Result: Region 14 Amateur All-Age Classic
Location: Winnett, Montana
Post Date: Apr 19, 2021
Submitted By: Dave Noell
It turns out that the COVID-19 virus could delay the running of this trial but could not ultimately cancel it. The Region, along with help from the Big Sky Field Trial Club and a generous landowner, we were able to run the 2020 Championship this spring, outside of Winnett, Mont.
The area has some of the best terrain remaining anywhere to run pointing dogs on wild birds. It is largely rangeland, with many coulees, cut banks, hills, and basins. All covered in grass and sage brush. Four game birds find a home somewhere in the vast expanse. Sage grouse, sharptail grouse, pheasant, and Hungarian partridge were all encountered by the dogs during the trial.
This year the location of the trial was shifted to avoid running on any BLM land. During the organization of the trial, it became evident that to avoid any last-minute monkey wrenches, the trial should run on private land. Thus the camp was moved a few miles and new courses were determined. John McIlltrot did much of the work making this happen and we thank him for making it happen. The new courses and campsite are actually an improvement over the previous location.
There are a few unique challenges with running dogs in huge pastures. Most braces involve a deadhead to get to where the dog wagon is able to go. It is also challenging to drive a dog wagon without a grid work of roads. Jeanette Heise was able to get the wagon to the needed spot, at the needed times.
The weather during the trial was in a word, brutal. We awoke to a snow covered landscape each morning. It melted each day in the afternoon. The northerly wind was a constant along with lows in the 20s and highs in the low 30s. The very strong wind made getting crisp bird work difficult. Birds were jumpy and many of the pieces of bird work were stops to flushes or the birds flying quickly after a dog established point.
Consistent with the uncertainty of the past year, our judging situation was fluid. Brian Gingrich filled in at the last minute for John Neely, and he teamed with Lou Qualtiere to occupy the judicial saddles. They each watched and rode attentively during the trial. They both felt that there was no performance worthy of naming a champion. Accordingly, they withheld that placement and instead named three placements.
THE WINNERS AND OTHERS
This reporter apologizes for the lack of brace reports. I replaced a lost recorder with a new one and have yet to learn how to properly use it.
The judges determined that there was not a performance meeting an all-age championship level. Thus they deemed it a classic and named three placements.
The dog placed first was Name Like Mike. He is owned and handled by Mike Robbins. Mike hales from Utah and always brings excellent dogs to the line. Name Like Mike scored one find during his run. As was so common during the trial, the bird left very quickly after being pointed. One judge had the vantage point to see that the dog pointed before the birds decided to flush. For the first half of the brace, we were going into a strong head wind. This likely was a factor in the dog's pattern. He ran a back and forth shooting dog race during this time. When the course made the turn and then ran downwind, we got to witness a powerful all age race. He was seen sparingly, always distant, holding the front. Had his first thirty minutes been close to the closing thirty minutes, it was a championship level performance.
The dog given the second placement is Touch's J Class, owned and handled by Austin Turley from Molt, Montana. Every dog Austin enters into a trial is a potential winner. J Class started very strongly, all age in every regard. The first fifteen to twenty minutes were a beautiful sight, made more interesting when two ravens decided to follow her like a drone. Her bird work was credited as a stop to flush. As was the norm during the trial, the birds were seen in the air before the dog could be seen on point. When the course turned into the wind, her pattern became more ragged. She hunted across the wind, which made her less forward and more lateral. She had to be ridden for a few times to get her back to the front.
The dog named for the final placement was R C's Bobtail, owned and handled by Mike Matthews who made the trip from Idaho. Bobtail had the nicest defined find during the trial. At about the 12-minute mark Mike called point for his dog, standing in the botttom of a long valley. A pheasant was flushed ahead of Bobtail, his manners perfect. For the first half of the hour, Bobtail's ground race was an easy handling shooting dog race. He became stronger during the hour, making several nice moves.
There were a couple of other dogs that deserve some mention. Edge's Talus Ridge owned by Gordy Jones and handled by Mike Robbins. Talus Ridge ran a strong all age race for the entire hour. He had a defined find, where point was called. But, he took several steps at the shot, stopping after a caution from Mike Robbins.
The other dog deserving a mention is True Confidence, owned and handled by Frank LaNasa of Isanti, Minn. All that was missing from this performance was any bird work. The ground race was consistently strong and forward for the entire hour. Again, a fine performance missing one needed component.
Winnett, Mont., April 19
Judges: Brian Gingrich and Lou Qualtiere
REGION 14 AMATEUR ALL-AGE CLASSIC [One Hour Heats] --
12 Pointers and 2 Setters
1st--NAME LIKE MIKE, 1687329 pointer male by Dominator's American Rebel--Searchin for a Rainbow. Mike Robbins, owner and handler.
2d--TOUCH'S J CLASS, 1650430 pointer female by Touch's White Out--Touch's Maswood Anne. Austin Turley, owner and handler.
3rd--R C'S BOBTAIL, 1661790 pointer male, White Powder Grip--Rivertons Funseeker Riley. Mike Matthews, owner and handler.