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Result: North Carolina Open Championship

Location: Hoffman, North Carolina

Post Date: Feb 27, 2024

Submitted By: Margaret C. Drew

North Carolina New ODF23-

North Carolina Open Shooting Dog Championship Winners (l-r): Kaley Lee holding Hard Truth and Chelsea's Mae West held by Hunter Prevatte. Honorable mentions Upfront's Southern Star held by Ed Jesson and Hatteras Rip Tide held by Jett Ferebee. (Second row): Doug Ray with new trophy, Greg Robinson (wagon driver), Margaret Drew (reporter), Shawn Kinkelaar with new trophy, Chad Wheeler (judge), Chris Catanzarite (judge), and Calvin Curnutte Sr. with honorable mention ribbons.

The North Carolina Championship has had a floating date since early 2000. For several years, it ran in partnership with the United States Quail Futurity. Sixty years ago, a group of hunters worked with the NC wildlife commissioners to establish the U. S. Quail Futurity. It was shortly thereafter that the Open Shooting Dog Classic became the North Carolina Championship.

In early 1968, the NC Wildlife Commission proposed a 10-year development plan for 950 of these acres. A substantial portion of the field trial area was already in blocks of sericea lespedeza. About 87 acres of these blocks were within the proposed 31-mile planted strips. In 2023, this is nearer 32 miles. At the end of the initially proposed 10-year time frame, this 31-mile planted strip would contain 782 acres of sericea lespedeza and 84 acres of rye and millet for a total of 950 planted acres. The work on what we now know as the J. Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds began in 1949; however, the first field trial was not held until 1954. By 1970, the NC Wildlife Commission expressed that the area had developed a favorable environment, and they wanted to attract more outsiders. As the decline of quail progressed everywhere, a plan to release coveys of quail was adopted in 1981. A tractor and spreader were purchased for feeding, and planned crops have continued. There is a five-year plan that provides for burning on courses. In early 2000, an additional course loop was constructed behind the barn, bringing the total number of courses to six. These six courses are about 6 miles long and used only once daily. Each course has a start sign, which reads "start of heat 1," etc. In 2023, the state added road signs on dirt roads and safety markers along the courses. These small square markers denote where you are on each course by mileage. EMS would be able to assist if necessary.

Today, these six courses are maintained by the state and planted by the same. The NC Association purchases and releases 5,000 quail annually. The association purchases millett and owns a tractor and spreader with which the six courses are fed on a regular basis. Water is put out, although the grounds do have some manmade water holes, brooks, and lakes. During this championship, the bird count was good: 13 on day one, six on day two, five on day three, five on day four, four on day five, and on the final day four, but remember the final day was derbies and half a day.

The grounds at Hoffman are among the best in the country. When the wildlife commissioners established the Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds, their objective was to have the best grounds and attract the best dogs to the area. With an entry of 54 shooting dogs, followed by a 28-dog derby, success can be hailed in all areas. The income brought to the area in revenue from fuel, lodging, and restaurants is noteworthy. When folks come to Hoffman, they tell about how exciting it is to ride the braces and even more to release and guide a dog over the courses. When birds are flown over your dog at Hoffman, it feels like a celebration; after all, it is usually a covey of quail, not just singles. These coveys were from 4 to 20 birds. The sight and sound of the covey lifting and to see the dog standing straight and firm, his tail poker straight and his head pointing skyward, is a thrill for all. (If you have never been to Hoffman to see this, please join us). Every weekend, there is a trial; the wagon is free and available for anyone to ride. It leaves the clubhouse at 8 a.m. and, following lunch, leaves again in the neighborhood of 1:30. Each trip is roughly 4 hours to cover the three courses.

To enter a championship at Hoffman is a chance to earn a prestigious honor. In the North Carolina Championship this year, there were at least 36 champions seeking their next championship.

As I have heard, FIELD TRIALING is not just a sport but a culture on its own. The characters you meet are real, and their stories are real with some exaggeration as stories get retold. Bird dogs are bred to run and point whatever game bird is in the environment you release your dog in.

In July of 2023, the annual N. C. Field Association held its annual meeting at the Hoffman Field Trial clubhouse. It is at that time each July that all clubs meet to elect officers, recognize the top dog winners, and draw dates for the coming field trial season, which runs from October to the end of March. The president of the association is the normal chair of the North Carolina Championship; however, for the 2023 season, President Johnny Atkinson asked Calvin Curnutte to fill the chairmanship role. Calvin did an excellent job revising the trophies given to the winners and judges and adding a 30-minute derby stake. Calvin also asked the judges to recognize two additional dogs. These two additional dogs received a 10% check. Calvin and his father prepared and served lunch daily. On Tuesday evening, there was the Purina Handlers' Dinner.

There had been a silver bowl with silver cups recognizing each year's winner; however, when the clubhouse went through a renovation several years ago, it turned up among some other missing items. The new symbol for the North Carolina Championship is an eye-appealing black metal silhouette of a man on a horse, hat indicating point over a standing dog. The wooden base came from an aged barn board from the Hoffman Barn. (Yes, the board was obtained with permission from the wildlife and replaced with a new board). There is a brass nameplate indicating the year and champion or runner-up champion. The judge's gift has a second horse with a mounted judge viewing the mounted handler and dog.

There is a state-provided and maintained wagon for dogs and people at the Hoffman grounds. There are 10 kennels on the bottom of the wagon, with hay and safety-locking dog boxes. Above the dogs, there are benches on each side. There are cushions available for those who wish to use them. There is water for handlers to refill water jugs or wet a dog down when it is hot. The wagon is pulled by a truck owned by a "wagon driver." This year, the driver is Greg Robinson, who knows the roads and loves the dogs. Greg checks and cleans the dog boxes as needed. He also has snacks, fruit, water, and coffee for everyone to share at various break times.

The sponsor for the North Carolina Championship has been and still is Purina. Purina Sport meal is given to the winners, as well as this being a points trial toward the annual Purina Dog of the Year awards. DC Birddogs provided judges' books.

The Winners
The orange and white pointer male, Hard Truth, with Ray, was down at 8:47 due to early pick-ups in brace No. 13. We watched him power up the hillside and cross the road at the old bunkers area at 21. He was always far forward and moved with eye appeal and strength for the full 60 minutes. The judge's report was a divided find at halfway. Both dogs tight and positive for wing and shot. Hard Truth had an admirable ground race from beginning to end, never showing hesitation. Along Derby Road, his scout traveled along the highway; however, point was then called to the front and on the right of the course where he belonged. This well-located covey at 47 sealed it for a placement of some kind. That kind being: CHAMPION. He was intense on point. Jamie Daniels had the litter with Erin's Redrum x Pearl Again. He placed in four futurities, with a first placement in the New England Futurity. He is owned by Bob Canada, who missed a weekend of his life with bird dogs--Hard Truth winning this championship and his derby, Miller's Upgraded Patent, winning the companion derby. Patent is co-owned with handler Doug Ray's father, Harold.

Shawn Kinkelaar guided pointer female Chelsea's Mae West for her reaching tour of the course as she ranged forward. She required a little scouting and was seen making appropriate casts as we made our way toward the road crossing below the barn. Mae West had a nice find at 3 before continuing a front-running animated race. At 39, she stood proud and sure for handler to flush a covey. In the far back part of course 6, Mae West appeared to be missing; however, she returned with 4 minutes to spare. Her range was pleasing as she busily investigated likely bird cover. She finished going away strong with plenty of energy still in the tank. Mae West is owned by Ron Prewitt and Brad Sadler. She began her early birddog development and exposure to birds under the supervision of Brad Sadler and Jamie Daniels. Her sire, Chelsea's Thunder Bolt, had been bred to Chelsea's Southern Chic. Mae West has accumulated three championships, three runners-up, and a Quail Futurity win here on the Hoffman Grounds.

A new introduction to the championship this year was two honorable mentions for a 10% bon oa. These went to Upfront's Southern Star, a pointer female with Shawn Kinkelaar from brace No. 10, and Hatteras Rip Tide, a setter male with Doug Ray. You can read about these two in the dialogue below.

The Running
By 8:04 a.m. on December 18, Trial Chairman Calvin Curnutte had introduced the judges, given a few details concerning the day's event, and turned the trial over to the judges, Chris Catanzarite and Chad Wheeler. Course 4 opened the route for the next six days. The afternoon braces were run on courses 1-3. Each course was used only one time a day.

Brace No. 1 called Matt Basilone, with pointer male Hirollins Bad Boy as bracemate for Smoke Rise Jake, a pointer male with Tony Bingham. The pair got right down to the business of hunting, rounded the corner, and were out of sight in quick time. When scout Hester did not return with the dog, Basilone rounded Hirollins Bad Boy up himself. By 20, with dog at heal, he was returning to the course when the dog stopped and stood statue still for handler to dismount for flush and shot. He made some good casts, although not seen much. His paw prints indicated he often chose the easy path. At 40, scout called point with all in order. Smoke Rise Jake was not seen from the breakaway until 30 when he was returned by another handler on a rope. The handler reported he found him running down the road. Jake's handler, Tony Bingham, had taken the GPS unit at 25.

Brace No. 2 had CS Four Season's Gunner, a pointer male with Doug Ray, and Heisman, a pointer male with Mike Hester. CS Four Season's Gunner started slowly, checking with handler several times; however, he increased his hunting range with enthusiasm as the hour went on. He scored a find at 40 and a nonproductive at 46. He may have been able to relocate if his bracemate had not returned and raced on by the area while Gunner was checking out the sights and smells. His style standing on point was erect and solid. Heisman had a nonproductive at 43 just before climbing the hill to cross below the clubhouse. Heisman started his hour with plenty of energy but shortened his range and power as the hour continued.

Brace No. 3 had Emert's Grouse Ringer T, a setter male with Tony Bingham, and Absolute Tornado, a pointer male with Doug Ray. Ringer is an attractive black and white setter who runs with a classy gait, although he needed a little adjustment to his forward pattern today. Tornado covered the course with a strong and fancy motion. Nearing 43, while riding to his dog, who was pointing to the front, handler Ray rode up a covey. Nearing the downed brush near Tornado, a second covey lifted. Shot was taken with all in order.

Brace No. 4 followed lunch, this time on course 1 across from the clubhouse. Calvin Curnutte walked setter make Aristotle to the line, accompanied by Tony Bingham with pointer male Smoke Rise Bull. Aristotle put down a fancy gait as he stretched side to side; however, he and bracemate were often in tandem. Smoke Rise Bull was on the ground for about 44 minutes, often with bracemate. Handlers attempted to distract and get their charges to hunt independently. Bull scored two finds; however, he went to a casual attitude. He did not make the hour under consideration.

Brace No. 5 had Matt Basilone with pointer female Smoke'N'Mirrors as bracemate for Two Spot Tommy, a pointer male with Doug Ray. Smoke'N'Mirrors had a very long opening cast, returning at 16 minutes. His range was medium following 20 minutes, and his race was somewhat inconsistent with woods hunting and path running. On one of his off-the-path tours, he scored an attractive poise for a nice covey to be flown at 35. Two Spot Tommy passed McGee's Castle and hunted well forward. At 14, he had point called as he moved forward into tall grass. He stood nicely on point; however, after handler made a thorough search and no quail were flown, Tommy was tapped to relocate. He took a few steps, and a 12-bird covey lifted. He was roaded back to the clubhouse.

Brace No. 6 was whistled on to complete the afternoon at 3:46. T's American Outlaw, a setter male with Tony Bingham, and Mike Hester with pointer male Quickmarksman's Dan. Outlaw lived up to his name, choosing to hunt wherever he wished and not willing to listen to handler or turn with scout. By 37, handler Bingham took the GPS. Quickmarksman's Dan was in and out as he covered the course, starting with a close hunting range. As his hour extended, he reached more to the front, scoring a find at 54.

Brace No. 7 was on the ground at 7:58 a.m. with setter male Due Respect with Shawn Kinkelaar, as bracemate with Hatteras Sand Storm, a setter male under the whistle of Doug Ray. Respect rocketed to the front and disappeared. A GPS was required. Sand Storm had a swinging, strong race with a covey find at 13 minutes. Unfortunately, he had nonproductives at 35 and 45; therefore, an early pick-up was required.

Brace No. 8 called Smoke Rise Hanna, a pointer female with Tony Bingham. She began her challenge as the temperature rose to a good dog-hunting level under bright skies. After a lengthy spell of not being seen, handler requested the GPS. She was up before the bunker area. Bracemate Grey Pointe Nubbarron, a pointer male with Calvin Curnutte, was into the hunt mode as soon as he was released. He had good range and hunted well. He scored a covey find at 22, where he excitedly watched their flight. He continued to hunt forward and more carefully following his find. He had a nonproductive at 48. When he attempted to assist with flushing, he was leashed.

Brace No. 9 was on the standard course 6, which normally breaks away behind the barn into overgrown fields and then opens into piney woods with lots of warm season grasses and love grass. With early pick-ups in preceding braces, the brace started about 25 minutes early. Kinkelaar had pointer female Chelsea's Mae West as bracemate with Marques Armed Bandit, a pointer male with Lefty Henry. Both dogs ranged forward, required a little scouting, and were seen making appropriate casts as we made our way toward the road crossing below the barn. When point was called for Bandit and handler approached, Bandit began to self-relocate and was leased. Chelsea's Mae West performance is covered above under the winners as the runner-up champion.

Brace No. 10 had Quickmarksman's Excalibur, a pointer male with Mike Hester, and Upfront's Southern Star, a pointer female with Kinkelaar. The pair hunted to our front with many lateral casts as well. In the long mile field, both dogs were appropriately covering the territory. At 25, Excalibur had an unproductive, despite a noteworthy attempt to relocate. He did not complete his hour. Southern Star made mature casts and showed herself to be classy and very sharp on point. She had a find at 44 with all in order. Her second point came when she was found after time. As time was called, she had been seen at the top of the hill before the course 2 signposts; however, when time was called, she was missing. Handler and judges rode forward; however, when not seen, scout and handler went back to her last seen location. When point was called, judge went to the location, down over a little knoll where time had been called. She stood erect and solid, refused to move when tapped on, and remained locked up as a covey was flushed by handler.

Brace No. 11 was off at 2:29 with Woodlands Ridge Jim, a setter male with Calvin Curnutte, and setter male Lincoln County Jack with Tony Bingham. In the still chilly air, Jack was bound to warm up, and he did with a positive launch forward. He failed to return, and a GPS was taken. Jack was found quickly, standing on a nice double covey. Jim has a very white and slightly framed body with good motion while covering the ground. He ranged well for the first 30 minutes; however, when birds were not found, he narrowed his search and was picked up at 45 minutes.
Brace No. 12 would complete day two with Doug Ray commanding the white setter male Hatteras Rip Tide as bracemate for Matt Basilone with the black-headed setter male, The Gray Ghost. Ghost's owner was present to watch. The judge commented, "These were the best pair of stylish dogs with the best ground race so far." Unfortunately, Ghost had a nonproductive at 48. As Rip Tide was touring well to the front, he had point called; however, neither judge had seen the birds lift.

Brace No. 13 once again called upon Kinkelaar and Bingham. This time, Kinkelaar had pointer female Hale's Smooth Touch, and Bingham had setter male Hirollins All American. The early morning frost did not distract these two, with Touch checking everything that flew with slight discrimination as to whether it was game bird or not. She ran with a good gait and had good contact with handler; however, she did not remain down the hour. All American ran with a classy stretching gait with weak communication with handler. He tried to get Bingham to come his way; however, when that did not work, he was up at 40.

Brace No. 14 was down early with the sound of whistles at 8:47. Kinkelaar had pointer female Silver W Jill Z as bracemate with orange and white pointer male Hard Truth, with Ray. Jill is a slightly built female; however, she glides gracefully through the cover. She crossed the road by the bunkers at 26 behind her bracemate, who had flown up the hill and beyond the bunkers at 21. Her route was forward toward the far horizons, showing just enough to be pointed out by handlers or judge for the full hour. The judge's report was a divided find at halfway. Both dogs tight and positive for wing and shot. Hard Truth is covered with the winners.

Brace No. 15 had Matt Basilone with pointer male Redlane Alert paired with Kinkelaar. Pointer female Thunderbolt's Boon was eager to please handler on a sunny morning with less wind than yesterday. The temperature had risen to 37 by this 10:15 breakaway. As Alert marched toward the clubhouse, he turned left into the thick love grass as a covey began to lift. The dog stopped, but the damage had been done. As handler led his horse toward the dog for pick up, two more quail lifted. Thunderbolt's Boon made some nice casts with a very animated gait; however, she often took the path less traveled. She was not down the hour.

Brace No. 16 was down on course 1 at 1:01. Bingham with pointer male Lincoln County Buddyboy and pointer male J N Bolt Action with Kinkelaar. This pair were whistled away to hunt at 1:01. Both dogs tore down the hillside opposite the clubhouse. Although temps were up to 37, Bolt Action appeared not to like the cooler air. He marched far to the front and was seen once more before a GPS device was required at 35 minutes. Lincoln Country Buddyboy was happily across the small stream and up the hill. He pointed tall and solid at 25 along Baggett Lake; however, no birds were flown even after a good relocation attempt. As he rounded the top of the knoll into the long field above Baggett Lake, we expected to see him hunt down the edge with many objectives here. Although he had begun his hour with excited casts and an active tail, he shortened his range once in this long field. At 37, he was returned to the wagon when no birds were located.

Brace No. 17 paired Basilone with pointer male Southern Shadows Rick as bracemate for Hirollins B K Bushwacker, a pointer male with Bingham. Southern Shadows Rick completed his hour with a consistent medium-range race and a desire to hunt as he attacked all the right spots. At 28, he had reached the wooded area before the sign indicating the start of course 2. It was here that he scored a well-indicated and mannerly find. He stretched out and forward, crossing toward the field and approaching the "chicken/turkey coop" area. At 54, Hirollins B K was still a bit inconsistent with range and frequent lateral casts. When he turned up missing for over 20 minutes, Bingham requested a GPS.

By brace No. 18, the gallery and helpful participants had narrowed to two handlers, two judges, one scout, and a reporter with a dog wagon driver. Wagon driver Greg Robinson willingly turned a dog loose for Kinkelaar's pointer female, Thunder Bolt's Storm. Basilone had a pointer female, Limbsmoke Urban Lullaby, and a scout. Both of these pointers were orange and white. Storm was seen once in 25 minutes; therefore, Kinkelaar took the GPS unit; however, while awaiting satellite connection, Storm returned. Limbsmoke bounded forward, passing bracemate off the line. He also was on a single track of a straight-line tour of the grounds, which led to requiring a GPS.

On a cold and frosty morning, brace No. 19 was called to the line at 8:15. Pointer male Mohawk Mill War Hawk with Bingham and setter male Erin's Thunder Backus with Kinkelaar. Mohawk Mill War Hawk had tightly laced his running gear this brisk morning; therefore, he was out of sight before the bend in the course, about two football fields from the breakaway. Nearing 20 minutes, handler called for the GPS after no one got another glimpse of him. Bracemate Erin's Thunder Backus was equally eager to be out of the box and on the ground. He zipped through the cover in a straightforward cast, where we found him stopped in the millet near the water hole at 13. A large, 20-plus covey thundered skyward while Backus obediently awaited shot and to be collared on by handler. His race was definitely forward, although usually in the path, without searching any feed areas. He did not complete his hour as he continued to race well to the front and out of sight.

Brace No. 20 found Ray with pointer male I'm Spartacus as bracemate for setter male Fort River's Lucky Charm with Basilone. These two covered the course pleasingly, which offered the gallery an opportunity to watch two nice hunting dogs with obvious birds on their minds. Spartacus scored a nonproductive at 39 shortly after the turn from Derby Road at Jacob's corner. Lucky Charm ran with great head-to-toe style, active and spirited, although, like his bracemate, he closely checked in frequently. Both maintained an animated medium-ranged race.

Brace No. 21 found pointer male Lester's Another Shockwave with Kinkelaar and bracemate pointer male Ravenwood Throwing Smoke with Basilone. The hour's excitement heightened when point was called at 13. Both dogs were stacked with high heads and erect tails as handlers flushed several quail. Throwing Smoke backed Another Shockwave at 16, where favorable birdwork was witnessed once again. Shockwave continued his strong march to the front and made a lateral ring of the bowl area in the back of course 6; however, he never made it to the front with handler. Both scout and handler made another search of the area, judge listening alertly for the call of point. Shockwave was finally located, coming to the front with handler, although he was in the wagon soon. Throwing Smoke had moved on; however, he was on a self-guided tour by this time; consequently, his handler took a GPS.

Brace No. 22 found pointer male Hirollins B K Bulletproof with Bingham as bracemate for pointer female Thunderbolts Wild Again with Kinkelaar. By 15, both dogs were down the slope and through the water. First one and then the other, stepping out in a determined march up the steep hill. At 26, we reached the mile-long field above Baggett Lake. Bulletproof made some good casts, although his race was inconsistent in range and hunting application, leading to an early pick-up. Wild Again ran a medium race, zipping through the feed millett rows in the long field. His name symbolizes his character: totally a little wild. He did not finish his hour.

Brace No. 23 had pointer male Smooth Talkin with Ray as bracemate with pointer male Upfront's McQuade with Kinkelaar. The afternoon sun was surprisingly warm, as evidenced when Upfront's McQuade returned after completing several good casts showing signs of heat. He was watered and picked up shortly thereafter. Smooth Talkin was seen hunting down a row of millett. He stood appropriately at 20. No birds were flown. He cast to the right and moved on; however, by 25, his eye-appealing style was not rewarded with quail being flown. Therefore, handler picked him up.

Brace No. 24 would complete the fourth day of this championship with a start time of 3:19. Filling the slot were Tug O'War, a pointer male with Kinkelaar, and Morgan's Yellow Ledbetter, a pointer male with Phil Stevenson. Hunting with a purpose and with independent casts, both dogs were forward with determination. The course here has several remaining plum bushes, although the state has cleared away many, making this area huntable. Point was called at 16 for a nice divided find. Tug O'War made some deep casts in the woods, requiring some scouting assistance. Scout called point at 30. Despite Kinkelaar making a wide search of the area among the green saplings, he tapped the dog for a relocation. As the dog attempted a spirited relocation attempt, first one and then two quail popped up. Tug O'War's hour was over. While the gallery awaited Tug of War to have quail flushed, we heard a shot ring out from the front part of the gallery. Ledbetter had scored a nice find at 30 minutes. For the next 20 minutes, Ledbetter hunted methodically to the front and with the handler. By 55, he had gone to the fight top of a slight knoll where a tall skeleton of an old pine tree leaned slightly left near a plum thicket. The dog made several casts in this area, although never pointed.

On Friday morning, brace No. 25 opened the final three braces of the North Carolina Championship before the beginning of the companion Derby. Bingham brought Twiggy, a pointer female, to the line as bracemate for Absolute Dominator, a pointer male with Ray. While traveling down the open cut and heading toward the water hole on the left, one dog was seen covering the ground well. There was no sight of a second dog. Twiggy was straight out the front and required some GPS assistance to be gathered up. Absolute Dominator had a well-pointed covey near the water hole at 28, with nearly a dozen lifting quail a welcomed sight. Dominator stood proudly with good manners. From the road gallery, we watched Dominator cross the dirt roads several times, nearing the bunkers; handler healed him to the top. He was whistled away to continue his strong ground race, although he still had some difficulty in handling. As time was called, he was well to the front, requiring handler and scout to ride to the front to gather him up.

Brace No. 26 called Kinkelaar to the line with pointer male Big Man On Campus as bracemate for pointer male A Buccaneer with Ray. Big Man was light in coloring and Buccaneer dark, so keeping track was easier this hour. The two skirted to the lower wooded edge and bounced merrily forward in tandem. At the corner turning away from Derby Road or Jacobs corner, Buccaneer had scout called, where he was well buried in the tall season grass. While Ray was attempting flush, Big Man's scout approached and found him standing some two football fields to the side of Buccaneer. Both handlers attempted to flush; however, with no birds put to air, the two dogs were tapped on. Big Man hunted independently wide and hard, although he did not locate any quail. Buccaneer made several good casts, returning frequently. He hunted the lower hillside of thin pines just beyond Denton Road, which looked to produce birds but did not. The hour came to an end behind the barn toward course 6.

The final brace was No. 27, with Kinkelaar bringing pointer male Hunt's Full Moon Rising to the line as bracemate with Bingham and pointer female Lady X. Moon Rising had point called by scout at 8 off to the left of the course. Quail were flown; however, Moon Rising's over-excitement caused him to be leashed. Lady X was busily investigating likely bird covers at medium range with consistent checking with handler. After a brief conversation with the judges, handler called Twiggy to heal and put her in the wagon as she was not surpassing what the judges were carrying.
At this time, everyone returned to the clubhouse, where lunch was waiting. Announcements were made, and by 1:30, the Derby stake was underway with a new pair of judges.

Hoffman, N. C., December 18
Judges: Chris Catanzarite and Chad Wheeler
NORTH CAROLINA OPEN SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 42 Pointers and 12 Setters

Winner-HARD TRUTH, 1685784, pointer male, by Erin's Redrum-Pearl Again. Bob Canada, owner; Doug Ray, handler.
Runner-Up-CHELSEA'S MAE WEST, 1686810, pointer female, by Chelsea's Thunder Bolt-Chelsea's Southern Chic. Ron Prewitt & Brad Sadler, owners; Shawn Kinkelaar, handler.

Companion Derby
The North Carolina Championship was completed at 11:30. The senior Calvin Curnutte had lunch waiting as the group returned to the clubhouse for announcements and lunch. At 1:15, the new derby companion stake was ready under new judges Dennis Snyder, Thomasville, North Carolina, and Ed Jesson, Monroe, North Carolina. The judges were saddled and ready to see some 30 youngsters.

The judges of a derby stake have a more difficult job than folks acknowledge. A derby judge has to look for signs that the derby is progressing to become a national shooting dog champion to run at Ames or Sedgefield. That means he has to show style and animation on the ground, and he has to hunt in places where birds might be. He has to show range and desire to be hunting with his handler. He has to show bird interest, and if birds are located, he must at least flash point.

The judges at this venue kept great notes to share with your report. Thanks for your great observations. In addition to those named as winners, the judges pointed out the great potential they saw in several other derbies. These other derbies were Backcountry Champagnesupernova with Chris Catanzarite, Calvin Curnutte with Rev Brown's Browns Contender, Doug Ray with Jett Ferebee's Hatteras Storm Watch, and Erin's Ikon with Shawn Kinkelaar. They felt that these four would soon be knocking on a championship door.
First place went to a pointer female, Miller's Upgraded Patent, handled by Doug Ray. She started out as a small pup with Jack and Fran Miller. The Millers whelped her litter with Miller's Upgraded Version x Miller's Special Edition. From there, she went to live with Harold Ray, where she began her bird dog life. Later, she became co-owned with Harold and Bob Canada. Doug Ray obviously has a key role here in training and handling at trials. The judges credited her with a gait that locks your eyes as she is in a constant forward pattern. At times, including her last 6 minutes, she would be far to the front. Some fearing she was lost. With a minute to go, she was found standing in the tall cover just before the brook crossing. She even had mature manners when several quail were flown. The judges told me that she had the nicest race of all 30 derbies: ground race, style moving, and positive bird location with mature manners when birds were flushed.
Second place went to a dog from the third brace on Friday afternoon. Rocky River Halo, pointer male, owned by Carl Lefler and Phil Stevenson. Phil was handling today, as Carl was ill and unable to attend. This orange and white young male is from a cross between Southpoint's Speedy G x Lone Tree Last Snow. He has been with Carl and Phil since he was a small pup. Carl is usually at the Hoffman trials; he was missed this week. Rocky River Halo ranged with determined speed in a snappy motion, with casts turning to the front the whole way. He made a few extended casts, which resulted in a limb find at 10 minutes. Halo stood high and tight to await handler as scout called point. He remained mannerly for wing and shot.
Third place went to Laura Pergolizzi, known as "LP." This derby is owned by Nicole Lombardi and Doug Swingley. LP is one of Shawn Kinkelaar's promising derbies. Francis Buche bred LP with a cross between Chelsea's Thunder Bolt x Buche's Elhew Rebel. Although no birds were pointed by LP, her race took her to all the spots where birds should have been. Her race was consistent and always to the front with powerful strides. (It was announced on December 24, 2023, that her sire, Chelsea's Thunder Bolt, had passed away. Among Thunder Bolt's accomplishments were 23 open championships and four national Purina Dog of the Year awards.)

Judges: Ed Jesson and Dennis Snyder
OPEN DERBY - 23 Pointers and 7 Setters

1st-MILLER'S UPGRADED PATENT, 1704924, pointer female, by Miller's Upgraded Version-Miller's Special Edition. Bob Canada & Harold Ray, owners; Doug Ray, handler.
2d-ROCKY RIVER HALO, 1703164, pointer male, by Southpoint's Speedy G-Lone Tree Last Snow. Carl Lefler & Phil Stevenson, owners; Phil Stevenson, handler.
3d-LAURA PERGOLIZZI, 1705950, pointer female, by Chelsea's Thunder Bolt-Buche's Elhew Rebel. Nicole Lombardi & Doug Swingley, owners; Shawn Kinkelaar, handler.

North Carolina ODF23

Open Derby Winners (l-r): Kaley Lee with Miller's Upgrade Patent, Shawn Kinkelaar with Laura Pergolizzi, Doug Ray, Dennis Snyder, Ed Jesson, Margaret Drew, Calvin Curnette Sr. Back row: Greg Robinson, and Earl Drew, second place Rocky River Halo (not pictured) and Phil Stevenson.

North Carolina ChF23

New trophy designed by Calvin Curnutte: One is a mounted handler with a hat in the air and a dog pointing, and the other is a mounted handler with a dog and a horse with a judge.