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Result: 2023 Continental Derby Championship

Location: Greenville, Florida

Post Date: Mar 28, 2023

Submitted By: Steve Standley and Tim Moore

Continental Derby winnersS23-

Champion Nighthawk's Rebel, posed by Luke Eisenhart and Jamie Daniels, Haney's All In, posed by scout Stegan Smith with Mark McLean, and Judges Lamar Childers and Mike Jackson, surrounded by friends and supporters.

The Continental Derby Championship began at Livingston Place on its traditional January 16 starting date. The grounds were impeccable with their mix of open fields and areas of woods. Most people know the history of this place, long called Dixie Plantation. The glory of this important venue stand stands on its own. This wonderful place has been evolving since the late 1930s, and it continues to do so. The grounds continue to be more remarkable each year. Also, and most significantly, the wild bird population continues to achieve incredible "birds per acre" stats, as evidenced by Tall Timbers' research and observation during quail hunts.

Clay Sisson, Director of Research at Livingston Place, brings his biologists, technicians, and interns to these vast acres to apply science in the field. This writer has been reporting two trials a year on this property for years, and the positive changes are a true joy to witness. I encourage all bird dog people to experience it.

Manager Randy Floyd, a 29-year veteran of this plantation, remains committed to improving the grounds and is tireless in his commitment to the place.

The Livingston Place staff includes Assistant Manager John Michael McCormick, Technician Shannon Braden, Ben Melvin, and the unreplaceable Gloria Hagan.

Purina is an essential sponsor for this club, and we were all glad to see their Sporting Dog Manager, Greg Blair.

Again, we greatly appreciate Tall Timbers Research of Tallahassee, Fla., for allowing the Continental to continue there. AgPro of Boston, Ga., provided two Gators for official use. They also make financial contributions to assist the event.

Judges Mike Jackson and Lamar Childers's time in the saddle and commitment to a fair Championship is greatly appreciated by all. Mike lives in Battle Ground, Ind., and has judged many significant championships nationwide. He has served in that role for the Continental Field Trial several times. He is fair to all and a joy to ride with.

Lamar lives in Cleveland, Ga., but lived in Snellville, Ga., for 49 years. He was an early member of the Georgia Shooting Dog Club and was very much involved in forming the Southeastern Field Trial Club in Sasser, Ga. The latter established Championship status for the Southeastern All-Age and Shooting Dog Championships. His history in the sport is vast, and he is a true gentleman.

Lunch sponsors were Tracy Swearingen and Maria Bassham, and Chip Jenkins. Their generosity is appreciated.

The winning dog in this year's Derby Championship appeared in the brace after lunch on the first day. It was a dry bluebird day in the mid-60s as Nighthawk's Rebel (Swearingen) was paired with Hunt's Fireball (McLean.) One of Fireball's new owners, Karen Norton, was in the saddle as the pointers sped away from the breakaway above the dairy barn.

By 12, both dogs stood in pearl millet and hairy indigo patch like you would want to see. It was a most attractive setting as Tracy took the find and Mark accepted the back with all in order. The dogs continued to hunt ahead with style and drive.

At 26, just out of the Big Woods, Rebel offered a beautiful stand in the tall, rough cover as Tracy put a large Livingston Place bevy to wing. Rebel was high, tight, and composed for the formalities.

Fireball had been a handful for Mark and scout Stegan Smith. Both dogs used much real estate in their pursuit of game. Mark went right toward the Long Pond, and Judge Jackson soon went in that direction for an extended time. Judge Jackson apprised us of McLean's efforts to work out a stand. No birds were produced, and they returned to the front at 33.

Meanwhile, Nighthawk's Rebel, a big liver and white male, was shown at 32 driving hard, running with strong purpose as he traveled from left to right. As Judge Jackson described, Rebel had a good find at 38.

It continued to be hot and dry, but Fireball did offer an excellent standover to the right as we approached the sand road at about 52. Next, the pair entered Long Field with Rebel on the right and Fireball on the left. Both dogs acquitted themselves in good form, especially considering the heat. Both dogs finished in the right places. Fireball, as Judge Jackson later said, displayed moments of brilliance. Nighthawk's Rebel could not be denied in his claim to this Championship title.

The runner-up champion was found in the efforts of Haney's All In (McLean.) Co-owner Chris Cagle, Jr. was in the field. All In was braced with Five60 Breakout (Carlton) after their 9:45 breakaway from Pike's Peak. At 12, on the way to Acorn Hill, point was called for Haney's All In off to the right at the hayfield near the chimney. The dog stood in a five-acre block that had been flat-chopped, and he faced an area of sparse cover. One could have said the birds had already left, but Mark flushed ahead of his dog. When he swung around toward his dog, the birds lifted. Just as they led the dog off, another covey flushed ahead of the former group, such as at Livingston Place. Haney's All In handled all of this with finished manners.

We crossed at the Y at 21 on their westward way across the big fields. At the last field, before going back into the woods, Judd Carlton's dog made a good swing across the far edge going from left to right in an eye-catching manner.

The pair of pointers were gathered in the block near the Turkey Field to be watered and sent back out. At 47 in the block of woods toward the Boy Scout house, All In would go out the end of one field as we entered.

Both dogs were to the front as we finished at the Long Pond before the dirt road.

Haney's All In paired a strong forward ground effort with a polished find under challenging conditions to claim his runner-up award.

It was a sunny, clear, crisp 30-degree morning as Erin's Rambling Fever (Eisenhart) and You Don't Know Jack (Haynes) were released in the first-course breakaway field. Purina Sporting Dog Representative Greg Blair was mounted as Shannon Braden rode to marshal us through the morning courses. The action began quickly, at 9, as both dogs stood staunchly at Cindy's Oak. It was a beautiful frosty setting as Mark Haynes flushed and shot for the find as Rambling Fever scored the back.

We crossed the main road at 19, and both dogs stood across the road, in the cover on the field edge. It, too, was scenic as Luke shot for Fever, and Jack honored.

At 38, we entered the long field south of Pike's Peak as both dogs were shown deep to the fore to advantage with independent efforts. Haynes' charge took the right fore, and Eisenhardt's dog was on the left fore, sweeping the likely objectives in their search for game. Point was called at the first cover on the incline as both dogs posed high and tight on opposite sides of the cover. The handlers could not raise birds, and we continued.

The pair of pointers put on a show with their animated and driving ground effort ahead. In the closing moments, point was again called for both competitors. Both dogs were on the same chopper path, Rambling Fever stood high and proud, and the rangy Jack had his body twisted like he had hit them hard. It was all most attractive as time expired during the flushing effort. Luke put the lead on Fever, and Haynes tried to work out the relocation. This writer has deemed this area the "Robin's" covey location. The birds here are jumpy and are known to move to the nearby swamp when the handlers approach. Some years ago, I witnessed Robin Gates relocating his dog toward the swamp and successfully pinning his birds deep in the swampy cover. Mark Haynes did not enjoy this successful outcome and accepted a second unproductive for his orange game pointer.

The next brace had owners Tracy Haines and Morgan Hooks in their saddles for Just Between Friends (Daniels) braced with Miller's King Poast (Lester.) Ferrell Miller, about to turn 90 years old the next day, was mounted on a good-looking grey to watch the action. As we moved toward Acorn Hill, Gary Lester called point off to the right at 15 near the chimney. His dog was high on both ends, but repeated relocations proved unsuccessful.

It was past the half before we regained the front. We soon ran along the Georgia line and toward the Turkey Field with both dogs out front. Jamie finished his dog after gathering him up following a wild hog pursuit.

By 10:25, the birds appeared to have shut off, and we began the third brace at the corner of the Long Pond. L J Lundstrom handled his Sioux Bull Run paired with Tee's Crazy Train (Swearingen.) This brace seemed doomed from the start as Bull Run carded two unproductives and was out. Tracy Swearingen came in for his tracker at 21.

The fourth brace contained Derby Champion Nighthawk's Rebel, as described earlier.

The fifth brace of the day offered Westfall's Pioneer Pete (Daugherty) and Rester's Johnny Ringo (Eisenhardt.) Cecil Rester was riding in support of Ringo. At 7, Ringo stood at a known covey location. It was in a chopper path inside a weed field near the hay field in front of the mansion. No birds were raised. Just past the quarter hour, the Westfall entry pointed after we had turned south across from the Quail Lodge. The scene was the big wash near Cadillac Pond. This was an excellent find. Both dogs went on to show well across the flat chopped area past the pond. Ringo produced game at the half on the edge of the pond. Pete took this time to make a cast to the right heading toward Pike's Peak. Andy went to look for his dog as we passed the Norton water tank. Andy had Pete at 39 near Moccasin Creek. Then Judge Jackson called point for Ringo at the creek. No birds were raised, and Ringo was on the rope after a relocation. As we regained the front at 45, Pete had a good find behind the office. By 55, we had crossed the pond dam, and Pete's range had shortened as he finished on top of Kudzu Hill.

The sixth brace began on top of Kudzu Hill with Dominator's Big Mike (Daniels) and Clean Creek Jim (McLean.) Both dogs remained to the front across the main road. Jamie called point in the horseshoe tract on the left, but he waved it off. As we approached, the dog was stopped, and birds lifted. Daniels collared his charge away. Right after this occurrence, Mark had a good find at 15 just before the turn at Cocklebur Bottom. We were at the weather station near Windom Lake at 22, and Mark had a good find on the right. Jamie called point right on the course but withdrew his entry after flushing. As Mark returned to the course, two separate coveys flushed wild. Clean Creek Jim pointed a single bird from one of these bevies at the lake edge. Jim went on to show well past Ben's Hog Pond. The McLean pointer had his next birds at Hickory Hill at 38, all in order. As Tim Moore said, it was that time of day the birds were moving, and you didn't need to get back on your horse because the dogs would be pointing game back-to-back. These wild bird grounds offer this type of grand experience occasionally, which is quite thrilling. Jim was pointed at 42 on Hickory Hill, and Mark decided to collar his dog away as we moved from the scene, birds flushed in the area. Jim was a couple of hundred yards to the front ten minutes later. As Mark approached, the dog loosened up, and Mark reported a hawk leaving the area and carried his dog on. Pickup was called at Cemetery Road. Jim had exhibited a strong effort for the title. It should be mentioned that long-time field trial patron and owner of Clean Creek Jim, Gene Brown, of Miccosukee, Fla., along with his wife, Marilyn, attended the trial. Among many other bird dog involvements, he put together the lease of the Georgia side of Dixie Plantation once Mrs. G. M. Livingston passed away. He campaigned many dogs on the circuit in the past.

Tuesday was foggy and 42 degrees, and the start was delayed in hopes of better visibility. Erin's Iron Man (Carlton) and Mayfield Storm Charger (Lester) were soon away, and Charger showed well in the early minutes. The Lester entry pointed several times and moved up on his own. This happened one time too many, and a bird took flight during the dog's motion. Gary reached for his rope. Carlton was not seeing what he wanted from Iron Man, and he snapped a lead on at 17.

The eighth brace featured Just Sayin (Daniels) and Hunt's Rollin' The Dice (McLean.) At 6, just before the number one crossing, Jamie's dog pointed at the swamp edge. Daniels called flight, and when Judge Jackson could not confirm, the dog was taken on. McLean did not have his dog at the creek crossing and sent his scout in the direction of the office to look for him. At 23, Mark requested his tracker on top of Pike's Peak. Jamie's dog was not having his day as he did not use the vast area to show well. At 26, Jamie withdrew him.

The ninth brace featured the runner-up champion and was described in the winners' section.

It was sunny and 69 degrees as the scouts released Rester's Cajun Spirit (Carlton) and Haney's Silver Dollar (McLean) on the hill above the dairy barn. Neither dog was seen after the breakaway. Mark asked for his retrieval device at 22. Moments later, Carlton did the same.

It was 2:30 near the Long Pond when Mathys hit the whistle for Notorious Immortal, and Eisenhart sent Erin's Demolition Man on his way. Mathys watered his dog at 9, and when he was released, both dogs were to the fore toward the Esquire Pine. Demolition Man suffered a barren stand at 24. Luke's dog redeemed himself with a forward find near the sand road.

At the end of the Long Field, both handlers threw in the towel at 43.

The last brace of the Derby had Just Wanna Have Fun (Daniels) as a bye-dog. Co-owner Tracy Haines was in the gallery to support Fun. The other owner, Morgan Hooks, had been at the trial, but she had to work this afternoon.

The pointer was rarely seen in the early moments, but once he showed, it was to the front at 21, and Jamie called point moments later. Things did not improve for this competitor, and the dog was lifted shortly after that.

Greenville, Fla., January 16
Judges: Larry Childers and Mike Jackson

Winner-NIGHTHAWK'S REBEL, 1701213, pointer male, by Touch's Red Rider-Tee's Funseekin Belle. Long Pine Plantation, owner; Tracy Swearingen, handler.
Runner-Up-HANEY'S ALL IN, 1698756, pointer male, by Ransom-Haney's North Star. Chris Cagle, Sr., & Chris Cagle, Jr., owners; Mark McLean, handler.

Continental Derby judgesS23

Judges Lamar Childers and Mike Jackson.