch to put the birds in the air for his second find. Then, at 29, Hughes raised his cap near the fenceline dividing Bodoc Pasture from the dove field.  Birds came boiling out of a tight circle as he kicked in front of Dragonfly and fired. Just as the scout released Dragonfly, Lester called point a couple hundred yards up the line for Speed Dial.  Dragonfly came in for a back. Lester couldn’t get any birds up so he tapped Speed Dial who took one step before stopping again. Lester went back in and got the birds up for a nice piece of bird work.

Dragonfly rimmed Taylor Field and both dogs were pointed out once more before disappearing until point was called under the cedars on the property line with two dogs standing. A nice bevy of quail was flushed, and guns blazed for another perfect picture. The two were sent south, both still powerful and fast, for a strong finish.  The match was a tight one, but Dragonfly carved the course a little more perfectly and stayed forward the entire hour.

Other dogs that did nice jobs included Woodville’s Yukon Cornelius, handled by Mark McLean in brace No. 2.  He had three finds, made nice casts and finished strong. In the 4th brace, Stash the Cash, handled by Gary Lester, had two finds and a forward race on course No. 1.

In the 5th brace, Erin’s Redrum, handled by Sean Derrig, had the course that started across the road.  He was not seen for a while until emerging from the woods under the power lines. He made some big casts and then had two stylish finds in the last 15 minutes with one being called by the scout after pickup where Redrum was buried up in cover.

Lester’s Storm Surge, handled by Gary Lester, finished brace No. 10 with one nice piece of bird work in the corner near VIP pond and some nice casts.

In brace No. 13, Touch’s Gallatin Fire, handled by Mark McLean, had two stylish finds and made some beautiful casts in Gum Springs Bottom to finish the hour.

Greensboro, Ala., December 2

Judges: Ed Epp and Dr. Justin Howard

UNITED STATES OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats] — 25 Pointers and 2 Setters

Winner—DRAGONFLY, 1669453, pointer male, by The Crowd Pleaser—Miller’s Calamity Jane Lady. Jim Hughes, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—MILLER’S SPEED DIAL, 1666636, pointer male, by Miller’s Dialing In—Old Road Lou. Gary Lester, owner and handler.

DESERVING KUDOS

In 2019, a request was made at the annual meeting for more horse stalls, so it was a welcome surprise upon driving to the grounds this year to see twenty additional stalls at the red barn. Participants raved over the addition which along with the horse wash areas donated last year has made for a first-class headquarters for longstanding professional and amateur championships to be held.

Thanks are in order to our sponsor, Purina. Purina has been a supporter of the bird dog field trial sport for many years and we anticipate many more. Others instrumental in the success of the United States Championship are John Henry Kitchens, the dog wagon driver who always has the dogs available in the right spot and manages to avoid getting the truck stuck in the Blackbelt prairie mud and those who assist with the marshalling duties—Bill Mason, club President Rick Stallings and Schley Rutherford.

We are grateful also for the Mustang Café in Greensboro whose owner Melissa Henry delivered delicious lunches to the grounds each day.  (The Brunswick stew was very warming on those below freezing days.)

Appreciation is also in order to the 20th Century Fund, an arm of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America for the grant to one of the amateur field trial clubs that runs on the grounds. These funds assist with costs associated with the feed strips that the State Lands Division plants each year to help hold the released quail in areas on the courses.

 

 

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