See News section for exciting announcement regarding UKC/FDSB Developments!

I Accept

United Kennel Club (UKC) is an international dog registry celebrating bonds, rewarding ability, and preserving the value of a pedigree. We use cookies to capture information such as IP addresses and tailor the website to our clients' needs. We also use this information to target and measure promotional material. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Skip to main content
Facebook Instagram YouTube

Result: Southwestern Championship and Open Derby

Location: Trail City, South Dakota

Post Date: Oct 16, 2023

Submitted By: Claudia McNamee

southwestern chf23

Southwestern Championship Winners (l-r): Erin's Code of Honor with Lee Phillips and Miller's Heat Advisory with Ben Straughn. (Standing, l-r): Luke Eisenhart, Brody Byrd, Collette Johnson, Claudia McNamee, Alan Johnson, Angie Jones, Kathy Priddy, David Williams, Jason Williams, Tracy Haines, Jamie Daniels, Tierra Hadley, Judd Carlton, Shawn Kinkelaar, Garland Priddy, and Steve Hurdle.

"Where Legends Are Made"

After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic and unseasonably dry conditions last year, the 2023 edition of the Southwestern Championship finally returned to the Johnson Ranches in Trail City, S. D. This year's conditions were the best this reporter and other participants had experienced in many years due to more seasonal rain events. In early September, it's extremely rare to see pastures so green and lush, with such a great diversity of prairie vegetation. And, of course, this made for plentiful wild game, giving all contenders equal opportunity to showcase their hunting prowess. These ranch grounds are rolling prairie above the Missouri River Valley used for pasturing cattle rather than crops or hay. Punctuated by water courses and draws, it is a country of sweeping, stunning vistas where an all-age performance has infinite possibilities. And this year's field of contenders did not disappoint! To ride across this country on a good Tennessee Walker and be witness to this quality of competition and performance is exceptional in today's world, and those of us here are very fortunate indeed.

The task of judging both the Derby and All-Age stakes was in the capable hands of Jason Williams of Blakely, Ga., and Shawn Kinkelaar of Effingham, Ill. Both dog men have broad experience in field trialing and bird hunting and were well-qualified to observe and place judgment on the 16 derbies and 33 all-age dogs in this 2023 renewal. Always maintaining a professional observance and demeanor, they were quite impressed with the field of talent competing for top honors over the period of August 31 to September 3. The three continuous courses were charted out so that no course was more advantageous or desirable than the others. The weather was the only factor that wouldn't be quite so equitable, and the high afternoon temperatures certainly played into many a dog's overall performance.

With the experience and oversight of Director John D. Seawright, President Garland Priddy, and Secretary/Treasurer Kathy Priddy, the team assembled to conduct the trial successfully and without incident. Alan Johnson, our consummate host, traveled from Hermosa, S. D., with his wife, Collette, to take the dog-wagon wheel once again. Knowing the grounds and how to navigate the challenging terrain is critical in this role, and Alan's maneuvering was flawless. He was timely and always where he needed to be, which is necessary for the trial to stay on schedule. Lee Phillips, a longtime veteran of this undertaking, wore many hats, including setup/breakdown at the grounds and the most critical role of gatekeeping manager. Luke Eisenhart, in addition to handling about one-third of the contenders, also jumped in to rebuild the dog wagon and helped with setup/breakdown at the grounds. Candus Knapp rode the dog wagon every day and documented with photography. Chris Mathan also rode to capture the days' events. Others who sprang to action when needed for "gatekeeping" and meal preparation were Jamie Daniels, Judd Carlton, Tommy Rice, Brody Byrd, Tracy Haines, Tierra Hadley, and Alan Johnson. Garland and Kathy Priddy also used their horse trailer to strategically deliver dogs and pick up judges at the end of long days. This role is also necessary for the trial's smooth running given that we deadhead often, and returning to the barn on horseback can take nearly one hour.

A Landowners' Supper was held on Thursday, August 31, at the Trail City Town Hall for a total of about 50 guests. The caterer was the Country Market Grocery Store located in Timberlake, S. D., and owned by Patty and John Linderman. Food and drink were plentiful, making for a fun and memorable evening with field trialers and local friends who generously share their great land with us.

The Winners and Honorable Mentions
Named champion was Erin's Code of Honor, a 3 1/2-year-old white and orange pointer male (Erin's Redrum-Erin's Miss Maggie). This young contender was handled by Luke Eisenhart, scouted by Lee Phillips, and is owned by Allen Linder of Livingston, Tenn. "Tip" ran on Saturday morning in the second brace and had one limb find toward the end of his hour. His race and hunting style were consistently bold and courageous, finishing with a quintessential all-age knock-out punch that was thrilling to watch.

Earning runner-up was Miller's Heat Advisory, a 5-year-old white and orange pointer male (Just Irresistible-Miller's Bring The Heat). "Mick" was handled by Judd Carlton, scouted by Jamie Daniels, and is owned by John Mathys of Green Bay, Wis. He also ran on Saturday morning in the third brace following the named champion. He was always forward, casting long and wide the entire hour, with three impressive finds and finishing with style.

In addition to named winners, the judges considered five other dogs to have champion-quality performances worthy of mention. In order of brace running, these notables are: Miller's Blindsider (Daniels), Oahe Buck (Rice), Erin's High Note (Carlton), Supreme Confidence (Eisenhart), and Erin's Silver Lining (Eisenhart).

The Open Derby
The program at the Southwestern began with the Derby stake on Thursday, August 31. Sixteen (16) young contenders competed in eight 30-minute braces for three placements. We broke away under clear skies and temperatures in the high 60s at 7:30 a.m. (CT). The judges were impressed with the strong roster of talent, and bird work was respectable. A strong prairie derby performance should demonstrate all age potential more than finished qualities -- purposeful and bold hunting, a forward ground pattern, and attentiveness to the handler. Most importantly, derbies should show the physical and mental tendencies and characteristics that will lead to successful future all-age performances.

First-place winner, CKC Gun Runner, appeared in the second brace under the whistle of Judd Carlton with Warbird for Luke Eisenhart. Both dogs were well away early and had game contact. Gun Runner ran a big race with bird work at 12 and 25. He checked with his handler at the right times, moved effortlessly through the country, and had a strong finish. Gun Runner, a white-orange pointer male (Dogwood Cash-Hunt's Flat Bottom Girl), is owned by Kent Cantrell of Ocala, Fla.

Second place was claimed by Comanche (Touch's Red Rider-Southpoint's Dixie Chick) in the third brace of the morning. Handled by Luke Eisenhart, "Will" broke away with bracemate Erin's Doc Holliday for Jarrett Bell. At two minutes, Will was standing, and a single was flushed by his handler with Doc Holiday backing. There was no further game contact in this 30 minutes, but Will demonstrated a mature purpose in his hunting effort, ran a strong race, and finished with style. Owner Tucker Johnson of Hope Sound, Fla., hopes Comanche will eventually pick up where his sire left off.

Third place was awarded to setter male Steen's Hurricane Murphy (Tekoa Mountain Jettsun-Shearjoy's Morning Glory) for Jamie Daniels and one of his owners in the gallery, Anne Tyson of Washington. Showing off his tri-color tail feathers, Murphy was braced with the only other Setter derby, white and orange male Valor's Lucky Tucker for Luke Eisenhart. This was the fourth brace of the morning, and both dogs ran strong races. Murphy had two stylish finds at 15 and 29 and demonstrated good manners around his game. Murphy's other owners are Jim Hamilton and Nick Berrong, both of Tennessee.

southwestern ch odf23

Open Derby Winners (l-r): Ben Straughn with CKC Gun Runner, Luke Eisenhart with Comanche, and Tierra Hadley with Steens Hurricane Murphy. (Standing, l-r): Judd Carlton, Claudia McNamee, Jamie Daniels, Tracy Haines, Alan Johnson, Lee Phillips, and Rob Englert.

Trail City, S.D., August 31
Judges: Shawn Kinkelaar and Jason Williams
OPEN DERBY - 14 Pointers and 2 Setters

1st-CKC GUN RUNNER, 1705398, pointer male, by Dogwood Cash-Hunt's Flat Bottom Girl. Kent Cantrell, owner; Judd Carlton, handler.
2d-COMANCHE, 1705324, pointer male, by Touch's Red Rider-Southpoint's Dixie Chick. S. Tucker Johnson, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.
3d-STEENS HURRICANE MURPHY, 1704493, setter male, by Tekoa Mountain Jettsun-Shearjoy's Morning Glory. Anne Tyson, owner; Jamie Daniels, handler.

The Championship Running
The Southwestern Championship began immediately following the completion of the Derby stake on Thursday afternoon and was completed midday on Sunday, September 3. A total of 33 dogs were entered, and 32 competed. Nine handlers participated, including Steve Hurdle (4 dogs), David Williams (2), Luke Eisenhart (11), Jamie Daniels (4), Judd Carlton (5), Tommy Rice (2), Austin Turley (1), Jarrett Bell (1), and Brody Byrd (3). Owners present included Mike Sweet from Sebring, Fla., for Erin's High Note; Joe and Tricia Rentz of Brooks, Ga., for Rentz's Hijacked; and this reporter, Claudia McNamee from Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., for Supreme Confidence and Rentz's Hijacked.

We broke away each morning at 7:30 a.m. (CT) and started back promptly one hour after we returned from the morning braces, usually around 12:30-1:00 p.m. (CT).
Weather conditions during the championship challenged all dogs who ran in the afternoon hours. Temperatures steadily climbed higher each day, well into the 90s, and great care was taken by handlers to ensure their charges' well-being with frequent watering, and if a contestant wasn't hitting the mark, their handler picked them up before the end of the hour. Morning braces were met with milder temperatures in the 70s and sunshine. At times, there were light winds, and no precipitation occurred at any time during the trial. The champion and runner-up came out of morning braces on Saturday, braces No. 10 and 11, respectively.
The Champion: Erin's Code of Honor

The second-morning brace (No. 10) on Saturday proved to be one for the books. At 9:24 a.m., with temperatures rising, Erin's Code of Honor for Luke Eisenhart and C S Rester's Speculation for Steve Hurdle broke away with great spirit -- they'd had enough of the dog wagon and were ready to make a bid for the title. Speculation hunted down a nice covey at 22. Both dogs were running with purpose and intensity and, at 35, were being pointed out by their handlers...this was an all-age championship! There would be no other game contact until 53; Tip was hunting and covering the prairie hills with a fierce mission, and his focus was rewarded with the limb find of the trial. Equally remarkable to his bird work was how, in the final minutes of the hour, he mustered the vigor to finish as only a champion could. In 90-degree temperatures, Eisenhart heeled Tip through the gallery and past the dog wagon, which had all stopped, to sprint to the front for a quintessential all-age finish. This contender had only one thing on his mind -- to get out in this country and win this championship!

The Runner-Up: Miller's Heat Advisory
Saturday's third-morning brace (No. 11) also delivered a decisive winner, with Miller's Heat Advisory pulling out all the stops for handler Judd Carlton. Bracemate C S Dirty Harry for Steve Hurdle didn't fare as well and was picked up around the 30-minute mark. Mick had three beautiful finds at 25, 40, and then 58. Birds were directly in front of him each time he was found standing, making it easy for Judd to flush into flight. Temperatures were rising, but the heat didn't seem to be a deterrent. Mick ran a bold and intelligent race and was stylish and intense on his game, demonstrating all the characteristics of a top-tier all-age competitor. He is certainly a force to be reckoned with and could have secured top honors if only he'd finished with the same fierceness he'd run with earlier in the hour.

The Other Contenders
At 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, immediately following the final brace of the Derby, we cut loose the first brace of the championship. Brace No. 1 paired 2023 National Champion Miller's Blindsider for Jamie Daniels and Erin's Wild Atlantic Way for Luke Eisenhart. Both dogs exploded onto the scene across the Indian Pasture, promising to provide a true all-age show! At 34, Luke raised his hat for "Cap," but then he moved himself on without any bird work. At 45, we heard yelling from the dog wagon behind us where Alan Johnson had stopped to close a gate; Luke went back for Cap and decided it was too hot to continue. Blindsider put down a memorable championship race for the entire hour, always on the edge, out of sight, but showing up with seemingly strategic precision. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to locate game, but his performance on the ground earned him an honorable mention.

Brace No. 2 would be the final brace of the day, and high temperatures made it difficult for Smoke Roll (Hurdle) and Cold Creek Thrill Tuff (Rice). Neither dog had any bird work, and both were picked up by their handlers, Tuff at 20 and Smoke Roll at 45.

Friday morning started with the third brace of the championship, No. 3, in which Erin's Three Leaf Shamrock (Eisenhart) and Rock Acre Yellow Hawk (Byrd) were paired together. Temperatures started off in the low 60s, and skies were clear. Both dogs broke away into the rising sun, running directly east on the first course, so they were a little hard to see, but they were forward and moving well through the country. At 26, we saw birds get up on the other side of a knoll, and Brody called point, but judges didn't see, so Hawk was taken on. At 30, Three Leaf was standing with Hawk backing while Luke flushed a single. At 41, Three Leaf stopped again, and Hawk did as well but didn't back with manners, so judges gave Brody his tracker. Luke took Three Leaf on but then picked him up at 47 -- he wasn't running enough for his handler.

Brace No. 4 let loose at 8:25 a.m. and presented Dominator's Queen Bee (Daniels) and Northern Confidence (Eisenhart). Bee had two nice finds at 4 and 8 but wasn't all that comfortable sharing the course with cattle and became a little affected, according to her handler. And then running through caucus wasn't fun either. Jamie picked her up at 26. Luke also needed to stop twice and pull cactus out of "Tyke's" feet but continued on. At 36, he was found standing stylish and intense, but even with a relocation, birds weren't flushed. With one unproductive and impeded race due to cactus, Luke picked him up.

The final morning brace on Friday was No. 5 with Erin's High Note (Carlton) and Oahe Buck (Rice). Contenders broke away at 9:15 a.m. with clear determination. By 9:30 a.m., we were watching them traverse the hill on the other side of the dam effortlessly -- both dogs putting down strong all-age races. At 25, Tommy's hat was in the air for Buck, and Judd followed because Bo was backing. Unfortunately, even with a relocation, birds remained elusive -- disappointing for all. Owner Mike Sweet watched from the gallery with pride, regardless of the challenges. Buck stood again at 29; this time, his handler put a single in the air! Time was taken to water both dogs just inside the next gate -- it was very hot at this point. Tommy again called point at 43 quite a ways over the right-side ridge. By the time Judge Williams got there, the birds had already lifted, and sadly, he did not see them. Luckily for Tommy, Buck yet again stood for game at 49, and this time birds were flushed successfully. Both dogs demonstrated true grit the entire hour and finished strong. Buck did a great overall job with bird work and was the dog to beat...we now had a field trial! Both of these athletes were worthy of honorable mention.

The second half of Friday's running started at 12:30 p.m. with temperatures in the low 90s, a light breeze, and thin cloud cover. We were all hoping we'd get a break from extreme heat this afternoon, but that wasn't the case. Brace No. 6 paired up Superstition's Jake (Byrd) and Supreme Confidence (Eisenhart). Both of these dogs' call names are Jake; they looked similar running and ran in similar patterns the first 30 minutes, which created some confusion identifying them from the gallery. Eisenhart's Jake is owned by this reporter. At 15, Supreme Confidence stood intensely and stylish on his game for what would be his one and only find. Both contenders hunted boldly through the Indian Pasture and ran independently for the remainder of the hour. Superstition's Jake navigated the course to the left, and Supreme Confidence veered west to the north end of the pasture. It took Luke time to call him out of that corner and back on the course, but once he did, Jake took control in spite of the heat and demonstrated desire, intelligence, and grit. At 47, Byrd's Jake went on point, which unfortunately resulted in an unproductive. At 56, Eisenhart's Jake also had an unproductive but ran out of the country with a strong all-age finish. Supreme Confidence was the only dog in the stake who ran in the afternoon heat, hunted up birds, and had a powerful finish, earning him an honorable mention.

Next to the line in No. 7 were Rebel Dreams (Williams) and B G K's Luke (Bell). Together, they hunted the country enthusiastically until the scouts, Allison Bell for Jarrett and Jamie Daniels for David, called point simultaneously at 17. Located quite a ways down the hillside in a small valley, they were side-by-side with a divided find. Twelve minutes later, at 29, Bell raised his hat again for Luke with Rebel Dreams backing. Unfortunately, this ended with an unproductive, and both dogs were taken on. Jarrett and Allison skillfully kept Luke moving forward as a team -- this was not their first rodeo! Both contenders finished the hour in good standing, albeit with races that weren't consistently all age range.

Friday afternoon finished with No. 8 presenting Confident Nation (Eisenhart) and Touch's Dancing Nancies (Carlton). Temperatures were in the low 90s, and the cloud cover had all but disappeared. Confident Nation overheated quickly, and his handler picked him up at 13. Dancing Nancies stayed on the ground most of the hour. She ran a good race and hunted with determination, but after attempting two relocations at 52, Carlton asked for his tracker.
The third day of the championship began quite differently, with temperatures in the mid-60s and dense fog that we needed to wait out. These conditions resulted in a stunning sunrise as we stood at the breakaway until about 8:15 a.m. The fog had lifted enough to see the dogs, and we let loose about an hour later than previous mornings. Forecast projected quickly rising temperatures.

The first brace on Saturday morning was No. 9 with Aucilla Jim (Daniels) and Erin's Silver Lining (Eisenhart). It was actually easier to see the dogs in residual fog than bright sunshine, and they didn't disappoint as they broke away! Both handlers navigated their charges through a herd of cattle coming down to the small dam before traversing the hill on the other side. The two contenders were well out front as we passed through the first gate on top of the hill. At 22, Eisenhart's hat was in the air, and Silver Lining looked regal in his stance. The birds got up before we reached him, and Eisenhart shot his gun. Aucilla Jim moved, and the birds flew, resulting in an early pick-up. Again, at 25, Silver Lining stood intensely for birds, but they flew prematurely before the judges arrived, so Eisenhart took him on. From this point on, Silver Lining put down an exciting all-age race, staying out front and out of sight and then appearing just when you thought he wouldn't. Judge Kinkelaar rode higher ground and pointed him out more than once. Silver Lining didn't have any other bird work but consistently pushed the envelope and kept the judges and gallery on the edge of their seats -- just the reaction we hope for in an all-age championship and earning Silver Lining honorable mention.

Brace Nos. 10 and 11 closed the Saturday morning session and produced the champion and runner-up, respectively, described earlier in this report.

Saturday afternoon broke away with No. 12 at 12:30 p.m. Touch's Amazing Greyce (Turley) and Game Ice (Eisenhart) were faced with temperatures approaching 98 degrees and light 10 mph winds. Game Ice gave it his all but didn't have any bird work, and his handler asked for the tracker at 30. Greyce, on the other hand, kept going -- this petite pointer female had gumption! At times, she ran a shorter-than-ideal all-age race but never wavered in her determination to hunt and handle for Turley. Although no game contact was made, dog and handler finished the hour and clearly enjoyed being out there giving it their all on these South Dakota prairies!

Brace No. 13 had a change in dogs because C S Code Blue was scratched by Steve Hurdle, and the No. 17 bye-dog was moved up. At the line were Nighthawk's Rebel (Eisenhart) and Rester's Cajun Spirit (Carlton). This was, unfortunately, a brace that ended relatively quickly; both dogs got hot quickly. Carlton picked up Spirit at 13, and Eisenhart did the same at 20.

The final brace this afternoon was No. 14 and broke away at 2:45 p.m. with Dominator's Wild Bill (Daniels) and Rentz's Hijacked (Eisenhart). Joe and Tricia Rentz rode in the gallery to see their National Derby winner, "Speck," try to overcome temperatures hovering around 98 degrees. This reporter, also partner/owner, watched on, knowing the odds were stacked against him. Even though both contenders sprang into action off the breakaway, the conditions were unsurmountable. Wild Bill was picked up at 13 and Speck at 22; it was simply too hot to continue.

The last two championship braces, Nos. 15 and 16, were run Sunday morning. Temperatures were around 68 degrees, with full sunshine and no breeze. No. 15 presented Erin's Perfect Storm (Eisenhart) and Rebel Survivor (Williams). Survivor wasn't on the ground for long. At 7, Judge Kinkelaar observed him move on birds, and Williams took his tracker. At 13, "Colt" was standing stylishly, but his handler didn't produce any birds. Continuing on for another 20 minutes, Colt hunted with intent and focus, but he wasn't beating what had already been done, so Eisenhart asked for his tracker at 33.

The final brace of this trial was No. 16 with Notorious Dominator's Heir (Carlton) and Superstition's Final Touch (Byrd). Right off the breakaway, Notorious stood with certainty and style, but even with two promising relocations, Carlton wasn't able to flush any birds, and an unproductive was noted. Final Touch was intentionally hunting, but his range could've been greater. He didn't have any contact with game either. Both dogs were picked up by their handlers before the end of the hour.
And this concluded the 2023 edition of the Southwestern Championship.
SOUTHWESTERN CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 30 Pointers and 3 Setters
Winner-ERIN'S CODE OF HONOR, 1696057, pointer male, by Erin's Redrum-Erin's Miss Maggie. Allen Linder, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.
Runner-Up-MILLER'S HEAT ADVISORY, 1685672, pointer male, by Just Irresistible-Miller's Bring The Heat. John Mathys, owner; Judd Carlton, handler.