A short way in, and “Point!” Doc called. Jake had frozen with the pup beside him, and then out to the left Susy came to a stop, and each dog held to birds along the edge of the field. (pp. 41-42)
Yes, this is Missouri with its resources, beauty and traditions. To many people, these are brought to focus in the beauty and legendary sporting qualities of a bird -- the Bobwhite Quail!... The beauty of the state and the bird with the whir-r-r-ing wings go together in providing the story of the Bobwhite Quail in Missouri. (p. 4)
In 1952, the Missouri Conservation Commission published a small booklet authored by Jack Stanford called Whirring Wings: The Bobwhite Quail in Missouri -- a time when quail populations had not yet been hammered by development, large-scale agriculture, or pressure from predators. Nevertheless, amidst its call for help in sustaining quail habitat through informed science, the Commission relied on a simple narrative involving two hunters and a small family-owned farm -- and the excitement of following a pair of dogs working quail. That same excitement motivates many of us still. And draws us to Missouri to witness great dog work ahead of the bird with the whirring wings.
This was the 23rd running of the National Vizsla Association’s National Championships and Derby Classic, and the 17th consecutive at the Sportsmen’s Association grounds outside Grovespring, MO. The grounds are spacious enough to accommodate a three-hour continuous course, the Missouri All-Age Championship commencing immediately after the NVA’s conclusion. Like several other clubs, the National Vizsla Association employs a couple of minor course modifications but nevertheless takes advantage of almost 1500 acres to run its three championship stakes. The first course begins east of the clubhouse in the appropriately signposted ‘Breakaway Field’ before heading south down a series of long, open hay fields for almost two miles, crisscrossing the dry Parks Creek in various places along the way. The course then swings westward into the Island Field (named for two prominent islands of hardwoods on the back edge) before dropping north, climbing an escarpment and then dropping down towards the hard left turn up Horsekiller Hill. The course then flows southwest into the wide open bowl of Appletree Hill, before dropping out of its southwestern corner to end up in a series of three smaller cover-crop fields that comprise the Little Vine Loop. Depending on exact pick-up, the second course starts at the roadside gates at the end of the loop, or up on the top of the short steep hill that leads north and then east through some thick, scrubby grass cover before angling northeast into the flat, crop fields that open into Sycamore Bottom. Before the road crossing at the Double Gates, the course then takes a hard left up the scrubby, grassy hill towards the Twin Barns, staying on a westward trajectory into another open bowl with a prominent stock pond towards the (very faded) Blue House. Crossing into the Bull Pasture, the course swings north and then east, with a final rocky descent off this high plateau below the Twin Barns. With a view to the auxiliary parking and corrals down the valley to the east, the third course generally began from the valley and the steep climb northwest to the Twin Barns before crossing over the hump of the ridge and dropping into a steep-sided 600 yard chute. Unlike many of the prominent land-marks this is not signposted and, however melodramatic, it evoked Lord Tennyson’s poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War to me and, so, is hereafter referred to as the Valley of Death. Popping out into the final section of the Sycamore Bottom, the course then crossed the road and stayed on the western side above the first half of the first course, skirting around the Bramhall Cemetery. Reaching the first breakaway field, the course then headed slightly north and up the steep, rocky thicket-strewn ridge that rises eastward parallel to Meadow Lark Road before dropping down into the open, hay fields again, leaving dogs to finish up in the first third of the first course.
The Derby Classic essentially used an out-and-back course, using the first morning course (and terminating shortly before or at the creek crossing into the Island Field) for the outbound and then turning loose from the Island Field, turning right back across the creek (instead of turning left up Horsekiller Hill), coming back through the Davis Bottom Gap, and then staying on the high, western side all the way back into camp.
This year’s National events were blessed with great dog work and good sportsmanship, the welcome attendance of many owners to watch their dogs, and the presence of Mr. George Noren, longtime National Vizsla Association member, and the owner of Lakeside Willie Windwalker, the runner-up in the 2001 National Amateur Championship, the first year that the NVA established its national events at Grovespring, MO. The National Vizsla Association is also blessed by its long-standing, perennial corporate sponsors -- Purina, Garmin, Dogs Unlimited, and Christie Saddlery -- for which the organization is deeply grateful.
Due to a prior reporting obligation in Albany, GA I was unable to get to Grovespring until the start of the Derby Classic. While the winners’ performances have been expanded based on conversation with the judges, the remainder of the brace summaries for the Amateur are courtesy of Jarrett Bell, Mark Johnson, and Phil Stout -- whose efforts I am truly grateful for.
National Amateur Championship
NATIONAL AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
The judges for this year’s Amateur championship are no strangers to high-class bird dog performances. Todd and Trisha Babbel from Dunbar, NE have enjoyed much success with their own dogs as breeders, trainers, and handlers -- most recently claiming the Region 17 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship. The National Vizsla Association appreciates their experience and concentration in the saddle for the duration of the event.
From a field of 32 starters, the judges named Kick Em Up Kimber, owned by Jarrett and Allison Bell, bred by Ron Chenoweth, and handled by Jarrett as the 2017 National Amateur Champion with Penny’s Wiki Wiki Another Mai Tai Please (Ty), owned by Chad and Nancy Chadwell, bred by Greg Wegler, and handled by Chad as runner-up. With this win, Kimber became the first vizsla to win all four national championships: the National Vizsla Association amateur and open (2016) titles, as well as the AKC Vizsla Club of America amateur (2013 & 2014) and open (2014) championships. Her consistency, durability, and ability to adapt made this truly remarkable achievement possible. Especially since, and said with tongue firmly in cheek, Ty is merely the reigning Vizsla Club of America National Champion and the current NVA Midwest Shooting Dog Champion.
The judges also noted the strong performances of Cali’s Wiki Wiki Mai Tai At Sunset (Mia) and Ramblin Rivers Rolling Stone.
Kimber was braced with Cowboy (Austin) and ran in the fifth brace on the first afternoon although, due to an early double pick-up from the previous brace, it meant that they began the hour shortly after the first creek crossing. She would be found towards the head of the milo strip approaching the second creek crossing at 0:03, a bird readily flown ahead of her; sadly, Cowboy would fail to acknowledge her point and was ordered up. Moving swiftly through the succession of small fields and across the road crossing, she would cast down the right side of the Davis Bottom stopping at a gap in the woodline at 0:08, multiple birds sent skyward out of the scrubby cover ahead of the lofty dog. Handling kindly and boldly through the Island Field turn, she would climb Horsekiller Hill with ease before punching out to the fenceline at the head of Apple Tree Hill. She would be located standing tall and tight approximately halfway down and on the other side of the fenceline at 0:35, a covey of resident birds flushed ahead of her. Coming off the hill and approaching the Little Vine Loop gap, she would stop for a final time at 0:46, a single bird kicked out of the treeline. She would cruise through the remainder of the loop and climb the short, sharp hill onto the plateau with ease, finishing out her hour with no sign of the effort she must have expended -- earning her winner’s mantle with her consistent sixty-minute effort, her obvious desire to go to birds independently, and her superlative application in her use of wind direction and the objectives in front of her to locate birds.
Ty was braced with Briar (Hess) and came out of the third brace -- but also due to the sequence of events in previous braces, they were turned loose just beyond the Blue House. Both dogs would work in bold, snappy fashion around the Bull Pasture before coming off the plateau above the auxiliary parking field. After a spirited climb by both dogs up over the Twin Barns hill into the southeasterly descent towards Sycamore Bottom, Briar would be found standing towards the head of the chute on the right side at 0:22, a bird readily flushed ahead of him. Ty would then be located at 0:30 at the far end of the chute on the left side, his style and manners pristine. Taken through the Double Gates on the high side, Ty would next be found standing at 0:37 in the treeline on the right, taut and precise in his location of the bird ahead of him. In the meantime, Briar had gone forward and would stop below the Bramhall Cemetery out on the creek edge at 0:41, Ty coming in to honor in polished fashion -- everything otherwise in order. Both dogs would finish the hour in the vicinity of the clubhouse, Ty consistently bolder in his application and intensity throughout the hour -- his style and driving race elevating him into the winner’s circle.
The first brace featured Johnny (Beckley) and Marko (Howard). At 11 minutes, Marko had a find before the creek crossing, with Johnny honoring. The bird work was handled appropriately and both dogs moved on. At 18 minutes, Marko was found at the buffet line on point and his bird work was handled appropriately. Also at 18 minutes, Johnny was found past the buffet line in the milo strip. His bird work was also handled appropriately and both dogs moved on. At 23 minutes, Marko was discovered at the milo strip right before the first road crossing. Again, his bird work was handled appropriately and continued on. At 28 minutes, Johnny had a find along the right edge after the first road crossing. Marko came in to honor. Johnny’s bird work and Marko’s honor were handled fine and both dogs continued on. At 35 minutes, Johnny was seen in point in the far corner of Davis Bottom with Marko honoring him. Again, Johnny’s bird work and Marko’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 47 minutes, on the left side of Island Field, Marko was found on point. Marko’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 58 minutes, Marko’s handler elected to pick him up. Johnny finished the hour at the top of Horse Killer Hill.
The second brace featured Sig (Hess) with Reno (Tuttle). At 16 minutes, Reno was picked up at the beginning of Little Vine Loop for a breach of manners on her bird. At 20 minutes, Sig had a find at Sycamore Bottom. Sig’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 30 minutes, at the end of Sycamore Bottom, Sig was found on point. Again, Sig’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 34 minutes, Sig had a find at the double gates. His bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 41 minutes, at the top by the Twin Barns, Sig had his 4th find. Sig’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 51 minutes, in the field with the big lake, Justin was unable to produce a bird for Sig
and Sig was charged with a non-productive and was moved on. Sig finished the hour.
The third brace would bring Briar to the line with Ty and is already covered in the placements.
The fourth brace saw Coach (Tuttle) drawn with Ellie Mae (Gingrich). At 14 minutes, both Coach and Ellie Mae were seen knocking and chasing birds and were ordered up.
The fifth brace featured Cowboy and Kimber and has already been covered in the placements.
The sixth brace brought Buck (Chenoweth) to the line with Kinze (Beckley). At 5 minutes, Kinze had a find. Upon the flush by Jody, Kinze had a 180 degree move to mark the flight of the bird. Kinze was moved on. At 10 minutes, Kinze had a find near the Twin Barns with Buck honoring. Jody was unable to produce the bird and Kinze was charged with a non-productive. Both dogs
were moved on. At 27 minutes, Buck had a find with Kinze honoring. Buck’s bird work and Kinze’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 55 minutes, Buck was discovered on point. Buck’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 58 minutes, Kinze had a lateral covey find. Kinze’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. Both dogs finished the hour.
The seventh brace featured Vivi (Corliss) with Bella (Meyer). At 4 minutes, Bella was found on point with Vivi honoring. Bella’s bird work and Vivi’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 18 minutes, Vivi had a stop-to-flush which was handled appropriately and she was moved on running a nice Gun Dog race. At 50 minutes, handler Todd Meyer activated his tracker to locate Bella. Vivi finished the hour.
The eighth brace drew Wrigs (Anderson) with Hailey (Fairchild). Breakaway was at 8:08am, a crisp, cloudy morning, with light winds, snow flurries and a twenty-eight degree temperature. At 8 minutes Hailey found on point at the back side of the first cut through near the hay bale. She was steady to the flush and moved on. At 15 minutes, Hailey was found on point through the 2nd cut, to the right along the grass line. Bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 21 minutes, Hailey standing in left tree line past 1st road crossing. As the handler and
judge approached, they found that both dogs were standing with Wrigs on point and Hailey honoring. Wrigs’ bird work and Hailey’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 26 minutes, Wrigs was found on point through the next cut past the 1st road
crossing, on the far right hand side in the grass. As Sean flushed the bird, Wrigs gave
chase and was ordered up. At approximately 45 minutes, Hailey discovered some “parfume” in the middle of the path right before Horse Killer Hill. Hailey decided it was time to camouflage her scent and she rolled …. and rolled …. and rolled ….. Laurie was finally able to get Hailey to
move on. At 54 minutes, in the middle of the pasture on top of Apple Orchard Hill, Hailey was
found on point. Hailey’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. Hailey finished the hour.
The ninth brace brought Ruby (Corliss) to the line with Bull (Miller). At 18 minutes, Bull was found standing at the bottom of Horse Killer Hill, on the west side of the path. Bull’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 23 minutes to the right of the entrance to Sycamore Bottom, Bull was found on point. Bull’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 26 minutes, upon entering Sycamore Bottom, Ruby was seen on point at the
sycamore tree. Ruby’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 27 minutes, Bull was found on point, on the opposite side of the pasture from the sycamore tree. Bull’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 30 minutes, as Bull was running the left edge in Sycamore Bottom, he had a stop-to-flush. The STF was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 32 minutes, at the opposite corner of Sycamore Bottom on the right edge before the cut through, Ruby was seen on point. Ruby’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 40 minutes, Bull was seen on point with Ruby honoring at approximately 200 yards before the Twin Barns on the left side of the path. Bull’s bird work and Ruby’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 43 minutes, Ruby was found on point on the far side of the fallen tree, approximately 150 yards before the Twin Barns. Unable to locate the bird, Chris decided to relocate Ruby, but was still unable to locate a bird. Chris elected to take a non-productive and move Ruby on. At 50 minutes, Bull was found on point in the Bull Pasture. As I was separated from this action, the judge indicated that Bull’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. As time was being called, Ruby was found on point in the pasture right across from the mobile home. Ruby’s bird work was handled appropriately. Also as time was being called, Bull was found on point in the lower Bull Pasture near the cedar trees on the lower right hand edge. The judge indicated that Bull’s bird work was handled appropriately. Both dogs finished the hour.
The tenth brace brought Mara (Concilio) to the line with Dutch (Austin). At 23 minutes we were crossing Park Road through the single gate. At 24 minutes, handler Karen Concilio elected to activate her tracker to locate Mara. At 26 minutes, handler Bonita Austin elected to activate her tracker to locate Dutch.
The eleventh brace featured Reve (Gingrich) and Pete (Fairchild). When Reve was pulled out of the dog wagon and was getting dressed with her flash & tracking collars, it was discovered that she was in season. The committee decided to move Reve down in the running order & have her run the last brace of the day, and Pete was allowed to run in place. The weather conditions
on this particular afternoon was cold with light snow flurries and fog. At 8 minutes, Pete was found on point through the 1st cut on the far right hand edge. As Laurie flushed the bird, Pete took a big hop with a 180 degree turn, and was ordered up by the judges.
The twelfth brace saw Gabi (Corliss) drawn head-to-head with Mia (Chadwell). At 4 minutes, Mia was found on point through the 2nd cut, on the right hand side corner with Gabi honoring. Mia’s bird work and Gabi’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 8 minutes, Gabi was found on point in Davis Bottom. Chris had difficulty locating the bird, and on Gabi’s 3rd relocation, Gabi stopped & pointed with the bird hunkered down in grass right under her nose. Gabi was real intense but crouched low to the ground, however she raised as bird flew. Gabi was moved on. At 18 minutes, Gabi was found on point along the left edge right before the buffet line in Davis Bottom. Gabi’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 26 minutes, Gabi was located down in the ditch running along the left hand edge of Island Field. Gabi’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 34 minutes heading up Horse Killer Hill. At 43 minutes entering Little Vine Loop. At 46 minutes, Mia was found on point along the left side of the pasture past the entrance to Little Vine Loop . Mia’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 48 minutes, Mia was found on point at the bottom of the hill in Little Vine Loop with Gabi honoring. Mia’s bird work and Gabi’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 57 minutes, Mia was found on point at the bottom of the hill. Mia’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 59 minutes Mia was again found on point in the buffet line’s edge right before the cut. Several attempts to locate the bird by Chad proved fruitless, and Chad elected to take a
non-productive. Both dogs finished the hour.
The thirteenth brace featured Henry (Bell) with Boomer (Johnson). At 6 minutes we were entering Sycamore Bottom. At 7 minutes Henry was seen on point under the Sycamore tree. Boomer entered the scene but elected not to honor Henry’s point. As Boomer moved under the sycamore tree, the bird got up, both dogs gave chase and were ordered up.
The fourteenth brace saw Reve (Gingrich) brought to the line to run alone. At 3 minutes, Jim called point on Reve, who was along the left edge Sycamore Bottom. Reve’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. At 21 minutes, scout Bill Stapleton found Reve on point along the left edge by the cedar trees, about 200 yards before the Blue House. The judge pointed out the birds by the t-posts and Jim was able to flush one of them. Reve’s bird work was handled appropriately and she was moved on. As we passed the red barn on the left side of the upper Bull Pasture, several deer were seen crossing the pasture, but Jim was able to keep Reve from giving chase. At 58 minutes, Jim elected to activate his tracker to locate Reve.
The fifteenth brace drew Bullet (Bell) with Guy (Chenoweth), the weather conditions offering sunny skies, windy, and a cold 18 degree temperature. At 11 minutes, Bullet was found on point through the 1st cut along the far right edge of the buffet line. Bullet’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 16 minutes, Bullet was discovered on point along the left edge after last cut before the road crossing. Bullet’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 34 minutes, Ron Chenoweth elected to activate his tracker to locate Guy. At 40 minutes, Bullet found on point after the road crossing and to the right of the entrance to Davis Bottom. Bullet’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 41 minutes entering Little Vine Loop. Bullet finished the hour.
NOTE: Before the breakaway of Brace 15, Bullet was passing Ray Cooper’s truck and
felt the heat coming out from the open rear door. Bullet decided he’d rather ride in the
warmth of the truck rather than the cold dog wagon, so naturally he hopped inside and
took a seat. Unfortunately for Bullet, the truck was reserved for human occupants,
whether Bullet believed he was a person or not.
The sixteenth brace featured Stone (Stapleton) with Buddy (Huff). After 15 minutes, we were entering Sycamore Bottom. At 17 minutes, both Stone and Buddy were found on point along the left hand edge before the buffet line in Sycamore Bottom. Bill walked into the cover but was unable to locate a bird to flush. Eric Huff walked in and almost immediately flushed a bird that was located in front of Buddy. Both dogs handled the situation appropriately and were moved on. The judges ruled it a divided find for both dogs. At 38 minutes Stone had a Stop-to-Flush along the right tree line across from the Blue House. Stone handled the situation appropriately and was moved on. At 57 minutes, Buddy was found on point at the bottom of hill leading up to the Twin Barns, on the left side in the grass strip. Buddy’s bird work was handled appropriately
and he was moved on. Both dogs finished the hour.
The seventeenth brace featured Recon (Corliss) with Ginger (Chenoweth). At 12 minutes, Recon was found on point at the buffet line after the road crossing, on the right side of the cut. As Chris attempted to flush the bird, first a kick, a second kick, then a hat thrown, and another kick, finally the bird flushed. Recon’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 21 minutes, Recon was found on point in the right tree line past the Cemetery. Unable to locate the bird, Chris decided that he should relocate Recon. While the initial attempt to locate the bird was going on, handler Ron Chenoweth entered the cemetery field with Ginger and tried to get her to go wide left to avoid interfering with Recon’s bird work. Unfortunately, Ginger passed the cut through and Ron had to “hard whoa” Ginger into an honor right before Recon’s relocation. Recon relocated and found his bird, reestablished point, and Chris was able to flush the bird. Recon’s bird work and Ginger’s honor were handled appropriately and both dogs continued on. At 38 minutes, Recon was found on point near the top of the hill across from the
clubhouse. Recon’s bird work was handled appropriately and he was moved on. At 41 minutes, Recon had a stop-to-flush located on the far side of the hill across from the clubhouse, on the far side of the pond. Recon’s STF situation was handled appropriately and he was moved on. Both dogs finished the hour.
National Derby Classic
NATIONAL DERBY CLASSIC
Due to a family emergency with the posted judge, Ken Chenoweth of Fair Grove, MO was able to step in at the last minute to judge the National Derby Classic -- no stranger to the grounds or the breed, having last judged the Classic in 2014. His judging partner, Gailen Cooper, from Oak Grove, MO was also no stranger to the grounds or the breed having judged both the Derby Classic and the National Championship in 2011. The National Vizsla Association appreciates their diligence and attention during their time in the saddle.
From a strong field of 25 starters, the judges named Rudy of Hawthorn Ridge, owned by David and Lori Wanserski, bred by Rob Tomczak, and handled by Rob, the winner of the 2017 NVA National Derby Classic, with CK Sis’s Wiki Wiki Surfer Dude (Boogie), owned by Chad and Nancy Chadwell, bred by Ron Chenoweth, and handled by Chad, as first runner-up, and Redneck Miss Kitty O Tascosa Kitty, owned by Burnie Stokes, bred by Ray Cooper, and handled by Jamie Fountain, as second runner-up.
Rudy came out of the 10th brace on the southbound course, the day now sunny and almost warm. Turned loose in the Island Field, he would make short work of the outside edge of the turn and the climb up over the short escarpment into the broomsedge field. Ducking down the lefthand edge, he would come to a stop at 0:07, almost literally underneath the signpost for Horsekiller Hill, standing stylishly for his handler to get in front of him. Gathered up with relative ease, his scout would take the dog on through the creek crossing towards the Davis Bottom Gap while Tomczak remounted. Coming through the gap, Rudy would swing up high on the right side before the road crossing. He would then run the entire right edge below the crag and then cruise forward into the field below the Bramhall Cemetery, moving out into the right-hand hook before coming to a stylish stop at 0:23 -- again standing for his handler to flush ahead of him. His drive and ground speed would carry him through the next two fields and back into the breakaway field, finishing up strong headed out to the northeast. His athleticism, focus, and manners never in question, Rudy gave a consistent thirty-minute effort and was appropriately rewarded with the winner’s mantle.
Boogie ran in the seventh brace, the first of the second day: the weather cool, the wind largely coming from the southeast obliging Boogie to begin on the right side of the first field and, upon realizing that the course no longer cooperated with the wind, then switching over halfway down. Coming through the dead tree cut, Boogie would be well forward and moving towards the creek crossing. Coming through the crossing, he would head out along the prominent treeline, deep into its right corner. He would move purposefully through the Davis Bottom Gap, starting on the left, but moving out to the right as he recognized the change in the fishtailing wind’s direction. Boogie would come to a stop on the field line crossing the large, last field at 0:24, the judge seeing the bird leave as the handler rode up. He would finish out the brace moving forward along the right edge uphill towards the creek crossing into the Island Field. While his pattern occasionally betrayed his youth, Boogie gave a consistent, effort for the duration of the stake -- as well the the intelligence to adapt to the conditions and the course.
Kitty ran in the twelfth brace on the southbound course, the last brace before lunchtime on Thursday. After moving nicely through the Island Field, she would climb out over the escarpment and go forward down the right, creekside edge of the broomsedge field. Taken through the creek crossing, she would drop down on the left side and come across the Davis Bottom Gap and then climb up the hill towards the cemetery before swinging forward towards the road crossing. Leaving that next field, Kitty would come to a stop at the copse on the right side shortly afterwards at 0:13, birds flushed ahead of her. She would continue to cruise through the next two fields before taking the upper left edge all the way towards the cemetery. With her speed and application, Kitty would finish up in the initial breakaway field going away purposefully up the right side of the long valley to the northeast earning her placement with her consistent effort, relatively mature application, and ease of handle.
The first brace of the Derby would feature Nitro (Syczylo) running by himself, his bracemate having come into season and dropping to the final brace of the day. After a strong initial move up the right edge of the first field, he would drop into the little hook with the rusty grain elevator, cross the creek and then explore the far hillside. He would, however, duck back to the north looking for his handler leaving his scout to gather him up and return him to the front by the next creek crossing at 0:14. He would power across the road crossing and then through the Davis Bottom Gap, ringing the big field beyond on the creekside edge out right. He would encounter a bird on the far edge at 0:28, deep enough in cover that no definitive point would be seen, although the flight of the bird would prove its presence. It would take till the call of time to gather the high-spirited dog up.
The second brace drew Wilson (Ochs) with Bane (Fountain), with owner Karen Concilio scouting her young dog, on the northbound course. Turned loose in the Island Field, Bane would immediately set out for the right-hand edge, sticking it fairly consistently to the escarpment before switching over to the left side of the broomsedge field below Horsekiller Hill. He would then cross the creek and take the left edge out towards the Davis Bottom Gap. In the meantime, Wilson had tackled the grounds more like a young dog -- animated, eager, and occasionally scattered in his application and focus. He would nevertheless make bold individual moves along the creek side edge coming out towards the Gap and then move energetically down the right side edge and up into the grassy drainage on the right side. Sadly, he could not be gathered up out of there leaving Ochs to ask for his tracker at 0:20. Now beneath the Bramhall Cemetery at this time, Bane had downshifted slightly and lost a little of his early focus. He would finish out his half-hour to the front, but clearly depleted.
The third brace would bring Tesla (Tomczak) to the line with Rowdy (Vitkauskas). Fresh off a win in the NVA Eastern Derby Classic not quite a month before, Tesla would drive forward down the first big field, making the same crossing that Nitro had and then moving across the face of the hill below the Bramhall Cemetery to the south. Rowdy, in the meantime, was snappy and enthusiastic, certainly less extreme than his bracemate in his moves primarily down the left side. Nonetheless, both dogs would be reunited at the creek crossing, Tesla then eagerly taking the tree edge forward towards the road crossing. Rowdy would have bird contact at 0:14 midway down the clusters of trees although without any clear point seen. Coming to the road crossing, Wilson would re-appear from the left side causing a minor amount of confusion before being safely gathered up. Across the road crossing, Rowdy would head out right and come to a stop in the corner of the Davis Bottom at 0:20, a definite point seen and a shot fired. Tesla would finish out the half-hour going away climbing out the slope towards the creek crossing into the Island Field, her athleticism and focus never in question -- particularly evidenced by her developed sense of the front. Rowdy would make a series of nice individual pieces, but needed to put them all together to really challenge the winners.
The fourth brace saw Jedi (Tomczak) together with Dude (Gingrich) on the southbound course. Through the island field, Jedi would take the wide, left edge, Dude the creekside edge on the right, both dogs moving easily up over the escarpment and into the broomsedge field. Dude would make it all the way to the end of the field and come to a very stylish stop on the left side of the field at 0:07, allowing his handler to get in front of him -- although sadly no bird would be produced. Through the creek crossing into the Davis Bottom, Dude would swing up the right shoulder before going across the road and, at least initially, looking to climb the crag on the right side. Jedi, in the meantime, had disappeared coming out of the broomsedge field leaving Tomczak to ask for his tracker at 0:18. Dude would take the creekside edge down through the field below the cemetery before being gathered up for water before the final two fields. He would downshift in the final stretch, but nevertheless end up out front at the end of the final field.
The fifth brace would bring Judge (Austin) to the line with Ember (Hess). After initially getting hung up on the creekside edge in the first field, Judge would sort himself out and make a long, powerful move down the right side of the field; trying to make sense of the headwind, Ember would quarter across this first field, animated and intent nonetheless in her efforts. Figuring her dog had gone through the same cut that had inspired Nitro and Tesla (and had simply kept on going), Austin opted for her tracker at 0:15. Ember would continue her young, somewhat scattered, forward progress, coming to a stop at 0:19 at the small copse before the road crossing field, a distinct point seen till her handler arrived and the bird sent skyward. Across the road, Ember would take the right edge into the Davis Bottom before crossing across the field and heading for the final gap at 0:29. (At which point, Judge showed up on the final hillside ahead of her.) While lacking the forward punch to challenge the winners, Ember nevertheless gave a consistent effort for her thirty minutes.
The sixth, and final brace of the first day, brace would be reconstituted out of Benelli (Bell) with Ruby (Albin). Both dogs would break away enthusiastically, Benelli engaging quickly with the creekside edge, an edge she would readily identify and pursue up over the escarpment and down through the broomsedge field. Both dogs would need a few minutes to settle into the nature of the course and establish a mature set of forward casts once they had reached the Davis Bottom field. Benelli would make the crossing into the back half of the course and come to a stop midway up the treeline at 0:18, standing nicely for her handler to get in front and produce the bird. Ruby would get hung up in the upper treeline on the left but would be successfully gathered up and taken forward on the high side towards the Bramhall cemetery; Benelli taking the long creekside edge towards the cemetery gap. Swinging below the auxiliary parking field, both dogs would elect to tackle the lower creekside edge to finish up their time on the ground going away in spirited fashion.
The seventh brace featured Boogie (already covered) with Wings (Syczylo). Wings would begin her quest with a strong breakaway down the right side of the first big field edge. Coming to the dead tree cut, Wings had dropped down into the dry creek bed and needed a little wrangling to get back on course. Coming through the next creek crossing, he would swing right on the obvious treeline objective before coming forward with his handler. He would ring the field before the road crossing with purpose and then starting out on the right side, coming across the field on the scrubby cover line across its middle. Occasionally confused by the changing wind direction, Wings nevertheless applied himself well for the half-hour.
The eighth brace featured Gunner (Chenoweth) and Cali (Brustkern) headed northbound, the wind at their backs. They would make short work of the Island Field and climb the escarpment into the broomsedge field, Cali obviously looking for game although in the grassy section in the field’s center, Gunner more animated but also less obviously focused. Coming across the creek and through the DavisBottom Gap, both dogs would move nicely down the left edge after the road crossing. Moving forward into the field before the Bramhall Cemetery, both dogs would climb up the left side edge towards the cut -- Cali climbing up towards the road before coming forward down the edge of the cemetery. After all his exertions, Gunner would donwshift slightly around 0:23 and then get hung up in the creekside on the right before coming forward to the hook below the graveyard, stopping to point at 0:27. Cali would have a bird contact in the final field up on the treeline below the auxiliary parking lot at 0:29, a shot fired, although without a clear, distinct point seen. While lacking her bracemate’s ground speed, Cali would give a consistent thirty-minute effort and certainly present a desire to seek objectives in search of game.
The ninth brace drew Cinder (Stapleton) with Piper (Fountain). As it had been in the first southbound brace of the day, there was a strong headwind fishtailing from southwest to southeast across the relatively open course obliging both dogs to start moves and then come to the recognition that they were no longer able to receive information on the trajectories they had been on. Cinder would certainly begin that way -- with plenty of power, but unable to stick on a productive line -- before settling in a little more as the course approached the dead tree gap. Piper, by contrast, would punch down the right side and like her predecessors, cross the creek and be seen moving across the open field below the Bramhall Cemetery. Crossing the creek back towards the eventual road crossing, Piper had reunited with her handler and was climbing up on the left hillside, Cinder tackling the lower creekside edge with purpose and coming to a stop at 0:14, a bird readily put into the air and a shot fired. Making swift progress through the Davis Bottom, Cinder would head out on the right side once more, again coming to a clear stop at 0:21. Reaching what had been to this point, the normal final field at 0:23, Piper was definitely starting to show the effects of her exertions -- but with both dogs’ impressive ground speed, they were taken across the creek and into the Island Field to finish up, Cinder wrapping up his time on the ground sweeping around the left edge.
The tenth brace brought Rudy (already covered) with Hawk (Brustkern). After a spirited breakaway down through the Island Field and up over the escarpment, Hawk would certainly demonstrate his desire to hunt rather than merely run. Coming through the Davis Bottom Gap, Hawk would swing wide and high up towards the Old Davis Cemetery before coming down to the road crossing. He would swing nicely along the creekside edge below the Bramhall Cemetery, going to all the appropriate objectives. Sadly, despite a consistent thirty-minute effort, Hawk would not connect with a bird.
The eleventh brace would see Smudge (Bell) paired with Ray (Chadwell). After an animated breakaway south, both dogs would move forward down the right edge of the first big field through the dead tree gap and be found standing together in the corner before the creek crossing at 0:08, both handlers firing as the bird was clearly produced. Coming across the creek, Ray would climb out all and cross all the way to the right edge to go forward, Smudge sticking to the closer tree line edge. Both dogs would stop at separate locations on the east-west treeline at 0:12, birds readily produced ahead of each young dog. Sent ahead, both dogs would stop again on the edge of small copse of trees shortly before the road crossing field at 0:16, birds again visible from the dry, scrubby grass. Both dogs would require a little effort to gather them up through the road crossing and then move them down the right side of the Davis Bottom field, Smudge establishing point at 0:21 on the treeline before the next large field, although this sadly would prove non-productive. While Ray had demonstrated more mature moves than his bracemate, he would downshift slightly around 0:22 -- albeit not entirely surprisingly bearing in mind the significant 10mph headwind both dogs had been battling into the entire way. Both dogs would finish up swinging around the lower right edge of the final field, their effort obvious.
The twelfth brace saw Colt (Bell) drawn against Kitty (already covered). He would move smoothly through the first two fields coming off the creekside edge towards the entrance to Horsekiller Hill where he would come to a stylist stop at 0:06, birds readily flushed ahead of him. Coming out of the Davis Bottom, he would work the edge leading up the hill towards the cemetery and come to a stop roughly three-quarters of the way up at 0:10, although sadly this would prove non-productive. He would move nicely through the next two fields towards the creek crossing where he would stop on the right at 0:16, this time a dead bird find. Coming into the field before the Bramhall Cemetery, Colt would appear to downshift slightly around 0:23 before taking the entire creekside edge on the right. After a brief watering-up in the final breakaway field as the temperatures climbed, Colt would finish up in the final breakaway field going away.
The thirteenth and final brace of the Derby featured Gauge (Tomczak) and Gigi (Fountain). The two dogs were relatively evenly matched through the first five minutes, Gauge arguably starting and finishing more moves to a more mature degree than Gigi -- the headwind presenting a significant hurdle for dogs and riders alike. Coming over the first creek crossing, Gigi would take the immediate treeline forward, while Gauge would swing out on the right before casting forward to the crossing treeline. He would be seen pointed at 0:11, a bird seen leaving ahead of him. With both dogs looking a little scattered (most likely a result of the 20mph gusting headwind) through the two small fields before the road crossing, they would nonetheless cross the road and take the right edge towards the crossing treeline and come in towards the Davis Bottom gap, where they would both stop at 0:18, a bird then visible against the sky. Gigi would then dig in along the creekbed and come forward in its relative shelter. While their patterns needed a little focus to challenge the winners, their ground speed did not -- and coming into the Island Field to finish up, both dogs would finish up ringing around the larger of the two islands and heading down the left side towards the escarpment.
National Open Championship
The judges for this year’s championship were Gailen Cooper (who had stayed on from judging the Derby Classic) and Pat Sheehan, from Jacksonville, IL. Pat Sheehan’s time in the sport and judging resume are significant, including judging the Red Setter National Championship in 2016. The Association and all the competitors appreciate their insight, diligence, and concentration during the two-and-a-half days it took to run the stake. Gailen Cooper, in particular, having watched this year’s Championship was keen to encourage those present to run their red dogs in more American Field stakes that have, to this point, been largely dominated by pointers and setters.
From a strong field of 33 starters, the judges pronounced CK Post Route Scout, owned by Jim Gingrich, bred by Mark Sullivan, and handled by Brian Gingrich, as champion, with Cali’s Wiki Wiki Mai Tai At Sunset (Mia), owned by Chad & Nancy Chadwell, bred by Brian and Stephanie Fidler, and handled by Chad, as runner-up. A young dog, Scout has the distinction of just having won the NVA’s National Derby Classic in 2016.
The judges also wanted to recognize the efforts of several other dogs: JB’s Asker About Birds (Kinze), Lundy’s Red Bull, and Kick Em Up Bullet.
Scout ran in the ninth brace with Buddy (Winnen). Turned loose on the second course, Scout would immediately establish a strong forward pattern over the initial hill and down along the creek bed towards Sycamore Bottom. As the gallery entered the long, wide field, Scout could be seen 400 yards ahead at the far, northwesterly corner. He would be gathered up ready for the fairly sharp turn uphill towards the Twin Barns, crossing across the slope to be found standing in one of the mown strips on the left side at 0:17, a single flushed from the dun broomsedge. While there was a minor turn-to-mark, his intensity and style were of the highest caliber. He would arc around below the Blue House, moving smoothly out front into the Bull Pasture. He would swing the turn wide and be found standing in a small island of oaks out on the left side at 0:35, head high, looking up into the wind. After an initial flushing effort, he would be asked to relocate, moving no more than a foot before emphatically styling up again, the bird now readily located and flushed. He would make the turn through the chicane at the far end of the Bull Pasture before finding high gear once more and making a bold independent cast down the right side of the broomsedge towards its far southwesterly corner. Erudite scouting would locate Scout at 0:51, deep in the far corner of the field near the solitary dead tree, standing stall looking into the scrubby brush. The judges’ marshal would flush the bird some 25 yards directly upwind ahead of the dog and alert the judges to its departure, the dog stoic throughout the exercise. He would power forward through the next zig-zag of turns before dropping off the plateau and down into the valley looking east towards the auxiliary parking area. He would finish his hour impressively, climbing forcefully up the steep hill towards the Twin Barns.
Mia ran in the sixth brace with Ellie Mae (Gingrich), also on the second course but in the heat and humidity of the mid-afternoon. Coming off the high plateau and swinging around to the northeast into the succession of small fields and creek crossings before Sycamore Bottom, Mia would be found on point in the back corner of the largest of those fields at 0:08, Ellie Mae backing beautifully. The dogs were standing looking into some scrubby milo up against a fence line, the birds mercifully flushing wild as the handlers approached. As the gallery came into the long bottom field, Mia would be seen standing on the side hill before the old sycamore at 0:14, a pair of birds flushed out of the scrubby briars. Sent on down the right side, she would turn kindly for her handler and come up through the turn, stopping roughly three-quarters of the way up the hill on the right side at 0:21, a bird flushed from the scrubby grass. Coming up to the Twin Barns, Mia would stop on the right side at 0:28, the bird produced from a cover strip near the main path, with all in order. Entering the next bowl, she would swing purposefully out to the drainage below the stock pond before moving forward through the chute below the Blue House. Swinging north through the Bull Pasture, Mia would stop once more at 0:44, down on the roadside out on the left -- birds successfully flushed out from the fenceline. Watered up in the stock pond up on the north edge ready for the final cast east, she would be turned loose at 0:52 and immediately come to a mannerly stop as a bird exploded unexpectedly ahead of her. Consistently snappy for the entire hour, Mia would finish out going away strong up the hill towards the Twin Barns, seemingly undiminished by the heat of the afternoon.
The first brace would feature Johnny (Beckley) with Buck (Chenoweth). Turned loose on Thursday afternoon into the stiff southerly headwind, Buck would break down the left edge, Johnny the right. The first long field would prove fairly uneventful as both dogs came to terms with the terrain, both lining out nicely despite the headwind. Coming across the first creek crossing in the fields below Andy Daugherty’s house and kennels, Johnny would swing out onto the right treeline to its end before swinging down the header towards his handler and the next crossing, coming to an abrupt, stylish stop midway down at 0:16, standing well off the treeline -- his demeanor impeccable for the lackadaisical flop of the bird. Buck was also making solid forward progress through the small fields before the road crossing, and both dogs would cross the road with plenty of speed, Johnny immediately swinging up towards the Old Davis Cemetery before lining out on the left side of the big field beyond the Davis Bottom Gap. Sadly, Buck would make game and put too much pressure on a bird in the left side of the treeline at 0:22, ending his day. Johnny would swing through the large field and down across the creek crossing into the Island Field, ringing around the larger of the two islands and then north over the escarpment. He would climb Horsekiller Hill smoothly and be taken to the pond at the top before swinging smoothly around through Apple Tree Hill. He would appear to flirt with scent on the back edge but take himself on down the fence line and into the descent into the Little Vine Loop. To finish, he would swing through the loop, climb the short, sharp hill and be seen going away strong over the rolling plateau ahead at the call of time.
The second brace would be held over until the grey, overcast Friday morning, and would feature Hailey (Fairchild) with Dormie (Smith). Both dogs would be fairly evenly matched through the long fields to the first creek crossing, both challenged to take a line by the light, intermittent breezes. Dormie would flirt with scent at 0:17 in the copse of trees on the left side shortly before the road crossing, but would take herself on without incident. Coming through the Davis Bottom Gap, Dormie would devote some effort to exploring the upper treeline and slopes on the left, Hailey the creekside edge on the right. She would come to a stop at 0:25 and, after a relocation several yards upwind, would manage to identify a running bird ahead of her for her handler to chase. With all in order, she would continue forward down the right side, both dogs meeting to cross into the Island Field. Moving down the left side of the Island Field, hunting the milo edge, Hailey would stop again at 0:37, some hundred yards before the rocky escarpment, a rabbit seen leaving ahead of her in the scrub. Coming into the broomsedge field, Hailey would move down the left edge nicely towards the Horsekiller turn, Dormie content to hunt the grassy plain across the front. Both dogs would make turn up the hill and through the Apple Tree Hill bowl kindly before dropping down into the Little Vine Loop -- where their time would expire shortly before the back gates.
The third brace would bring Kinze (Beckley) to the line with Katy (Syczylo) to be turned loose at the base of the short, sharp hill. While Katy would work methodically across the front through the eastbound turn, Kinze appeared to have punched out the front and swung forward through one of the gullies on the northern side to come back into view with her handler at 0:09. Dropping down off the backside of the plateau, Kinze would swing out on the right side of first field coming to a stop at 0:14, standing in the woods edge. A bird would be readily produced, the dog making a mannerly turn-to-mark as the bird flew over its head. Coming into Sycamore Bottom, Katy would make a nice move out to the right side, Kinze starting on that side, but crossing along the treeline cover to push forward on the left. Both dogs would turn kindly into the climb up towards the Twin Barns, Kinze seen cruising forward as the gallery came through the gate at the top. Katy would drop down off the left shoulder and come to a stop at 0:28 at the head of one of the cover strips. Initially somewhat uncertain she would be encouraged to work it out, a bird eventually produced ahead of her. Kinze in the meantime had also dropped off the left side to be found, in turn, standing looking into a bramble thicket, the bird miraculously flushed from the tangle at 0:30. Sent on down this left side, she would spin into a stop at 0:33, looking down into the wind, shortly before the Barns -- another single flown ahead of her. Turned loose out into the open bowl below the Blue House, Kinze would head for the obvious objective of the draw below the stock pond, coming to a stop some fifty yards below it at 0:40, looking into a tangled briar thicket that would tower above her handler. After a relocation and further flushing efforts proved unsuccessful, the handler elected to move on to avoid further blood loss. Coming back together with her bracemate in the Bull Pasture, Kinze would immediately take the front and move down the outside edge of the turn, coming to a stop at 0:49 near a small copse of trees with everything in order. While Katy would continue to work methodically ahead of her handler through the short series of chicanes, Kinze had moved powerfully out front to be found at 0:58 standing in a thicket in small swale. Sadly, Katy would fail to honor her bracemate in a sufficiently timely fashion ending her bid. A pair of birds would be flushed ahead of Kinze, a wild covey lifting off the hillside 200 yards further on at the shot. Time would expire as the birdwork was completed, Kinze’s drive to find birds and her ability to know the front never in question.
The fourth brace would feature Kimber (Bell) with Hootie (Syczylo). Turned loose on top of the plateau, the dogs would initially have to negotiate the gate crossing before dropping down into the valley towards the auxiliary parking. After a spirited climb up the backside of the hill towards the Twin Barns, both dogs would come to a mannerly polished stop at 0:05 -- Hootie honoring Kimber’s point at the fenceline shortly before the barns, a bird readily flushed ahead of her. Descending into the Valley of Death, with Kimber largely concentrating on the lower edges of the chute, Hootie had climbed high on the right shoulder. He would be found standing at the far head of the right side ridge at 0:17, standing underneath an oak looking into some short, scrubby briars just before a small pond -- a bird readily flown ahead of him. Coming through the Double Gates and heading north on the high side, both dogs would cruise down the right treeline towards the Bramhall Cemetery and make a foray into the dry creek bed. Passing through the cut below the cemetery, Hootie would climb up towards the roadside edge at 0:28 and come to a stop by the small pond immediately below the crossing into the auxiliary parking area -- although sadly, all flushing and relocation efforts would prove fruitless. Both dogs would motor through the final field, across the creek, and begin the climb up the rocky hill parallel to Meadowlark Road, Kimber consistently forward and gusty in her efforts. Dropping down off the ridge for the turn northwest back into the hayfield, Hootie would swing up the right side and come to a stop near the second of the two small ponds at 0:43, sadly proving not productive again. Nonetheless, taken on into the initial long breaking-away field, both dogs would renew their southbound search through the first creek crossing -- at which point, Hootie would continue down the milo strip, Kimber swinging wide to the right to engage with the upper woodline. At the head of the strip, Hootie would swing west up the line of trees towards the road, stopping midway at 0:58 looking into the treeline from out in the field, Kimber executing a perfect back from inside the woodline from at least 75 yards away. Sadly, this too would prove non-productive, time expiring during the various flushing efforts.
The fifth brace featured Marko (Howard) and Bull (Miller) and would turn loose on the first course. The action would begin fairly quickly at the neck of the first field, just through the cut with the prominent dead tree in the middle -- Marko in the grassy strip on the left, Bull roughly 100 yards further on on the right side at 0:06, birds readily flushed ahead of each of the dogs. Both dogs would proceed smoothly down through the creek crossing and into the fields below Andy Daugherty’s kennel, Bull climbing out from the crossing and out on the right side. Both dogs would be found standing midway down the header treeline at 0:10, both handlers firing for a divided find. Nevertheless, not entirely happy with his dog’s footwork, Howard elected to pick up at 0:10. For the next half-hour between finds, the judges had the pleasure of a true show -- of a handler and a dog aware of where they were on the course, aware which two people they had to paint a picture for, and quietly confident in their ability to get it done. Bull would swing confidently through the Davis Bottom Gap, initially wanting to go high, but instead choosing to swing out along the left side before moving smoothly across the hedgeline and then swinging forward out on the right side taking it all the way to the the crossing into the Island Field. He would cruise down through the broomsedge field and up over Horsekiller Hill, before driving through the bowl to the fenceline at the back of Apple Tree Hill. He would be seen standing at 0:44, near a row of very young cedars, several birds rising as the judges approached, the remainder of the covey still on the ground on the far side of fence -- the same covey of resident birds that Kimber had found in her winning Amateur performance. Bull would downshift slightly in the growing heat of the afternoon coming through the Little Vine Loop gap, but would brace himself once more in anticipation of the final short sharp hill, and would roll down the right side of the rolling plateau before making the eastward turn and finishing up out front and going forward with assurance.
The sixth brace featured Mia (already covered) with Ellie Mae. After not seeing much of her through the first couple of minutes as the course entered the small patchwork of fields before Sycamore Bottom, Ellie Mae would be seen taking entering the largest of those fields -- and then to be found honoring Mia in high style at 0:08. Coming into the Bottom, she would take the long left edge of the field and come to a stop in the very northwestern corner at 0:15 -- although sadly all flushing and relocation efforts would prove fruitless. Sent on wide around the right side of the field and up the hedgeline towards the Double Gates, Ellie Mae would handle kindly up the hill and come to a stop three-quarters of the way up at 0:22 -- although, sadly, this too would prove barren and her handler elected to pick up.
The seventh brace featured Pete (Fountain) with Taza (Gingrich) for the final brace of the afternoon. Turned loose below the Twin Barns, both dogs would climb out forcefully and drop down into the Valley of Death -- both dogs pushing out the front and unseen till they were found out on the right side of the hay field shortly before the cut-through towards the Double Gates at 0:11, both handlers firing at the flush for a divided find. While Pete would head almost directly for the gates, Taza would rim the southern edge of the field before turning and running the northbound edge toward the opening. Pete had already gone through the gates and come to a stop in the road immediately around the corner at 0:15, Gingrich opting to whoa his dog short of the gates to avoid any chance of careening into the dog on point. Sadly, all flushing and relocation efforts would prove unsuccessful and the dogs taken on through into the northbound succession of fields towards the clubhouse. With both dogs opting for the treeline on the lower, right side, they would come together again at 0:19, Fountain opting to take an honor for Pete, a bird readily produced ahead of Taza. Taken on again, Taza would point on the right side once again at 0:25, shortly before the Cemetery, self-relocating before the handler arrived to come to a final stop another few yards deeper inside the treeline. Sadly, this stand would prove non-productive. In the meantime, Pete had begun to wane in the growing heat of the afternoon and Fountain elected to pick up at 0:30. Coming through the creek crossing into the breakaway field, Taza would cross over to the small island of trees directly ahead and stop at 0:35, initially fruitless but a 25 yard relocation successfully upwind pinning a single bird for the mannerly dog. Taza would climb the rocky hill and arc around kindly before dropping back down into the hay fields, although his pattern and energy would falter for several minutes before approaching the dead tree cut -- at which point he would find his stride again and spend the final few minutes ticking nicely out front up to the call of time.
The eighth brace would turn loose the next morning with temperatures in the mid-thirties and, due to a bitch in season dropping to the end, would feature Bullet (Bell) and Jones (Syzczylo). No doubt invigorated by the cold, damp air, both dogs would break away hard down the first long field. Coming through the first creek crossing, Bullet would swing up to the right side and go forward down the treeline, leaving Jones to work the milo strips on either side. Bullet would complete the swing up the right side, then come eastwards down the woodline to his handler, stopping midway down at 0:12, a single bird flushed ahead of him. Working through the next procession of small fields and over the road crossing, Bullet would take the outer right hand edge of the large field through and beyond the Davis Bottom Gap, Jones the left side. Coming through the next creek crossing to the Island Field, Bullet would deliberately target both islands before swinging forward towards the escarpment, Jones, too, taking the long left edge smoothly. After climbing Horsekiller Hill, Bullet would take the long fenceline south before turning west along the line of cedars back in towards his handler for the descent into the Little Vine Loop pastures. Jones would begin to fade working through these small irregular fields of broomsedge and indian grass, while Bell would wisely water up Bullet before the inevitable climb up the short, sharp hill above the back gates. Coming over the rise, Bullet would take the righthand edge forward before crossing over to the (now) left side as the course turned east. Jones would finish the hour, going forward but obviously showing the effort. Bullet would finish going away strong and forward at the call of time, ultimately found at the base of the plateau standing a bird.
The ninth brace featured Scout (already covered) with Buddy. After an initial extended absence, Buddy would re-appear from the right side of Sycamore Bottom at 0:08 and move forward with purpose. He would not be seen making the northeasterly turn up the hill. Nevertheless, he would show up at the approach to the Twin Barns out on the left slope near several large brush piles at 0:26 -- and while nothing was definitively seen by the judges, the handler elected to pick up his dog at that point.
The tenth brace would feature Ty (Chadwell) with Cayenne (Gingrich). Starting at the base of the hill below the Twin Barns, both dogs would break away smartly and crest over the shoulder of the hill easily, dropping down into the Valley of Death -- Cayenne initially opting to swing wide and come along the right ridge before dropping down into the chute to join Ty. They would swing around the final section of the Sycamore Bottom easily and cross the road at the Double Gates. Ty would swing down towards the creek bed and come to a stop midway down the woodline at 0:15 -- an extended flushing effort finally prompting a single into the air. Taken to the front, both dogs would come together again in the field before the Bramhall Cemetery, Cayenne high on the left roadside edge, Ty continuing his quest along the woods on the right. With both dogs dropping into the little hook at the head of this field, Ty would come to a stop at 0:23, Cayenne honoring in mannerly fashion. Sadly, all flushing and relocation efforts would fail to yield a bird and the dogs would be taken on towards the clubhouse fields. Nevertheless,
after a brief conversation with the judges, both handlers elected to save their dogs the effort of the final rocky, hill climb loop in the heat of the afternoon and elected to pick up in the breakaway field at 0:32.
The eleventh brace would bring Henry (Bell) to the line with Coach (Tuttle). Both dogs would make their way down the long first field, both needing a little help to establish a consistent edge pattern in the ever-present headwind. Sadly, as the gallery approached the dead tree cut at 0:05, Henry would be seen under a bird ending his day. Aware of the performances ahead of him, Tuttle then elected to pick up his dog at the road crossing at 0:19 to save him unnecessary effort in the growing heat of the day.
The twelfth brace would see Remi (Fountain) with Sig (Hess) turned loose at the Davis Bottom Gap, the temperature easily approaching seventy degrees in the full sunshine. Remi would take the initiative on the left side of the long Davis field, Sig the right -- the two dogs coming together at the scrubby hedgeline that traverses that field a little over halfway down at 0:06. Sig would execute a spectacular, spontaneous honor from at least 25 yards away, while Remi stood high and tight as a single bird was flown out ahead of him. Taken on down the right side once more, Sig would come to a stop out on the creekside edge near a cluster of young cedars at 0:08, a bird unable to be produced from the tangle of grass and briars on the downhill side. Both dogs would swing around the Island Field with relative ease before climbing over the escarpment and dropping down through the broomsedge field towards Horsekiller Hill. Watered in the pond at the top, both dogs would pass through the hot, sandy bowl of Apple Tree Hill and proceed down towards the small mosaic of mixed grass fields of the Little Vine Loop -- both seeming somewhat deflated after the climb and steep descent. Nevertheless, after swinging around the left edge towards the posted gap, Sig would come to a stop about two-thirds of the way up the woodline at 0:31, a single produced from the brush ahead of him. Continuing on through the gap into the back gates field, Remi would be sighted looking into a thicket down towards the creekside edge at 0:35, Sig again honoring in high style. After the initial flushing efforts failed, Remi would be asked to relocate -- his enthusiasm sadly proving too much for a single bird hidden in the undergrowth, ending his bid. At that point, aware of the performances ahead of him, Hess also elected to pick up his dog.
The thirteenth brace would see Bam Bam (Gingrich) and Bella (Syzczylo) turned loose below the short, sharp hill. Both dogs would curve around the eastward turn and drop down into the first of the irregular fields that fringe the smaller, dry stream bed that runs out of the southwest and across Sycamore Bottom into Parks Creek. Bella would swing out to the right side of the first field to be found standing at 0:10 looking from the milo edge into a thicket of briars, a bird readily flown from the stylish young dog. Both dogs would make their way through these smaller fields and into the outflow to Sycamore Bottom, Bella swinging out to the namesake tree out on the right side, Bam Bam taking the left edge all the way out before looping back to his handler -- at which point, Gingrich elected to pick him up at 0:18. Bella would continue up the right side of the field before coming up the hedgeline (that frames the dry creek ditch) and stopping in the milo edge at 0:21. After an initial unsuccessful flushing effort, Bella would be asked to relocate -- and sadly, her forward progress would send the single bird into the air ending her bid.
With so many premature endings prior, the fourteenth brace featuring Briar (Hess) with Stone (Stapleton) would leave from just beyond the dry stream ditch and immediately turn northwest up the hill toward the Twin Barns. Both dogs would struggle to establish a strong forward pattern in the bright, unseasonably warm heat of the afternoon as they climbed up over the rise toward the Twin Barns. Swinging through the stock pond bowl and past the Blue House, both dogs would never quite fully engage with the course -- and both handlers would elect to pick up at 0:26.
The fifteenth brace would also run on Friday afternoon due to the multiple early endings -- bringing Guy (Gingrich) to the line with Case (Fountain) at the conventional start to the third course below the Twin Barns. Turned loose, both dogs would drive up the hill, Case taking the obvious route forward down into the Valley of Death, Guy arcing out left as the gallery crested out. Guy would then be unseen for almost 15 minutes, eventually reappearing through the Double Gates far out on the lower creekside edge above what would be the second creekside crossing on the first course. In the meantime, Case had been performing yeoman service ahead of Fountain, engaging with the middle treeline as the course came through the gates. Both dogs would move through the field below the Bramhall Cemetery, Guy then coming to a stop at 0:22 in the treeline of the next field below the auxiliary parking, a small covey of birds boosted out of the ditch ahead of him. Coming across the breakaway field towards the rocky hill, Guy would lead the way out beyond the spur before turning eastward. As the gallery climbed onto the rocky ridge, Guy could be seen across the gulley coming forward along the hedgeline parallel to Meadow Lark Road, Case slightly lower on the slope -- a move never attempted by any other dogs who had made it this far. Dropping down off the rocky slope, Guy would then come to a stylish stop at 0:38 near the second small pond on the right side, but sadly all flushing and relocation efforts would prove futile. The climb had clearly affected Case, too, as he would take the left, shaded side around the point into the big breakaway field, then run through a bird on the edge and fail to stop in a mannerly fashion, ending his bid at 0:40. After his non-productive, Guy would appear to lose focus in the large breakaway field, the wind now coming up his back not helping matters. He would nonetheless gird himself once again and, passing through the dead tree cut, would swing out to the creekside edge on the right to come to a stop in the milo strip at 0:49. Sadly, this too would provide non-productive ending his bid for the title.
The sixteenth brace, the first of the final morning, would feature Red (Gingrich), with members of the Bangert family riding in support of their dog, and Mara (Fountain), in turn supported and scouted by her owner, Karen Concilio. Both dogs would take a little while to settle into a strong forward pattern, punching forward through the dead tree cut -- only to find Red standing tall in the far corner at 0:11, with Mara honoring stylishly, a pair of birds sent out ahead of him. Sent on, both dogs would stay on the left edge through the creek crossing, Mara swinging up the prominent draw some 200 yards off the course path to point at the head of a line of small trees at 0:16 -- perhaps the most picturesque find seen all week -- Red requiring a little reminder of his obligation to honor. A pair of birds would be flushed directly ahead of her and the two dogs taken on. Both dogs would continue as they had begun, occasionally scattered in their application, but otherwise snappy as they moved through the Davis Bottom and the Island Field. The climb up into the Apple Tree Hill bowl would go smoothly into the descent into the Little Vine Loop. Red would come to a stop at the gap looking into the final small field before the back gates at 0:52, although he would make an inappropriate decision before his handler could get to him sending the bird into an unauthorized ascent -- and ending his bid. At that point, Fountain also elected to pick up his charge.
The seventeenth and final brace of the championship would feature Reve (Gingrich) running by herself. Turned loose at the base of the short, sharp hill, she would climb out and punch forward with a verve. Versant scouting would locate Reve looking into the final cover strip below the deer stand at 0:08, her style obviously affected by being in season. And so, while a bird would be produced ahead of her, a brief conversation with the judges led to her handler choosing to pick her up, bringing the 2017 NVA National Championship events to an end after six exciting days chasing the bird with the whirring wings.
“That night, around many a warm fire, guns were cleaned, oiled, and put away for another year. Many were the tales, both true and tall, that were told of pointing dogs and exciting shots. Hopes ran high for developing pups and for the already planned hunting trips to be made next fall.” (p.46)
Ladies Foot Race
Left to right - Race Winner Nancy Brown, Judge Mark Johnson, Carrie Syczylo, Costume Winner Michelle Hess, Jenna Howard, and Natalie Howard