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Result: Big Sky Field Trial Club

Location: Winnett, Montana

Post Date: Apr 16, 2021

Submitted By: David Huffine

Edge's Talus Ridge, a two-year-old white and orange pointer male, owned and handled by Gordon Jones of Draper, Utah, rendered a dominating performance to best a 25-dog field and take first place in the Sharptail Open Shooting Dog Classic held April 16 at the Joe King and Sons Ranch in Winnett, Mont.

Edge's Talus Ridge, First in the Sharptail Open Shooting Dog Classic

Second place was awarded to Sweet Grass Slim, two-year-old English setter male owned and handled by David Huffine of Wilmington, N. C. Third was Name Like Mike, two-year-old white and orange pointer male owned and handled by Mike Robbins of Draper, Utah.

The first and third place dogs are littermates by Dominator's American Rebel and Searching for a Rainbow which was surely a fine litter of pups.

The King Ranch is a scenic 11,000-acre cattle ranch, primarily vegetated with sagebrush and native grasses. The King family has ranched central Montana for six generations with four generations at the Winnett location. The ranch is protected by a conservation easement which should ensure that both habitat and the ranching lifestyle will be perpetuated.

Four species of game birds -- Hungarian partridge, pheasant, sharptail grouse and sage grouse -- are found on the ranch and all were located during the trial. Bird numbers were better than in recent years and most braces had adequate bird contact.

This year's trial produced additional logistical issues that were ably resolved by John McIltrot, field trial chairman, and Austin Turley, president of the Big Sky Field Trial Club. Camp was relocated approximately five miles southeast of the traditional site and six new, continuous courses were created. This was a significant task as parts of the ranch are interspersed with state and federal lands and the courses were designed to be totally within the King property. Most in attendance found the courses improved over prior years.

Sean Melvin, a professional trainer/handler from Garland, N. C., served as one of the judges for the Classic. John McIltrot added to his hat collection for the trial by serving as the second judge when the originally selected judge was unable to attend. Both judges have years of experience training and handling dogs in open stakes and both possess exceptional horsemanship necessary to properly observe big running dogs in open country.


The Classic began with Charlie Hustle, pointer male owned and handled by John Junilla, and Rebel Stoke, pointer male owned and handled by Marcos Puiggari, breaking away on course 1 in 27 weather. Both dogs moved well up and over the first rise with Rebel Stoke having the bigger and wider race. Marcos' dog had bird contact early but failed to stop on the flush and was harnessed. Charlie Hustle continued with a controlled and methodical race. He was found standing at 40 and birds were seen leaving in front of him. John flushed and the dog moved during his flushing attempt.

The second brace matched the second and third place dogs, Sweet Grass Slim and Name Like Mike. Both dogs went to the front early, showing good style and range. There was an abundance of birds on course No. 2 that morning. Mike had bird contact early with Slim backing twice. Slim followed with a find at 20. Both dogs continued a competitive race and both finished exceptionally well.

No. 3 matched the winner, Edge's Talus Ridge, with Ten Oaks Rosco, setter male owned and handled by Jeanette Heise. Gordy's dog (Tim) had a find early and then followed with finds at 14 and 18. His bird work was exceptional as was his race. His only flaw was when he was found standing at 24. Rosco failed to back and came in front of Gordy's dog. Jeanette collared her dog and Gordy opted to take an unproductive instead of attempting to relocate Tim. As he moved the collared dog to the front, the pointed bird flushed to the left. With 10 minutes to go, it appeared that Tim was shortening a bit but he gathered steam for the most impressive finish of the trial, showing in the bowl to the left at 600 yards or more. As time was called, the handler and scout rushed to locate Tim. He was seen on the horizon and returned to the handler with plenty of time to spare.

The final brace of the morning matched Edelman (PM/Jones) and Crazy Mountain Buck (ESM/Huffine). Edelman handled exceptionally well early and ran a great prairie shooting dog race. He had a find on Huns at 30 and thereafter was more difficult to control. Gordy ultimately called for the tracker. Buck produced a big but more reserved race. He was found standing in a draw at 36. The flushing attempt produced no birds but he relocated forty yards or more up the draw to secure the find. He finished acceptably but with no more bird contact.

CK Touchdown (VM) was scheduled to run in the fifth brace but his handler, Brian Gingrich, had a truck breakdown in Bozeman and scratched. Gingrich had a dog in the sixth brace that also was scratched. As a result, Jobar's Big Sky Pal (PM/Junilla) and Ten Oaks Cassandra (PF/Lou Qualtiere) were braced in the reconstituted fifth brace. Pal exhibited a modest race and produced a stop to flush at 39 and an unproductive at time. Lou's dog was found standing at 20 but moved during his flushing attempt and was up.

Gingrich had arrived by Saturday morning with brake issues resolved. His Vizsla male, C K Post Route, was braced with Austin Turley's pointer female Emmalita. Both dogs scorched the earth with big, wide ranging races. Brian's dog had unproductives at 24 and 52 and was up. Emma produced constant effort but went right on Austin early and he struggled to get her back to the front. She finished with a nice find at 50.

No. 7 paired Cap'n Sam (SM/Huffine) with Sunset Trails Locked N Loaded (VF/Gingrich). Sam broke away wide left and returned to the front with some difficulty. As the handler and judges topped the first hill, Sam was seen standing on the far side of a creek in the bottom below. The judge, handler and scout loped to the pointed dog. Huffine attempted to cross the creek with vertical banks and two feet of water to get to his dog. As the first attempt failed, Huffine tried to climb out of the creek where he was violently assaulted by his scout, Austin Turley, all of which was witnessed and filmed by Sean Melvin. He finally managed to cross but his flushing attempt produced no birds nor did a relocation. Turley took the dog to the front and finished the dog. Brian's dog scored a find on Huns which was her first broke find in a stake. Both dogs finished their hour.

Rambling Rivers Natural (PM/Gingrich) and Searching for a Rainbow (PM/Jones) rendered medium to long races and were stylish on the ground. Brian's dog had a find at 9 and divided stop to flushes at 29 and 38. Gordy's dog shared both stop to flushes and added a find at 49.

Burr Oaks Bam Bam (VM/Gingrich) and Touch's Malcolm Story ("Big") (PM/Alex Rickert) made up the ninth brace. Bam Bam was not showing his normal vigor and was up early. Big ran a wonderful race. He had a cow-related unproductive at 12 but was not able to produce any birds. Alex and Big made up for it two weeks later when Big won the All-Age stake at Reno, Nev., to secure Purina All-Age Dog of the Year honors. The Big Sky Field Trial Club is proud of the success of one of our favorite members.

No. 10: Touch's Katrina (PF/Turley) and CK Guy's Light My Fire (VF). "Kate" had a find at 22 after two relocations. She followed with two additional finds but suffered two unproductives which ended her day. "Flame" had a stop to flush at 20 but also suffered unproductives at 6 and 47 to finish her trial day.

Bangert's Red Baron (VM/Gingrich) and Touch's Hailstorm (PM/Rickert) broke away in the eleventh brace. Red had a modest race but no bird work. He finished his hour. Rickert's Bill toured the country showing a captivating all-age race. He handled early but Alex lost him left and called for the retrieval device at 30.

Winnett, Mont., April 16

Judges: John McIltrot and Sean Melvin


1st--EDGE'S TALUS RIDGE, 1691534, pointer male, by Dominator's American Rebel--Searchin For A Rainbow. Gordon Jones, owner and handler.

2d--SWEET GRASS SLIM, 1685332, setter male, by Sterlingworth Jack--Sandland Miracle Maggie. David Huffine, owner and handler.

3d--NAME LIKE MIKE, 1687329, pointer male, by Dominator's American Rebel--Searchin For A Rainbow. Gordon Jones, owner and handler.


First place in the Shooting Dog Derby was earned by Schadey Acres Piper, a white and orange setter female owned by Nicholas Schade of Salmon, Ida., and handled by John McIltrot. Piper had a good forward race but left little doubt about the outcome with two nice finds. The first was a broke find where she endured being circled by her bracemate and held after flush and shot by McIltrot. She was steady on the second find until her bracemate gave chase after which she was "Derby broke".

Shadey Acres Piper, Winner of the Open Derby and her owner, Nicholas Schade

Second was Southern Confidence, a handsome pointer male owned and handled by Frank LaNasa. Frank's dog was beautiful on the ground and finished with an aggressive, forward ground race, bird contact and two backs. Third was awarded to See Rock City (PF/McIltrot). "Roxy" ran a nice forward race and was exceptionally stylish on the ground.

Austin Turley and John Junnila judged the stake.

First in the All-Age Derby went to Touch's Amazing Greyce, a white and liver pointer female owned and handled by Austin Turley. Greyce had bird contact but secured her win by an all-age race that distinguished her from her competition.

Frank LaNasa secured the second and third placements with Lucky Man, a white and orange pointer male, and with Southern Confidence, also a white and orange pointer male.

Mike Robbins and Gordy Jones judged the all-age Derby.

Judges: John Junnila and Austin Turley

OPEN DERBY -- 19 Entries

1st--SCHADEY ACRES PIPER, 1685040, setter female, by Mesquite Ridge Kirk--Mesquite Ridge Liberty. Nicholas Schade, owner; John McIltrot, handler.

2d--SOUTHERN CONFIDENCE, 1690028, pointer male, by True Confidence--Southern Songbird. Frank LaNasa, owner and handler.

3d--SEE ROCK CITY, 1691577, pointer female, by Touch's Diamante--Emmalita. John Mciltrot, owner and handler.

Judges: Gordy Jones and Mike Robbins

OPEN DERBY -- 12 Pointers and 2 Setters

1st--TOUCH'S AMAZING GREYCE, 1693629, female, by Touch's Grey Street--Intentional. Austin Turley, owner and handler.

2d--LUCKY MAN, 1689632, pointer male, by True Confidence--Southern Songbird. Frank LaNasa, owner and handler.

3d--SOUTHERN CONFIDENCE, 1690028, pointer male, by True Confidence--Southern Songbird. Frank LaNasa, owner and handler.

Winners of the Open Derby


The Big Sky Field Trial Club is grateful to the King family for their exceptional generosity in sharing their ranch for the trial. It is such a wonderful experience to be able to ride and run dogs on such a beautiful, natural landscape.

John and Michelle McIltrot are the essential workers for the Winnett trial. John handled the difficult logistics of a trial at a remote and unimproved location. He provided water and portable toilets. He designed and marked the new courses. John marshalled, judged, provided horses to judges and guests and performed a myriad of other tasks. Michelle is always the backbone of the operational end of the trial, taking entries, preparing draws, ordering judges' gifts, securing lodging and transportation for judges, paying bills and filing reports.

Special thanks to John Lacey who drove the dog wagon for the first time and was always in the right place at the right time. It is a very important and difficult job in an area where roads and two tracks are rare.

We would also like to recognize some relative newcomers who joined us at Winnett. Ben DeJong, Connor Flanagan, Brad Passione and John Holt all made appearances at the trial and we all look forward to their future participation in our trials.