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Result: United States Open Chicken Championship

Location: Mobridge, South Dakota

Post Date: Sep 20, 2019

Submitted By: Claudia McNamee


U. S. Chicken Championship Winners. From front left: Mercer Mill Grand with John David Smith and Wild Hawk with Jamie Daniels. Standing: Charles Morton, Patrick Flanagan, Ryan Mulcahy, Billy Wayne Morton, Ben Stringer, Joe Rentz and Ross Leonard, the judges; Claudia McNamee, reporter; Gary Futch, Sean Derrig, Pat Sheehan, Judd Carlton, Will Dunn, Luke Eisenhart, Ryleigh and Laura Graham, Frank LaNasa and Tommy Davis. [Photo by Chris Mathan]
MOBRIDGE, S. D. -- Mobridge, S. D.--The 2019 United States Open Chicken Championship and companion Open Derby began Saturday, August 24, and concluded Tuesday, August 27, followed by a well-attended landowner-handler-sponsor dinner at the Windjammer Restaurant.

The three continuous courses are charted out on ranch and farm land owned by five different families. Without the support of these landowners, this Championship would not be possible, and we are forever grateful and appreciative for their commitment each year.

It takes an organized team to prepare and orchestrate these events and big thanks to Doug Reisner for driving the dog wagon, Scott Jordan, Betty Shearouse, Frank LaNasa, Garland and Kathy Priddy, Lee Phillips, Jamie Daniels, and Judd Carlton for helping with assembling temporary horse pens, water provisions, dog wagon driving, daily lunch preparation, gate opening/ closing, and marshalling, and Chris Mathan for her professional photography.

Three local businesses -- Western Rancher, Ace Hardware and Runnings -- provided gift certificates to the winners, joining larger national sponsors Purina, Garmin, and Outdoor Dog Supply.

The judges were Joe Rentz of Brooks, Ga., and Ross Leonard of Chatsworth, Ga. Both have broad experience in field trialing and bird hunting, and were well-qualified to observe and place judgment on the 22 Derbies and 34 all-age dogs participating in this renewal. Always maintaining a professional observance, they were quite impressed with both the younger upcoming talent and the more experienced contenders.

The grounds were in good condition after an unusually wet year -- record breaking snowfalls followed by a wet spring and continued rainfall throughout the summer produced a lot of cover. Some areas had less cover due to a hail storm the week before, but birds had returned for the start of the Derby. Overall, bird counts were average but more evenly found on courses No. 1 and No. 2 than on course No. 3. Course No. 1 produced the most finds (6) during the Derby and course No. 2 produced the most during the All-Age Stake (5).


Named champion was Mercer Mill Grand, six-year-old white and lemon pointer male (House's White Hawk-- Quinton's Blackeyed Sue). Handled by Billy Wayne Morton, scouted by John David Smith, and owned by Remy Trafelet of Oakfield, Ga., Grand had three solid bird finds consistently spaced out throughout the hour, handled well, and ran a consistently strong, forward race. All components worthy of the champion title. Grand's second find was particularly formidable when he was found standing in the middle of a covey of chickens and never as much as flinched when handler put birds up.

Earning runner-up was Wild Hawk, three-year-old white and orange pointer male (Whippoorwill Wild Agin--Sparrowhawk). Handled by Judd Carlton, scouted by Jamie Daniels, and owned by Mike Moses of Lake City, Fla., Wild Hawk had a single find halfway through the hour with birds taking flight as handler approached him to flush. Callname Rock, he kept steady and rock-solid on the hillside defying wind gusts up to 30 mph. Never deterred, Rock gathered strength throughout the hour and steadfastly hunted and ran with the wind to finish through a herd of cattle across the top of a hill at the 60-minute mark.

In addition to named winners, the judges considered five other dogs to have champion-quality ground races worthy of mention. In order of brace running, these dogs included: Touch's Red Rider (Eisenhart); Miller's Blindsider (Daniels); Erin's Hidden Shamrock (Derrig); Just Watch (Daniels) and True Confidence (Eisenhart).


On Saturday, August 24, 22 dogs competed in the Derby under cloudy skies and temperatures between 68 -72 . A steady south wind blew at about 15-20 mph.

The judges were impressed with the performances of these young contenders and excited to see such a strong roster.

Daniels Kennels, with Jamie Daniels handling and Judd Carlton scouting, swept the stake with three well-deserving pointer males.

First place Dominator's Bull Market Bud ran a strong race in the second brace of the morning. On his single find, Bud showed poise and determination as his handler relocated him several times. Bud continued along a straight line and into the wind, leading his handler to a single prairie chicken that was flushed successfully at 25. Bud then went on to finish forward in a commendable all-age manner.

Second place was claimed by Rebel Cause in the fourth brace of the morning with two finds, both within the first 15 minutes. Fancy running with a forward race, Cause rolled on through the country to finish strong. Third place was awarded to Just Say When which ran in the first brace of the day. He broke away strong, ran an impressive race and had one find at 18.

Mobridge, S. D., August 24

Judges: Ross Leonard and Joe Rentz

OPEN DERBY -- 21 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st--DOMINATOR'S BULL MARKET BUD, 1684443, pointer male, by Just Watch--Erin's Galway Girl. Jim & Bill Hamilton, Field Norris & David Raines, owners; Jamie Daniels, handler.

2d--REBEL CAUSE, 1686084, pointer male, by Dominator's Rebel Heir--Rebel Maiden. David & Angie Williams, owners; Jamie Daniels, handler.

3d--JUST SAY WHEN, 1681063, pointer male, by Just Watch--Erin's Galway Girl. Jack & Tracy Haines, owners; Jamie Daniels, handler.


Dominator's Bull Market Bud First in the Open Derby


The Chicken Championship began on Sunday, August 25, and was completed on Tuesday, August 27. Thirty-four dogs competed, each morning beginning at 7:30 a. m.

The champion and runner-up came out of the 14th and 15th braces, respectively, on the final afternoon of the trial.

Windy conditions, fluctuating temperatures, and bird-skittishness over the three days challenged all contenders but also allowed for winners to clearly differentiate themselves.

Opening day began under overcast skies, light southeast wind and temperatures in low 70s. By afternoon cloud cover was gone, the wind continued and hotter temperatures climbed into the 80s.

Touch's Red Rider (Eisenhart) and Erin's Battle Cry (Daniels). At 3 Battle Cry went on point and Red Rider backed, both dogs staunch with Battle Cry looking confident in his find. Red was moved on by Eisenhart as Daniels relocated Battle Cry; no birds were put to flight. At 8 the dogs were found standing facing one another; handlers were decisive and moved them both on. Both dogs rendered strong, forward all-age races but bird-finding was a challenge. Battle Cry pointed again at 48 and after several relocations a single bird was flushed. Battle Cry pointed at 57 but for a second time no bird find was counted. Red continued through his hour with an all-age worthy race, forward and determined in the hunt, but did not have any bird work.

Erin's Wild Justice (Eisenhart) and Erin's Redrum (Derrig). At 34 Wild

Justice pointed but handler didn't produce birds. There were no other potential contacts for Justice and Eisenhart picked him up at 46. Redrum ran a respectable forward race, finding a covey of five birds at 45 and finishing strong.

Outer Limit (Priddy) was the only other dog besides Redrum which had bird work and finished the hour on the first day of running. At 26 he pointed a covey of five chickens and finished close to headquarters. He ran a good all-age race, toughing out the heat and wind. Erin's Lone Star Law was picked up by Derrig at 40 with no bird work.

No. 4 had Erin's Blew By You (Derrig) and Miller's Blindsider (Daniels). Blew By You, one of only three setters in this stake, was a little too eager on his first find and picked up at 40. Blindsider impressed the judges with his strong all-age race, rolling through the country the entire hour but unfortunately had no bird work. He and Touch's Red Rider, which ran in the morning, had similar strong, forward ground performances, just needed some birds.

Cold Creek Buck (Hicks) and Hendrix's Deacon Blue (Davis). This second afternoon brace was met with rising temperatures, little air movement and thick cover which made race and bird work especially challenging. Both handlers picked their dogs up early.

Erin's Copper River (Daniels) and Dakota Nation (Eisenhart) were also picked up early by their handlers.

Neither was on the ground more than 30 minutes.

Day No. 2 began and continued under cooler conditions than the previous first day of running. High cloud cover, northwesterly wind gusting 15-20 mph and temperatures reaching the high 60s. Clouds gave way to sunny skies in the afternoon.

Upper Limit (Priddy) and Hendrix's Touch Up (Carlton) headed into a steady wind that proved challenging. Both dogs pointed, Upper Limit once and Touch Up twice, but neither produced birds and by 30 handlers picked them up.

Miller's Dialing In (Eisenhart) and Miller's Bushwacker (Daniels). The second brace of the morning continued in much the same way as the first.

Neither dog finished the hour. Eisenhart picked "Spec" up early and Bushwacker went off course, concluding this running in the first 15 minutes.

Awsum Country Justice (Eisenhart) and Dominator's Rebel Squire (Daniels). The third brace of the morning let loose at 8:50 a. m. and concluded 34 minutes later. Gusting winds continued to be extremely challenging for both young and experienced dogs. Country Justice had one find at 15 but judge did not see the bird take flight and by 30 was picked up by handler. Rebel Squire didn't have any bird work and didn't finish the hour.

By 9:30 a. m. the first three braces of the day concluded and participants returned to headquarters. Trial officials decided to begin the afternoon braces at 10:45 a. m. because of forecast for increasing wind later in the day.

Shearjoy's Unforgiven (Davis) and Erin's Hidden Shamrock (Derrig). These two bracemates were the other two of three setters running in the stake and outperformed earlier contenders this day on the ground, but neither had any bird work. Davis handled "Will" with ease as he ran a smooth all-age race and hunted intensely. Hidden Shamrock ran a true all-age race in spite of the wind -- always forward, hunting patterns strong and finishing big.

Dominator's Rebel Patch (Daniels) and Dunn's True Rendition (Eisenhart) had strong breakaways. At 10 Patch was found standing on course far to the right and handler produced birds. Then catching the front, several stops to flush

occurred on large coveys -- plenty of birds under cover! Meanwhile, True ran a respectable all-age race but had no bird work. As we approached the alfalfa field both dogs hooked right along gravel road out of sight and handlers hustled to get them back. Neither dog finished the hour.

Dogwood Bill (Daniels) and Jumpstart (LaNasa). This brace showcased two young dogs that encountered the most birds of the trial but neither finished the hour. This third course runs through the hay ground field and on this afternoon was abundant with prairie chickens. At 7 Bill looked staunch on point but no bird lifted. Then Bill had a stop to flush at 12 where seven or eight birds flew. Jumpstart had one find at 10 followed by handler raising his hat several more times but then waving off because dog self-relocated. Wind was increasingly gusty and bird scenting seemed erratic and jumpy. Both handlers picked up their dogs at 30. [Dogwood Bill had an impressive Derby season in 2018-2019, winning the Continental Derby Championship and the Purina Derby of the Year Award.]

Day No. 3 offered much cooler temperatures, in the 50s, with a northwest wind gusting up to 30 mph. The wind was a significant challenge on this last day; however, this final morning produced both champion and runner-up, as well as two other winner-worthy races!

Just Watch (Daniels) rendered a formidable all-age performance on the ground but didn't have bird work to stay in contention. His first point at 20 resulted as an unproductive. The second point call occurred when handler/scout team rode to gather Just Watch at pickup time; judges quickly followed but unfortunately ended with a second unproductive. Bittersweet War Paint also showed a promising ground race early but went laterally off course and Eisenhart picked him up at 30.

Mercer Mill Grand (Billy Wayne Morton) had three solid bird finds and a consistently strong and forward race, all components worthy of the champion title. Morton called point the first time at 29 with two birds flushed. Grand's second find was at 39 where he was standing in the middle of a covey, never flinching as handler put birds up. His third and final find was at 49. Clearly at this point in the trial we finally had a champion contender with both race and bird work! Dunn's True Issue (Eisenhart) gathered more and more strength the longer he was on the ground. Issue finished the hour when many contenders did not but didn't have any bird work. His owner (McNamee), watching intently, was very proud with her second year dog's performance, all things considered!

Dunn's Tried'n True (Eisenhart) and Wild Hawk (Carlton) broke away with strength and drive. This brace actually presented the most significant wind factor challenge but also gave us our runner-up Wild Hawk. Tried'n True ran his signature all-age race in the first 30 minutes but had no bird work. At halftime he was off course and handler gathered him and picked up. Wild Hawk had a single find at 28 with birds taking flight before handler could flush. "Rock" kept steady and rock-solid on the hillside defying the wind gusts up to 30 mph. From this point, the only people who continued to ride were handler Carlton, Judge Ross Leonard and the reporter (McNamee), course marshal Scott Jordan and Billy Wayne Morton. Everyone else took cover at headquarters as we continued on for remainder of the hour. And what an admirable performance we witnessed. Never deterred, Rock steadfastly ran and hunted through and with the wind to finish across the top of a hill at the 60-minute mark.

Dominator's Rebel Heir (Daniels) and True Confidence (Eisenhart) are no strangers to champion-quality performances but bird-finding continued to be difficult in the afternoon of the final day. Rebel Heir went on point at 4 quite deep to the right on this second course. By the time handler reached his position, birds had probably left because relocation failed to produce a bird, an unproductive here. In the meantime, True Confidence rimmed the hills and rolled through the country with the grace he's best known for but with no bird work he wasn't in contention for the title. Among the best ground performances of the trial. Rebel Heir continued to run a strong race but was out of sight a little too long.

Hendrix's Copperline (Davis) ran a moderate all-age race and had no bird work. Handler picked him up at 15. Strut Nation (Jordan) ran a strong, forward all-age race but didn't have any bird work either. Handler asked for retrieval device at 54.


31 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner--Mercer Mill Grand, 1656994, pointer male, by House's White Hawk--Quinton's Blackeyed Sue. Remy Trafelet, owner; Billy Wayne Morton, handler.

Runner-Up--Wild Hawk, 1666142, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin--Sparrowhawk. Mike Moses, owner; Judd Carlton, handler.