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Result: Region 16 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship

Location: Union Springs, Alabama

Post Date: Mar 13, 2024

Submitted By: Darron Hendley

Region 16 Ama SD ChS24

Region 16 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship Winners (front, l-r): Katie Belle Varner with the Backcountry Bruiser and Chris Catanzarite with Backcountry Pure Gold. (Back): Joe Varner, Brian Peterson, Lance Servais, Ban Stewart, Mike Moses (judge), Darron Hendley, Tony Gibson, Ben Chancellor, and Lawton Huggins.

Conecuh Station Plantation in Union Springs, Alabama, hosted the 2024 AFTCA Region 16 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship. Known as the field trial capital of the world, Union Springs certainly lived up to its reputation during this trial. Handlers from Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and California brought 38 winners to town to compete for this highly coveted championship. Our generous sponsors for this year's event were Purina (Greg Blair) and Phillips Feed, Seed and Fertilizer (Craig Phillips). We encourage everyone to patronize these fine businesses.

Conecuh Station is owned by Field Trial Hall of Famer Tony Gibson and his beautiful wife, Becky. Enough cannot be said about what they do for our beloved sport. They provide everything needed to put on a first-class event. Plentiful stables are available for horses. Full hookup campsites are on site. A huge fieldhouse with plenty of dining space and a stocked commercial kitchen provides a comfortable place for gatherings. Their hard-working staff is on hand throughout the trial to handle any needs that pop up. It is truly a blessing to be welcomed into this heaven on earth!

The field trial courses on Conecuh Station have never been better. No expense has been spared to create the perfect grounds for big-running shooting dogs. Six continuous one-hour courses meander through the 4,000+ acres of gently rolling hills and ancient coastal savannah. Towering loblolly pines spread as far as the eye can see. The Conecuh River, which begins below the bluff in Union Springs, cuts through the plantation as not much more than a sandy bottom creek fed by crystal clear spring water. Magnificent White, Blackjack, Willow, and Pin Oaks are scattered about, making for easy landmarks through the courses. Water tanks are strategically placed along the courses for thirsty dogs. The Conecuh Station crew is busy year-round mowing, mulching, raking, burning, plowing, and planting feed strips. Miles of brown-top millet and love grass rows provide excellent cover. Bobwhite quail were plentiful. Every dog had ample opportunities to show his stuff.

You can't have a great field trial without great judges. The Championship was privileged and honored to have two well-respected bird dog men of the highest caliber adjudicate this contest. Mike Moses of Lake City, Florida, and Gary McKibben from Hernando, Mississippi, made the long trip to make the call.

George Cole and Faye Duncan were in the kitchen every day before daylight, preparing a delicious hot breakfast for everyone to enjoy. Ban and Allison Stewart served up some delicious lunches and a Saturday night wild game buffet that was superb. The venison tasted like filet mignon! Local musician Bill Brabham played guitar and sang everyone's favorites Saturday night. Steve Hutto was Johnny-on-the-spot with the dog wagon throughout the trial. "Hutto" always has a smile on his face and a funny story on his tongue. Brian Peterson and Lance Servais served as head marshals. A very special thank you goes out to Lawton Huggins for unselfishly stepping up when we needed help. Thank you, Lawton! The weather cooperated to the most extent. We got a brief rain one afternoon, but it did not cause any delay.

Claiming the Championship was Backcountry Bruiser, a 7-year-old male, white and orange English pointer. Bruiser was sired by the very well-known 14x Champion Erin's War Creek. Bruiser hunted intensely, in the front his entire hour. What impressed this writer most was that Bruiser never took the easy route and ran down a road. He was always in the cover hunting. He also seemed to adjust his range according to the terrain and thickness of the cover. He would reach far to the front in open country and then shorten up slightly in heavy cover, always responding to his handler. He scored five perfectly executed picturesque finds along the way and finished big, going just as strong as he had started. Excellent breeding, expert training, exceptional handling, and advantageous conditions all converged to produce a championship performance.

Backcountry Pure Gold was named runner-up champion. Although Gold only had one find, it was a doozy. It came halfway through her brace. Standing on a big covey, she was polished and solid as a rock. Her unrelenting front running pattern in the cone set her apart from several other dogs that also finished with bird work. Gold is not quite 3 years old yet, so she likely has a very bright future ahead of her!

Both the champion and runner-up champion are owned and handled by Chris Catanzarite of Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania. Interestingly, both dogs were whelped by Catanzarite's female, Backcountry Tornado. That has to make Chris very proud. What an accomplishment!
Other notable performances were rendered by Rester's Powered Up (Cecil Rester), Southern Shadows Wave (Lance Servais), Pineywoods Showstopper (Darron Hendley), and Electronic Warfare (Bucky Street). A big thank you goes out to all those who participated and helped out in this prestigious event!

Union Springs, Ala., January 11
Judges: Gary McKibben and Mike Moses
REGION 16 AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 35 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner-BACKCOUNTRY BRUISER, 1672645, pointer male, by Erin's War Creek-Backcountry Tornado. Chris Catanzarite, owner and handler.
Runner-Up-BACKCOUNTRY PURE GOLD, 1694791, pointer female, by Springflow's Backcountry P-Backcountry Tornado. Chris Catanzarite, owner and handler.