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Result: North Carolina Open Shooting Dog Championship

Location: Hoffman, North Carolina

Post Date: Jan 5, 2022

Submitted By: Dwight Smith


The Wnners. Front row: Matt Basilone and Steel City Alabama, and Ray Joye and Reedy Creek Dial Tone. Second row: Joe McHugh, Mike Tracy and Jack Kimbrell. Third row: Judges Ron Lambert and Alan York, Frankie Joyal and Sandra Stone. Back row: Gretchen Audsit, Alford Wood, Chris Joyal, and Maggie Maier.

HOFFMAN, N.C. -- Steel City Alabama captured the 2021 North Carolina Open Shooting Dog Championship with an outstanding ground effort and one find. He is owned by Bob and Karen Reed and was handled by Matt Basilone.

Judges Ron Lambert and Alan York also named Reedy Creek Dial Tone runner-up. He is owned by Joe McHugh and handled by Mike Tracy. Dial Tone was runner-up in this Championship in 2020 last March.

A disappointing entry of 27 pointers and setters was entered in the Championship with five professional handlers participating. Mike Tracy had fourteen entries and ran three byes.

Weather throughout the two and half days was very warm for mid-December with temperatures in the low 70s. Normal temperatures for mid-December are about 55 in Hoffman. Dry weather helped make scenting conditions, along with the abnormal high temperatures, horrible. At one point a fog moved in causing a three-hour delay in the running schedule.

The North Carolina Shooting Dog Championship is sponsored by the North Carolina Field Trial Association, of which Ray Joye is president. Enough good things cannot be said about Ray Joye. He is a man that fits the old saying "So well that he plays every part." He does it all including helping in the kitchen to leading the horses to the barn at the end of the day. He cares deeply for other people, dogs and horses and has a strong religious faith. And he is a great organizer as proven by this trial. Every detail was taken care of.

John Atkinson, Ray's neighbor in Marion, S. C., helped keep things on track.

Tim McClurg marshalled and helped take care of horses, and tried to make life more pleasant for the field trial party. Alford Wood, as usual, drove the dog truck, which was at the right place every time it was needed.

Gretchen Audit took care of the kitchen and food details. How did we ever do without her?

Some think the Robert Gordon grounds at Hoffman are among the best, if not the best, field trial courses in the United States. This reporter certainly thinks so. We owe all that to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission. The Commission, or really its employees, keeps order on the 6,000 plus acres of field trial area, plus at least 50,000 acres more in the Sandhill area. A great job they do. Lee Crisco is the local man on the ground. Lee reports to Brady Beck. What a team they are. Just one of the many things we need to be thankful for.

Enough quail were found during this event to hold a successful trial. When the hot, dry weather is considered, one should be happy with eight to ten coveys each day pointed by dogs. To use the words of Mike Tracy, "Quail are here, just in the pines right now."

Purina and the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority supported the Championship. Purina is kind of the foundation of support to trials these days, making it easier for trials to continue on during these difficult times.

The Richmond County Tourism Development Authority supports the quail release program at Robert Gordon.

Field trialers and other sportsmen can find anything they need in nearby Rockingham and Hamlet, just fourteen miles from the clubhouse.

Judges were Ron Lambert and Alan York. As the saying goes, "You can't do better than that." They are knowledgeable, but not overbearing, respectful, but not lenient, likeable but not too friendly and had high expectations, but not demanding. They were showed respect by all present. Judges are one of the main ingredients in a trial, Lambert and York did their part well.


Steel City Alabama, from this point on referred to as Alabama, drew the fourth brace of the Championship and ran on the fourth course of the Robert Gordon Field Trial Grounds on the first day of the trial and rendered a performance that was not exceeded by the 26 other pointers and setters.

Basilone started Alabama behind the horse barn out the old loop. The turn was made at Fire Tower Road. Alabama and Cheyenne Jack, Alabama's bracemate, were shown far ahead at the turn down the new loop.

Cheyenne Jack would later have two unproductive and be taken up.

Basilone and Alabama had the course by themselves after Jack's departure, and the Reed pointer took advantage of the situation. He reached far ahead in front before the creek crossing giving Mike Hester, Basilone's scout, little to do except to ride along on his handsome horse.

Just before the creek crossing Alabama was charged with an unproductive.

Basilone gathered everything up, Hester released the white and black pointer and Matt Basilone sent Alabama toward the road crossing. In the area along Sand Road, Basilone pointed out the pointer male standing in cover. Basilone flushed, quail flew, Alabama showed the proper manners after shot. This happened at about the 45-minute mark of the hour.

With no bracemate, Basilone gave Bama free reign, and he reached to the end of the long edges, appeared to be hunting, but found no more game before time was called. His finish was strong and to the front.

Reedy Creek Dial Tone earned runner-up champion laurels for his performance on the second day's running.

Tone was braced with Deer Field Game. The brace before ended prematurely, so part of course No. 5 and course No. 6 were used for Tone's and Game's hour.

They were released not far from the Bear Trap area, both hunting the long edges of the natural grass cover that looks so inviting to quail dogs, and to the human eye.

Both pointers applied themselves well, reaching to the hills ahead, both seemed to be hunting hard, but no game was found by Tone or Field, nor was any ridden up.

At the Field Trial Road crossing, Tracy and Basilone waited for the judges and gallery to arrive, then pointed out their respective entries far down the course.

Field drew first blood with a nice find before crossing Fire Tower Road -- beautifully handled as far as manners were concerned.

Heading into the Naked Creek country, both dogs were found standing, a pretty sight as Tracy and Basilone flushed a large covey of quail into the fading sun. Something to remember when one needs pleasant thoughts.

In the open pine and sedge country near Naked Creek, Tone ranged far ahead, showing in the right places, but wasn't able to score on game again. He made some really good ground moves in the plantation like countryside.

The hour ended near the old cemetery before the Bill Andrews' water hole. Tone had a stronger finish than Fields in this reporter's opinion.

Several other entries had acceptable performances and deserve mentioning.

Way Better Rocky might have had the best ground work of the trial, but his birdwork left something to be desired. A gallery favorite was Bittersweet. He had a good ground race and one find.

Deer Field Game had ample birdwork but didn't finish the hour as well as his bracemate. Armstrong Mr. Dusty had a pair of well handled finds, but he too could have had a better finish.

Matt Basilone probably had a great Christmas dinner with his owners. Karen and Bob Reed are Basilone's in-laws. Matt came to Hoffman fresh from where he placed first and second in an Open Shooting Dog stake in Tennessee.

Mike Tracy had taken both ends of the South Carolina Shooting Dog Championship before coming to the North Carolina Open Shooting Dog Championship.

Hoffman, N.C., December 16

Judges: Ron Lambert and Alan York


[One-Hour Heats] -- 24 Pointers and 3 Setters

Winner--STEEL CITY ALABAMA, 1656990, pointer male, by Jayhawk--Raising Hell. Karen & Bob Reed, owners; Matt Basilone, handler.

Runner-Up--REEDY CREEK DIAL TONE, 1673570, pointer male, by by Miller's Dialing In--White Diamond Sally. Joe McHugh, owner; Mike Tracy, handler.