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Result: Continental Derby Championship

Location: Greenville, Florida

Post Date: Mar 18, 2024

Submitted By: Jason Williams

Continental Derby WinnersS24

Continental Derby Championship Winners (l-r): Luke Eisenhart and Judd Carlton with Rampage and Lee Phillips and James Daniels with T S Coal Train, joined by participants.

The 2024 edition of the time-honored Continental Derby Championship was competed at Livingston Place on January 15-16. Nineteen young Pointers and Setters competed. This is a shorter entry than some years, but the quality of the entrants was wonderful. All dogs entered were capable and ready to compete at this high level.

These grounds, near Greenville, Florida, provide the very best wild Bobwhite quail country available to bird dog field trials today. Over 9,000 acres of carefully groomed grounds with copious numbers of birds are available. Multiple finds by the contesting dogs, and many more coveys ridden up by gallery and scouts are a testament to the plantation and the crew. Manager Randy Floyd has worked here for 32 years and knows every inch of the place. He has done a remarkable job here, and it's easy to see. But sometimes "easy to see" gets confused with "easy to do" and managing this place can be challenging but Randy makes it all good. John McCormick is the assistant manager. John's been here 10 years and everyday management of the woods is his job. He and his crew of Ben Melvin and Vince Little start in September with chopping, and they're done by hunting season, which is a monumental job. They begin next year's preparation before the hunting season is over this year.

When Tall Timbers took over Dixie Plantation 10 years ago, Clay Sisson, the head of The Albany Quail Project, began his work with Randy and his crew, and the results were amazing. The cover is more conducive for the quail; half-day hunts now move over 25 coveys of birds. God made a few places on earth so people could enjoy wild quail, and this is one of them. Thanks to Tall Timbers and Randy and his crew, the best bird dogs in America get to compete on the best grounds available.

With all that being said, this is not an easy place to win. The country is big with a lot of briars and sticks, and the whole place is roller-chopped. Every time a dog's foot hits the ground, something is there to stick in it and the briars are gonna beat him up too. If a dog can win here in the Derby or the All-Age, he's a dog that should breed on and improve the breed. The trials here have helped improve field trials and hunting dogs for several generations. We should never forget that field trials began to improve the dogs, both trial dogs and hunting dogs. A person can have great grounds with lots of birds, but without great bird dogs, the entire hunting experience suffers greatly.

Lunches are available each day in the commissary, and Gloria Hagen is the ramrod here. Gloria's family has been here for several generations; she's a permanent fixture. Ronnie and Theresa Kunkle helped out in the kitchen and everywhere else they were needed, a true asset to the crew. Carol Whitney is a newcomer to the place, and she was there every day as well to help in a very courteous way.

A good dog wagon commander is needed for this place, and Til Hankley is the best. Til is always cheerful, prompt, and in the right place. Good job, buddy.
There is always a good gallery and visitors to the Continental Trials; this year was no exception. Everybody likes Florida weather, horses, and dogs. Alex Mauck, Jim Michaletz, L. J. Lundstrom, Patty Ewer, and friends Mike Sweet, Rita Corder, John Mathys, Jason Sanders, and many more were riding for their dogs or just riding to enjoy the trial.
Larron Copeland of Bronwood, Georgia, and Jeff Gibbons filled the judicial saddles this year, and they set a good pace, did not chase the handlers, and let the handlers show their dogs. Both of these men are players of the game, not fans. There is a huge difference.
This Championship was sponsored by Purina Pro Plan and Ag-Pro Equipment. We thank them for their generous contributions.

Of the 19 dogs, there were 11 handlers, 10 pros, and two amateurs. The professional dog trainer has had a tough time the last few years, but he will make it. When I looked up at the handlers' parking lot, I thought of the motto J. Brady Porter used in the Field: "Only the strong survive."
I read something a while back, and this lady said she would like to be good enough in her field and that when she showed up to compete, she wouldn't have to introduce herself. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you win major field trial championships, and your peers and admirers of the game will give you due respect. The men who make a living in this field are to be commended for their efforts.

The Winners and Others
Rampage, a pointer male owned by S. Tucker Johnson of Hobe Sound, Florida, and handled by Luke Eisenhart, was named champion. Rampage was turned loose in the first brace of the second morning, and he put on a show. His first find was near Cindy's Oak on scattered singles, pretty. Sandhill Ike, a pointer male owned by Bob Lanier and handled by Jerry Raynor, was standing out in the field backing on his own. Rampage had a second find a couple of minutes later near bee hives, another single. It had rained all night, and birds were likely scattered by the rain. Ike had an unproductive nearby and caught up with Eisenhart's dog before creek crossing. Ike had his first find behind the office, broke. He had another find after Cadillac Pond just to the right of the course. While Ike was pointing birds, Rampage was running a good race and showed up way in the front before Cadillac Pond. Both dogs were running good, independent races. In the Chimney woods before the Main House, Ike and Rampage had a covey apiece; real nice work for both. With just a few minutes to go, they went to the front and had to be ridden for at pickup.

T S Coal Train, a pointer male owned by Dr. Ron Deal of Macon, Georgia, and handled by Lee Phillips, was awarded runner-up. Turned loose in the second brace after lunch, he made a couple of nice casts and was found by scout Mark Henly south of Gene Field, a good covey produced by Phillips. Coal Train caught up to the front and had its second find at the far end of the Y-field, another good one. He was going pretty deep to the front all the time and then was found by the handler by the ditch in front of the Main House hay field, birds right in front of his nose. He made a good cast here up to the Main Road and jumped the road here and was out of pocket for a few minutes. Dog, handler, and scout caught up by the Flat Pond. He jumped in the water trough and went out to the end of the field here. When pickup was called, he was seen going over the big hill to the river.

These three dogs were the top dogs, in my opinion, and the dogs, handlers, scouts, and judges did a fantastic job. There could have been 60 dogs, which probably wouldn't have been beaten, high-class stake.

The Running
Nonami's Smokin Joe and CKC Gun Runner were in the first brace, with Cody Mclean and Judd Carlton handling. Both dogs had credible races, with three finds and two finds, respectively. Both dogs finished strong.

Steen's Hurricane Murphy, a setter male, and Jamie Daniels were in the second brace with T S Jet Airliner and Mark Henley. They both had several pieces of birdwork, though some were not always clearly defined. Both were busy and pretty running, too.

Erin's Happy Hour (Carlton) and Game Star (Corder) were next, and they put on a pretty good show. Happy Hour had a really nice limb find but two unproductives had him on the rope.

Game Star was pretty on the ground and busy, too. Her second find after pickup was one of the best finds of the stake.

Haney's Easy Money (Mark Mclean) was in the first brace after lunch and was lost early. Erin's Bright Lights (Carlton) had a good find, but his race shortened, and he was on the wagon at 39.

Woodville's Long Hard Ride (Mclean) pointed birds just past Esquire's Hill; all was orderly. He finished the hour braced with Coal Train and was strong throughout.

Lester's War Bird (Daniels) had a mannerly back but ran out of gas. Haney's Southern Angel (Carlton) had a find with a really pretty relocation. Judd flushed, and he sent her to relocate. She just went right to the birds and made it look easy, very nice.

Rampage and Sandhill Ike have already been described in the seventh brace.

Blackhawk Lucky Charm (Allen Vincent) had a find and an unproductive but did not finish. Mayhaw's Georgia Time (Trey Mills) had an unproductive and good race. These are very nice females that should have a good future.

Comanche (Eisenhart) had an unproductive and was up early, not beating the winners. Haney's Last Call (Cagle) was lost to the front, as were handler and scout.

Lester's Front Porch (Daniels) was pretty and busy but had no bracemate to help him run. He was withdrawn at 20.

Overall, this was a high-quality stake. I didn't see one dog that shouldn't have entered. They were all classy and pretty, and all the hard work had been done. They were forward and broke on their game. It was a testament to their trainers.

Greenville, Fla., January 15
Judges: Larron Copeland and Jeff Gibbons
CONTINENTAL DERBY CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 18 Pointers and 1 Setter

Winner-RAMPAGE, 1705323, pointer male, by Touch's Red Rider-Southpoint's Dixie Chick. S. Tucker Johnson, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.
Runner-Up-T S COAL TRAIN, 1704657, pointer male, by Touch's Mega Mike-T S Dial Again. Dr. Ron Deal, owner; Lee Phillips, handler.

Continental Derby EmployeesS24

Livingston Place employees: Ben Melvin, Vince Little, and John McCormick.