By Robert Tomczak
The 2014 NVA National Quail Championship and companion Derby Classic started on October 26. The weather started out a bit challenging for competitors on the first day, but was much more favorable on the following two days. The first day was very dry, windy, and hot, and scenting conditions appeared to be tough for all competitors. The second day was cooler with a moist breeze and was a bit more favorable for the dogs. Rain moved in over night on the final day and we started the morning much cooler and breezy, turning into an overcast and later, beautiful partly cloudy sky that was ideal for the dogs.
The Quail Championship committee was chaired again by founder Robert Tomczak and run with the other stake manager Chad Chadwell and his wife Nancy. Nancy did a great job coordinating most of the lunches and collecting monies. Chad helped me lay out the courses, plant birds each day for morning and midday bird releases, marshalled the derby, and filled in where requested. Great job Chad and Nancy.
There were many that helped with the day to day running and are as follows. The Fidler family brought a second 4 wheeler and helped bag birds, did some bird planting, and helped wherever asked. Their son Andrew Fidler with his newly acquired driver's license and the Syczylo girls, Mikayle and Carlie, did an outstanding job running the dog wagon and getting the dogs safely and efficiently to the appropriate spots. The Syczylo's and Durite Quail Farm supplied the birds and Mike Syczylo filled bird bags the first day for us before having to run their dogs and return to work. Laura Miller did a great job stepping up to run our dog wagon for the derby. If I missed anyone I apologize. It is because of the help of these folks and all those that enter, that continue to make this a successful Championship.
The grounds were in favorable shape this year but a bit more challenging in that the soybean crop had not yet been removed from a few of the fields. This, along with less mowing and thicker pastures, prompted an alteration of the course and made visibility a little tougher, but overall favorable for running dogs. Thanks again to Cha Hill and his group at the park for having the Purina tent up and their continued maintenance efforts on the grounds.
Numbers were a little on the downside this year but the quality of entrants was outstanding. Pros competing were Jaime Fountain of East Dublin Georgia and Brian Gingrich of Rockford Illinois. We had amateurs from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri. Much missed this year was Pro trainer Josh McPherson and father Forrest who is usually in attendance from Utah but were unable to attend this year due to the construction of his new kennel building. They have regularly attended and help, and we look forward to having them back next year. Big thanks to Bonita Austin of the Utah clan who, although unable to attend, sent a donation to support the event.
A special "thank you" to our judges for their time spent in and out of the saddle and their dedication to this great sport. It was a great pleasure having Mike Crouse and his daughter Mary Sue Schalk, judge our Championship. They have been very involved with breeding, training, and handling English pointers for many, many years and they are very involved in their regional clubs on the pointer circuit. Both were very attentive and courteous to each and every handler and this author and judge's marshal thoroughly enjoyed hearing their perspectives on our dogs and their performances. I greatly value and cherish their input and the conversations we had. Our judges for the derby were Peter Coppens who is very involved in the GSP world and the running of the German All-Breed and Mark Johnson, FTCI president. Thank you to Peter's partner, Diane Rakers, for sharing her time in coming and taking some great photos of the event.
We had a wonderful judges dinner and following day lunch that was catered by Speer's BBQ out of DuQuoin, IL. They cooked up half slab ribs and half BBQ chickens with the side fixings and it was highly praised by all. They do an excellent job and are reasonably priced. I would highly recommend them to any club having an event at Pyramid State Park.
Lastly, our deepest appreciation to our wonderful sponsors in Purina Pro Plan dog food, Garmin electronics, and Dogs Unlimited for their continued support of the NVA and this Championship and the sport of field trialing.
A good time was had by all, and we had a great time with our water balloon toss fundraiser before our judges' dinner. Congrats to our 3 winning teams.
This was the 10th year for this event and the 7th year as a Championship. The Denmark Grounds at Pyramid State Park in Culter Illinois has been its home the last 4 years and is proving to be the perfect fit for this event and a great place to challenge and showcase our dogs. Nineteen dogs were drawn and nineteen came to the line. Conditions were tough the first day with bird work being a challenge, but conditions were much more favorable the second day and our winner and runner-up both came out of the first brace on this day.
I believe this was the second time at this Championship for pro trainer Jaime Fountain of East Dublin, Georgia and it turned out to be a rewarding one. The winner was, A Case XX for JT Becker, for owner David Knight of Griffin, Georgia. Runner-up honors went to pro Brian Gingrich of Rockford, Illinois for his owner and father James Gingrich of Winnebago, IL with Burr Oak's Ellie Mae.
Both these dogs ran in the first brace of the second day and it transpired as follows. The whistles blew at 8:07 and both dogs cast down the left edge of the first picked cornfield. They crossed the creek and worked forward down the left side of the soybean field working in and out of the brushy cover and the bean field edge. A Case XX for JT Becker was working the brush as Burr Oak's Ellie Mae swung out into the beans at the turn. At 10, both dogs were standing in thick cover around the turn and guns were fired. Gingrich informed the judges that birds had lifted and both handlers collared their dogs and sent them through the gate and into the pasture. Both dogs worked the ash orchard along the pasture; Case exited the orchard to the front working the olives and at 16 point was called by Fountain. Birds were flushed and all in order. Both Case and Ellie Mae worked at a comparable range forward after the first road crossing through the large pastures past the ponds and disappeared in the cover. After the turn Gingrich and Fountain swung left toward the island of cover between the ponds and point was called at 8:42 for Ellie Mae with Case backing. Again, all was in order. Gingrich called point at 8:46 near the Sycamore tree and Ellie had a small move to mark on flush this time. Both dogs crossed the road and went left of the cattle pasture towards the olive grove and disappeared. Scouts were sent and the call rang out Case was standing. As handlers' road, Ellie Mae appeared at the back of the orchard and was taken on. Fountain flushed the birds for Case as he stood mannerly. Case caught the front and both handlers watered at the road crossing. They were cast into the big bean field and both casted beautifully forward around the edge and were seen disappearing to the far front edge. Just before time, point was called by Fountain and upon arrival Case was standing nicely in cover off the bean field edge with Ellie Mae backing. A covey was flushed as both dogs stood stylishly as time expired. This was a beautiful find and very nice piece of bird work. Both dogs worked hard to the front and handled kindly with little scouting.
Derby Classic Running
The Derby classic started with ideal conditions after an early morning rain. Temperatures were cool with a slight breeze. Fourteen dogs were drawn and fourteen came to the line for the watchful judging team of Johnson and Coppens.
The winner, Fidler's Big Finale or "Fiddy" is owned and handled by Brian Fidler and ran in the first brace. Fiddy ran a solid forward race showing great potential for a young dog. He applied himself well and was consistent the entire brace. Fiddy stayed in touch with the handler, demonstrating more shooting dog potential, but was independent as required. He pointed birds at 12 and 18, allowing Brian to dismount and begin the flush. Fiddy finished strongly to the front and was seen crossing the road to the lake at time.
Second was awarded to Bangert's Red Baron for handler Brian Gingrich and owner Richard Bangert of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Red started quickly making a large forward cast. He rimmed the first field and was seen under birds in the second field. Red's run was temporarily delayed but was collected by Gingrich before moving through the gate and narrow track of woods. Red had to be collected again near the lake in the large pasture. Red ran a strong, mostly forward race, with much independence but got a bit lateral at times.
Third was awarded to Fidler's CK Ragin Bull for owner and handler Brian Fidler. Ragin started well and ran a consistent 30 minute race. His application was consistent throughout the stake and he responded well to his handlers directions. Ragin hung the edges well, hunting in a pleasing fashion. Unfortunately, Ragins efforts did not produce a bird but was awarded for his intelligent run and consistent application.
We hope to see everyone next year at the end of October at Pyramid State Park for the National Quail Championship and Derby Classic.