Thursday, January 22, 2009
Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation
The annual Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation Open All-Age Field Trial and Derby was held on the historic 7,000-acre estate in Holly Springs. The drawing was held Saturday, December 6. Although the trial was set to begin Monday, Dec. 8, heavy rains and thunderstorms delayed the National Qualifying Stake to Wednesday.
With a prize package worth over $14,000, competitors traveled from all parts of the country to vie for the championship. There were 28 dogs in the Open All-Age and 12 dogs in the Derby. The entry roster was short from the customary lineup.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Fitch have transformed their farm into a premier hunting preserve with an abundant quail population. The courses, tree lines and grounds are well maintained year around. The terrain consists of rolling hills, open pastures, creek bottoms with steep climbs and deep draws along the way.
In addition to the beautiful landscape, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch have restored numerous pre-Civil War cabins including the original home of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Not only are guests drawn to the farm for hunting purposes, but every visitor enjoys hearty breakfasts, home cooked meals and occasional live entertainment.
This year’s Field Trial was dedicated to Don Dowdle of Somerville, Tenn. For the past 10 or more years, the report of each year’s National Championship has been enhanced by photos furnished by Dowdle. He also provided photos and articles for events at Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation. He was always ready to capture a story with a camera around his neck and notepad and pen in his pocket.
Each February Don would publish a special issue entitled “Field Trial Review” covering the dogs, owners and handlers competing in that year’s National Championship. It grew from a modest 24-page edition to two large sections encompassing more than 48 pages with color photos and special features. Dowdle also published the “Mid-South Horse Review.” You never knew if you would see him at a team penning, cutting show, barrel race or rodeo.
Donald Leigh Dowdle died Friday morning, October 24, 2008 at the age of 58. Don was a native of Charleston and a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in business and industry.
Don was diagnosed with cancer a year or more ago. It was in remission during this past year’s Grand Junction Classic, but soon after, the cancer returned. An MRI revealed the cancer had metastasized and that nothing could be done to curtail the disease.
Dowdle is survived by his wife Lee “Sissy” (Saunders) Dowdle, their daughter Meredith, two daughters, Laura Ann and Britain; his mother Martha Johnson Dowdle, a grandmother and two siblings. Services were held Monday afternoon, October 27 in Somerville, Tenn.
Mr. and Mrs. Fitch want to thank Sissy Dowdle for attending the Field Trial on behalf of Dowdle. She said she knows that he is running the big Field Trial in the sky. May he rest in peace.
The trial was to start Monday, December 8, but due to heavy rains and thunderstorms, the trial was delayed until Wednesday, December 10. The brace began at 8 a.m. on a cloudy, overcast morning. Charles Eoff offered the preliminary announcements, and after a moment of silence, the dogs were off and running.
Strut (Tommy Davis) and Queen of Scots (David Grubb) dashed quickly down the straight away to the front. Traveling over a hill and along the woods, Queen of Scots nailed a covey at the seven on the right past a pond. He pointed in good fashion while Strut took the back. All was in order.
Both dogs dug in well to the side of the course. At the 16, Strut had a find on the left side of the course near some milo while Queen of Scots located birds on the right near a row of pines. Finds were successful and all was in order.
Soaring down a steep hill, Strut whipped on a covey on the far edge at the 21. Queen of Scots backed respectfully. They were well mannered as the handler flushed the birds and fired the shot. All was in order.
Motoring up a grassy knoll, Queen of Scots locked on birds at the 31 mark to the right of the course. She was picturesque as the handler flushed. All was in order.
Running hard to the front, Queen of Scots came to a screeching halt at the 41 near the Egyptian wheat patch. She had a successful find and all was in order.
In the second brace, it was Kodak Reflection (Wade Griffin) and Poison (Tommy Davis) paired off to compete. Both dogs were out front from the get-go. Poison swung pleasingly to the right then made a wide cast to the left. At the nine, Poison had his first find to the left at a green field edge. He was handsomely posed as the handler flushed the bevy. All was in order.
Just before crossing Wilson Golden Road at the 28 mark, Poison had his second successful find. The pointer male stood staunch as the birds were flushed. The shot rang and all was in order.
Charging ahead, Poison was covering a lot of ground. He was searching the tree lines when he came to a halt at the 49 on Hendrix’s farm. With a positive stand, the handler flushed and all was in order.
Six minutes later at the 55 mark, Davis tipped his hat. Poison was on another covey. The handler flushed in front then relocated for a stop to flush. All was in order.
Poison charged ahead towards the finish line against a strong northern wind. He had a mighty forward race.
Hytest Skyhawk, a setter male, (Ray Warren) and Dunn’s Fearless Moon Baby, a pointer male, (Wade Griffin) were ready for battle in the third brace. The dogs struck out boldly down the course. Stretching hard to the front, Hytest was searching diligently for birds. A light rain began to fall and the winds started to blow, but this did not deter the setter. At the 29 mark, Hytest put on the brakes right before Wilson Golden Road. He stood with head and tail high as Warren flushed the bevy. All was in order.
Hytest was off to locate more birds. Soaring over the knolls and working the tree lines, he had another covey pinned at the 41 near the red cow pasture. The handler flushed and all was in order.
The setter had a big forward race. Dunn’s Fearless Moon Baby had commendable ground effort.
In the fourth brace, War Dance (Larry Huffman) and Geisha (David Grubb) were set to run the first course. The dogs flashed down the course while hunting determinedly. Working the fence line near honeysuckle bushes, Geisha had a find at the seven. Although War Dance stopped, he did not back respectfully and was picked up. Geisha stood with perfect manners as the handler flushed. All was in order.
Running fast and furious over a hill, the pointer female screeched on the brakes at the 15 mark. She was on point once again with an arrow-straight tail. Grubb flushed the bevy and all was in order.
Geisha had a far-reaching forward cast over a grassy knoll. When she came to a small briar patch at the 30, she located her third successful find. The handler flushed and all was in order to move ahead.
Geisha was rocketing across a big field working the sidelines. At the 36, she nailed more birds near a feed plot. It was a successful find and all was in order.
Closing in on the finish mark, she was still running with exuberance. Geisha found her last covey of the brace at the 55 mark. With head and tail high, shots rang and all was in order.
Hytest King (Ray Warren) and Steven’s Black Eyed Susan (Wade Griffin) drew for the fifth brace. Hytest King was scratched, so it was up to Black Eyed Susan to find the birds. She took to the course bending with the country and mindful of her handler. The pointer female searched the tree lines, thickets and milo patches for the scent of birds. Her effort paid off, for at the 35 mark, she located a covey near a feed patch. A bevy was flushed, but Black Eyed Susan was picked up after chasing birds.
The sixth brace proved to be unproductive. Whipporwill Whirl (Larry Huffman) and Rockwood Chief (Ray Warren) were unable to locate the birds due to heavy rain and threatening weather conditions.
Storm (Gary Lester) and Harpeth Valley Hawk (Ray Warren) provided one of the most exciting braces of the trial. It was brace seven and the dogs shot off like cannons down the first course. Soaring hard to the front, the pointers rounded the pasture near a small pond. Storm put on his brakes near a kudzu patch at the seven mark. Harpeth Valley Hawk backed respectfully. Lester flushed the covey and all was in order.
Flying across the terrain through gullies and rolling hills, the dogs were persistent to find birds. At the 13 past the Miller Place, Storm located the second bevy. He stood with impeccable style while Hawk backed with head and tail high. Both dogs were well mannered as the birds were flushed. All was in order.
Running hard to the front, Storm and Hawk were scouring the tree lines to the right of the course. Storm picked up the scent of birds at the 20 mark. He pointed with a positive stand as Hawk backed. As the birds were revealed, both dogs kept their stance while all was called to order. Making a strong directed effort, the pointers were off to locate more birds. At the 35, Warren signaled point. Hawk posed with high-tailed, high-headed intensity as the handler flew a spread-out bevy and shot. Storm backed with attractive style. All was in order.
Rocketing down the straight away, Hawk searched the tree lines and pine thickets. His effort paid off at the 45. Warren tipped his cap as Hawk stood staunch on a covey to the right of the course. Storm backed with mannerly fashion. All was in order.
Both dogs ranged well ahead, canvassing potential areas. Hawk rounded a corner towards the end of the brace when he pinned another covey at the 57 mark. He had impeccable style as the shot rang. Storm backed the flush. All was in order.
Both dogs displayed excellent bird work and finished strong to the front.
In brace eight, Mississippi Hot Rod (Wade Griffin) and Thunder Snowy (Steve Hurdle) were off to a fast start on the second course. Rounding a bend near a pine thicket, Thunder Snowy pointed with attractive style at the six mark. The pointer female stood with tail high as Hurdle flushed the covey. All was in order. Running up a hill through the pines, Thunder Snowy had her second find at the 12. She pointed with impeccable style. Birds were flushed and all was in order.
Making a fast clip across Wilson Golden Road, Thunder Snowy hit the brakes at the 45. Hurdle flushed the bevy and all was called to order. Mississippi Hot Rod ran a fast race but couldn’t locate the birds.
Severe weather set in for the ninth brace. It was 35 degrees, cold and dreary. By 10:30 a.m., the rain turned to a light snow. Lester’s Intimidator (Gary Lester) and Whipporwill Wild Again (Larry Huffman) took to the third course in search of birds. At the three mark, Lester’s Intimidator located a covey, but unfortunately, he bumped the birds. Whipporwill Wild Again was stretching out to the front. After searching diligently, he produced a bevy at the 35 near Wilson Golden Road. He was picked up at the 40.
Miller’s Happy Jack (Gary Lester) and Dunn’s Fearless Mike (Wade Griffin) were paired for the 10 brace. It was a cloudy 36 degrees. Miller’s Happy Jack had a quick find at the three to the left of the course. All was in order. Exuding a fast forward effort, Jack was on point once again at the seven near the tree line. Lester flushed and all was in order. Dunn’s Fearless Mike was lost in the process.
Brace 11 proved to be an exciting competition. Lester’s Snow Watch (Gary Lester) and Phillip’s High Line (David Grubb) set the stage early with a strong directed effort. Lester’s Snow Watch was working the left line of the course when he came to a halt at the two-minute mark. He stood statuesque as the birds were flushed. All was in order.
Phillip’s High Line was searching the right side of the course. He nailed a bevy at the five while Lester’s Snow Watch backed respectfully. All was in order.
Soaring down a grassy hill, Phillip’s High Line skidded on the brakes at the 10. Lester’s Snow Watch backed with style. All was in order.
Charging up a hill and through the pines, Lester’s Snow Watch pinned a covey at the 17. Phillip’s High Line backed with respect. Just before Wilson Golden Road at the 30 mark, Lester’s Snow Watch was on point with head and tail high. Phillip’s High Line was there to back. The handler flushed and all was in order.
After crossing the road, Lester’s Snow Watch was working a food patch to the left of the terrain when he had another find at the 45. His manners were flawless at their flight and Lester’s ensuing shot. All was in order.
Both dogs were running a fast pattern, dashing hard to the front. Rounding a corner towards the Hendrix’s farm, Lester’s Snow Watch put on the brakes at the 50. Phillip’s High Line backed with style. All was in order.
Both dogs displayed excellent manners and finished fast and out of sight. It was a top drawer All-Age race.
Brace 12 matched up Chief Two Feathers (Steve Hurdle) and B.B.’s Pike (Ray Warren). Both dogs were out front from the get-go turning with the course and searching the tree lines. Chief Two Feathers had the first find at the 10 near a food plot. He handsomely posed as the handler flushed. All was in order.
Striking out boldly, B.B.’s Pike and Chief Two Feathers had a double find at the 45 near the cow pasture just across Wilson Golden Road. Both dogs displayed good manners as the handlers flushed the birds. All was in order.
It was sunny and 35 degrees for the start of brace 13. Taking to the first course was Cross City Kate (Ray Warren) and House’s Confidential (Steve Hurdle). The most finds were produced during this brace. House’s Confidential set the stage early with a find at the two mark. He stood with head and tail high as the covey was flushed. Cross City Kate backed respectfully. All was in order.
Soaring across the red cow pasture, House’s Confidential was on point to the left on a fence line at the five. He stood intensely as Hurdle ensued the shot. Cross City Kate backed with style. All was in order.
Making a commendable ground effort, House’s Confidential rocketed up a hill and through the pines. At the 15, he put on the brakes and pinned another bevy. His demeanor was excellent as the birds were flushed. All was in order.
Hot on the scent of more quail, House’s Confidential struck out boldly across the terrain. Working the edges, he was on point at the 28. He stood staunch as the shot rang out. All was in order.
Scouring the left side of the course, Hurdle tipped his cap at the 40 mark as House’s Confidential nailed another covey. He posed with high-headed intensity as the handler spread out the covey and shot. All was in order.
Running hard to the front, House’s Confidential had his last find at the 45 near the end of the course. All was in order.
He finished with style and energy.
The last race of the All-Age competition was brace 14 with Southern Parley (Steve Hurdle) and Whipporwill Fire Box (Larry Huffman). Both dogs started with a strong directed effort. At the five mark, Southern Parley was spotted on point with Whipporwill Fire Box backing. Unfortunately, it proved to be unproductive. Whipporwill Fire Box charged forward. She was on point at the eight, but it, too, was unproductive. Three minutes later, she located a covey on the right of the course next to a wood line. This time birds were located and Fire Box held firm with high-tail style as Huffman flushed the covey. All was in order.
Southern Parley wasn’t far behind. At the 12 mark, the pointer male was on point. A rabbit was produced but no birds were located. Southern Parley dashed ahead working the left side of the course. He skidded on the brakes near a pine thicket at the 25. His demeanor was dead certain as the handler flushed and fired the shot. All was in order. Just before Wilson Golden Road, Fire Box whipped into a point at the 30 mark. She was picture perfect as Southern Parley backed respectfully. The covey was flushed and all was in order.
The twosome were canvassing a lot of ground. Fire Box crossed the plantation roadway running hard to the front. Near a hay bale to the right of the course, she had another find at the 40. Shots were fired and all was in order.
Charging ahead up a grassy knoll, Fire Box began working the tree lines. At the 42, she struck an impressive pose on another bevy. She pointed beautifully with excellent manners as Huffman spread out the covey. All was in order.
Open All-Age Results
Judges: John Thompson and Charlie Frank Bryan.
Winner: Lester’s Snow Watch 1574632 Pointer Male. Sire: Miller’s Date Line. Dam: Lester’s Leeza. Owner and handler: Gary Lester.
Second Place: Phillip’s High Line 1585814 Pointer Male. Sire: Phillip’s White Twist. Dam: Phillip’s Silver Star Owner: Bob Fleet. Handler: David Grubb.
Third Place: Poison 1564186 Pointer Male. Sire: The Georgia Force. Dam: Pine Knoll’s Pat. Owners: Tommy Davis and Eddie Sholar. Handler: Tommy Davis.
Brace one started at 10:26 a.m. on the third course at the Hendrix farm. Lester’s Intimidator (Gary Lester) and Quester (Ray Warren) were ready to search for birds. Although both dogs had strong forward races, they were unable to locate the coveys.
Since House’s Confidential (Steve Hurdle) ran in the next to the last brace of the All-Age, Hurdle decided to scratch the dog. Lester’s Snow Storm (Gary Lester) was on his own for the second brace. Running hard to the front, Snow Storm nailed a covey past the red cow pasture at the 8 mark. The pointer male stood handsomely as the handler flushed the birds. All was in order.
Soaring through the pasture and working the tree lines to the right, Snow Storm was on point once again at the 23. The bevy was spread out and all was in order.
Brace number three started at 1:05 p.m. after lunch. Heading off on the first course was Miller’s Happy Jack (Gary Lester) and Hytest Snake (Ray Warren). Hytest Snake had a commendable ground effort but was unable to pin any birds. Miller’s Happy Jack turned to the left of the course along the Jordans’ fence line. He came to a halt and stapled a covey at the seven mark. All was in order as the birds were flushed.
Running hard and fast to the front, Jack ran up a steep hill then located a covey next to the cow pasture at the 14. All was in order for this brace.
House’s River Wind (Ike Todd) and Thunder House (Steve Hurdle) were paired for brace four of the Derby. It was a warm and sunny day and both dogs took off running hard down the first course. Thunder House was turning the course and soon hit a bevy near a pine thicket to the left at the 17. House’s River Wind respectfully backed. All was in order.
Soaring through a pasture and down a steep hill, Thunder House located a covey just past the gap at 21. Hurdle flushed the birds and all was in order. Just before the pick-up at the 30 mark, House’s River Wind had a find to the right. He struck boldly as Thunder House backed. All was in order.
In brace number five, House’s Appachie River (Ike Todd) and B.B. Duplicator (Ray Warren) were ready for battle. Both dogs started off fast and furious. B.B. Duplicator had the first find at the seven mark behind the lodge. He pointed with impressive style as the birds were flushed. All was in order. Charging with intensity to the front, Appachie River pinned a covey to the left side of the course at the 13. Lester flushed the bevy and all was in order.
Brace number six took off at 3:10 p.m. Half of the third course, Lester’s Blizzard (Gary Lester) and Lester’s Pretty Boy (Ike Todd) shot off down the course in search of birds. At the five-minute mark, Lester’s Blizzard had an unproductive to the right side of the course. Also at the five, Lester’s Pretty Boy nailed a covey to the left near a fence line and food plot. Todd flushed the bevy and all was in order.
Covering a lot of ground and racing hard to the front, the dogs had a divided find at the 16. They stood staunch as the handlers flushed the birds. All was in order.
Mr. and Mrs. Fitch would like to thank everyone, including the staff, who participated in this National Qualifying Event. A special thanks goes out to Gary Courtney with Purina and all of the local advertisers for helping make the competition possible.
Judges: John Thompson and Charlie Frank Bryan.
Winner: House’s River Wind 1603482 Pointer Male. Sire: House’s Line Up. Dam: June Jubilee. Owner: Joe Don House. Handler: Ike Todd.
Second Place: Lester’s Pretty Boy 1606331 Pointer Male. Sire: Lester’s Snowwatch. Dam: Boxwood Blush. Owner and handler: Gary Lester.
Third Place: Thunder House 1604486 Pointer Female. Sire: House’s Line Up. Dam: Boxwood Blast. Owner: Doug Authur. Handler: Steve Hurdle.
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