Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Dogwood Bill,  DTFTA Open Derby of the Year. From left: Dustin Roberts, Ben Stringer and Jessica Gay representing Dogwood Plantation with handler Jamie Daniels. [Photos by Chris Mathan]

By Steve Standley | Jul 22, 2019

The Dixie Trace Field Trial Association began fifteen years ago with the idea of an association of field trial clubs that could reflect the quality of the sport and with a hope to broaden the image of sporting dog competition to a larger audience.

The caliber of the clubs and the number of championships has moved the quality forward. Our website, www.dixietrace.org, gives insight to an ever growing population that has been exposed to DTFTA information.

Merry Acres Event Center in Albany, Ga., on June 1 was once again the location for our banquet and merit awards celebration.

The afternoon began with a 3:00 p. m. business meeting which covered many topics.

There was a unanimous decision to continue our sponsorship of the Continental Field Trial Club’s water tank fundraiser. The $1000 donation supports the Continental FTC. The custom sign placed on a water tank during this prestigious Championship can promote your group or honor a dog or person.

A new club was welcomed to Dixie Trace — the Bluegrass Field Trial Club. Will Dunn is in charge of this Open All-Age, National Qualifying feature. The trial will be run in November on Eddie Sholar’s Burnt Branch Plantation in Ochlocknee, Ga.

Buck Heard came to propose the development of a youth trial program under the auspices of DTFTA. This proposition met a positive vote. There will be a number of youth trials to be held in conjunction with DTFTA club trials. Points will be calculated and Merit Awards will be presented at our annual banquet. In conjunction with this honor the handler of the dog with the most points at season’s end will be given a $1000 scholarship. This grant will be bestowed after high school graduation. Complete rules and guidelines will be developed as the coming season approaches.

The enthusiasm for offering a vehicle to attract youth into our sport was shared by all who attended this meeting. There were a number of parents present as guests at our meeting who were very interested.

On a different topic was the discussion of  a Dixie Trace by-law which states that in order for a dog to receive a Merit Award they must have at least two (2) placements in Association trials. This “two placement” rule has resulted in certain categories of dogs to not be rewarded. This was the case for the 2018-2019 season when there was neither an open all-age dog nor amateur Derby with two placements. Both sides of this issue were discussed and the decision was made to continue the “two placement” requirement and to bestow honor to dogs that display consistency.

With a finite number of weeks in our season and a growing number of clubs, the conflict of trial dates was discussed. Upon reflection one has to consider that our by-laws were written fifteen years ago when there were seven or eight clubs and no championships in the Dixie Trace Association. Today, with 28 member clubs and eleven major championships, date conflicts are likely to occur more and more. The place to start the resolution of this conflict is in amending our by-laws to reflect the size of our organization. This is a process that has begun.

We have to thank our many sponsors of this year’s banquet. DTFTA has enjoyed enormous support from Nestlé Purina. It is no secret that Purina sponsors many clubs, associations, and championships in our sport. The appreciation for their contribution is not only for what they do just for DTFTA or any particular club or trial. A communal appreciation is owed to Purina for what they do for the entire sport. Their interest in what we as a sport are doing is without parallel. Our sport is able to thrive through their support just as our dogs thrive on their products.

A special note of thanks goes out to Purina’s area manager for the Sporting Dog Division Greg Blair. We also extend a message of appreciation to Karl Gunzer, director of the Sporting Dog Group. Among other forms of support Purina supplied our Association with twelve bags of Pro Plan for our silent auction, other quality silent auction items and many door prize gifts. Purina also donated twelve bags of feed for a very successful live auction to benefit the youth trial program.

Garmin and John Rex Gates continued their support with the donation of a Pro 550 Plus Advanced Tracking and Training System. Garmin has been with us since the beginning and we value the relationship.

Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply of Albany, Ga., donated a Bistro Patio Table and Chair Set. We were  pleased that Ivey’s owner, Larry Glow, was able to attend our banquet.

Becky and Tony Gibson were in attendance from Union Springs, Ala., as usual, and they always bring something tasteful for our silent auction. Beautiful linen hand towels and a stunning bird dog platter with a decanter and cocktail glasses from Gibson’sFurniture, Gifts and Accessories added a touch of class to the evening.

We welcome SportDog as supporters of DTFTA. SportDog makes fine dog training equipment and we were pleased when they provided us with their Sport Dog Hunter 1825 and also their Pro Hunter 2525 training collar systems for our silent auction. These were wonderful new additions to our celebration.

Chris Mathan (www.strideaway.com) brought a large and unique print titled, “Red Hills Setters.” Her photographic composition featured two high-tailed setters posed among plantation pines. It was ready to hang and went home with the happy top bidder.

Plantation Supply of Leesburg, Ga., and Eddie Sholar provided a horse mineral feeding system with several bags of minerals for our silent auction. This large weather proof feeder is for free choice minerals and is held stable in the field with a large used tire. We were glad to have Plantation Supply representative Mike Murphy join us.

Noted Albany artist David Lanier attended the banquet and donated one of his beautiful prints. Titled “One Fine Day,”  it is further evidence of why David is known as one of America’s great bird dog artists. David and his wife, Cathy, own Plantation Gallery in Albany. They also provided a discount coupon for framing in their shop.

Another noted business in Albany, Bennett’s Supply, donated a Garmin Delta Sport Trainer for our auction. Gun Dog Supply offered two discount coupons for future purchases from their website.

Mary McPherson, Fine Art, of Burnt Corn, Ala., has been part of our celebration almost from the start. Besides painting our Top Dog portrait she brought an original graphic drawing for the auction.

We feel like we cannot celebrate pointing dogs in South Georgia without a display of Tom Word books for the auction table. A noted reporter, judge, and great fiction writer, Tom Word began his love of bird dogs in his home state of Virginia. His passion for the sport, the dogs, and the people who participate in the field trial game has earned him a highly respected, nationally acclaimed position in our sport.

Likewise, Richard E. (Dick) Dodd’s book, “A Backward Glance, Stories, Letters and Essays”, was provided by Mr. Dodd’s family. Dick Dodd lived in Marshallville, Ga., and followed his love of all-age dogs while also creating hundreds of varieties of camellias. A favorite of longtime American Field editor William F.  Brown, we were proud to have his books on display.


The 2019 Dixie Trace Field Trial Association Dog of the Year was Waybetter Billy, white and black pointer male owned and handled by Tommy Brigman of North Carolina. Billy placed in four  different DTFTA trials, amid stiff competition, to earn this high honor. Owner-handler Tommy Brigman traveled quite a number of miles from his home in North Carolina to compete in DTFTA trials. The proud owner-handler was presented a beautiful oil painting of Billy by noted artist Mary McPherson.

Billy also won the 2019 Purina Amateur Shooting Dog Award.

Runner-up in this category went to Heard Hill’s Jaybird, pointer male owned and handled by Buck and Lynn Heard of Moultrie, Ga. Lynn directed Jaybird in the field.

The top Amateur All-Age trophy went to Sims Rambling Rex for owner-handler Junior Sims of Milton, Fla. Junior made his first visit to our banquet from his home in north Florida.

The 2019 Open Derby of the Year was Dogwood Bill. Among his placements was his newly earned title of Continental Derby Champion under the whistle of handler Jamie Daniels. Bill is owned by Dogwood Plantation (George and Cindy Watkins)  in Thomasville, Ga.

Dogwood Plantation manager Ben Stringer knew that Bill was special early on. We were glad that Ben and his fiancée Jessica Gay attended this year’s banquet.

One Penny More earned the runner-up Open Derby laurels for her ageless owner Jack Arlington of Hatchechubbee, Ala. Michael Martino handled Penny in her successful season.

The 2019 Open Shooting Dog of the Year was Zip Tye. This strong pointer male is out of Dunn’s Tried’n True and he hit the scene hard this year. Tye is owned by Will Dunn and Dr. Chet Layne and handled by Doug Ray.

Runner-up Open Shooting Dog was Bo Bunda, owned by Jack Arlington and handled by Michael Martino.

Luke Eisenhart earned the DTFTA All-Age Handler of the Year. Luke and wife Tammy accepted their DTFTA trophy in Albany prior to their Nashville, Tenn., trip to claim similar top honors at the Purina Awards.

Tommy Rice III was in attendance with wife Stephanie and son Solon to claim his Shooting Dog of the Year Award.

Jamie Daniels was present to receive his Derby Handler of the Year accolade. Jamie’s wife, Allison, was under the weather and she and daughter, Rose Marie, were missed.

Officers for DTFTA remained the same for the coming season, with Grant Rudolph as secretary-treasurer, Joe Rentz as vice-president, and Steve Standley maintaining the president’s position.

Great thanks are extended to Grant Rudolph for handling multiple tasks in excellent fashion while maintaining a positive and dedicated work ethic.

Joe Rentz continues to offer insight and good counsel when I need a different perspective.

I would also like to acknowledge Larron Copeland’s great interest and devotion to this Association. His enthusiasm and commitment to Dixie Trace is often encouraging to me.

Chris Mathan has always been willing to lend her talents where needed. Her passion for the sport is contagious. We appreciate her taking our banquet pictures and professionally preparing them for publication in The American Field.

Rob Boot is our web administrator and he is in fact our behind-the-scenes hero. His expertise and early vision pushed our digital footprint and enhanced our image in the community.

Martha Neely prepared high class centerpieces for our banquet tables and they were eye-catching. Much appreciation is extended to Vicky Standley and Joan Newpeck for managing the reception table duties.

It is no secret that high class field trials cannot occur without high class grounds. The grounds used in the Dixie Trace Field Trial Association are our greatest glory and our greatest gift. The owners of these properties are highly appreciated and respected. Please take time to thank them as you see them in your travels.

Dixie Trace Field Trial Association is a work in progress. People who come forward with good ideas and are willing to positively contribute will move us toward the next fifteen years. We have come far, so please join us as we grow into the future.


Comments are closed.