2021 National Quail and Derby Championship Report by William Smith

Quail and Derby Championship

William Smith


The 100th Running of the National Amateur Quail Championship began on March 1st on the historic grounds formally known as Dixie Plantation in Greenville, Florida. The name has been changed but to field trailers this extraordinary place will always be known as Dixie. This is the second year that the trial has returned to Dixie after a two year absence to allow for work to be performed on the field trial courses. Mediocre events don’t continue for 100 years; only the best survive that long. The Amateur Quail Championship is a quality event rated as the amateur event of the year by many. Wild birds , walking horses, and class bird dogs are the norm here.  Randy Floyd manages the plantation and he and his crew, John McCormick and Shannon Braden had the property in excellent condition for field trials. There’s just no place like Dixie.

Dixie Plantation began when Crawford Livingston purchased the Cedars Plantation in 1926 from General William Bellamy for $8 an acre. By the mid 1930’s Dixie encompassed some 18,000 acres straddling the Georgia and Florida border. Each state claiming approximately 9,000 acres each. Dixie was developed into one of the deluxe wild quail hunting plantations in the United States. Livingston’s passion for quail hunting led him into the field trial arena where he became a successful competitor and breeder of field trial dogs. Livingston began to host field trials on Dixie and in 1937 the Continental Championship ran for the first time at Dixie where it is still contested each year.

Johnny Atkinson came from  Marion, SC to pick the placements. He knows bird dogs from A to Z from his years of field trialing and training. He anilazines each performance without prejudice always looking for the good and not something to disqualify a dog. He is fair to every handler, but he will not look the other way when a fatal fault occurs. Your reporter filled the other judicial saddle and it was an enjoyable experience to work with Johnny.

Forty-seven were entered to strive for the title. Thirty-seven pointer males, one setter male and 9 pointer females were entered. One female and one male were scratched, leaving 45 to toe the mark.

When all was said and done, Touch’s Indiana Joan was named the 2021 Amateur Quail Champion. Keith Wright handled. From the outset Joan roamed far and wide but always in touch with Wright. She was never lateral or behind. She hunted and she went to the likely spots. Her first find was at 48 after a very nice relocation. She scored again at 54 when the birds flushed wild, but were officially seen. She was back on the board again at 60 southeast of Windham Lake. She suffered a barren stand at 1:07 east of the Manor House. When Wright collared her birds lifted just behind her. She was out of sight at pick up and Wright found her on point straight to the front after time. Wright elected not to flush and when he approached Joan a big covey lifted. Her race was unparalleled and that’s what set her apart.

Dunn’s Tried N True handled by Will Dunn emerged as the Runner-up Champion. The action started early when True stabbed a covey at 19 in the Big Woods. True scored his second find at 21 still in the Big Woods. At 24 a divided find was registered as the bevy lifted between the two motionless dogs. True suffered an unproductive at 47 but then went on to make some big forward casts. He crossed a shallow pond to get to Dunn. When time was called, True was far to the front still running strong. True, the 2019 National Champion, covered a lot of ground and he traversed some rough country in his bid for the gold. He and Dunn were on the same page today and True gave it his all.

Brace 1 kicked off at 7:45 under partly cloudy skies. Sims Rambling Rex handled by Junior Sims and Silver Line’s Storm handled by Paul Daniel started the party. Rex was credited with an unproductive at 22 just past the first road crossing. At 27 he had his second unproductive and was picked up. Storm was seen headed toward the old hay barn at 5 minutes into the brace as was not seen again under judgment.

Chief’s Rising Sun handled by John Mathys and Confident Nation piloted by Scott Jordan comprised the third brace. They broke away and were quickly out of sight to the front. They both were watered at Boyd’s corner. The scouts were busy and Nation was spotted making a strong move on the lake edge. Sun was in and out. At 47 Sun was standing on the road edge at Hickory Hill. A sizeable covey was flushed with Sun satisfactory at wing and shot. Nation was on the board next at 57 on a nice limb find. Nation scored again at 1:06 in the Long Field with an admirable relocation. Nation was not in sight at pickup. Sun was collared shortly after time. Jordan found Nation standing  at 1:35. As the judiciary rode to the find, Jordan called flight of birds but they were not seen officially. Jordan elected to flush hoping there was a sleeper, but that was not the case.

Rester’s Amazing Grace for handler Cecil Rester was the top dog and Master’s Touch for Tommy Leisfield was the bottom dog in brace 4. Both dogs hunted hard but without any luck at finding the elusive quail. Leisfield asked for the retrieval device at :39 when he suspected Touch was left behind. Rester took the retrieval device at 1:20 after Grace had been absent for a while.

The sky was overcast with a cold mist in the air when Kent Cantrell brought Touch’s Dancing Nancies to the fifth brace to compete against James Pond Bull handled by Woody Watson. Rain was sporadic during the brace. Nancies was first on the board at 21 just past the first road crossing. She was solid and classy as the bevy exploded. Watson called flight of birds for Bull at 20 but they were not officially seen. Nancies ranged far to the front and was spied standing at 37 on the edge of number 4 field. Another nice find. Watson was working hard to stay in touch with Bull. Nancies notched her third find just before Acorn Hill at 1:02 with everything in order. Nancies suffered an unproductive stand at 1:09 in the Chimney Block. Her style had not diminished even though this was a barren stand. Watson asked for the retrieval device at 1:15. Nancies was standing again at 1:18 just north of the wye in a mowed strip. Quail filled the air when Cantrell walked in front of the picturesque pointer. When time was called, Nancies was not in sight. At 1:03 the distant call of point was heard. Nancies was motionless in the sage and Cantrell elected to flush. The initial flushing attempt and relocation was fruitless thereby negating a very good performance.

Brace 6 Chipper Jones handled by Ruth Ann Epp was paired against Redhill’s Rose handled by Paul Daniel. The action started at 7 when Rose pinned a covey on the Georgia/Florida line. She scored again at 24 on a good flying bunch on the edge of the Boy Scout Dove Field. Unfortunately, that was final piece of bird work for the brace. Jones made a few appearances and Epp asked for the retrieval device at 60. Rose finished the 90 minutes with some absences and a short race.

Brace 7 Rain continued for the afternoon braces; sometimes steady and sometimes only a mist. Rocky Ridge Second Chance handled by Grayson Francis and Myakka Lucy Diamond handled by Petie Brown made up the seventh brace. Diamond was spied on point at 27. A relocation was required and birds were in the air as Diamond tried to pinpoint her quarry. She was not moving when the birds flushed. Chance checked out early and Francis took the retrieval device at 44. Diamond had another find at 57. She was credited with an unproductive at 1:22. She finished the brace with no other bird work.

Brace 8 featured Rester’s Cowboy Bill handled by Cecil Rester and Lester’s Top Recruit handled by Lance Servais. Bill scored first with a nice covey find at 12. Recruit was charged with an unproductive at 21 west of Kudzu Hill. Bill pointed an Armadillo hole at 52 on Kudzu Hill and Recruit backed him. Recruit had his first find at 1:05 just over the road at the tank crossing. Recruit scored again 4 minutes later at 1:09. Bill was given a back here. They both finished the brace with no other bird work.

Brace 9 Walnut Tree Blue handled by Steve Mills was paired with Touch’s Grey Street guided by Keith Wright. Both dogs were standing at 5 facing each other on the edge of the field adjacent to Preacher’s Hog Pen. Both handlers agreed to take their dogs ahead without flushing. Street was methodical as he toured the venue and Blue was fast through the cover. Blue was standing at 40 near Pikes Peak. It was a nice find for Blue. Street was standing at 42 on Pikes Peak, Wright could not produce feathers and an unproductive stand was credited here. Street located a covey near the wye at 1:07 with everything in order at the shot. Street scored the final bird work of the brace at 1:23 just south of the Gene field. Both dogs finished the 90 minute brace.

Crouse’s White Dragon handled by Mike Crouse dueled Matt’s Big Orange Banche handled by Matthew Ford in the 10th brace. Lady luck was not with either dog today and no bird work was recorded. Ford requested the retrieval device at 1:12. Dragon finished the heat.

Will Dunn handled Dunn’s Tried N True and Scott Jordan handled Cheyenne Nation in brace 11. True’s race described earlier.  Nation was a pretty as she backed True at 19 in the Big Woods. Nation backed again at 21 still in the Big Woods. She was credited with a divided find at 24. Notion had a good find at 35 just before Hickory Hill. She was standing again at 47 across the road from the Esquire Pines. Jordan flushed a big covey and Notion marked flight and then she took too many steps ending her bid.

Beth Brown handled Myakka Time Shifter and Mike Crouse brought Crouse’s Equalize to battle in brace 12. The action started off well when Equalizer found a bevy at 9 and Shifter backed without command from Brown. Both dogs were in and out with handlers and scouts searching. Equalizer was found on point at 47 near Roger’s Pond. A nice find for both Equalizer and the scout. Equalizer pointed again at 51, but took too many steps when the birds flew and the error ended his chance for the crown. Shifter had been gone too long Brown graciously accepted the retrieval device at 60 ending the brace.


Brace 13  Showtime Game Changer handled by Laron Copeland was braced with Marque’s Armed Robber handled by John Ivester. Changer was credited with a back at 27. He was not suiting Copeland and was picked up at 45. Robber scored a back at 26. Ivester took the retrieval device at 58 when he thought he had left Robber behind. It turned out that Robber was 40 yards ahead on point.

Brace 14 Touch’s White Knight handled by Eddie Scholar and Pendy’s Good Grace handled by Matt Pendergest broke away in the edge of the woods west of the Manor House. Knight found a covey behind the Boy Scout Cabin at 37. The scout found him on a long limb find west of the Long Pond at 46. He scored an unproductive at 60 east of the Long Pond. It was getting hot and Scholar picked up at 1:20. Grace did not have any bird work and Pendergest decided to save her for another day and took the retrieval device at 1:14.

David Williams piloted Rebel Cause and Bryan Peterson handled South Shadows T Rex in the 15th brace. Cause pinned a bevy at the Esquire Pines crossing. He found another covey at 1:11 in the agronomy field in front of the Manor House but took too many steps when the birds took to the air. Rex completed the brace without any bird work.

Wild Hawk handled by Mike Moses and Touch’s Indiana Joan handled by Keith Wright completed the 16th brace. Hawk was not seen after the breakaway and Moses took the retrieval device at 30. Joan’s race previously described.

Brace 17 Rester’s Cajun Charlie handled by Cecil Rester and Notorious Dominator’s Heir handled by John Mathys started the affair on Friday morning. Heir garnered an unproductive at Preacher’s Hog Pen at 9. He scored another barren stand at 33 ending the day for him. Charlie had the only find of the brace when he stabbed a covey at 53 north of Cadillac Pond. Charlie completed the 90 minutes.

Brace 18 Rebel Pride handled by David Williams and Showtime Sam Houston, winner of the 2021 Continental Championship, handled by Laron Copeland began under sunny skies. Pride roamed far and wide and Williams worked hard to stay in touch. Williams took the retrieval device at 57 after an absence by Pride. Houston wasted no time in locating a nice bunch at 7 near the Georgia/Florida line. He completed the brace without any other game contacts.

Brace 19 Scott Jordan brought Strut Nation and Keith Wright brought Touch’s Smooth Rider to the first brace of the afternoon. Rider was majestic as he stood in a mowed path at 10 with Nation performing a very pretty back. Wright could not produce birds and an unproductive was credited to Rider. Jordan’s cap was in the air at 22 for Nation standing in the Big Woods and Rider was backing. Jordan flushed and when the birds lifted, Nation took too many steps ending his day. Wright was not satisfied with Rider’s performance and he elected to pick up at 24.

Brace 20 The last brace of the afternoon featured Touch’s Blue Knight handled by Woody Watson and Rebel Dream handled by David Williams. Knight found a covey at 20 west of Hickory Hill and Dream backed. Knight scored again at 25 in the Esquire Pines. There was no other bird work in the brace. Both dogs hunted to the front and made some showy casts but were not rewarded for their efforts. Both completed the 90 minute brace.

Brace 21 Southern Sparkling Jule was scratched and Dailed In for handler Jim Pendergest ran as a bye. She had a barren stand at 21 just past the first road crossing. She had the only find of the brace at 39 in the Garnett field. She went to the likely places but was unable to have any other game contact.

Brace 22 Notorious King Ransom handled by John Mathys squared off with Rebel Survivor handled by David Williams. Ransom scored first with a find at 9 near the Gene field. Survivor located a bevy at 18 on the Georgia/Florida line and another at 20 while regaining the front. Survivor suffered a barren stand at 47. Survivor notched his third find at 1:12 near the Brown field. Ransom got too close to a covey at 1:12 ending his day. Survivor finished the brace with no other bird work.

Brace 23 Game Warden was scratched and Redeemed was moved up to compete with Misty Morn Masked Man handled by Joey McAlexander. Redeemed was handled by Shannon Nygard. Man was not suiting McAlexander and he was put in a harness at 20. Redeemed did not have any game contacts and the judges asked her to pick up at 60 ending the Championship competition.


National Derby Championship

The National Derby Championship began at the conclusion of the Amateur Quail Championship on Saturday afternoon. The judiciary remained the same to officiate. Twenty-nine were drawn. Twenty-three pointer males, 1 setter male, and 5 pointer females. Six were scratched.

Storm’s End handled by Matt Pendergest Was named the winner and Champion. It is rare that a performance in the first brace of a stake would not be challenged by the remaining contenders. She not only exhibited her training to be “dead” broke, but she also showcased her speed and stamina as she roamed over Dixie. She made some huge moves to the front but she never was out of control. She was on point at 1 minute into the brace. She was standing under a Live Oak tree on the east end of the Long Field. When the birds flushed, two flew almost directly to End’s head, but she remained motionless. She was on the board again at 12 at the water tank crossing on the main road. Her third find was at 16 under a Live Oak tree north east of the Manor House. Her fourth and last find was at 37 near the Oil Drum field. She moved with an easy gait and covered a lot of territory always subservient to her handler. She had set the bar and it would not be equaled.

Burches Set Em Up Joe handled by Jonathan Burch gained the Runner-up Champion spot due to a powerful race and always to the front. Joe had a find at 18 in the Big Woods. He was found by his scout in deep cover on a limb find. He and his brace mate were both pointing into a ring around at 24 at Boyd Corner. Both handlers elected to flush and a barren stand was recorded. The judiciary were of the opinion that Joe was backing. Joe scored again at 53 on another dug up find, again found by his scout and again in deep cover. Joe is a powerful dog and he runs with a deceiving gait. His strength is evident as he shuns no cover; just point him where you want him to go. He is the deserving 2021 National Derby Runner-up Champion.

Brace 1 Storm’s End’s race described previously was braced With Rester’s Cajun Queen handled by Cecil Rester. Queen’s only game contact came at 8 on the southside of the Long Field. She was steady when her birds lifted and also when a second covey became airborne behind her.

Brace 2 Spencer’s Ramblin Justice handled by Robbie Thomas was paired with Neely’s Business Man handled by John Neely. Justice pointed a rabbit in the Big Garret field at 25. Justice had rambling on his mind today and Thomas asked for the retrieval device at 56. Man completed the brace without benefit of bird work.

Brace 3 Bart Goodson handled Redhills Rain and John Ivester ran Southern Nation. Rain made a fatal error at 4 unobserved by the judiciary. Goodson picked up Rain even though he knew the judges had not seen the transgression. It was a good example of sportsmanship. Nation had a find at 8 in the Chimney Block field. Nation continued the remainder of the brace at an All-Age presentation without the benefit of bird work.

Brace 4 Burches Set Em Up Joe’s performance  handled by Jonathan Burch has been previously described. Touch’s Walk The Line handled by Keith Wright was the second dog in the brace. Line suffered an unproductive at 24 at Boyd Corner. Wright asked for the retrieval device at 56 after a sustained absence by Line.


Brace 5 Kent Cantrell brought Southern Bear Necessity and Paul Daniel brought Silverlines Destroyed Gold to do battle in the fifth brace. Necessity scored a find at 40 east of Hickory Hill. Cantrell called point for Necessity at 50 in the Esquire Pines. The birds were not officially seen but Cantrell fired anyway. Gold was out of pocket and Daniel asked for the retrieval device at 38. Necessity finished the brace with no other game contact.

Brace 6 Dubose’s Wonder Bog handled by Bobby Dubose and Great Nation handled by Jason Brooks were paired in the 6th brace.  Bog ran an AA race but did not have any bird work. Nation had a find at 25 in the Long Field and another find at 30 where the birds flushed wild but were officially seen. Nation ran a strong forward race.

Conner’s Trigger Man handled by Ralph Connor and Tennessee Game Kate handled by Mike Crouse comprised the 7th brace. Man Was standing at 5 south of Kudzu Hill and Conner fired but the birds were not officially seen. Man suffered a barren stand at 20. Man scored a find at 33 and then his second unproductive at 47 ending his bid. Kate had a nice find at 3 just before Kudzu Hill. Crouse fired for her at 5 on Kudzu  Hill but the birds were not officially seen. Crouse fired again at 30 under a huge Live Oak but the birds were not officially seen. Kate scored her second find at 36 west of Windham Lake. Kate was not seen the last 15 minutes of the brace.

Brace 8 Lane Hodges handled One Day Labandita and Bobby Dubose handled Dubose’s What A Dog in the first brace on Monday morning, the last day of the trial. Both dogs went the full 90 minutes with no bird work credited to them. Labandita scored a barren stand at 1:04.

Brace 9 Como Rain handled by David Russell and Touch’s Wild Finale made up the second brace Monday morning. Rain did not have any bird work and Russell took the retrieval device at 45. Finale suffered an unproductive at 39 and Wright decided  to pick up then.

Brace 10 The last brace Monday morning featured One Day Queen Bee for Lane Hodges and Shagtime Scott for Chris Cagle. Birds were not moving today. Bee had a barren stand at 45. Hodges threw in the towel at 49. Scott had a barren stand at 50 and Cagle decided to save Scott for another day.

Brace 11 Erin’s Prime Time handled by Sean Derrig and One Day Lucky Strike handled by Lane Hodges were paired in the next to last brace of the stake. Time could not get untracked and Derrig put him in a harness at 18. Strike suffered the same fate and he was harnessed at 38.

Brace 12 Como Thunder ran as a bye in the last brace handled by David Russell. Thunder had the only find of the day when he pinned a bevy at 38 in the agricultural field in front of the Manor House. It was a large scattered covey that was probably feeding. He was not in sight when time was called. After an extended search by Russell and the scout, Russell took the retrieval device at 1:05 ending the running in the Derby Championship.


Sidelights and Recognitions

What does Purina and the Amateur Quail Championship have in common? Both are 100 years old, in fact Purina is 128 years old. Purina sponsored this trial and their help is greatly appreciated by everyone here as well as everyone at all the other Purina sponsored events. They sponsored the winner’s dinner on Thursday night that was appreciated by all who attended. They provided Pro Plan for the winners, which was certainly a big boost to the pocket book. The Purina logo is visible all across America and Canada. Thank you, Purina, for all you do.


Piper Huffman is the secretary for the AFTCA and she is an asset to this trial. She furnished Hardee’s sausage and biscuits every morning. She hosted the heavy hors d’oeuvres for the everyone invited social hours at the Commissary after the day’s running. She was always on the go taking care of anything that needed her attention. She  coordinated the Purina dinner on Thursday night. Her efforts insured a very successful quality event.


Long-time resident of Dixie, Gloria Hagan, made sure the sandwich makings were ready for the hungry lunch crowd at the Commissary and she also assisted Piper with the afternoon social functions. Thanks Piper and Gloria for your services.