2022 Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Field Trial ~ Report

2022 Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Field Trial ~ Report

May 23rd, 2022 | FT Results and Reports

The Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Field Trial was held on March 19, 2022. Hosted by the Georgia/Florida Invitational Field Trial Club it was run for the 4th time on the beautiful Hales Place Plantation outside Tallahassee, Florida. The trial was renamed this year in honor of Butch Bennett, great friend to many a field trialer in the southwest Georgia region. On October 21, 2021, Butch sadly succumbed to an illness he had fought for a long time. Butch grew up in Hurtsboro, Alabama around bird dogs and moved to Thomasville, GA in the late 90s where he managed Dogwood Plantation for many years. His father, Oscar “Big O” was also a dog trainer. The first place winner of the youth stake took home the new rotating trophy, a silver bowl Big O received for winning the prestigious National Open Shooting Dog Championship in 1981 with his female pointer Knight’s Happy Pat. On hand at the presentation was Butch’s brother Matt who expressed much enthusiasm for the trial and its being renamed in honor of his brother.

Special thanks to Jason Loper and Tommy Rice, as well as other members of the GA/FL Invitational FTC for their dedication to the Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Field Trial. A trial can only be as good as the grounds and birds it’s run on. The generosity of the Roberts family, owners of Hales Place Plantation can not be more appreciated by the club and fans of this trial. What could be better than real piney woods habitat and the challenge of fast flying bobwhites to initiate and “hook” these future field trialers!

The trial had enough entries to make a competitive stake and a big gallery following despite the all-day threat of rain. With Jason Loper’s intuition and watchful eye on the radar, the first brace began in light drizzle which soon subsided. The rain held off for the remainder of the trail, including the announcement of the winners before it began again in earnest. Great timing! 

Successful amateur John Mathys who hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin and winters in the area and big fan of this trial, NBHA’s Ray Brown, from Dalton, Georgia agreed to judge. Big thanks to them for their careful evaluation of the dogs and encouragement to the handlers. Thanks to all the sponsors who had gifts for all the handlers: Hales Place Plantation provided caps and coolers, Equine & Anvil (Greg Gaston), Birddoggin (caps and t-shirts), Patty’s Custom Chaps (a pair of youth chaps, cup-holders) and Youth Field Trial Alliance (AFTCA Standards booklets, decals). Thanks also to Harold Moore, long-time employee at Hales Place who drove me to all the right spots so I could photograph the action. 

The young handlers in this youth trial competed with plantation shooting dogs who appeared to enjoy themselves as much as everyone else. Minimal help was required by scouts to keep the dogs on the course. The handlers who show more skill every year, did it pretty much on their own and kept the gallery sitting high in their saddles. 

As is often the case, birds were abundant but became more wary and difficult for the dogs to get pointed as the trial went on. All the handlers did an excellent job with their dogs. First place went to attractive female pointer Foshalee Lou handled by Wyatt Rehberg. Wyatt and Lou made their debut winning first place in last year’s trial! Lou scoured the course, pointing numerous birds with class and style and Wyatt handled her with confidence. Second place went to handsome pointer male, Wybulu’s Merle and a very proud Wyatt Watkins and third place to pretty pointer female Wybulu’s Lonnie and Cannon Ryan. All three boys did an excellent job piloting their dogs over the course, keeping them to the front. Other contestants were Meander’s Shine, PF, handled by Bojack Rutledge, Meander’s Lady, PF, handled by Paxton Horne, Pinefair’s Bandit, PM, handled by Griffyn Long, Orchard Pond May, PF, handled by Sawyer King, and Orchard Pond Rose, PF, handled by Harper King. We hope to see them all again next spring. 

Youth field trials are the future of our sport. Please support them and if your club doesn’t currently offer a youth stake or gundog stake for new handlers (walking or horseback), consider instituting one. We can all do our small share to keep our beloved sport alive.

Chris Mathan

Many more photos from the 2022 Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Field Trial can be viewed here.