I really enjoy following the National Championship for bird dogs every February. It's my way of easing the withdrawal symptoms over the ending of bird season, which to my knowledge closes in almost every state by the middle of February. Fortunately for bird dog addicts, the end of hunting season happens to coincide with the running of the national championship in Grand Junction.
Ames Plantation has a web page ( http://www.amesplantation.org/field-trial/) with links to the daily braces which run twice a day during the stake. This coverage includes a brace by brace synopsis for each run, professional photos of field work, and general interest photography from the event.
This years winner was announced Wednesday and by all accounts ran a very classy 3 hour trial. Connors EZ Button took first place with six finds, two backs, and no faults. It was reported that EZ Button ran the entire brace with a high cracking tail which tends to get the attention of the judges and this Pointer is only a four year old so has plenty of opportunity to do more great things in the future.
Although the winner at Ames is considered a national champion, I have to believe that the dogs that make it to Grand Junction are the best bird pointers in the world. The selective breeding from what was formally the English Pointer dates as far back as the late 1800's, and has produced animals with bird desire and stamina that are unmatched by any breed. I back up this bold statement with the fact that several other breeds of bird dogs are qualified to contend in the National Championship, but no breed other than Pointer has won the championship in over 30 years. It's also rare for animals of any breed other than Pointer to actually qualify to compete in the event.
Congratulations to Connors EZ Button, the 2012 National Pointing Dog Champion.
I spent a few days on the prairie with my son Grant for the North Dakota opener. The bird numbers were down compared to my last visit as predicted, but the beauty of North Dakota plains and the fact that the Dakota's are better in a bad year than most states in their best years always brings me back in October.
I am coming to the realization that Sabrina's endurance has greatly diminished over the last year although she is still my best bird finder. I dread the day that she will have to go into retirement, but am thankful for the young pups who are coming along nicely. My daughters young Brittany Ginger had a stellar morning on the third day with 4 solid finds and points, and a nice retrieve.
These are the best of times, and the chance to share them with my son is such a privledge
I headed to Kansas this past weekend with my son Grant for the Kansas early youth opener. The birds were present in decent numbers and of course the hospitality of the Kansans was like a breath of Spring air. The weather was a little on the warm side in the low 70's and very dry which made it tough on the dogs, but we still enjoyed some good dog work.I was able to scout out some new WIHA areas I had not hunted before that contained some nice cover during our trip, and spent quality time with my son which was way over due.
I want to thank the state of Kansas for their foresight in creating a special hunting season just for kids. Time in the field for a kid with a mentor and little competition for hunting areas or shooting opportunities are just what kids need to motivate them to carry on the upland tradition we care so much about. Kansas is a great state.
As Gigi progresses with her training I continue to be impressed with her intelligence and bird finding desire. Now in her second season she is about to be considered a "finished" gun dog, holding point to wing and shot. She is an unbelievable bird hunting machine, owing this to her breeding of some of the most successful pointers to have ever been bred.
I was saddened today to learn that Gigi's grandmother, Elhew Swami or "Bama" as she was called, passed away on May 11, and Swami's sister Elhew Sunflower "Jill" passed away a week later. I always wanted a dog with close lineage to Swami and Sunflower, as they were some of the best shooting dogs to ever compete. It was a rare find to have the opportunity to purchase Gigi, a decendent of both Bama and Jill. It is a good feeling to know that those genetics are alive and well in their offspring.
Recently Julia and I took a father / daughter trip to Southwest Idaho to visit Fay and Dave Walker Kennels. Julia had been waiting patiently since early January for one of the Walker's famous Brittanys to deliver an orange and white female, but through repeated breeding's, the orange and white did not materialize. Fay advised me that she was going to hold on to a particular liver and white female just in case Julia could be persuaded to change her mind regarding color. I think I was as anxious as Julia for a new pup around the house so after a little persuasion, we were off to Idaho to collect a new bird dog for our string, and hopefully slip in a little reconnaissance mission for future bird hunting opportunities in Idaho.
The Walkers welcomed Julia and I as if we had known them for years, and I knew immediately upon meeting Fay and Dave in person that I had selected the right breeder. The puppy Fay had selected for us was everything she said it would be, a beautiful field trial or bench prospect. The walkers reputation for breeding and handling champion Brittanys comes from 30 years of dedication to their animals, and the continued enthusiasm they have for their animals is energizing. I was fortunate to be able to tour Dave's training grounds with him and pick up lots of pointers on his management of bird cover and raising and utilizing game birds for training. Dave, like myself, has a continuing habitat improvement project going on his plantation and it was good timing for me to be able to draw on his experience.
Julia & Dave Walker
Julia decided to name her pup Ginger, (With a little persuasion from Fay) after the pups Dam. So her registered name will be Snake River Ginger, in recognition of the beautiful area close to the Snake where Dave's plantation is located.