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Field Trial Report

United States Shooting Dog Invitational Championship

By Bonnie Hidalgo | Mar 08, 2019
Chelsea's Thunder Bolt Winner of the United States Shooting Dog Invitational Championship

Conway, Ark. — Chelsea's Thunder Bolt grabbed everyone’s attention in the opening minutes of his first hour. It only got better from there, resulting in him being named the 2019 United States Shooting Dog Invitational Champion.

This marked the second and consecutive time Bolt has won this title, and the eighth win of the U. S. Shooting Dog Invitational for handler Shawn Kinkelaar.

Shawn handled Bolt throughout the stake which consisted of two one-hour series on consecutive days followed by a 90-minute callback series.

Bolt is jointly owned by Dr. Tom Jackson, Columbus, Ind., and George Hickox, Carson, N. D. Bolt scored three superb finds in each of the series, exhibited independence in hunting the depths of the courses and showed great rapport with his handler by maintaining a forward pattern.

Twelve of the nation’s best shooting dogs competed in the Shooting Dog Invitational. The second, eighth and tenth ranked dogs were unable to attend, so invitations were extended to the dogs ranked thirteenth through fifteenth. They each ran an hour on two consecutive days. Four dogs were called back to run again the third day.

In addition to the winner, the finalists were Waybetter Rocky, handled by Mike Tracy for owners Carl and Collin Bishop, Punxsutawney, Pa., and Bill and Muriel Primm, Cream Ridge, N. J.; In Swami’s Shadow, owned by Bill and Mary Ann Sand, Overland Park, Kan., and handled by Shawn Kinkelaar; C S Coldwater Rex, handled by Doug Ray for owner Tony Gibson, Union Springs, Ala.

The welcome festivities and drawing for this Championship were held at the Camp Robinson clubhouse on Friday evening, February 15. Jim Martin graciously gave the blessing. Following cocktails and dinner, welcome gifts were presented to all handlers, officials and owners who were present. An elaborate program entertained one and all. A Calcutta and the drawing closed out the evening.

Club members responsible for the success of the evening were Joyce and Johnny Taylor, Connie Crowell and Katie Scherrey.

Camp Robinson has always been the home of this Shooting Dog Invitational Championship. The Invitational gained its championship status for the 1990 renewal, marking 2019 as the 30th running. Johnny and Joyce Taylor have been the stewards of this great event for 23 years. The popular field trial venue near Conway, Ark., consists of six one-hour courses which wind around each other over varying terrain. The cover changes from woods, to small fields, to open expanses. With plenty of recent rain, the going for dogs and horses was sloppy and deep. Throughout the courses are pre-released coveys of quail which erupt into the air at flush as if they were wild. To locate these birds a dog must be capable of hunting intelligently. During this running there were also finds on woodcock.

The advertised judges, Allen Vincent of Collinsville, Okla., and Dr. Robert (Bob) Rankin of Edmond, Okla., watched all the dogs with the same close attention. They have a wealth of experience in handling and judging dogs. Allen is a well-known trainer on the all-age circuit. His ability to spot dogs was evident with him often pointing dogs out to their handlers. Dr. Bob Rankin campaigns all-age pointers and all-age Brittanys. He has been involved in the sport for years and has judged many championships. Both gentlemen were a pleasure to be around.

Good sponsors at an event of this nature are crucial; this club hit the jackpot with theirs! Purina came through in a big way. Purina provided dog food to every entry and a generous portion to the winner. They also sponsored the Ross Young painting of the winner that is awarded to the owner. Purina provided large gear bags for the judges and reporter and helped with the cost of the USSDIC logo hats given to all participants. Everyone in attendance appreciates the contribution made by Purina to the sport and this event. Most dogs that are successful at major trials across the country are fueled by Purina Pro Plan Performance. The horse feed that each of the handlers received, based on one bag per entry, was also donated by Purina.

SportDog was extremely generous in its support with the donation of a SportDog TEK 2.0LT GPS Track and Train collar, a SportDog 2525 training collar, a SportDog Upland 1875 training collar, a SportDog Sport Hunter 1825X training collar, a SportDog No Bark SBC-R Collar and a generous supply of SportDog hats. These gifts were door prizes for the participating handlers and owners.

Tucker Saddlery provided the Invitational with six of their finest bridles and six of their beautiful wool saddle pads. These were door prizes for owners and handlers and were well received.

Garmin was generous in its donation of a Garmin Astro 320 with a T-5 collar and a Garmin/Tri-Tronics Pro 550 training collar. These were awarded to the winning handler.

Gun Dog Supply provided twenty $25 gift cards for door prizes for handlers, owners, and judges.

Haggis Saddlery donated reins and a leather holder for a tracking receiver.

Bird Dog Whiskey donated a dozen bottles of their product which was happily received.

Leather Brothers donated a name-plate collar with handler’s name and number engraved for every entry. For door prizes they gave 30 high quality leather leads, 20 checkcords and six chain roading couplers.

The Collar Clinic provided a $50 gift certificate for collar repair which was given as one of the door prizes.

World Class Kennels generously provided a stocked bar for each evening’s social hour. Everyone enjoyed that!

Mud River donated a dozen 12-pack coolers, koozies and coupons for their products.

Nancy Whitehead contributed her beautiful book of dog photography, “In the Field”, to every handler and owner in attendance.

Melanie and Dr. Jeff Hale sponsored the pro handler lunches.

George Hickox and Dr. Tom Jackson generously provided a wonderful New York strip steak dinner on Sunday night in honor of Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt and his win here in 2018.

Additional sponsors were The Farmer’s Association and Witt and Carol Stephens.

The U. S. Shooting Dog Invitational Championship has had several generous benefactors who have created and continue to contribute to an endowment fund that ensures the perpetuity of this field trial. These far sighted sportsmen and women are Lee Cruse (deceased), Charlie and Linda Jackson, Randy and Lynn Potter, Jack, Audrey and Brian Sanchez, Johnny and Joyce Taylor and Ron Prewitt. Ron is the newest benefactor; his addition made this year’s $500 increase in prize money possible.

The USSDIC Club provided logo wear jackets or vests to all handlers, owners who were present and to the judges and reporter.

Johnny and Joyce Taylor spend all year organizing this event and handling all the pre-trial arrangements. Obtaining sponsorships and donations falls to Joyce’s capable hands. When the trial gets underway the Taylors, Connie Crowell and Katie Scherrey orchestrate it with help from local field trialers. Connie Crowell is an incredible field marshal. She knows the courses so completely that she is able to give handlers ample notice of what is coming up.

Joyce also rode every brace helping with the marshalling duties especially when the handlers were separated. They handled countless other duties in the evenings where Katie was also a great help. Johnny oversaw announcements, refreshment breaks between braces and numerous details including clean-up after the event. Johnny and Joyce arranged for the dinners and they were delicious.

The Friday evening kick-off dinner was barbecue with all the trimmings; Saturday night was deep fried catfish and chicken. Hot lunches were catered on Saturday and Sunday and they hit the spot.

J. D. and Jill Smith were invaluable help in and around the clubhouse; J. D. along with Johnny Taylor grilled the Sunday night steaks to absolute perfection. There were no complaints about any of the meals at this trial. The door prizes that Johnny, Joyce, Katie and Connie handed out at the evening meals were eagerly received by all.

Steve Messick admirably filled the critically important job of dog wagon driver. He was always in the right place at the right time.

Mike Taylor was the official photographer and got some great shots. Mike pitched in to help wherever he was needed. He and Marcia O’Neal provided a beautiful cake with Thunder Bolt’s picture on it for dessert on “steak night”. Darby Moore accompanied her husband Virgil to the trial and helped out with KP duties as needed.

Owners that made the trip to the Invitational included Dr. Tom Jackson, George Hickox, Carl Bishop, Muriel Primm, Keith Finlayson, Larry Williamson and Bill and Mary Ann Sand. Traveling with Dr. Jackson was his son Sam. Dr. Debbie Ozner was also on hand to see Bolt. Jason Sanders made the trip to Conway to scout for Tommy Rice; John Neely was here to scout for Joel Norman. Some of the spectators in the gallery included Eddy Taylor, Jerry Moisson, Zack Hilton, Dennis Hidalgo, Ronnie Miller, Francis Buche and Bruce Sooter.

THE INVITEES

Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt, white and liver pointer male, was ranked No. 1 in the points standings with 2,792 points. He is the defending Invitational Champion. He is owned by Dr. Tom Jackson and George Hickox, handled by Shawn Kinkelaar. The wins which qualified him for this Invitational were seven open shooting dog championship titles, including Texas, Alabama, Jayhawk, Southeastern, Egyptian, Michigan and the U. S. Invitational. He also placed third in the Lonestar Open Shooting Dog Classic.

Sugarknoll War Paint was ranked second with 2,289 points. He is owned by Peter and Chris Del Collo and AllenLinder who declined the invitation. War Paint is typically handled by George Tracy.

Waybetter Rocky was ranked No. 3 with 1,610 points. The white and orange pointer male is owned by Carl and Collin Bishop and Bill and Muriel Primm and is handled by Mike Tracy. Rocky’s qualifying placements included three open shooting dog championship titles, South Carolina, Eastern and Canadian; two runner-up open shooting dog titles, Northeastern and Michigan, and three second places at Fort Mill FTC, North Carolina PDA and Indiantown Gap Keystone Classic.

Miller Unfinished Business with 1,260 points was listed No. 4 in the rankings. Benjy Griffith of Macon, Ga., owns this white and orange pointer male that is handled by Joel Norman. “Dan’s” point earning placements include winning the National Open Shooting Dog Championship and first place in the Jep Wade Open Shooting Dog at the Mill Pond FTC.

Thrill Me was ranked No. 5 with 810 points. The white and orange pointer female is owned by Keith Finlayson of Tallahassee, Fla., and handled by Tommy Rice. “Pea” earned her invitation by winning the prestigious Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship.

Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane ranked 6th on the list with 700 points. The white and orange pointer female is owned by Allen Linder of Livingston, Tenn., and was handled here by Mike Tracy. Jane earned her points by winning the Georgia Open Shooting Dog Championship.

C S Coldwater Rex attained the No. 7 ranking with 698 points. Tony Gibson owns the white and orange pointer male which is handled by Doug Ray. Rex earned his invitation by winning the Gulf Coast Open Shooting Dog Championship, taking runner-up in the Kentucky Open Shooting Dog Championship and placing second in the Jep Wade Classic at the Mill Pond FTC.

Erin’s War Creek qualified for the No. 8 invitation with 627 points, but it was declined. War Creek is owned by Allen Linder and is handled by George Tracy.

Miller’s Vanilla Snow with 615 points was ranked ninth. George Tracy typically handles the white and liver pointer female for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton of Springfield, Ky. Mike Tracy handled her here. “Sue” gained her invitation by winning two open shooting dog championships, the Northeastern and the Keystone. Points were also earned by placing second at the Conecuh Station FTC.

Conecuh’s Shoe Shine was the No. 10 points holder with 595 points. The invitation was declined by owners Tony and Becky Gibson and handler Doug Ray due to injury.

In Swami’s Shadow, owned by Bill and Mary Ann Sand, collected 565 points. The 11th ranked white and orange pointer female is handled by Shawn Kinkelaar. “Dot’s” points were won by placing first in the Fleetwood Open Shooting Dog Classic and runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Open Shooting Dog Championship.

Touch’s Diamante came in at No. 12 with 540 points. The white and liver pointer male is owned by Austin Turley of Molt, Mont., who qualified him and was handled by Tommy Rice in the Invitational. “Sam” won two open shooting dog championships, the Big Sky and the Idaho, to earn his invitation.

Caladen’s Davinci ranked 13th with 522 points. The white, black and liver setter male is owned by Auddie Brown of Kingstree, S. C., and handled by Jerry Raynor. “Leo” placed third at the Fort Mill FTC and was runner-up in both the North Carolina and Eastern Open Shooting Dog Championships.

L F Dyno Mike was 14th in the rankings with 505 points. The white and orange pointer male, formerly owned by Mike McClanahan, is currently owned by Larry Williamson of Ponca City, Okla., and is handled by Virgil Moore. Mike’s points were earned by winning the Arkansas Open Shooting Dog Championship and by placing second in the Lonestar Open Shooting Dog Classic.

Rebellita was 15th in the point standings. She came in with 480 points and was qualified for her invitation by her amateur owner-handler Austin Turley. The pointer female was handled here by Tommy Rice. Her points came from winning the Montana Open Shooting Dog Championship.

THE WINNER AND OTHER FINALISTS

To the victor go the spoils and this win was no exception! The winning owners receive a valuable Ross Young painting of the dog. They also receive a Montana Silversmith belt buckle. The winning handler receives an $8000 purse, a Garmin Astro 320 with T-5 tracking collar, a Garmin Pro 550 Training collar, and a $600 Purina certificate for Pro Plan dog food.

The winner, Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt, was sired by the 2008 National Champion, Whippoorwill Wild Agin. Bolt’s dam was Butler’s Jill, she by Ch. Elhew Sinbad. Additionally, Bolt carries the great champions Elhew Swami, Elhew Sunflower, Erin’s Southern Justice, Whippoorwill Wild Card and Bly Spy Master in his pedigree.

Bred by Brad Sadler, Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt was whelped on April 21, 2012. Brad and Chelsea Plantation were responsible for his early development. Steve Hurdle ran him as an all-age Derby but at the end of that season made the decision that Bolt was better suited to the shooting dog circuit. Steve offered to sell the dog to Shawn Kinkelaar. Shawn brought Tom Jackson and George Hickox on board as owners. The rest, as they say, is history.

To date Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt has won fourteen championships and two runner-up titles. He has twice been named the Purina Shooting Dog of the Year.

Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt had no shortage of fans in the gallery. Co-owner Dr. Tom Jackson was accompanied by his son Sam. Co-owner George Hickox was accompanied by Dr. Debbie Ozner. Shawn Kinkelaar’s hometown friend Zach Hilton was also there to cheer Bolt on. Eddy Taylor rode the front. Virgil Moore did a fine job as Bolt’s scout in all series.

Great care is taken to ensure that every dog runs at a different time of day, on a different course with a different bracemate during the first two series. Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt appeared in the second brace of the first series which meant he would run in the afternoon on the second day. He drew the final brace of the second series. The dogs are judged on their cumulative performances; the dogs that shine in one series may not have as good a day the next time down. Those dogs that average the best are selected for the finals.

Bolt’s fine race and three nice finds in the first series topped all others on that day. On Sunday he repeated that feat with another three-find performance.

As the top dog returned for the finals, Bolt was selected to be in the first brace. He did not disappoint. He ran the 90 minutes with speed and power. He scored three finds, all with excellent style. He consistently gave quality performances, the average of which was untouchable.

Waybetter Rocky earned his berth in the 90-minute finals with two solid, attractive races. He was braced with Bolt in the first series. He impressed on the ground but went the hour without bird contact. In the second series, he added two pieces of bird work to a fine race to advance. He is owned by Carl and Collin Bishop and Bill and Muriel Primm. Carl and Muriel were on hand. Rocky was capably handled by Mike Tracy.

Rocky was paired with Bolt in the finals. He acquitted himself well.

C S Coldwater Rex went without game contact in the first series but ran a strong race. He came back in the second with a fine forward race and two finds to get the judges’ nod to continue. Rex is owned by Tony Gibson and handled by Doug Ray. He was scheduled to appear in the second brace of the finals with In Swami’s Shadow.

In Swami’s Shadow impressed with her bird handling and race in the opener. In the second series, she ran well, scored nicely on game but suffered two unproductives. The weight of her first performance carried her to the final round. Shawn Kinkelaar handles her for owners Bill and Mary Ann Sand who were present.

The second brace of the finals was canceled. Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt had made the decision an easy one for the judges. Even before it was announced that the second brace would not be run, everyone knew who the champion would be.

Detailed descriptions of all performances, in the order of running, follow.

FIRST SERIES

Miller Unfinished Business (Dan/ Norman) and Thrill Me (Pea/Rice). Pea scored a pretty find at 15 with birds lifting as her handler arrived. She stayed tuned to her handler and ran a predominantly forward race. Dan ran a good forward race. At 55 he pointed a covey with fine style and manners.

Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt (Kinkelaar) and Waybetter Rocky (M. Tracy) were released in the woods near the lake. Bolt was on point at 3 below the ridge. A covey was put up in front of him while he remained high and tight throughout. Both dogs were making big, bold moves; they were exciting to watch. Bolt scored again at 15, standing majestically in the sedge grass. Kinkelaar flushed the covey. Bolt remained frozen until he was collared. His third find came at 31, and again Bolt showed beautiful style and perfect decorum. These two champion pointers put down excellent races. Rocky pointed at 45 but even with a relocation his quarry was not to be found. Bolt suffered a barren stand at 57. Both dogs finished nicely forward.

Miller’s Vanilla Snow (Sue/M. Tracy) and Touch’s Diamante (Sam/Rice). Sue pointed at 11 but no birds were produced. She carded a second unproductive at 19. Sue scored a pretty find at 31 with all in good order. Her race was consistently forward. Sam was a handful at the start and was absent for awhile. He pointed a single with high style at 33 on the fenceline. Sam had a brief absence after his find but showed forward. He pointed but corrected on at 58 to finish going away.

Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane (M. Tracy) and Rebellita (Rice) were first up on Saturday afternoon. Calamity Jane pointed at 14 with Rebellita honoring. Tracy called flight of the birds but they were not officially seen. After a brief attempt to find a straggler, they were taken on. The two pointer females scored a divided find at 23; both were steady and stylish for the flush of their covey. Rebellita pointed at 50 but it was unproductive. Jane notched her second find below the ridge at 54; all was in perfect order. Both were forward in pattern.

C S Coldwater Rex (Ray) and In Swami’s Shadow (Dot/Kinkelaar) pointed together at 13. A relocation was required. Both were given the task. Rex hunted but had no luck and was taken on. Dot relocated across the ditch and into the open field beyond where she pinned a large covey. She stood stylish and intent while Shawn put her birds to flight. Rex pointed at 30 but it proved to be barren. Dot scored her second find, with a relocation which saw quail flushed as the hour expired. It was an attractive piece of bird work. This pair was predominantly forward at desirable range throughout the hour.

Caladen’s Davinci (Raynor) was the only setter in the stake. He was stylishly gaited and ran a strong race. Unfortunately, not much was seen of him. L F Dyno Mike (Moore) turned in a predominantly forward race. At 56 he pointed on the right in the vicinity of a feeder. He was high and tight through flush and shot. Mike finished going away.

SECOND SERIES

Caladen’s Davinci (Raynor) was in Saturday’s last brace and back first thing Sunday morning for the start of the second series. He started well but was difficult to handle. His handler asked for the retrieval unit at 23. In Swami’s Shadow (Dot/Kinkelaar) ran a nice race. She was found on point at 20 but when relocation was necessary she was drawn off by the passing gallery. This left Shawn with no choice but to take an unproductive. She suffered another unproductive at 43. Dot finished her hour with a nice find.

Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane (M. Tracy) was on point at 7 near the ridge. Her scout called flight of a single but no one else was positioned to see it. An unproductive stand went on her card after an attempted relocation. L F Dyno Mike (Moore) was picked up for failure to back. Point was called for Jane at 43; departing birds were called but the judges advised that they had not seen them. Tracy opted to collar and move on. Jane had another unproductive at 55. Her race was forward and attractive.

C S Coldwater Rex (Ray) turned in a strong, attractive, mainly forward race. He scored handsome, mannerly covey finds at 40 and 49. On both occasions his birds were well-located. Rebellita (Rice) ran a mostly forward race with no bird contact.

Miller Unfinished Business (Norman) and Touch’s Diamante (Rice) were standing stylishly alongside a grassy strip at 10. Diamante was twenty yards ahead of “Dan”; both handlers began flushing. A single quail lifted between the dogs and both handlers fired. Both dogs ran strong races. Diamante scored a dug up find on a woodcock at 49. His style and manners were first class.

Thrill Me (Rice) ran a forward race; her only game contact during the hour was a stop to flush at 14. Waybetter Rocky (M. Tracy) scored a good find at 14, showing nice style and manners.  He scored again at 42, found by the dog wagon on an edge within view of the road. He stood with high intensity and style; his birds were easily put to flight. Rocky ran a strong, consistently forward race.

Miller’s Vanilla Snow (M. Tracy) put down a strong and forward race. She found no birds and was picked up at 42 following a barren stand. Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt (Kinkelaar) ran a beautiful race, showing speed and style at excellent range. He hunted the course wisely, scoring a stellar covey find at 18. At 33 he notched a dug up find on a single. Once again his stunning style was on display. Bolt connected a third time with a handsome find at 39 on another single. He pointed at 59 but no birds were produced before time expired.

FINAL SERIES

Chelsea’s Thunder Bolt (Kinkelaar) and Waybetter Rocky (M. Tracy) were paired as the top two dogs from the combined preceding series. Bolt came out gunning for the win. He scored his first find at 3 with his signature style. Rocky was credited with a natural back. All was in order for both pointers. By 9 Bolt was on point again. Rocky honored. It was a pretty scene with both dogs looking sharp and displaying perfect manners for the flush and shot. At 42 point was called for Rocky; he stood stylishly on a left edge. A covey was produced for him with everything in order. Bolt pointed a third time at 66 with Rocky politely backing. Kinkelaar made a thorough attempt to flush and was approaching his dog, ready to send him for a relocation, when something in the grass caught his eye. There within a foot or two of Bolt’s nose was a woodcock which Shawn promptly flushed for the steady dog. Both dogs were sent on, Rocky taking the ridge side while Bolt kept to the right. At 69 Rocky locked up  attractively. Birds were flushed for the well-behaved pointer. These dogs continued their terrific races until time expired. They both displayed wisdom and fortitude not to mention a high degree of class. Bolt’s consistent performances through all series left no one in doubt as to the winner of this Shooting Dog Invitational Championship.

C S Coldwater Rex (Ray) and In Swami’s Shadow (Kinkelaar) were not called upon to run since an unbeatable winner had emerged from the preceding brace.

Conway, Ark., February 16

Judges: Dr. Robert Rankin and Allen Vincent

UNITED STATES SHOOTING DOG INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats on Consecutive Days; Ninety-Minute Finals] — 11 Pointers and 1 Setter

Winner—CHELSEA’S THUNDER BOLT, 1649213, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin—Butler’s Jill. Dr. Tom Jackson & George Hickox, owners; Shawn Kinkelaar, handler.

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