Result: Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship
Location: Albany, Georgia
Post Date: Mar 1, 2021
Submitted By: Steve Standley
The Southern Field Trial Club hosts the Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship each year on March 1. This 2021 renewal was contested on three incredible wild bird plantations south of Albany, Ga. Wildfair Plantation, Pineland Plantation, and Nonami Plantation represent the ultimate opportunity for a handler to show his dog on wild quail in a true hunting environment.
The first brace each day was over Wildfair, the second brace on Pineland, then back onto Wildfair for the third hour running a different course northeastward back to the Community Center. The three afternoon braces ran on Nonami Plantation. These are six individual courses, and all offered the ground and the birds necessary to win this quality event.
People often reminisce about how things were in the "good old days". These thoughts are often heard when the topic of wild quail hunting comes up. The demise of the quail population is a familiar discussion. This observer would have to say that these are the "good old days" in the southwest Georgia quail belt. These Plantations have kept accurate records, many since the 1940s, and reports are that there are as many or more wild quail on these places then there ever were.
Riding over these estates to see class bird dogs perform is a gift and should be a bucket list item for all who love upland sports. The highest thanks go to the property owners and their managers for allowing this access.
Joe Davenport, owner of Wildfair, the Mellon family, owners of Pineland, and Ted Turner, owner of Nonami, allow these historic grounds to be used as a place where bird dogs can truly be tested.
Kevin Beane, manager of Wildfair, along with his father Ronnie Beane and Robbie McCue, guided us across Wildfair. Aubrey Iler, along with Marcus Cornwell, Drew Tillery, and Lane Webb escorted us across Pineland. Nonami manager Ray Pearce marshalled us through the Nonami courses. Club members Shon Powell, Steve Wiley, and Tim Moore are driving forces in this Championship.
Judge Wallace Reichert, from Whitesburg, Ga., grew up in the Thomasville, Ga., area and has been involved in the bird dog sport for his entire life. He cut his teeth as a young man working puppies and scouting dogs for Garland Priddy. During that ten-year experience he scouted Addition's Go Boy, Go Boy's Shadow and Mac's Reelfoot Chief just to mention a few. He brings a lot to the judicial saddle.
Judge Larry Garner of Oak Point, Tex., began in the sport in North Little Rock, Ark. He started hunting Brittanys on local farms, competed in amateur trials, then migrated into being a professional racehorse trainer in Oklahoma for ten years. Once back into bird dogs ,he was friends with the late Lee R. West and Preston Trimble. Among other pursuits, he put on Region 8 Amateur All-Age trials and numerous qualifying trials for the National Championship at Ames Plantation. He has worked with Tracker retrieval devices and Spalding Fly Predators, among other business interests. Both men sought to get it right and applied themselves to that end. They were enjoyable to ride with.
Purina's support of this Championship is of utmost importance to this Club and is invaluable to our sport across the nation. Our gratitude is also extended to their representative, Greg Blair. Purina ProPlan can always be counted on to nourish and strengthen our canine athletes. Greg Blair always strives to arrange support from his great company.
Thanks, are also extended to Flint Ag and Turf of Albany, Ga., for the use of their John Deere tractor to pull the dog wagon. We appreciate retired Pineland dog handler Buster Herrington for driving the wagon. Longtime businesses in the plantation country, Ivey's Farm and Garden and Bennett's Supply, can always be counted on to help.
Wayne's Restaurant in Dawson, Ga., prepared wonderful meat-and-three lunches each day. Steve Wiley and his Insurance Market treated everyone to complimentary lunches one day. Jim Butler sponsored a great fish fry one evening that all enjoyed.
The winner of the 2021 Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship was Charitable Deed, seven-year-old white and liver female pointer handled by Tommy Rice, III. The classy pointer, known as Rachel, is owned by Keith Finlayson of Tallahassee, Fla. Rachel ran across Wildfair Plantation's first morning course on the fourth day of the Championship. She was braced with Miller's Just Plain Rowdy.
Wildfair Manager Kevin Beane rode as head marshal and his father Ronnie joined us in the gallery.
Rachel pointed attractively at 5 but she corrected herself and moved on. She moved ahead and as the course gently bends to the right, we found her styled up at 9, on the left side. This was the product of a hunting effort and not one of following the path. Tommy put the covey in the air and shot with good manners exhibited all around.
Handler came in at 15 to get bracemate Rowdy's retrieval device.
Meanwhile, scout Kinkelaar called point for Rachel. She had made a big, deep swing out the front and was spied in a pine line amid brushy cover. At 20 she looked like a million but unfortunately the stand proved barren after 2 broad relocation attempts. Rachel continued with striking swings and was found pointed at 28. This find was a logical conclusion to her cast and the birds were home and all was in order.
At the half Rachel was knocking the front end out in her driving search. The judges rode up a covey of birds as we climbed a small rise. When we crested the hill, we were at the top end of Wolf Pond and we could see Rachel pointing ahead at 34. Again, she stood in the cover, not in the path. Tommy walked in and birds lifted from everywhere. It was an excellent find.
By 44 Rachel was putting on a show. We topped the next hill, and she was in the next block hunting strongly to the fore. She made you look at her and hope she could hang on and be rewarded for her great effort. The tension grew as she pointed at 48 but corrected on her own and moved out.
After cresting the next hill at 52 she was spotted ahead on point. She was high and tight as Tommy flushed a single right in front of her. As we moved through the area after this good work, more scattered birds lifted. These birds had been hunted hard all season and were extremely jumpy. Once a dog pointed the handler had to get to the scene right away and get down to flush or the quarry would be gone. These occasions were no fault of the dog.
Rachel continued to offer a great ground application as the clock ran out. A gallery saw her in the far corner of a distant field after time was called. Rice and Judge Reichert rode to her and the handler elected to pick her up.
The Runner-up champion was found in the eight-find effort of two-time Masters Shooting Dog Champion Miller Unfinished Business. He was handled by Joel Norman. Norman's entry, known as Dan, was braced with True Choice (Kinkelaar). Shortly after the breakaway there is a fallow field on the right and many birds have been pointed on its edges. There have also been many unproductives in this area if the handler cannot get to his dog quickly to flush the birds before they make a hasty exit on their own before the judges see them. It was here, in the far corner of this field that Dan stood at 4 and all the stars lined up as Joel was able to flush a large covey and shoot with all in order.
Upon returning to the front, Kinkelaar was on the ground flushing for True Choice. It was in a good spot, but efforts were futile to move birds. True Choice suffered a second barren stand by the quarter hour and was on the rope.
Joel had a find with Dan in our absence and came up to join the main party. When released, Dan hunted ahead a short distance and styled up. As we approached the pointer, scattered quail lifted from all around. There were birds to the sides, birds behind and when Joel walked in front of Dan birds lifted from in front of the dog. All was good at 18. Within 2 minutes Dan cast to the side and quickly styled up again. He looked like a million as more quail were kicked up. Next, at 24, Dan cast to the right and again had birds.
Dan travels attractively, points with high style, but today appeared quite lateral in his ground pattern. At 32 Dan had his people looking for him and he did on this occasion return from the front to check in. At 37 Dan was posed, his body twisted to the right. Joel could not raise game and asked Dan to relocate. Dan moved ahead down the mowed swath and pointed near a fallen pine limb. This was the location, and the result was a good forward find.
The pointer offered his best forward cast and pointed in a grid on the side of Wolf Pond at 45. Something did not suit Joel and he collared his charge away. As we continued along the pond, Dan again styled up amid low yellow grass. Joel stayed on his horse and cautioned Dan as the dog moved up, stopped, and moved up and stopped again as through he was trying to pin running birds. The pointer was successful in his efforts and Joel completed the formalities at 52.
Dan looked birdy on several occasions as we continued alongside of Wolf Pond and bent to the right. At 57 the scout called point about 200 yards distant with Dan standing at about 9 o'clock from the course. The find was good. When released, Dan went forward and quickly had birds yet again with all in order. Joel turned his dog loose with 1 minute left. Dan offered his best forward cast as Joel urged him on with the whistle. It was a bird finding extravaganza.
It was 71 on the first morning and a large front seen approaching on the radar put off our beginning across Wildfair until 9:00 a.m. Our first brace featured Bittersweet War Cry (Tracy) and Hale's Southern Touch (Kinkelaar). War Cry was high-tailed and animated in his ground effort while Touch proved to be a handful for Shawn to hold on to. War Cry began hunting into the wind and pointed. Tracy quickly said, "There they go!" Game was not confirmed by the judge. When the handler moved in more birds lifted from in front of the dog; Tracy shot with all in order.
War Cry suffered an unproductive at 23, although Marshal Kevin Beane later told us of the birds taking flight as we rode through. War Cry stayed in front as we went through the half and at our turn alongside of Wolf Pond. Everything was in order at 41 at the bottom end of the pond as War Cry offered birds for the gun. At 49 War Cry pointed in the grid and finally pinned the running birds after a quick relocation. War Cry went on to finish ahead. Southern Touch did not maintain contact with Kinkelaar and was out of judgment early.
We were on Pineland with Miller's Extreme Heat (Tracy) and Northwoods Sir Gordon (Rice). The setter, Sir Gordon, had birds quickly at 4 minutes. More coveys flew as we rode through the immediate area. Extreme Heat offered several attractive casts and had a good find at 13 amid a pushed down switchgrass plot. At 17, Heat stood 2 grids off a green field as the setter came in and honored from some thirty yards. No birds were produced, and we continued deeper into Pineland. The roles were reversed at 29 as the setter pointed and the pointer backed. Nothing was produced and both dogs were withdrawn on this warm morning.
It was 10:30 a.m. when Senah's Back In Business (Norman) and Armstrong Mountain Justice (Tracy) were loosed onto Wildfair. At 10 Tracy pointed out Justice on a strong forward cast. Soon after, scout for the Senah entry called point some half a mile off the course, on the left and slightly behind. Joel did flush birds for his dog. Meanwhile, Tracy called point in the front, then quickly called flight of birds. These were unseen officially, but when he dismounted and walked in a single lifted and good manners prevailed.
On the way back to the front, at 25, both dogs had empty stands at the same time. A couple of minutes later, Just was pointing some 100 yards out front. A single bird was flushed with all good. By 30 minutes both handlers pointed their dogs out as we moved ahead just before the northward turn. Shortly after this Business pointed and Joel had to flush far to the front to push the running covey to wing. At 39 Tracy called point at the double oaks where the course turns north. Mike had to hustle to flush the running birds.
Half a mile after the northward turn the Senah entry was charging hard away at 3 o'clock instead of the front. Joel called point for his dog at 44, some 300 yards distant on that trajectory. He collared his dog away without flushing. At this time Justice had a second unproductive and was out. Business had two finds in the closing minutes; his race had become moderate by this time.
This scribe offers apologies for the brief descriptions of the three braces on Nonami on the first afternoon. The comments were not on my recorder. My descriptions are based on discussions with the judges.
Nonami's Hank Aaron (Pearce) and Miller's High Heat Index (Tracy) began the afternoon on Nonami. Hank Aaron had finds at 8 and 13 with all in order. Pearce elected to pick up at 20. Heat Index had finds at 16, 18, and 22, but was up at 24 with a knock.
The 5th brace featured Miller's Stray Bullet (Norman) and Bully Rock (Tracy). Bullet had finds at 16 and 18, but Joel requested his retrieval device at 35. Bully Rock suffered misfortune with a pair of unproductives by 16 and was out.
In Swami's Shadow had finds at 6, 8, and 28. She backed her bracemate at the half and finished her hour. Grand Prairie Thrill moved well and was eye-catching with finds at 2, 30, 34, 43, and 58. Judicial comments mentioned his great tail. It was a strong performance as owner Mac Stidham rode to observe.
The trial started on Tuesday morning with hopes of getting in two braces before a large storm arrived. Jason Loper's plans were quickly dashed as Osceola's Rebel Chief had two unproductives within the first 10 minutes. Bail Me Out (Tracy) had the course to himself as owner Casey Hollander scouted her entry. Bail had a find out front at 12 with all in order. Tracy called point for his dog at 22 within sight of the hay barn. The birds flushed a couple of chopper paths behind the dog, but all was composed.
We crossed Middle Road at the half and Bail had his third find at 36 on the southern end of Wolf Pond. The pointer seemed to pick up speed at this point. His next connection was at 40 just west of Shack Road. The birds left on our approach and all was good. By 42 Bail offered attention getting moves ahead across Shack Road, through the next bottom and went out of sight over the top of the next hill. Once we topped that hill, he was spied climbing the next forward rise.
Bail had a nice find in that pretty bottom at 45. The pointer had a single with everything right at 49. At 53 Bail made a strong swing as Judge Reichert rode over to observe. As we crossed the road going to the Pineland crossing the pointer continued his ground effort. He pointed at 59 in the first brood field west of the road and a single was flushed one chopper path into the next grid. The judges allowed the entry to give a finish and this he did as he faded ahead about 250 yards before the call of pickup. Bail Me Out pointed his birds and was methodical in his efforts but was a bit moderate in his ground speed.
It was 9:15 a.m. when Miller's Heat Seeker (Tracy) and Just Thrillin' (Rice) were off onto Pineland as it began to lightly rain. Trucks and trailers were staged in the woods to get everyone back in case of bad weather.
At 5 Seeker crossed the front just past the big oaks and Thrillin' had not been seen since breakaway. After we turned west Rice came in for his tracker at the quarter hour. At this time, we lined out going south and Seeker had a clean find ahead. At 22 Seeker had birds at the dog haired pines as the rainfall began to increase. Minutes later scout called point for Seeker some 150 yards to the right. It was a large covey that was nailed and handled in good order. This was at our closest point to Hwy 91 in our westward swing.
We continued our parallel course to the highway in our southward journey. As we made the horseshoe turn near Hwy 91 point was called and flight was acknowledged by the marshal. The Heat Seeker looked good at times but began to loop on several occasions and was withdrawn at 48.
The 9th brace was abbreviated as Tug of War (Kinkelaar) had two empty stands by the quarter hour. Osceola's Seminole Wind (Tracy) had a find at 3 but an erratic ground effort had him up before the northward turn at the twin oaks.
The 10th brace was covered in the Winners section featuring Unfinished Business.
Cheyenne Jack (Tracy) and Tallokas Sundial (Rice) were turned loose on Wildfair about 20 minutes before the road crossing onto Pineland. Sun Dial pointed right off breakaway but appeared loose and Rice whistled him on without dismounting. Sun Dial pointed at the end of the next fallow field, birds were home, and all was good. Next, the Rice entry pointed but a breech of manners had him on the rope.
Cheyenne Jack stood in the chopper path at 9 and Tracy put the birds to wing with good manners on display. Jack then had an unproductive just before the Pineland crossing. He followed with a big covey at 24 right off the road edge. By the half, the course bends toward the right in the direction of Hwy 91. At 52 Cheyenne Jack suffered a second barren stand and was harnessed.
We were back on Wildfair for the 12th brace for Touch's Love Man (Shepherd) and Miller's Unbridled Forever (Tracy). The course runs parallel to Colquitt Ford Road and both dogs soon stood attractively facing a line of oaks at the road edge. The cover runs right up to the oaks and the setting is picturesque. Shepherd handled the find at 5 while Tracy took the back with all good. At 20 Shepherd had his hat in the air but waved it off as we approached. It was cold and windy as the dogs appeared to be offering a foot race. Love Man reminded us why we were here as he scored at 26 amid brushy cover near a pine line. Judge Reichert covered a successful find for Love Man at 27 and then also at 29. Love Man was giving quite a performance but unfortunately things fell apart on his stand at 33 and he was out. Tracy pulled the plug on Forever at 37.
At 2:00 p.m. Shagtime Scout (Kinkelaar) and Miller's Locked and Loaded (Tracy) were away on Nonami. The Primms , Bill and Muriel, were mounted to see their Locked and Loaded. The pair had a divided find off breakaway on the left. Shawn suffered an empty stand at 20, but he followed that with a good connection near the Blue Springs headquarters at 27. Tracy shot out front at 28 and Judge Garner confirmed the birds. Just past the half Kinkelaar picked up his setter with a second unproductive.
Locked and Loaded ran the front in good form on past the lime sink and produced a good find at 50. The pointer looked great going behind Sam's old church, but he cast in the wrong direction in the closing minutes. Tracy shot for him at time.
Snap Back (Shepherd) and Upfront's Southern Star (Kinkelaar) made up the 14th pairing. At 6 scout Tommy Rice called point for Star in the direction of Scott's house. This resulted in an empty stand. In the same timeframe Shepherd's long-legged female stood with style for her birds at 5, the birds up from the brushy tangle. She followed that up with another find at 8 and then an unproductive at 10. Star did produce game for Kinkelaar's gun at 10, but Shawn requested the device at 22.
Snap Back moved in a happy, crisp style and pointed with a high tail. She was wrapped up in birds at 21 and it was good. The north end ag fields were on our right as we moved across Nonami's beautiful grounds and Snap Back had birds again at 37. She moved ahead after this action, but some infraction soon had her on the rope.
It was 3:50 when Mayhaw's Perfect Storm (Trey Mills) and Waybetter Rocky (Tracy) were released in No. 15. Bill and Muriel Primm along with Carl Bishop co-own Rocky and all were in the field. The sky was blue, and the ground was still wet from recent rains.
It was not Rocky's day as several quick events, including a back at 4, went downhill resulting in his being withdrawn at 9 with an infraction on game.
The Mayhaw entry did have a find at 4. We crossed the main entrance road at 11 with Storm being out of sight. He did suffer an empty stand at 20 as we moved toward the service road. A good connection was made at 24 just past the new kennels. Scattered birds were beautifully handled at 27 as quail continued to lift well after the shot. Storm hunted ahead and it looked like he hit a brick wall as he pointed staunchly. All the style one could want initially, but Storm lost his composure and Trey withdrew him.
The 16th brace was described earlier in the Winners section.
It was 9:30 a.m. when Silver W Jill Z (Kinkelaar) was released onto Pineland. Owner Dr. Debbie Ozner was in the field for her dog. Terry James Chastain was on the whistle for Melrose Ramblin' Man and the big white and orange pointer stood for a spread-out covey at 2 minutes in a beautiful setting of oaks.
By 21 we passed the dog hair pines and Ramblin' Man, aka Bill, appeared to be tiring. Kinkelaar was out looking for Jill at this point. Terry James had a find at 28 beyond squirrel corner, but the warming temperature was taking its toll on the pointer. At 36, south of Greentree Road. Bill had birds with all in order. Bill's day ended at 45 due to conditions. The Kinkelaar entry was lost which concluded the 17th brace.
Melrose Rebel Heart (Chastain) and Reedy Creek Dial Tone (Tracy) made up the last pairing on Wildfair in this year's Championship. Tone had a large covey pinned some 100 yards off Colquitt Ford Road with all good.
Both dogs were ahead and applying themselves in good order through the ensuing straightaways and big bottom. Tone was pointed out at times in the 300-yard range. Rebel Heart was also acquitting himself in good form. At 26 the course turned north, but the birds had slowed due to the heat. At 36 Rebel Heart had a well-located covey and excellent manners were on display. Meanwhile Tone was some 300 yards to the east as he made a big swing around and across the front. The dog pointed at 39 about 100 yards away from the horse path. Upon our arrival a deer ran from the cover, but Mike moved in and put three birds in the air for the well-mannered pointer.
By 52 the dogs had covered a lot of territory and the party had to turn east toward the Blue Springs line so as not to run out of ground. Tone had continued north which after a certain point required Mike to go back to get his dog. This was not the dog's or the handler's fault since the turn east put us on new ground. Anyway, once Tracy saw his dog a short discussion with the judge had the pointer up. Rebel Heart was finished ahead.
It was Thursday after lunch when Miller's Record Heat (Tracy) and Chelsea's Thunderbolt (Kinkelaar) were off on Nonami. With the wind in his face, Bolt pointed at 3. Shawn flushed ahead and when he did not raise game he walked back to his dog. A lone quail flushed about three feet from Bolt. The bird had been at the base of a large pine tree and he flew directly toward Bolt's face. The pointer never moved a muscle and looked like a million throughout this high-tension test.
At 3 during Bolt's action, Tracy called point for Heat. Mike called flight of the birds, but they were not seen officially; handler shot and took his entry on. Quickly, Heat had a find in the horse path with all in order. At 8 Bolt pointed in a brood field but even after a relocation the stand was barren.
Record Heat made a big move ahead going toward Blue Springs headquarters and faded out of sight to the fore. When the course turns Record Heat had a good find some 100 yards into the woods at 24. This was an excellent connection since the dog had carried a field edge out of sight, drove on into the woods and was found pointed for this work. The heat had taken its toll on Bolt and Shawn picked him up.
As the course continued toward Sam's church, Heat was spied on the left on the distant edge of the old irrigation field in eye-catching form. Mike had difficulty in calling his dog in from that area. The pointer kept looking like he was making game. The dog stopped in the trees of the old irrigation field, but nothing could be raised any even after a relocation.
Back on course toward the church Heat was pointed out in front heading to the big sink hole area. The ground north of this runs along the old irrigation field and Tracy pointed his charge out in his forward pursuit. Two bevies flushed wild as we passed with no dog involvement. We crossed the road heading to the golf course at 58 and Tracy called point. There were two relocations involved and the brace was ended with this second unproductive.
Touch's Two Step (Rice) ran as a bye as owner John Burrow observed from the dog wagon. At 7 Two Step had the birds pinned for a good find on the west side of the golf course. At 16 the Burrow entry had birds again, but his ground application had shortened. Two Step had birds once again at 20, but his composure suffered during the flush. His day was shortened to end the Championship.
Albany, Ga., March 1
Judges: Larry Garner and Wallace Reichert
MASTERS OPEN SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP
[One-Hour Heats] -- 36 Pointers and 3 Setters
Winner--CHARITABLE DEED, 1658659, pointer female, by Three Rivers--b w molly. Keith Finlayson, owner; Tommy Rice III, handler.
Runner-Up--MILLER UNFINISHED BUSINESS, 1661405, pointer female, by Just Irresistible--Miller's Bring The Heat. Benjy Griffith, owner; Joel Norman, handler.
Numerous owners attended this Championship, and this writer apologizes for anyone not mentioned. It was good to see returning attendees George Hickox, Dr. Debbie Ozner, Mac Stidham, Casey Hollendar, Jerry Moisson, and John Burrow. There were several long-time shooting dog owners who attended this trial for the first time. We hope that Bill and Muriel Primm, Ernie and Karen Saniga, and Carl Bishop enjoyed their first trip to the Masters Open Shooting Dog Championship.
This scribe thanks Tim Moore for assistance with gathering information for this report.
Jim Butler of Kolomoki Plantation in Bluffton, Ga., sponsored a steak supper in memory of longtime friend Tommy Mock. Tommy was widely known in the bird dog circles of South Georgia. He was a noted dog man, horseman, silversmith, blacksmith, hunting guide, chuckwagon cook, educator, coach, family man and Christian who followed his passions in life and made others better because of it. Tommy unexpectedly passed away on December 4, 2020. COVID concerns did not allow this gathering at last year's Masters Championship.
Tommy is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their daughter Dr. Ginny Mock of Austin, Tex. Nancy attended this special supper along with many friends and supporters. Tim Moore eulogized his friend who left a big footprint in the community.