Report and photos by Morgan Brewer
It takes a village to put on a field trial and when it comes to our youth the village was in full force.
First and foremost there are not enough thanks for the graciousness of Frank and Colleen Rutland for hosting such a great trial for our young handlers on their celebrated grounds. Mrs. Colleen prepared a planning team to make all of it possible; this include Steve Hutto, Jane Rutland, Darron Hendley, Renee Peek, Robert Moorer, Brian Sanderson, Mindy and Hunter McDuffie and Connie and Tommy Hicks.
A delicious luncheon of hamburgers and hot dogs was served before the running. A multitude of “chefs” manned the grills while the ladies helped prep. Renee Peek baked delicious bird dog cookies, cake pops, and cupcakes for the occasion.
Tommy Hicks was the captain of the dog wagon and did a phenomenal job shuffling the canine athletes back and forth.
Sponsors for the trial include Purina, SportDog, Pike Road Feed Lot and many others; without them our youth trials would not be possible.
Judging a youth trial is one of the hardest trials to judge and there are not enough thanks for Heather Klink and Hall-of-Famer Tony Gibson of Union Springs. They rode hard and were very attentive to the dogs and handlers and offered encouragement.
Last but not least we must not forget our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncle. Were it not for their unconditional love and support of the game we would not have youth trials.
It was 65° degrees at breakaway for the first brace when Jane, handled by Claire Street, and Rose, handled by Ella Grace Montgomery, came to the line. Claire came all the way from Notasulga, Ala., to run her white and orange pointer female. She turned her dog loose with her game face on and had two perfect finds at 9 and 15 and took first place with her winning performance. Ella Grace didn’t come to far from home in Union Springs to run her white and orange setter female. She had two clean finds at 8 and 26 and earned Honorable Mention.
Red, handled by Katie Bell Varner, and Dot, handled by Addison McDuffie, were in the second brace. Katie Bell made the trip from Birmingham to handle her white and orange setter male. Red had a picture-perfect find at 6 and two backs at 12 and 17. Addison McDuffie from Cecil, Ala., had three classy front running finds at 5, 12 and 17 which landed her in second place.
Bud, handled by Braden Renfroe, and Big, handled by Tripp Whatley, came to the line for the third brace. Braden from Banks, Ala., fresh off a first placement at Shenandoah, had three clean finds at 5, 15, 19 and a back at 18. Tripp, from Montgomery, Ala., had a back at 5, a find at 18 and an unproductive at pickup with his white and orange setter male.
Jack, handled by Reese Green from Union Springs, and Jenny, handled by Shelby Street from Notasulga, Ala., were the fourth brace. This was Shelby’s second time handling; she must have gotten the fever from her sister because she couldn’t have handled Jenny any better and had a find at 6 which put her in third place. Jack had a perfect find at 9.
Rex (Varner) and Blaze (Green) were in the 5th brace. The grounds were perfect for Rex and Blaze to relive some glory years because those two took an all-age cast and kept their youth handlers on their toes. Rex went birdless but put on a show, and Blaze had a picture-perfect find at pickup.
Rook (Renfroe) and Red (McDuffie) came to the line for the six brace. This pair has been putting on a show this year. Rook ran to the front and had a find at 16. Red, white and orange pointer male had two intense finds at 3 and 19.
Bell (Montgomery) and Gabby (Street) were in the seventh and final brace. Bell took an all-age cast at breakaway and scout Todd Montgomery embarked on over a cross-country jump. Bell came back to the front and had a strong finish. Gabby kept handler Claire on her toes with a find at 4, an unproductive at 12 and finds at 18 and 20.
Panther Creek Youth Field Trial was a stake of its own to conclude the Alabama Youth Field Trials. These youngsters had to handle their dogs in the big country and hunt it in the cover to get it done, and that is exactly what they did.
The Inaugural Panther Creek Youth Trial was held on Panther Creek Plantation, Fitzpatrick, AL on March 20, 2021.