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Result: National Amateur Shooting Dog and Amateur Shooting Dog Derby Championships

Location: Grand Junction, Tennessee

Post Date: Apr 15, 2024

Submitted By: Chris Weatherly

Natl Amateur Shooting Dog Derby ChS24

National Amateur Shooting Dog Derby Championship (Top row, l-r): Pat McInteer, Jeremy Taylor, back row Kent Walker, Austin Bryant, and Jon Humphrey. (Middle): Fran and Jack Miller, Bubba Spencer, Ken Blackman, and Piper Huffman. (Front): Madison McDonald with Miller's Upgraded Dot Com and Amy Spencer with Cocklebur Ranger Danger.

Beginning on March 4, 2024, the National Amateur Shooting Dog Championship and accompanying Derby were held on the historic grounds of the Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, Tennessee. Yes, you read that correctly. After over a century of hosting all-age field trials and being home to the National Field Trial Championship, the doors were opened, and the six one-hour courses were made available to our friends in the shooting dog community for the first time. There are many people to thank for making this possible. First and foremost is the Ames Amateur Field Trial Club, headed by Kent Walker, for hosting this event. Kent got the ball rolling by asking the question, "Was it a possibility that the Ames Plantation would consider hosting a shooting dog trial?" Dr. Rick Carlisle, director of the plantation, Matt Backus, assistant director, and the trustees of the Hobart Ames Foundation answered with a resounding, "YES!". They are all to be commended for their generosity in making these grounds available.

Many thanks go out to the sponsors of this trial. Garmin and Purina have been very consistent for many years in their support for our sport. Garmin provided their top-of-the-line collar systems. Purina once again provided their proven quality dog feed to the winners and sponsored a dinner for participants on Tuesday night at the National Bird Dog Museum. The AFTCA footed the bill for dinner on Thursday evening at the Rube Rhea Memorial Clubhouse.
Accepting the task of judging the stakes were Jon Humphrey of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Austin Bryant of Collinsville, Oklahoma, for the Derby Championship, and Steve Auxier of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Tim Penn of Edina, Missouri, for the Shooting Dog Championship. Your time spent in the saddle doing an often-thankless job is much appreciated.

Piper Huffman, secretary of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, once again did her usual wonderful job organizing the event and making sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. This list of things included, but was not limited to, holding the drawing, seeing to the needs of the judges, organizing meals, watching the weather, and making sure all competitors and judges had access to transportation to be in the right places at the right times. Thank you, Piper, for all you do. Many thanks to Tonya Brotherton and her crew at the National Bird Dog Museum for hosting a dinner for all participants sponsored by Purina and catered by the wonderful Gail Haynes and her able assistant/husband, Mark.

With so many new faces unfamiliar with the courses at Ames, much on-course help was also needed. Once again, Kent Walker stepped up and handled most of the back marshaling duties while yours truly, Chris Weatherly, handled the front marshaling task. We were assisted by Greg Tapp, David Williams, and Joey McAlexander, who handled other marshaling duties as needed. Ken Blackman drove the dog wagon and helped to control traffic at the road crossings to keep the competitors safe. Squeaky Powell and Piper Huffman assisted at the road crossings as well.
Last but not least on the list of those to thank are the competitors who came to give the courses at Ames their best shot. Those handlers who showed up to run their dogs were Fran Miller, Brian Peterson, Dr. Marion Brown, Dr. Pat McInteer, Brad Macke, Mike Lemons, Wayne Pope, Bill Mason, Marty Moore, Joe Rentz, Bubba Spencer, Jeremy Taylor, Lance Servais, Adam Delude, John Van Horn, Taylor Henley, Amy Spencer, Tom Curtsinger, Jason Super, Amber Ashburn, David Williams, Buddy Morrison, Bryce Cooper, Bill Stapleton, and Joe Hughes.

The National Shooting Dog Derby Championship began as advertised on Monday, March 4, at 8 a.m. on course #1. Eight braces were run by 15 competitors. Thirteen dogs successfully completed their braces, with three coveys of quail being flushed for the juveniles while under judgment. The weather was unseasonably warm for the two days, with highs reaching the upper 70s in the afternoon after mornings beginning in the lower 60s. The Derby was completed on Tuesday morning under the threat of impending thunderstorms.

Judges Humphrey and Bryant named Miller's Updated Dot Com, pointer female, handled by Fran Miller, their derby champion. She ran in the first brace of the stake on course #1. After being released from the breakaway, she hunted to the front and was seen moving up the course with her bracemate, successfully navigating the first tricky turn past Heartbreak hill and across Ellington Road. She then took the right edge through the Morgan field and met with her bracemate again as they headed into the new basin area. After negotiating the turn around the L. B. Avent house, both dogs were successfully across Turner Road. Dot took the left edge of the Turner long neck, hunting well to the front. Past the pond basin and through the Turner pines, she made a beautiful cast to the right side of the course through the birdy-looking areas before being gathered back up by Fran to make the tight Turner ditch crossing. At 0:42, Fran called point for her dog just past the ditch crossing. Dot was seen standing in a food plot just to the left side of the main course track. A large covey lifted as Fran approached and fired her gun. Dot moved slightly marking flight, all in order. She was seen standing again at the north end of the Tom Hurt field but thought better of it and decided to move along on her own. She rejoined her bracemate, making a forward move across Dunn's pond levee. Miller's Updated Dot Com finished her bid to the front after crossing National Championship Road into the Mary Scott basin area.

Cocklebur Ranger Danger, a pointer male handled by Bubba Spencer, was named derby runner-up as a reward for his run in the seventh brace. Breaking away on course #1, Ranger disappeared to the front after making a cast around the right edge of the breakaway field. After taking a wide swing around Heartbreak hill, he moved to the front through the Morgan field and into the new basin. Ranger hunted past the L. B. Avent house and then made a brief disappearance when making a wrong turn crossing Turner Road but was back to the front in the Turner long neck field moving well to the front. He made a large cast along the right edge prior to the Turner ditch crossing, hunting the likely areas, and was gathered back up in time to make the crossing along with his bracemate at 0:44. Ranger stayed to the front going forward and disappeared to the front just before the call of pickup on the levee at the Mary Scott basin. While waiting for Bubba to show his dog, the call of point was heard from the front at 1:04. The judges rode forward to find Cocklebur Ranger Danger standing near the crossroads at the west end of No Man's Land. Bubba put a bird to wing, and a large covey lifted as he collared his dog, all in order.

The other dog seen on birds during the derby was Crossroads Easy Street, a pointer male handled by Wayne Pope on course #4. His find was at 0:10 under the power line on the right upon entering the irrigation field and was coupled with a nice forward race.

Grand Junction, Tenn., March 6
Judges: Bryan Austin and Jon Humphrey

Winner-MILLER'S UPGRADED DOT COM, 1704330, pointer female, by Miller's Upgraded Version-Miller's Special Edition. Fran Miller & Madison McDonald, owners; Fred Miller, handler.
Runner-Up-COCKLEBUR RANGER DANGER, 1702765, pointer male, by Game Heir-Cocklebur Regent Runaway. Bubba, Amy & Colt Spencer, owners; Bubba Spencer, handler.

The National Amateur Shooting Dog Championship began Wednesday, March 6, at 8 a.m. on course #1 after we missed the final four hours of Tuesday due to forecasted heavy rain and thunderstorms. Eighteen braces were run by 34 competitors. Twenty-five dogs successfully completed their braces, with 18 coveys of quail being flushed while under judgment. The weather was a bit milder than it had been for the Derby, with temperatures ranging from mid-50s to mid-60s, with skies mostly overcast and scattered showers getting us wet on the last day. The championship was completed on Friday afternoon.

Judges Auxier and Penn named J Maple Jester, a pointer female handled by Joe Hughes, the champion. She ran in the last brace of the trial as a bye-dog on course #6. Jess was turned loose from the breakaway at the old mounting block and made her way to the horseshoe and then past the apple tree piece hunting to the front and handling well. At 0:13 point was called by Joe at the west end of the chute, and she was pointed out by the handler standing in thick bicolor to the right side of the course near where a covey had been pointed at the end of the previous brace. After some tough flushing and an excellently handled relocation, the running and scattered covey was put to wing toward the bottom of the ditch that runs along the south side of the chute. Jess continued her pleasing ground effort through Jack Harris and across Ceasar's ditch, moving to the front smoothly and requiring minimal scouting. On the top of Cox's ridge near where the new loop enters the woods, Joe was calling point at 0:48. His dog was again standing in heavy 10-foot-tall bicolor where Joe quickly put a covey in the air. Jess was steady to wing and shot; all was in order. At 0:55, she was pointed out hunting ahead through Fason bottom. As the gallery crossed the ditch on the west end of Fason bottom at 0:59, Jess's handler was again calling point. She was pointed out standing in broomsedge on the left side of the course just as the ditch crossing was exited. Joe again put a covey to wing with Jess displaying perfect manners as time expired.

Levi Express Visa, a setter male handled by John Van Horn, was named runner-up. He ran in the eighth brace on course #2. Levi was released from National Championship Road and swiftly hunted through the pines, heading toward Turner Road. At 0:04, he failed to make the right-hand turn after crossing Turner Road but was quickly returned to the front by his scout and was seen standing in a food plot in the northeast corner of the Tennessee field at 0:07. Although this is a known covey location, John was unable to produce birds and his setter was taken on, charged with an unproductive. Levi rejoined the front at 0:12 as we rounded the L. B. Avent house and headed north. Both dogs then moved forward through the Morgan and Supermarket fields, making the National Championship Road crossing at Kyle's barn at 0:24. As the gallery neared No Man's Land at 0:28, Levi's bracemate's handler came over a ridge to see both dogs standing side by side in the cut milo. Brian Peterson informed John that his pointer was backing John's setter and pointed out birds walking through the milo. John immediately walked in front and put the feeding covey to flight, all in order. At 0:42, both dogs were seen to the front, combing the fields around Keegan's ditch crossing and making their way up the hill towards Ryan's house. At 0:46, John called point for his dog standing just past the gate behind Ryan's house in the thin hardwoods to the left of the course. Again, birds lifted just beyond Levi's nose, all in order. Catching up to his bracemate upon entering the Jim Braddick field, both dogs were sent to the left edge by their handlers, and both dogs took it well. When Levi failed to appear at the other end of the field, his scout was dispatched to investigate. Point was called with Levi standing about of the way around the field at 0:52. Birds lifted as the judges approached; all was in order. Both dogs made the second Keegan's ditch crossing and were seen hunting the Tobe Polk field at 0:57. Levi was seen at pickup moving towards the old bird pens area.

Fourteen other dogs were seen on quail under judgment. In brace #1, Rentz's Tipped Up, handled by Joe Rentz, ran on course #1 and had two finds coupled with a very nice forward ground race. At 0:09, she slammed into point in a feed strip on the left just before the Ellington Road crossing, all in order. At 0:49, she again pinned a covey on the north end of Govan hill, a nice job indeed. In brace #4, Gentry's Little Jane, handled by Taylor Hendley on course #4, carded a find at 0:27 on the west side of Cedar hill. Also in that brace, Alliwood's Eleventh Hour, handled by Adam DeLude, had a bevy at 0:30 in the approach to the apple tree piece on the right side of the course. In brace #5, Cocklebur Breaking Bad, handled by Amy Spencer on course #5, had a find at 0:47 in the pines approaching Kerry's seven acres. In brace #6, Stylish Miss Bell, handled by Tom Curtsinger on course #6, pinned birds at 0:43 going up Cox's ridge on the right side of the course. In brace #7, Nemaha Magic Marker, handled by Dr. Pat McInteer on course #1, had a big covey at 0:26 on the left side of the Turner long neck field. In brace #9, High Drive Bandit, handled by Amber Ashburn on course #3, found game at 0:48 on the east side of the L. B. Avent house. In brace #10, Rebel Gold and Nemaha Tap Water, handled by David Williams and Dr. Pat McInteer, respectively, on course #4, found a bevy at 0:08 under the power line at the east end of the irrigation field for a divided find. Also carding a divided find were Miller's Upgraded Version for handler Fran Miller and Southern Shadows Wave for handler Lance Servais in brace #11 on course #5 at 0:41 in Kerry's seven acres. In brace #13, on course #1, Miller's Speed Version, handled by Fran Miller, and Cooper's Rebel Buddy, handled by Bryce Cooper, shared a divided find as well at 0:44 on the left side of the course approaching Govan hill. Lastly, in brace #17 on course #5, Touch's Steeley Dan, handled by John Van Horn, carded a covey at 0:53 at the west end of the chute in a food plot after a nice forward race.

Thanks to those who attended and ran their dogs in this first shooting dog trial held at the Ames Plantation. For many handlers, it was their first time running a dog at Ames, and we hope that they enjoyed it and will join us again in the future. We all hope for more birds, less mud, better weather, and smoother horses!

Judges: Steve Auxier and Tim Penn
NATIONAL AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 40 Pointers and 4 Setters

Winner-J MAPLE JESTER, 1675700, pointer female, by J Maple Jake-Coldwater Queen Kate. Joe & Tessa Hughes, owners; Joe Hughes, handler.
Runner-Up-LEVI EXPRESS VISA, 1667037, setter male, by Oklahoma Credit Card-Signature Ridge Cody. John Van Horn, owner and handler.

Natl Ama Shooting Dog ChS24

National Amateur Shooting Dog Championship (l-r). Chris Weatherly, Greg Tapp, Ken Blackman, Joe Hughes, Tim Penn, Steve Auxier, David Williams, Kent Walker, and Piper Huffman. (Front): Joey McAlexander with J Maple Jester and John Van Horn with Levi Express Visa.