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Result: Masters Quail Championship

Location: Albany, Georgia

Post Date: Jun 30, 2022

Submitted By: Andrew Campbell

masters-quail-ch22

Masters Quail Championship Winners. From left: Tim Moore, Jeff Gibbons (judge), Jack Schwarz, Woody Watson, unidentified, Ian McTavish, Judd Carlton with Miller's Blindsider, Jamie Daniels, Nick Berrong (Blindsider's owner), Wallace Reichert (judge), unidentified, Hailey Moreland with Touch's Breakaway Fred, Mark McLean, Karen Norton (Fred's co-owner), Bruce Norton (Fred's co-owner), Gary Futch (Fred's co-owner), John Mathys.

The 53rd running of the Masters Quail Championship was held between March 6-8, directly overlapping with the All-America championship in Illinois - and drawing some competitors north prematurely instead of enjoying warmer temperatures and wilder birds. Nevertheless, from a field of 35 starters, 32 pointers and 3 setters, the judges Wallace Reichert of Whitesburg, Ga., and Jeff Gibbons of Prattville, Ala., awarded the Norman J. Ellis Memorial Trophy to Miller's Blindsider, owned by Nick Berrong, and handled by Jamie Daniels, with Touch's Breakaway Fred, owned by Gary and Becky Futch, and Bruce and Karen Norton, as runner-up. While it was Fred's first win, Blindsider had won this same event in 2020 - and in the last week had just taken runner-up in the Southeastern Championship.

This year's courses were almost a throw-back in the sense that not only were the morning courses back on Blue Springs, but the dry winter meant that the championship was able to use the full second course for the first time in several years. And while it was bittersweet to see some of the old landmarks like Sam Ellis's house and the Carey House (justifiably) gone, it was a nostalgic pleasure to have the memories of handlers and dogs coursing through the mosaic of fields above the Flint River, past the Booger Field and Rabbit Bluff, return once again. The afternoon courses were once again run on the old 'North End' at Nonami Plantation. The Southern Field Trial Club is extremely grateful to Mr. Witt Stephens and to Mr. Ted Turner for their generosity in offering their grounds for what remains one of the premier wild-bird trials in the country. Thanks, too, go to Marty Adams and Ray Pearce, the respective managers, for their superb stewardship of these remarkable properties.

The Club is also deeply grateful to its perennial sponsors Purina and Flint River Equipment for their ongoing support of this event in particular, and the sport in general.

The Winners
Miller's Blindsider (Daniels) had originally run on the second morning with his owner, Nick Berrong, riding along in support. Drawn in the eighth brace with Touch's Blue Moon (Cody McLean), this was almost a throw-back for Daniels as well. When he won his first Masters Quail Championship in 2015 with Dominator's Rebel Heir, he had also started midway through the first course due to early pickups in the brace before. Offering nothing other than historical perspective, this year's edition featured several strong performances but not a stand-out, authoritative win like that offered by either Rebel Heir in 2015 or Touch's Mega Mike in 2018. And as such, the judges had work to do to sift amongst their top dogs. These two dogs were turned loose at the end of the first of the two long Smith Fields, both pushing out hard through the woody corridor on the right, the light breeze coming from the southwest. Both dogs would finish that lane and cross the head of the field unseen, the call of point for Blue Moon at 0:04 just 10yds before the dogleg in the course at the River Road crossing confirming this assumption (along with the subsequent sighting of Blindsider out in the woods to the south). Blue Moon's birds were directly ahead of him in the scrubby grass. As the gallery passed north and swung through the tawny broomsedge, Blindsider would appear from the left side, reunite with the gallery, and go forward again to climb the bowl ahead. A little more than a quarter-mile further on, Daniels would then call point for Blindsider on the front edge of 'the deerstand field' at 0:11, calling birds in the air as he approached, this reporter confirming the flight to the oncoming judge who was otherwise blocked by a young pine. Both dogs would move smoothly past the South Pond, and turn northeast as the course followed the rough trajectory of the Flint River a quarter mile to the south. Coming up over the first whaleback, Blindsider would be out in the patchwork of fields to the north while Blue Moon would drop over the shoulder to the right above the swampy edge and come to a stop at 0:30 in a shady cover block beneath a single, tall pine, and a pair initially rising, the remainder bursting out the broomsedge at the shot. As the course crossed the red dirt of the River Road, both dogs would favor the right hand edge, Blindsider dropping further into the wooded corridor to the right. He would come to a stop at 0:42 some 250yds down into the bottom below where the course normally leaves the 1000yd-long going-away field to head northeast. The judge would see the covey get up ahead of the mannerly dog as the handler cantered forward to him after the call of point. As that piece of birdwork concluded, the call of point would come for Blue Moon in the cover on the very northeastern edge of the long, going-away field at 0:44, the dog looking back into the southwesterly breeze. The initial flush would prove unsuccessful, but after a relocation some 25yds rather upwind to the next cover block, a covey would be put up successfully ahead of him. Crossing the River Road once more to begin the passage eastward, Blue Moon would concentrate on the woods immediately to the left of the course, Blindsider would push out wide into those same woods. His scout would call point at 0:52, the dog found standing off the southwest corner of a north-south cover crop field, some 350yds north of the course. Tall and proud, he had a covey pinned directly in front of him - a capstone fund after two in which the birds' premature flight might have been so easily missed. (For those looking for a more precise location, the cover crop field is located immediately west of the old Davis cemetery, in the section of woods between the River and Blue Springs roads.) Blue Moon, too, had scored another find at 0:52 in the words of the judge, 'out to the front and in there deep.' As the gallery moved past the brick chimney, the sole reminder of the Carey House, in advance of the final turn north, Blindsider would come in to the gallery before punching out to the northeast - while Blue Moon could be seen punching out the far, northeastern corner of the Booger Field, seemingly intent on finding the edge of the Allison Swamp. While it would take a few minutes to gather up Blindsider at the call of time, Blue Moon would be found pointed just barely beyond where he had been last seen, turned back into the breeze, a large covey of birds immediately around him in the broomsedge. Truth be told, in terms of ground race and finish, Blue Moon had been the match of his bracemate, but his style had been inconsistent in the second half of the brace. Blindsider, by comparison, had paired a strong, wide race with immaculate, proud style, the quality of his finds increasing each time.

Touch's Breakaway Fred (McLean) ran in the fourth brace, with his owners, Gary Futch and Bruce & Karen Norton riding in the gallery in support, originally paired with Erin's Wild Atlantic Way (Eisenhart). Turned loose on the first afternoon course at Nonami, the sizeable gallery would also be greeted by open skies and unseasonably warm temperatures in the 80s. One of the reasons for Nonami's success in maintaining such healthy quail populations is the lack of standing water that can support the birds' larger, natural predators. After a dry winter, even regular damp spots - like the swampy plash a mile due east of the afternoon breakaway close up to Wildfair Road - barely supported mud, let alone water for dogs to cool off in. The action would begin early at 0:04 after both dogs had initially moved out on the left side of the course - with Eisenhart calling point for Wild Atlantic Way midway between the end of the first big bowl and the first cover crop field to the north, some 150yds below the course. A nice covey of birds would be pushed out ahead of him - at which point, everyone noticed Fred standing some 15yds away looking onto the scene. While it is not impossible he was already backing, it seems more likely - especially keeping in mind the degree of sportsmanship that does exist between the handlers on this circuit protecting their competitors' dogs as much as their own - that he had arrived and seen Wild Atlantic Way stopped as Eisenhart was flushing and had demonstrated perfect manners of his own accord. In either case, he would be credited with an honor and taken forward by his scout to his handler. Roughly another half-mile further ahead, with both dogs still out on the left side of the course with its irregular patchwork of cover crop fields, the call of point would first come for Wild Atlantic Way at 0:10 and then for Fred some 200yds further east in an oaky bottom; both dogs would have birds pinned directly ahead of them, the covey ahead of Fred sizable enough that it could be seen rising from Wild Atlantic's find. Both dogs would be taken to the solitary water tank on Nonami roughly parallel with the Blue Springs equipment shed, from which point Wild Atlantic would move out some 300yds before coming to a stop once more at 0:26, looking into a shaded oaky thicket, the surprise being that only a single bird would be sent aloft by his handler. Having made the turn northward by 200yds or so, he would stop again at 0:30 looking into a very sparse cover square some 250yds west of the River Road with plenty of style to spare. A small bevy of birds would be put up ahead of him, and indeed as he was collared and taken on, the main bulk of the covey would get up behind and downwind of him. For his part, Fred would then come to a stop at 0:32 in the northwest corner of the long cover crop field north of the equipment shed, the dog looking into the shade beneath a large, flowering cluster of plum bushes. The handler would call birds in the air from the backside and fire, but these were unseen by the judge. In the meantime, Wild Atlantic had also come to a stop out on the left side of the course at 0:36, but even the relocation would fail to produce anything.
As the gallery passed the charred, despondent shell of the Baptist Church (which had apparently burned in late-March last year), the heat had begun to take its toll on Wild Atlantic, his stride shortening even if his determination had not waned; Fred had otherwise shown little change, swinging across from the left side to meet his handler before crossing the main dirt road that traverses Nonami. He would be found in the wedge of woods between two of the long north-south cover crop at 0:59, birds readily ahead of him, his scout quickly taking him on to reassure the judges of his ability to finish strong. Both dogs had performed admirably in the hot conditions, Fred nevertheless clearly distancing himself from his bracemate as time drew on.

The judges also wished to acknowledge the particular performances of two other dogs: Erin's Wild Atlantic Way (Eisenhart) and Touch's Gallatin Fire (McLean).

The Running
It should be mentioned once more, from both a sentimental and a practical point, how nice it was to be running on Blue Springs Plantation once more for the morning braces. There is no possible history of the Masters without Blue Springs: these grounds, this terrain, these consistent generations of birds, have been a part of this championship since its first running, no matter changes in ownership, no matter the necessary removal of some old landmarks, and the addition of new others.

The first brace saw Chief's Rising Sun (Carlton) drawn against Touch's Joy Ride (McLean), with his proud owners Bruce and Karen Norton in attendance. Rising Sun would come to a stop right at the end of the very first field at 0:01, right where the lower edge of the woods begins. After the initial flush would prove fruitless, Rising Sun would be only affordewd a brief relocation effort before being taken on. As it happened, there were birds to be found up on top of the low shoulder to the right some 200yds further on, albeit by Joy Ride at 0:03. As the gallery crossed the first major, now-pine-bordered field (hereafter recognized as the Ernest Martin field in honor of one of the homestead that had used to sit on its western edge) and dropped down into the Bay Pond hollow, it would only be the flight of birds that would cue the judges and handlers into the presence of a dog tucked into against its shadowy edge at 0:12; that dog was Joy Ride. At the Smith Fields, Joy Ride seemed to have stayed out on the left side while Rising Sun was out on the far right of the long fields but as the gallery reached the end of the second long field, neither Joy Ride's handler or scout could be seen, both concerned the dog had slipped out to the east. Nevertheless, the dog showed up at the dogleg under his own cognizance and in one of those acts of true sportsmanship, Eisenhart immediately took over handling the dog to the front in the time it took for McLean to be alerted and come forward. Shortly afterwards, though, Carlton would concede that his dog had given him the slip and ask for his tracking device at 0:39. Joy Ride would make the turn below the South Pond and around to the northeast. He would stay down on the river side of the course, and then drop into the dry Show Me Bottom as the gallery approached the first whaleback. Time would get called at the conclusion of that rounded hill, the dog successfully returned from out front after roughly ten minutes.

The second brace drew Dunn's True Reign (Eisenhart), with proud owner Claudia MacNamee riding in attendance, alongside Touch's Gallatin Fire (McLean). Turned loose from the conclusion of the first whaleback, both dogs would make smooth progress through the second and across the red clay of the River Road. Both dogs would enter the long going-away field on the left side and disappear from view in the woods. Eisenhart would be the first to call point at 0:10, some 200yds down that left side, True Reign standing tall some 25yds deep, the birds rising as he dismounted in view of the oncoming judge; McLean would then call point for Gallatin Fire a further 250yds ahead at 0:11, the birds also rising spontaneously as the handler dismounted and in full view of the judge. Crossing the River Road once more with the procession of cover crop fields out to the right, both teams of dogs and handlers had nonetheless avoided those fields' obvious rectilinear sequence of lines and edges and stayed out in the woods to the north, Gallatin Fire glimpsed moving along the brief field edge some 300yds to the north, True Reign working the heart of the woods ahead of his handler. Roughly parallel with the gap between the first and second large crop fields to the south, and approximately 100yds into the woods to the north, True Reign would come to a stop at 0:27 looking across the easterly breeze and into an oaky thicket. Sadly, neither the flush nor the relocation would prove fruitful. Gallatin Fire, in the meantime, had swung across the course and would be found standing at 0:33 roughly 200yds down the northern edge of the third cover crop field in the stand of adolescent pines. The judge would see the last members of the upwind covey leave as he rode up, another covey leaving from the downwind side as the handler fired. As the gallery approached the Carey House field, Eisenhart would elect to pick up his dog at 0:36. While he had gotten hung up and come up from the side in between, Gallatin Fire would continue to move well on the inside of the course as the course angled northeast past the Allison Swamp and turned north towards Cat Pond. He would come to a stop roughly 200yds southeast of that little pond at 0:52, looking into the shady thicket beneath a young live oak, the birds successfully flown ahead of him. Taken on barely 200yds, he would stop and point once more at 0:54, with all in order. Taken on once more, birds would get up from the very next line of pines, but with no clear evidence of the dog's involvement, he would be taken across the field for the turn west towards the big rotator field. He would finish his time moving well through the woods out on the right side.

The third brace would bring Miller's Stray Bullet (Norman) to the line with Confident Nation (Eisenhart), his proud owner, Scott Jordan, riding in the gallery in support. The morning, by this time, had grown increasingly warm. Turned loose in the woods towards the big rotator field, Stray Bullet would swing out to the left and come to a stop in a small hollow in the shade of a mature pine at 0:03, the birds called and seen as the handler and judge approached. Confident Nation had gone directly out front, also coming to a stop at 0:04 up against the field edge, birds readily flown ahead of him as well. Crossing the rotator field, Confident Nation would punch out to the northwest and then swing counterclockwise around the now-pine-rimmed edge to reconnect with his handler and punch through the curtain of young pines towards the power lines, all trace of Sam Ellis's house now gone. Stray Bullet had not been seen for some time by the time the gallery reached the five-stand range, but both handlers were deep in the woods to the left expecting that their dogs had been drawn down into the southerly breeze. Eisenhart would call point at 0:18, perhaps only 100yds down into the woods to the south, the judge once again fortunate to see the birds called in flight at their approach. Stray Bullet had reappeared by the time the gallery reached the dogleg in the powerlines, albeit making the turn south from the right side of the powerline channel. As the gallery crossed the rapeseed field to the south, point would be called for Stray Bullet at 0:29, roughly 100yds west of that field's southwest corner, although neither the flush nor the brief relocation effort would prove fruitful. While Eisenhart had successfully gathered up Confident Nation at the powerline dogleg, and dropped him into the rolling pine woods, he would concede defeat at 0:43 and come for his tracking receiver. The indisputable heat also appeared to have shortened Stray Bullet somewhat by this point, nevertheless he would continue to make a valiant effort out front for the rest of his time.

The fourth brace featuring Touch's Breakaway Fred (McLean) and Erin's Wild Atlantic Way (Eisenhart) has already been covered in the placements.

The fifth brace drew Woodville's Yukon Cornelius (McLean) head-to-head with Dominator's Queen Bee (Daniels), with several members of her owners coalition 'The Morning Brace' in attendance. Both dogs would breakaway smartly up over the rolling ridges to the north. Up over the first big rise with a view to the wide-open north (and shortly before the course would turn west to come under the rotator field), Queen Bee would come to a stop at 0:11, the birds seen rising by the judge on the way to the dog. Soon thereafter, on the other side of the course, McLean would see something he didn't like and opt to pick up his dog at 0:13. Making the turn successfully, Queen Bee would then come to a stop at 0:16 roughly 400yds east of the bottom edge of the rotator field atop a low ridge, looking into an oaky thicket. However when the flush and the relocation proved unsuccessful, Daniels opted to save his dog any further effort in the heat.

The sixth brace featuring Rebel Cause (Daniels), with owner David Williams in attendance, and Erin's Silver Lining (Raynor), would not fare much longer. Dropping largely south and then southwest from the rotator field, Silver Lining would periodically appear ahead of his handler for the first 10 minutes or so as the course traversed a series of crop fields. He would then punch up over a rise to the left and disappear - leaving his handler to come for his tracking receiver at 0:18 as the course approached the northernmost edge of the golf course. In the meantime, Rebel Cause had swung out wide to the west before swinging around south at his handler's squall; nevertheless, as the gallery reached the main access road to the Nonami stables, Daniels would elect to pick up his dog at 0:22.

The seventh brace brought Touch's Blue Knight (Watson) to the line with Erin's Tin Star (Carlton), with his proud owner, Mike Sweet, riding along in support of his nice, young dog. Turned loose from the regular Blue Springs breakaway, both dogs would initially move up through the woods on the right, although after roughly a half-mile Tin Star would be found standing at 0:06 under a prominent live oak on the edge of the cover crop field on the left side of the course. Unusually, only a single bird would be produced ahead of him. Despite aggressive scouting, Blue Knight had apparently stayed high on the right side after the breakaway but never reconnected with his handler who was forced to admit defeat and ask for his tracker at 0:18. Tin Star would be seen climbing out of the bowl above the Bay Pond at 0:15, but by the time Carlton reached the end of the first of the long Smith Fields at 0:30, he would come for his tracker.

The eighth brace featuring Miller's Blindsider (Daniels) and Touch's Blue Moon (C. McLean) is already covered in the placements.

The ninth brace drew Lester's Georgia Time (McLean) head-to-head with Dominator's Bull Market (Daniels). Turned loose shortly after the Booger Field, Bull Market would initially stop in a tall, grassy cover strip out on the right side of the course at 0:05, however neither the flush nor the relocation would produce anything. Approaching the Cat Pond, Bull Market would stop once more at 0:12, roughly 125yds down the edge of an east-west cover crop field, turned back into the southeasterly breeze beside a trio of adolescent pines, the birds directly ahead of him. For his part, seeing something he apparently didn't like, McLean opted to pick up his dog at 0:14 immediately before Cat Pond. Having made the turn to the west towards the big pivot field, Bull Market would come to a stop at 0:19 in the main feed trail some 500yds shy of the field edge, having turned sideways into the southerly breeze - the birds once more directly ahead of the stylish dog. He would go perhaps another 200yds, cross the feed trial, and stop once more at 0:21, although this time nothing could be flown ahead of him ending his bid.

The tenth brace featured Touch's Folsom Blues (McLean), with owners Bruce & Karen Norton in attendance, alongside Late Hit (Shenker). Folsom Blues would immediately break out to the left and out towards the bowl, while Late Hit would concentrate on the right parallel to Wildfair Road. With temperatures in the 80s, both dogs would be gathered up on the opposite sides of the course around 0:10, although Folsom Blues would then elect to then cross out to the right as well. Both would make the swing successfully around to the northeast as the gallery earned its first view of the Blue Springs headquarters, Folsom Blues moving out ahead of Late Hit. Roughly 200yds north of the equipment shed in the low swale, Late Hit would come to a stop at 0:29, birds readily flushing ahead of him. Folsom Blues had been moving well, but apparently a little too well, forcing McLean to ask for his tracking receiver at 0:30. Late Hit would continue on to the north, but the heat was beginning to take its toll and Shenker would elect to pick up his dog at the eastward turn towards the Baptist Church at 0:37.

The eleventh brace drew Game Ice (Raynor) and Dominator's Rogue Rebel (Daniels), with his proud owners Jack & Sarah Schwarz riding along to watch their dog. Sadly, it did not fare much better than the previous one. Turned loose in the direction of the Baptist Church, Rogue Rebel would immediately punch north into the mosaic of cover crop fields and new pines that reclaimed the former, three-quarter mile diameter rotator field. (If you look at the evolution of the property using Google Earth, this field in particular takes on the esoteric character of a Friedenreich Hundertwasser painting.) Game Ice would move out nicely to the east and punch out all the way to the edge of the Blue Springs Road - at which point a white SUV would come past and Game Ice would attempt to keep up, his handler making an initial frantic chase and then obliged to come for his tracker. (The dog would be found safely.) Despite frenzied riding by both handler and scout, Rebel Rogue had seemingly disappeared into a Bermuda Triangle and would be declared lost at 0:21.

The twelfth brace brought Touch's Malcolm Story (McLean) to the line with Dominator's Rebel Queen (Daniels) - and their luck would take an equally peculiar, but no more fortunate twist. If nothing else, the brace provided an illustration of the sometimes capricious, faithless nature of scent and scenting conditions. Turned loose just north of the blackened shell of the church, Malcolm Story would push northbound past the sinkhole on the right and then come to a stop roughly three-quarters of the way down the left edge of the next skinny cover crop field at 0:03. The flushing effort was thorough, but fruitless - and the dog asked to relocate. He would do so, briefly look over his shoulder in stride some 25ft further on, but then take himself on. The birds would then flush from the very spot he had been standing. It would be hard to say that either dog or handler had been at fault, but the handler acknowledged that this was a significant stain on his dog's performance and elected to pick up at 0:03. Crossing the main access road, Rebel Queen would then come to a stop at 0:13 out on the left side (with the easternmost flags on the golf course just barely visible), standing in the shade of a prominent live oak. Daniels would flush, then ask the dog to relocate, the dog would do so rigorously and then be collared up to be taken on, and three birds would also get up from the very spot the dog had been standing. With the circumstances slightly different, Daniels would elect to take his dog on - but upon reflection and a review of what was likely already in the judges' books - he would pick up shortly thereafter roughly parallel with the 'Swilcan Bridge' on the Nonami golf course.

The thirteenth brace saw Erin's Prime Time (Raynor) head-to-head with Senah's Back in Business (Norman). While Prime Time would concentrate on the woods section to the right, Back in Business would push up through the left, showing on the edge of the first cover crop field. Moving past the Bay Pond and up onto the next plateau, Unfinished Business would be seen out in the far corner of the Henry Childs field to the southwest. He would be found standing at 0:22, roughly 100yds below the skinny crop field immediately south of the much-larger Henry Childs field, standing in a broomsedge patch with the birds immediately located and flushed ahead of him. Prime Time, in the meantime, appeared to have slipped out to the east. By the time the gallery reached the second of the Smith Fields at 0:31, Raynor would accept defeat and come for his tracking receiver. There is nothing easy about running an all-age dog in the piney woods, and this is even more so on Blue Springs than on Nonami with its rolling terrain and irregular cover crop fields - and the role of the scout takes on an even more critical role. With the gallery roughly halfway down the 600yd-long field, the call of point would come at 0:34 for Unfinished Business. In their southbound second-half, the Smith Fields separate into a trident of long narrow cover crop fields, the gap between the center and the eastern tang a 75yd-wide strip of prime cover and tall pines. The call of point had come from 300yds behind the gallery, the dog tucked just into the grass off the center tang some 50yds down. (This would be the same spot that we had almost missed Sunnyhill Jo in 2018, only to be found by erudite scouting.) The birds were immediately ahead of the stylish dog and flushed without incident. Taken on through the dogleg at the end of these fields and back out to the south, he would nonetheless slip out to the east somewhere leaving Norman to finally break out his tracking receiver at 0:55 at the deerstand field above the South Pond.

The fourteenth brace brought Miller's Heat Advisory (Carlton) to the line with Dogwood Bill (Stringer). It would be a brace with plenty of excitement: the action starting at 0:05 just before the turn northeast parallel to the Flint River. Birds would be seen by both handlers rising ahead of their stopped dogs down in the grassy hollow to the left, but unseen to anyone else, they would simply take their dogs on. Making the turn north at the Show Me Bottom, the call of point would come for Bill at 0:12 in the northwest corner of the skinny cover crop field immediately to the left of the course, the birds seen rising as the judge punched through a screen of young pines on his way to the find. Just over the crest of the first whaleback to the right, Heat Advisory would come to a stop at 0:15, Bill passing low enough along the swamp edge below not to have seen him to honor - although sadly neither flush nor relocation would produce birds. Bill would stop again at 0:19 with Heat Advisory honoring, just over the right shoulder at the conclusion of the first whaleback, looking into a cover square replete with a stand of four young pines. He stood looking downslope into the southeasterly breeze - and indeed the covey of birds would be put up from the next upwind cover square. He would punch almost due north and, thanks to skillful scouting, be found at 0:24 just across the red dirt River Road some 400yds west of where the course normally crosses and enters the long going-away field, this time for just a pair of birds. With the course dropping down away from the long going-away field, both dogs had stayed high in the woods to the right, the call of point coming for Bill at 0:36 perhaps 75yds down off the pivot field edge and roughly midway between the going-away field and the River Road. A large covey of birds would be seen getting up 15-20yds upwind ahead of the stylish dog. Turned loose once more, he would drop southeast, cross the River Road, and stop on the front corner of the first of the large cover crop fields at 0:39 , the birds accurately located ahead of him; the feat would be repeated shortly thereafter at 0:40, the birds seen leaving by the judge. He would be seen moving smoothly along the outside edge of the second field before crossing across the front well ahead and then punching up to the north with the call of point would come at 0:47 up against the thick, swampy bottom. The handler would call birds in the air, but they were unseen against the dark screen of trees - and so the dog would simply be taken forward. In the meantime, Carlton would be out in the woods to the left trying to reconnect with Heat Advisory who had swung wide out of the long-going away field - although he would concede that the dog had lost contact with him and come for his tracker at 0:47. Having crossed the course once more in a bold sweep, the call of point would come at 0:55 out towards the river, Bill standing in an oaky thicket barely 50 yds from the lip above the river. The flushing and relocation efforts would prove unsuccessful (although birds would flush some distance away as the dog was collared forward). He would then perform a mannerly stop-to-flush on a single almost immediately at 0:57 as he was turned loose at the corner of the next cover crop field. Despite a slew of birdwork, Bill had continued to thrill with the quality of his finds and his boldness navigating the course. Nevertheless, the interruptions of the final thirteen minutes, none of which had directly produced judicable finds, and the dog finishing up crossing a freshly turned over field meant that the sizeable momentum he had built up to that point had dissipated. Nonetheless, it was exhilarating to see a man with just one dog in the race strike a little trepidation into those several with more than a few.

The fifteenth brace featured Shadow's Lord Magic (Davis) alongside Notorious Dominator's Heir (Mathys). Turned loose from the first major northbound turn, Lord Magic would be the first to make game roughly a half-mile down the course at 0:05, standing out in the cover on the north side of the trail - birds readily flown ahead of him for the judge to see. Making the turn west after Cat Pond, Lord Magic would come to a stop roughly midway down the cover crop field on left at 0:19, Heir honoring with style - sadly, though, and despite a relocation effort, it would prove barren. Both dogs would drop into the pocket of woods to the left and both would come to a stop roughly 200yds east of the big pivot field - Lord Magic seen first at 0:24 only 30yds out from the main path, Heir found shortly afterwards roughly 75yds deeper into the grassy woods at 0:25. Birds would be flown out successfully ahead of each of them. Heir would then cross the pivot field and swing up into the curtain on young pines to the right, coming to a stop at 0:31 - although after an initially fruitless flushing attempt, the handler would simply take his dog on rather than try to relocate in the evergreen jungle. As the gallery moved down the powerlines, Heir would cross the course out to the right and be found standing in the woods directly opposite the 5-stand clay target field at 0:36, a covey of birds readily flown ahead of him from the thick, grassy cover block. Pushing down that outer edge, he would be found again at the dog leg in the powerlines at 0:45, standing under a large live oak, birds once more directly in front of him. In the meantime, Lord Magic had worked diligently ahead of his handler, although never quite pushing the front out as would have been needed. Instead of the usual turn left at the dogleg, the course continued down the powerlines to Pole 49, or put differently, as the assortement of trucks and horse trailers would come into view over the rise some 600yds away, the course would turn down into the cover crop field on the left leaving time to expire with both dogs out front as it came parallel with the old drive-through on Queen Ash Road. While Heir had held up well in the heat and indeed had exceeded his bracemate on the ground, his pattern had occasionally erred on the lateral and lacked the degree of forward punch that others had.

The sixteenth brace brought Touch's Whitey Ford (McLean) to the line with Dominator's Wild Bill (Daniels), with owner Nick Berrong riding in support. After breaking away east from the usual afternoon location, Wild Bill would come to a stop at 0:03 to the right of the main trail standing in a block of broomsedge bracketed by pines - although sadly this would come to naught. Shortly before the cover crop field on the left, itself roughly parallel to the muddy hole on the right side, Whitey Ford would come to a stop just off the main feed trail to the left at 0:12, the birds immediately ahead of him and rising easily for the handler. He would then punch out into the rolling woods to the left, point then called for him at the front end of an east-west cover crop field at 0:17. Birds would be called in the air at the handler's approach, but unseen by the judge, Whitey would simply be taken on. In the meantime, Bill had pushed south out towards the road where he would be found standing at 0:19 at the head of the last valley before the turn north at the Blue Springs headquarters, the birds easily seen by the judge. Despite moving well, though, as the gallery passed north above the Blue Springs equipment shed, McLean would decide to save his dog in the significant heat at 0:28. Wild Bill would show nicely out along the roadside edge before dropping into the eastern of the two long cover crop fields, moving smoothly along the far edge and out of sight. He would seem to get a little hung up as the gallery came parallel to the Baptist Church - and Daniels would go out to gather him up and promptly elect to pick him up at 0:45, concerned about the cumulative effect of the heat on a young dog.

The seventeenth brace brought Sandy Hill Wally (Raynor) to the line with Supreme Confidence (Eisenhart). Temperatures had been above 80degs all afternoon, but reached their zenith during this and the final brace, topping out above 86degs with a stiff breeze coming out of the south and southeast. Wally would never quite find his stride in this heat and Raynor would pick him up at the main access road at 0:13. Supreme Confidence would be found shortly afterwards at 0:14 some 100yds north on the far side of the road, out to the left of the long going-away fields, standing in the shade of a prominent live oak - but sadly this would produce nothing. He would move smoothly through the remainder of the northbound leg, moving with sufficient gusto that it would take a little effort to turn him west to come under the big rotator field. Nevertheless, after making the turn, he would come to a stop in the first swale at 0:35, a covey of birds immediately ahead of him in the oaky thicket. He would come to a final stop down in the woods on the right side of the course, roughly 100yds west of the center pivot, on the southern face of a small hollow marked with two large live oaks and a number of young pines. Sadly, the initial flushing effort and a full, diligent relocation effort would yield nothing ending the young dog's bid.

Due to a scratch, the eighteenth brace would only feature Mayhaw's Perfect Storm (Mills). Dropping due south from the rotator field, Storm would climb up over the first big rise and come to a stop in an oaky thicket close to a large cover crop field at 0:05, the birds rising easily ahead of him. Angling southwest slightly to come around the golf course, Storm would come to a stop roughly 125yds west of the golf course at 0:11, the birds easily produced from the oaky thicket he was looking up into. Storm would work diligently ahead of his handler, although at times he would be more lateral than forward. He would nevertheless still be moving well out to the east as the gallery approached the long, low, southbound valley so often a little damp in previous years but after a brief conversation with the judges, Mills would elect to pick up his dog in the significant heat.
Albany, Ga., March 6
Judges: Jeff Gibbons and Wallace Reichert
MASTERS OPEN QUAIL CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 33 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner-MILLER'S BLINDSIDER, 1674983, pointer male, by Just Irresistible-Miller's Bring the Heat. Nick Berrong, owner; Jamie Daniels, handler.
Runner-Up-TOUCH'S BREAKAWAY FRED, 1680750, pointer male, by Touch's Mega Mike-Touch's American Baby. Eddie & Carole Sholar, Ted & Marsha Dennard, Bruce & Karen Norton,Gary & Becky Futch, owners; Mark McLean, handler.