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Result: Masters Open Quail Championship

Location: Ochlocknee, Georgia

Post Date: May 13, 2019

Submitted By: Andrew Campbell


Championship Winners. Front (l-r): Cody McLean with Touch's White Knight and Robin Gates with Shadow's Lord Magic. Behind: John Fuller, Patty Sanderson Ewer, Ginger Bippus, Judge Wallace Reichert, Mark McLean, Judge Terry Chastain, Sr., Woody Watson, Terry Wynn, Tim Moore, Maria Bassham and Jeff Arnold.
OCHLOCKNEE, GA. -- The Masters Open Quail Championship drew a field of 41 pointers and 1 setter for the historic 50th edition of the Championship contested March 6-9. The major departure from all the previous runnings of the Championship was that, due to extensive damage from Hurricane Michael in October, Blue Springs Plantation was unavailable -- necessitating a change of venue south to Burnt Branch Plantation outside Ochlocknee, Ga. The Southern Field Trial Club is hopeful that the legendary grounds at Blue Springs will recover and that this year was only a temporary interruption.

For those unfamiliar with Burnt Branch, its three one-hour courses host a number of smaller club trials in addition to the Black Belt All-Age, another National Championship qualifying trial. The first course runs on the parcel on the east side of Egg and Butter Road, the second two courses run on the west side.

Eddie Sholar, owner of Burnt Branch, and his manager, Greg Sheppard, deserve recognition for not merely providing a high quality venue at relatively short notice, but for their diligence and commitment to providing quality habitat for quail.

Judges Terry Chastain, Sr. of Thomasville, Ga., and Wallace Reichert of Whitesburg, Ga., are both seasoned bird dog men with extensive experience in the saddle all over the country. They have judged together numerous times, including the 2015 Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship. The club and handlers all appreciated their diligence, attention, and good humor while completing their task at hand.

After four days of competition, the judges awarded the Norman J. Ellis Memorial Trophy to Touch's White Knight, handled by Mark McLean and owned by Eddie and Carole Sholar of Leesburg, Ga. Shadow's Lord Magic, handled by Robin Gates and owned by Carl Bowman of Louisville, Ky., was proclaimed a worthy runner-up. This was a repeat win for White Knight, having won with a similar three-find performance on Blue Springs in 2016.

In addition to the winners, the judges also regarded the following performances as being worthy of particular highlight: Touch's Blue Moon (C. McLean) and Wild Hawk (Carlton).

The ongoing success of the Masters Quail Championship over the last 50 years has been made possible through the generous support of a number of national and local sponsors. On the national level, the Southern Field Trial Club is especially grateful to Greg Blair and Nestl Purina for coming on board anew to support the Championship, with John Rex Gates of Garmin-Tri-Tronics once again securing a Pro 550 system for the winning handler.

On the local level, the Southern Club thanks both Plantation Supply and Bennett Supply for supporting this year's event. In addition to a lunch for all in attendance sponsored by Purina and catered by Fallins Barbeque, hospitality was ably provided by Jerica Lovenburg.

While we missed seeing Eddie Lee of Blue Springs atop the tractor, dog wagon duties were provided by the capable Terry "Kojack" Wynn.


Touch's White Knight (McLean) came out of the ninth brace with Chinquapin Legacy (Ray Warren). With the previous brace picking up early, these two dogs were turned loose roughly 600 yards south of the entrance to the west side of the property, their first principal cast parallel to Egg and Butter Road for over a half-mile.

Both dogs moved down the left edge, up, over, and through the entry road and down toward the cover crop field in the northeast corner, moving smoothly ahead of their handlers. Just over the berm at the western end of the cover crop field, McLean called point for White Knight at 10 and then birds in the air. Although by the time the judges cleared the berm and could briefly glimpse through the trees below into the dip below, Legacy could also be seen milling around. By the time a conclusive view could be made of the scene, Legacy had taken himself on and White Knight was looking a little less intense. McLean, nonetheless, swung for the fences and immediately asked his dog to relocate, White Knight setting up barely three feet farther down the trail but still looking up into the thicket he'd initially set up in front of. To his credit, a single was produced from the tangled mass.

Taken on, and after a brief, affable conversation between the two handlers, Legacy was picked up at 12.

White Knight was sent on parallel to Willingham Road where he came to a head-high stop in a swale at 19, roughly fifty yards south of the roadside, looking up toward the band of adolescent pines -- a large covey flying hard across the red-dirt road. He swung wide past the swampy edge of the property known as Jurassic Park, before turning east with his handler, the judges greeted with the sight of him climbing up and over the easterly of the two hills. Swinging past the picnic stand toward the School Bus Corner, point was called at 31 by a member of the gallery who had looked back and made out White Knight's flagstaff tail sandwiched between two patches of young bamboo, the dog looking up into the southeasterly breeze. He was so hidden that judges and gallery were almost too tight on him when they stopped. When the first flushing effort and relocation immediately ahead of him proved fruitless, Judge Reichert realized that the gallery was impeding the dog's work at the same time that he heard the birds moving in the broad bamboo thicket behind him. With the area cleared out, the dog was free to come in and point, the covey scattered out ahead of him.

Through the School Bus corner, White Knight coursed down the left side but McLean was able to gather him through the next little chicane and send him out to the north, the dog appearing to the front moving fluidly atop one of the low ridges some minutes later. He turned eastward with his handler before the duck pond, appearing to have downshifted slightly around 49. As the course swung south parallel to Egg and Butter Road and passed below the entryway, McLean fired White Knight down the more-open mown strips nearest the roadside fence to show him finishing up going away with ease at the call of time.

Shadow's Lord Magic, with his proud owner Carl Bowman riding in the gallery, was drawn in the thirteenth brace with Dunn's True Issue (Luke Eisenhart) for the first course of the third morning -- already a little warmer than the previous two. Tommy Davis was scouting for Luke Eisenhart, and it was especially rewarding to see Hunter Gates scouting for his father this morning.

As the course followed the fenceline to the south, both dogs took advantage of the chute of piney woods that runs out to the southeast. The call of point came at 9, Lord Magic standing in a picturesque pocket of pines and broomsedge at the conclusion of what had been a half-mile cast down through the pines. A single got up as Gates walked in front, but at the shot at least another fifteen birds rippled out ahead of the dog. True Issue had made his way back out to his handler, and Gates elected to wait to rejoin the main party in the woods just beyond the pond and the picnic stand (rather than run his dog backward to turn him forward again).

They reunited at the cover crop field and dropped down through the chute into the backside of the property, both taking the upper grassy shoulder forward past the narrow tip of the big crop field. As the gallery climbed that shoulder, Lord Magic was down in the base of the far draw working fluidly across the slope, True Issue working ahead of his handler in respectable fashion. Point was called for Lord Magic at 27, three-quarters of the way up the southern edge of the next tongue of pines and grass, a covey of birds flushing ahead of him, a single flushing behind him at the shot. In the meantime, True Issue had taken the long outside edge of this tongue before being gathered up for the turn back to the southeast. Through the turn Lord Magic came to a stop once more at 30 beside a pine snapped at the waist some 25 yards off the big field edge, True Issue honoring with superb style and integrity. A mere single was flushed out of the brambles and grass -- and recognizing that, today, his dog was simply outmatched by his bracemate Eisenhart elected to pick up.

Reaching the top of the hill by the power lines, Lord Magic moved across the front edge of the next swampy bottom before turning up into the woods and out to the outer edge of the property. There was brief confusion after a muffled mistaken call of point, but after a little wrangling to get him through the next sharp turn north, he was set loose out along the final straightaway toward camp.

Roughly midway down, Gates called point at 56, then birds in the air, but unseen by either judge, but he elected to get in front of his dog and fire. Sent on to finish, Lord Magic disappeared out the very far end of this arm at the call of time, strong, fluid and determined.

The Running

Hendrix's Deacon Blue (Davis) and the only setter in this year's stake, Chief's Rising Sun (John Mathys), were loosed on a cool sunny morning. As the course headed south down the fenceline, both dogs briefly explored the wedge of pines on the left before swinging forward. They punched into the second patch of woods, the ground saturated, the soil dark and boggy, the gallery spattering each other as they passed through. Across the turn to the east, Rising Sun stayed high as the course entered the next patch of woods from the big crop field and wound below the shoulder of the hill, the call of point coming for the setter at 15. The dog was up in the remains of the outer milo strip and had clearly spun back into the northwesterly breeze, a small covey of birds rippling out ahead of the stylish dog. Blue, in the meantime, had worked the long damp draw on the left to come forward to the small cover crop field, both dogs coming together on the piney shoulder on the backside of the course. While Blue had not been seen since coming off the hilltop at the apex of the big crop field, Rising Sun was working systematically through the grassy cover in the final segment of woods before the turn-around. Coming back around to the fenceline before the power lines, Davis admitted he'd lost contact and asked for his retrieval device at 40. Rising Sun worked through the woods and under the power lines, handling kindly through the picnic stand turn. He appeared to make game out on the final shoulder of piney woods, but continued on. Having been taken over the big crop field, he finished going away down through the piney woods of the turn-around field.

Spencer's Ramblin Lawman (Small) and Great River Joe (Swearingen). Lawman was scheduled to be run by Fred Rayl, but he showed up looking like an extra from the Walking Dead, a flu virus having slammed him hard. Eric Small graciously agreed to run the dog at short notice. Turned loose on the second course, the dogs dropped over the first rise and down through the quagmire bottom, Lawman driving straight over the berm and stopping, looking into the battered remains of a millet patch at 2. All flushing and relocation efforts proved fruitless. Joe had swung out to the north through this first section before coming forward along a low ridge ahead of his handler. Leaving Jurassic Park behind, Joe moved nicely across the grassy apron below the second hill, Lawman unseen for awhile now. Joe crossed and took the long edge on the lower swampy side before swinging east up the face of the hill. Up over the shoulder, Small conceded that Lawman had given him the slip and asked for his retrieval unit. Down into the glade below the bull pasture, Joe swung out on the lower right edge into the culvert corner before swinging up the fenceline toward the tractor shed. Coming around the northwest corner of the pasture field, and without bird work to this point, Swearingen knew this was not his dog's strongest day and picked up at 34.

Game Wardon (Eisenhart) and Tee's Wild Man (Gates) were away just below the tractor shed. Both dogs swung wide and came around the long lower draw before climbing up through the gap to the cut into the long straightaway of the rifle range. Game Wardon drove down one of the long, mown paths and stopped roughly parallel with the covered bench-shooting stand at 9, looking into the grassy cover immediately in front of him. A single was flushed out of the grass ahead of him. Wild Man had come forward out on the right swampy edge, both dogs successfully navigating through the small chicane and up into School Bus Corner. Swinging through the turn back north toward the entry gate, both dogs made a respectable effort up over that rise. Game Wardon took the long milo edge on the right, Wild Man crossing out of the left side and, after getting a little hung up, also opted to tackle the long roadside edge. Making the turn west below Willingham Road, Game Wardon had dropped down into the promising swale on the left to work forward into the next major piney woods section, Wild Man the right edge before crossing the front where the stand of young charred pines begins along the roadside. Both dogs curved easterly and climbed the prominent draw between the two low hills on the backside, Game Wardon having downshifted slightly around 45. Through the School Bus Corner and around to the left, Game Wardon was still moving smoothly ahead with his handler, Wild Man gathered up from out on the edge of the deerstand field.

Touch's Malcolm Story (McLean) and Nonami's King's Ransom (Ray Pearce) were turned loose on the first course. At the first wedge of pines, King's Ransom arced out left while Malcolm pursued the sorghum and Japanese millet feed lines parallel to the fenceline. Malcolm came to a stop, head cranked high, tail ready to receive radio at 3, looking into the cover strip. All flushing and relocation efforts proved fruitless. Both dogs took the turn east at the far fenceline, moving easily down into the next wooded hollow. Over the cover crop field, King's Ransom had moved through the next chute into the backside. Malcolm had gone low and wide past the picnic stand before swinging forward to meet his handler at the cut-through. Both dogs passed into the turn-around tongue of woods with relative ease, Malcolm swinging wide out on the right side, King's Ransom the swampy edge on the inside of the turn. Both dogs continued moving smoothly through the next section of woods with the big crop field on the right and then under the power lines and across into the woods in southeastern corner of the property. Malcolm took the outside edge once more to turn west before dropping across the front and stopping at 46 in the far top corner of the pylon field, looking into the draw, King's Ransom backing nicely. This too proved to be a barren stand ending Malcolm's bid. Ransom finished in the final arm of piney woods before the parking area, still moving smoothly, but despite his effort without a find to his credit.

Shadow's Full Throttle (Gates) and Lester's Private Charter (McLean). Proud owners Bruce and Karen Norton were riding in support of Charter. The day had settled into whimsical breezes and bright blue skies. As one of the plantation managers in the gallery observed to nods of general agreement: "A good day to burn is a hard day to point birds." That had been most certainly true for the earlier braces. Through the first boggy dip and over the first little berm, Charter swung out wide to the north, coming forward through the pretty pine glades before crossing the course to punch forward across the foothill slopes to the east. As the gallery turned past Jurassic Park and up toward the second of the two hills, Charter was climbing the shoulder ahead. Full Throttle had barely been seen after crossing the first berm and Gates requested his retrieval unit at 23. As the gallery came over the first hill Charter was climbing across the face of the next slope, moving with purpose, before dropping into the woody draw leading to the culvert corner. Around the bull pasture Charter swung high and it took a little wrangling to bring him around to the north -- getting a little out of pocket, too, as the gallery proceeded down the shooting range. Through the cut into the School Bus Corner and along the lower edge of the deerstand field, he disappeared out the front. Time was called with the gallery roughly three-quarters of the way along that edge, the dog otherwise unseen. The call of point came at 1:09, the dog hidden by a large downed tree roughly 200 yards farther on through the next chute. An extensive flushing effort eventually produced a well-sheltered single, capping an athletic performance that just needed a slightly more mature pattern.

James Pond Bull (Watson) and Chinquapin Bill (Warren) broke away at the tramway of mowed strips headed north parallel to Egg and Butter Road. Both dogs moved smoothly up over the rise past the entryway and down toward the cover crop field, Bull taking the line all the way out to the far corner before swinging down the line of pines parallel to Willingham Road. Bull took that line for almost a half-mile before stopping at 17, looking out into the stand of fire-charred pines, Bill coming in to honor. Not looking as intense as he might usually, Watson promptly relocated him wondering if birds had perhaps left unseen as the handlers approached. Sadly this proved fruitless. Swinging past Jurassic Park on the River Road, both dogs coursed out front with purpose, although Bill got a little hung up as the course turned east to climb the northern of the two hills, but quickly identified the draw on the right as the most promising objective to climb forward. Over the hill past the picnic stand and down through the School Bus Corner, both dogs slipped out of view. By the time the gallery had come through the two small chicanes below the entryway at 50, both handlers requesting retrieval units.

The following morning, the seventh brace had Touch's Blue Moon (C. McLean) and Sandhill Trig (Small). Both dogs swung out to the left at the first wedge of pines, the scouts locating them together at 11 on the edge of the field in the final southeastern bay of the crop field, looking back up into a thicket of scrubby oak. The covey got up promptly as handlers walked in. In the cool air of the morning, steam could already be seen rising off dogs and horses alike, as the dogs were sent off into the woods past the picnic stand. Through the backside of the course, both dogs swung purposely forward on the right piney shoulder. But as the gallery passed over the crown of the ridge to head northeast into the next draw, the call of point came from Blue Moon's scout at 26 in the arm of woods on the southern edge of the big crop field. Blue Moon was roughly 100 yards down the arm looking into a broomsedge cover strip, a single bird scared up out of the tangled grass. In the meantime, Trig had moved smoothly down through the next draw and up into the turn-around tongue of woods out on the right. Both dogs moved smartly through the next section of woods along the edge of the crop field and under the power lines, an initial call of point from the right shoulder being waved off and the dogs taken on. Back under the power lines again and, after a little wrangling through the picnic stand turn, Blue Moon was sent out on the piney shoulder for the final three-quarters of a mile back toward the breakaway. Trig had not been seen for some time by this point and, in fact, would be declared lost at time. Blue Moon moving smoothly along the upper edge of the shoulder, the call of point came at its absolute culmination point at 59. The dog stood looking into the dense greenery at the head of the drainage barely 50 yards from the road. All flushing and relocation efforts proved unsuccessful, but the dog had given a valiant, noteworthy performance on a course that demanded handle as much as it gave a dog opportunities to stretch.

True Confidence (Eisenhart) and Shadow's Next Exit (Gates). Over the first berm and down through the boggy bottom, True Confidence was seen wide out on the right side arcing across the front. This section of the course allows some long views down through the mild rolling terraces on the northern side of the property. Down to the River Road and past Jurassic Park, True Confidence had been seen out wide on the inside of the turn, while Next Exit could be seen moving forward across the lower slopes of the second hill before climbing the left shoulder of that hill. The call of point for True Confidence came from deep in the woods behind the gallery, the dog ultimately located some 300 yards north of the pond dam and picnic stand after a couple of minutes of riding. He stood near the intersection of three paths at 22, underneath a single solitary oak, a small covey of birds flushed out ahead of him. Next Exit had climbed over the first summit of the far hill and come to a stop of his own at 26 out on the right side near a blown out stump. Gates approached, saw a large rattlesnake and delicately moved to collar his dog out of there, a covey of birds rising in the process. Next Exit, in his exuberance, ran through a second scattered covey on the downslope of the hill and did not stop in a sufficiently adequate manner with his handler ending his bid at 28. Through the culvert corner and around below the bull pasture, True Confidence took the long edge all the way around the lower drainage edge swinging forward with purpose toward the shooting range cut. He moved down through that long arm of pines and through the School Bus Corner, staying with the lower drainage edge on the left. Time expired with the gallery at the foot of the 20 acre crop field abutting Egg and Butter Road. Sadly, despite extensive searching, True Confidence could not be returned to judgment in time.

Chinquapin Legacy and Touch's White Knight were covered earlier.

Chinquapin Reward (Warren) and Simple Man (Swearingen) eschewed the first wedge of pines to the left and barrelled down the fenceline, digging into the second island of trees (parallel to "the field trial house" on the other side of the road). Coming through that slough, point was called at 9 in the next section of mowed feed strips, Reward pointing, Simple Man honoring with no less intensity, and a single prompted out of the grass ahead of them. Simple Man then took the long lower edge all the way out to the bottom corner where Touch's Blue Moon and Sandhill Trig had pointed, but intelligently went on after a flirtation with old scent. Down into the woods and into the back side, both dogs moved forward up on the piney shoulder. As the gallery crested out at the corner of the big crop field, Simple Man was moving along the next draw below before going through into the turn-around woods. Both dogs took a little management through the turn-around and out along the arm of the woods toward the boundary fenceline and the power lines. Simple Man cast nicely out on the long edge of the woods down to the draw below the power lines, stringing together a series of strong moves, without any semblance of fatigue. Reward had not been seen in awhile, although Warren said he was willing to point out his dog deep in the power line draw if the judges also thought the tiny speck of white was him. All three concurred it was not. But Reward, nonetheless, promptly showed in the woods in time to be gathered up and taken through the next cut beside the picnic stand. Both dogs powered down the final arm of piney woods and were directed to cross the big crop field and into the turn-around section of woods, where time would expire.

Showtime Mockingjay (Copeland) and Snapback (Shepard) were loosed from the entryway and dropped over the first berm and through the swale below, Snapback initially tackling the woods on the left before crossing the front and punching forward. Mockingjay went out deep on the right side, rolling over the series of undulating terraces, before taking the long damp edge of Jurassic Park forward. She stopped at 15 almost to the intersection where the course turned east, head high and tail tall, but all her style proved for naught. With Snapback tackling the draw on the left of the second hill and Mockingjay the shoulder on the right, both dogs climbed into the southwestern corner below the bull pasture, Mockingjay outpacing Snapback through the cut. Coming below the tractor shed, Snapback was moving with purpose along the lower ribbon of the draw, Mockingjay higher on the slope and slightly less fluid in this section. Down the shooting range Snapback established a solid, consistent ground race, casting hard out beyond the range backstop and appearing to hit the likely spots, but with no luck to this point. With both dogs needing a little wrangling to come through into the School Bus Corner, Snapback was fired down the lower drainage edge of the deerstand field and promptly stopped at 51. However, despite extensive flushing and relocation efforts, nothing could be produced for the stylish young dog. The call of time came with both dogs through the next chicane, both having worked hard but neither able to connect on a bird.

Ace's R Wild (McLean) was braced with the newly-minted National Champion, Dunn's Tried'n True (Eisenhart), the dogs loosed to the east up the edge of the large crop field, before turning north along the Egg and Butter Road boundary fence. Up the tramway, Eisenhart called point for Ace's at 5, standing in the second cover strip in from the road. Despite his certain style, all flushing and relocation efforts could not produce a bird. Both dogs motored over the rise past the entryway and then northwest down the edge of the corner crop field, True showing nicely ahead rolling through the low swells of piney woods. Maybe 100 yards farther south from where White Knight had his first find, Ace's stopped again at 20, looking into a tall cover strip of pearl millet and sorghum. This too proved barren, ending the dog's bid. Through the Jurassic Park corner True coursed up the draw between the two hills before arcing across the face of the slope and over the shoulder, looking remarkably strong and fluid for a dog that had won the equivalent of an ultra-marathon less than three weeks before. He moved smoothly through the chicane of the School Bus Corner, powering along the drainage to the left. By the time the gallery reached the duck pond to the northeast True had not been seen in some time and after another five minutes of searching Eisenhart came for his retrieval unit at 55.

Dunn's True Issue and Shadow's Lord Magic were previously covered.

No. 14. Wild Hawk (Carlton) and Touch's Smooth Operator (Furney) competed over the west side of the property. Both dogs cleared the muddy chute and swung wide out into the tongue of woods out to the northwest. Operator stayed wide over the next small ridge, moving easily through the grassy cover, Wild Hawk also showing nicely moving along the edge of a feed strip. Both dogs tackled the right side along the Jurassic Park swamp, Wild Hawk making a showy move up the left hand shoulder and across the face of the hill. Coming over the shoulder, both dogs pushed forward out through the draw ahead, Operator moving nicely on the left, Wild Hawk punching out over the small rise toward the culvert corner with ease and purpose. Coming down the shooting range, Smooth Operator out on the right side, Wild Hawk down on the lower left. Furney called point at 46, the dog standing just over the crown of the ridge and in the general vicinity of the range backstop. In the meantime, Carlton had also called point at 47, roughly 75 yards further downrange but on the opposite slope of the ridge. Sadly, for both dogs, despite their respective relocation efforts, no birds could be produced. At that point Furney elected to pick up his dog. Wild Hawk swung through the School Bus Corner and up the right side of the deerstand field. Time expired coming through the chute with the large crop field to the east, but with Wild Hawk still to be seen. The dog was located at the far eastern corner of the woods on the far side of the big crop field, perhaps some 50 yards in from Egg and Butter Road, the dog's fluid forward race capped with a solid covey find.

Erin's Longmire (Gates) and Dakota Nation (Davis) turned loose northward parallel to the Egg and Butter fenceline. Both dogs moved up over the hill and past the entryway and out the turn northwest at the crop field. Davis sent Dakota Nation out along the eastern edge all the way to its conclusion before turning it west in the wooded edge along Willingham Road. Uncharacteristically for either of them, both dogs seemed to struggle to simply punch out forward as they proceeded down through the glade with the stand of charred younger pines to their right. By the time the handlers had reached Jurassic Park at 20, Gates acknowledged this was not his dog's finest day and elected to pick up. In the meantime, Dakota Nation had taken the outer edge along the swampy edge before being turned up toward the hill climb. He climbed up the main draw and up over past the picnic stand, moving easily through the School Bus Corner and out along the right edge of the deerstand field. Once around that field and through the chicane, Davis determined that his dog was not eclipsing what was already in the book and picked up at 38.

Touch's Secret Agent (Furney) and Showtime Sam Houston (Copeland) broke out to the southeast through the first wedge of pines, Secret Agent coming back forward across the front edge of the woods to tackle the feed strips parallel to the fenceline, Sam Houston maintaining his cast out along the long lower edge of the woods. The dogs reunited in the woods section and swung up over the crest of the low roll and down along the lower woody draw, Secret Agent briefly mesmerized by a whisper of scent, but taking himself on smartly. Both dogs moved smoothly across the backside shoulder of pines and up over the rise where the big crop field corner comes in. Secret Agent was found just over the rise out toward the fenceline near a downed pine at 24, having turned back up into the southeasterly breeze. Unfortunately, all flushing and relocation efforts proved fruitless. Sam Houston had continued to move smoothly down through the next draw and into the turnaround woods, both reuniting at the cutback, Sam Houston running the lower edge of the draw, Secret Agent the outer cover edge bordering the big field. Nonetheless, after watering his dog in the trough at the corner of the crop field, Furney elected to pick up at 35. Sam Houston continued moving well back into the woods in the southeast corner, passing through into the picnic stand woods and down into the piney woods arcing back to the northwest toward the breakaway. He showed nicely along the long upper edge of the woods, dropping down to the obvious wooded draw near its conclusion. Despite his dog's strong, searching race, Copeland knew what he had to beat and elected to end the brace at 54.

No. 17 featured Erin's Wild Justice (Eisenhart) and Touch's Mega Mike (McLean), loosed on the second course. Both dogs punched over the first berm and down into the swampy bottom, Wild Justice then swinging out wide to the north before coming around to head west. Both dogs moved easily down through the rolling pine glades, the air at this point still. Onto the River Road toward Jurassic Park, Wild Justice turned east toward the two hills and then snapped into a contorted crouch beside a large spikey bamboo bush at 11, a bird leaving from the backside. In a testament to Bill Brown's comment in The Field Trial Primer (1934) that field trialing represented "a means of enjoying the great out-of-door sport of bird hunting in the most aesthetic fashion," Eisenhart elected to pick up his dog, even though it had committed no fault but had merely been caught out by conditions and bad luck. This is nonetheless class. In the meantime, Mega Mike had swung out through the lower shoulder before climbing the second hill. Up over the saddle on the western side, Mike came forward on the lower draw and went wide out toward the roadside edge past the culvert corner. Upon reaching the bottom corner of the cow pasture and fully aware of what had already run, McLean also opted to pick up at 32.

Aswum Country Justice (Eisenhart) and Seminole Boss (Furney) broke away on the low shoulder below the tractor shed. Into the shooting range, both dogs moved smoothly to the northwest, Boss the lower right edge along the draw, Country Justice tackling the top spine of the ridge, animated and snappy in his movement, appearing out on the face of the slope above the pond dam. Nevertheless, upon reaching the School Bus Corner, Furney made a realistic assessment of his dog's performance and elected to pick up at 17. Justice swung smoothly around the base of the deerstand field along the feed strips on the left side of the course and then through the cut below the big crop field that extends out to Egg and Butter Road. He stopped at 24 off the very northwest corner of that field, buried in a snarl of shoulder-high bramble bushes, looking taut and stylish, the decent-sized covey of birds lifting off easily at the handler's approach. Eisenhart knew what had already been accomplished and elected to pick up his dog on this high note.

On the final morning, the 19th brace was delayed by roughly 45 minutes due to fog. Mercer Mill Moon (Morton) and Touch's Red Rider (Eisenhart) swung out into the wedge of grass and pines on the left side, Moon taking the long edge out to the southeast, while Red Rider rejoined his handler at the second island of pines a quarter-mile farther down the fenceline. He came to a stop shortly at 9 shortly after leaving that second island of pines standing into the cover strip bordering the big field, the easterly wind coming over his back, a single bird ultimately flushed out of the grass off his back right leg. With Moon swinging around the long field edge and up into the swale near the picnic stand and Red Rider coming down the outside field edge, they reunited at the cut into the backside of the course and moved smoothly along the piney shoulder on the right. By the time the gallery had reached the top of the rise by the water trough, Moon was already moving along the draw below before moving out to the deep northeast corner. Red Rider had slipped through into the turn-around woods but was found at 29 in a tall, millet feedstrip on its back edge, another single bird flushed out ahead of the mannerly dog. Coming out of the turn-around and along the edge of the big crop field, Moon appeared to start hunting across the wind somewhat without the same forward punch he had shown. Morton elected to end his charge's bid at 34. For his part, Red Rider punched down the arm and out toward the fenceline and out toward the outer fenceline, coming to a stop of his own at 36, looking up into the wind. He stood in front of a small bare spot. Eisenhart flushed extensively ahead of him, including gracefully vaulting the high-tensile barbed wire fence to flush out into the glade of younger pines upwind but across the property boundary. After the dog initially refused to move on being asked to relocate, Eisenhart noticed a burrow in the dirt ahead of his dog and elected to take Red Rider on. He powered down through the clockwise turn to the west, running hard but handling kindly through the picnic stand turn and then punching out through the half-mile arm of woods toward the breakaway. Directed across the crop field to finish in the woods north of the turn-around, he continued to push out front seemingly undiminished. Time was called and the judges rode to the far corner in the hope of seeing the dog, Eisenhart riding frantically to produce his dog for their final view. Sadly, after what would have likely been a contending performance, Red Rider could not be returned to judgment. The true tragedy was that he was buried on point in a thicket in the draw directly below where the judges sat, invisible to them and the handler who had ridden through there at the call of time.

Touch's Wild Desire (Furney) had his owners John Fuller and Ginger Bippus riding in support and at the line with Touch's Gallatin Fire (McLean). Turned loose on the second course, Wild Desire immediately punched over the berm and out to the north along the boggy swale, Gallatin Fire cutting across the front a little sooner than his bracemate. Wild Desire was seen arcing out to the northwest out in the woods far ahead, while Gallatin Fire stopped at 11 immediately ahead of his handler atop the rise above where White Knight had had his first find, a handful of birds bursting out of the broomsedge at the very first flushing effort. While Gallatin Fire swung forward along the swampy edge of Jurassic Park, Wild Desire had seemingly lost contact with Furney out in the woods to the north. The retrieval unit was requested at 15. Fire turned up toward the second hillside, looping across without his customary punch. By the time the gallery reached the saddle of the hill out on the west side, Gallatin Fire was down at the cut through toward the culvert corner. McLean knew his young dog was not in contention, ending the brace at 26.

Lester's Georgia Time (Gates) and Mercer Mill Grand (Morton) were away below the cow pasture in the warm morning haze. Coming around the hill, Georgia Time swung wide and low around the edges of the draw, Grand a higher arc on the sloping shoulder. Into the shooting range, Grand was wide through the turn and worked along the draw on the right, coming to a stop on the shoulder at 21, standing tall, drawing in the scent that appeared to be directly ahead of him. Despite the dog's obvious appetite, all flushing and relocation efforts were fruitless and Morton picked up his dog. In the meantime, Georgia Time had taken the long lower edge past the backstop and out around the apron, coming through the cut into the School Bus Corner and along the edge of the deerstand field. Aware of what was already in the judges' books, Gates elected to pick up Georgia Time at the head of that field at 32, bringing this golden jubilee edition of one of the great championships to a close.

Ochlocknee, Ga., March 6

Judges: Terry Chastain, Sr. and Wallace Reichert

MASTERS OPEN QUAIL CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] -- 41 Pointers and 1 Setter

Winner--TOUCH'S WHITE KNIGHT, 1647849, pointer male, by Lance's Last Knight--Prairieland Lucy. Eddie Sholar, owner; Mark McLean, handler.

Runner-Up--SHADOW'S LORD MAGIC, 1668301, pointer male, by In The Shadow--Hello Kitty. Carl Bowman, owner; Robin Gates, handler.