West Tenn. Open All Age and Derby

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By:  Jim Atchison

Photos by Tommy Brannon

Thirty-six All-Age contenders and 24 Derbies competed February 14-17, 2020 as the West Tennessee Field Trial Club hosted its open trials on grounds near Dancyville, Tennessee. Some of the grounds there have now been used for more than six decades, enabling field trial enthusiasts to gather each year and enjoy their passion for field trialing. Purina has sponsored the activities of the West Tennessee Club for many years and they most graciously did so again. The planning, preparation, and hospitality of the four days were second to none.

Touch’s Gallatin Fire, owned by Alex Rickert and handled by Mark McLean, won the All-Age stake, with his owner in the saddle, from Bozeman, Montana, to enjoy the winner’s performance.  Nosam’s Sweet Water won second under the whistle of Larry Huffman and is owned by Jeff Busby from Milsap, Texas.  Andy Daugherty handled Westfall’s True Grit, owned by Ryan Westfall from Liberty, Missouri, to the third-place win.

Touch’s Joy Ride, owned by Keith Wright from Covington, Indiana and handled by Ike Todd, won the Derby stake. Chickasaw Hurricane, handled by Tommy Davis for Dr. Randy Peel of Panama City, Florida won second and Superstition’s Jake won third.  He was handled by Bubba Spencer and is owned by Ric Peterson, who now has a Hickory Valley, Tennessee address.

The judges included Jeff Haggis from Glencoe, Ontario, who returned to judge this year after having judged these stakes in 2019.  He was accompanied by Bill Branham from Carleton, Michigan and the pair performed their duties masterfully while also enjoying the outstanding hospitality of the days spent in Tennessee. 

As is typical of winters in the Mid South, temperatures ranged from lows in the upper teens to highs in the low 60s.  The stakes started a day late, delayed until Friday, after a day was lost at the running of the National Championship because of rain.  Such delays have been necessary through the years of running the West Tennessee because many handlers with dogs qualified for the National also compete at Dancyville, and any change at Grand Junction trickles down. 

Additional changes came about as the morning start times were delayed two mornings out of compassion for the effect the frozen ground would have on the dogs’ feet. However, most of the days were sunny and great days to ride and enjoy the performances of excellent dogs.  Even with the late starts, six braces were easily run daily without concern for running out of daylight.


Touch’s Gallatin Fire won during the last hour of the All-Age competition.  He ran the third hour course over terrain from the east end of Coffee Gap Road to large fields north and west of the club house.  He hunted diligently and ran boldly, producing birds at 9, 28, and 53 along the way.  He demonstrated good manners for McLean and excellent style throughout his quest and may have cinched his win with a huge finish as the hour was ending in a most opportune location for the four-year old Pointer male to shift into overdrive and eliminate any questions in the judges’ minds as to who had won the All-Age competition.

Nosam’s Sweet Water might be characterized as a happy dog possessing animated movement, which he paired with his ability to produce four great finds in the seventh brace, which also had a delayed start over frozen ground on Saturday morning.  Rapport between the dog and Larry Huffman was obvious as the three-year old produced birds at 24, 36, 53, and 59.  Sweet Water demonstrated a clean and nice way of going to earn the placement and coupled his demeanor with excellent manners through each stand, flush, and shot.

Westfall’s True Grit placed third for recent Hall of Fame inductee Andy Daugherty [Congratulations, Andy] with three finds in the ninth brace.  Daugherty flushed birds in front of True Grit at 14, 31, and 34, followed by an unproductive stand that came at 58.  The male Pointer, whelped in 2015, was stylish and handled well throughout the hour requiring little scouting as he masterfully hunted the third hour course.


With the early morning temperature at 18, the first brace was delayed until 9:00 AM.  Hendrix’ Copperline and Stash the Cash went first.  Copperline was handled by Burke Hendrix, who co-owns the dog with his father, Guy Hendrix.  Gary Lester had Stash the Cash, owned by Kentuckians David Thompson and Tommy Loid.  Hendrix flushed birds at 10 under cedar boughs when approaching the Well.  Lester then moved birds in front of Stash the Cash at 32.  Copperline had an unproductive stand at 38 and both dogs finished the hour with no trouble at all.

Las Animas Hombre, owned by Dale Bush and handled by Larry Huffman, and Touch’s Folsom Blues, handled by Mark McLean and owned by Eddie Sholar and Bruce and Karen Norton, went next.  Folsom Blues ran the entire hour, found birds two times, and had one unproductive.  The UP was at 25 near a johnny house; but he then moved for only a minute or two and pointed again, having birds.  He pointed and McLean flushed again, at 36, with Hombre backing the find.  However, Hombre went back after the flush for a lone bird that did not fly and Huffman picked him up.

Aces R Wild and Lester’s Storm Surge were paired in brace three.  Storm Surge pointed and owner/handler Gary Lester flushed a woodcock at 3.  He pointed again with Aces R Wild, owned by Dr. Reuben Richardson and Tony Gibson, backing.  After birds were flushed, Mark McLean picked up Aces R Wild.  Storm Surge pointed again at 18 in a fence row by the old Russell Grove Church cemetery.  The cover was so dense that Lester could never move any birds and his dog finished the hour with no more finds.

S. F. Stetson, owned by Larry Smith and handled by Larry Huffman, and Dream Chaser, owned by Brad Calkins and handled by Andy Daugherty, were loosed after lunch.  Both dogs finished that fourth brace but no birds were found.
Brace five had Touch’s Whitewater, handled by Mark McLean for Dr. Marcos Puiggari, and Hendrix’ Touch Up, handled by Burke Hendrix for his father and himself.  Whitewater pointed at 32, with Touch Up backing, and birds were easily flushed.  Touch Up then had birds at 57 and the hour ended with Whitewater demonstrating a strong finish.

Westfall’s Black Thunder, owned by Bill Westfall and handled by Andy Daugherty, and Whippoorwill Ripcord were the challengers in the sixth brace.  Ripcord, owned by Dr. Terry Terlep, Dan McDonald, David Palmer, and Kyle Krause, was handled by Larry Huffman.  Thunder finished the hour and had one find, at 14.  Ripcord was picked up near the half hour mark.

Game Bo, was paired with the second-place winner, Nosam’s Sweet Water, in the seventh brace.  That first brace on Saturday morning also started late because of the hard-frozen ground.  Game Bo, owned by Dr. Fred Corder and handled by Weldon Bennett finished the hour, but found no birds.

S. F. Mapleleaf, owned by Dr. Robert Rankin and handled by Allen Vincent, and Shearjoy’s Unforsaken, a Setter owned by Betty Shearouse and handled by Tommy Davis, were braced together next.  Mapleleaf had a good hour as she produced birds at 3, 25, and 34, finishing the course at Coffee Gap Road.  Unforsaken was picked up early after having unproductives at 11 and 19.

Hendrix’ Signed Copy, owned and handled by Keith Bollendork, was paired with the third- place winner, Westfall’s True Grit, in brace nine.  Bollendorf picked his dog up before the end of the hour.

Coldwater Odyssey and Whippoorwill Vette were released after lunch on Saturday. Odyssey was handled by Weldon Bennett for owners, Debra and Andrew Agnew, while Larry Huffman handled Vette for owner, Earl Connolly, who was in the gallery to enjoy the hour.  Both dogs finished the hour with Odyssey locating birds at 9 and 28 and Vette finding a covey at 24.

Justifier, owned by Dr. Rankin and handled by Allen Vincent, was paired with Coldwater Spectre, owned and scouted by Gary McKibben with Weldon Bennett handling, in brace 11.  Neither dog found any birds and both handlers elected to pick them up at about the half hour mark.

Luke Eisenhart had Touch’s Red Rider, owned by Tucker Johnson, and Andy Daugherty had Westfall’s Redman, owned by Ryan Westfall, in brace 12.  Redman had a find at 11 and Red Rider had one at 14.  Both dogs hunted until the last minutes of the hour, at which time both handlers elected to pick up a few minutes early.

Westfall’s Castaway, owned by Jake Kirkland and handled by Andy Daugherty, and Meadowland Matt Dillon, owned and scouted by Keith Bollendorf and handled by Matt Cochran, went first on Sunday morning.  Castaway was lost early and Matt Dillon had a find at 30, which occurred at the extreme back side of the first hour course.

Jay McKenzie, owner, was in the gallery while Randy Anderson handled Valiant who was paired with Shag Time Max, an English Setter, owned and handled by Chris Cagle.  Max was lost early and Valiant had two finds during the hour.  He pointed a huge covey of pre-released birds that flew powerfully at 20 and had a second find at 32, then continued to finish the hour well.

Miss Stylin Sue, owned by Dr. Jim Mills and Steve Lightle and handled by Allen Vincent, went next braced with Lester’s Georgia Time, handled by Mark McLean and owned by Jim Clark and Baker Hubbard. Miss Stylin Sue had birds at 32, but Vincent asked for his tracker at 42.  Georgia Time was also picked up early.

Touch’s Malcolm Story, owned by Alex Rickert and handled by Mark McLean, was paired with Lowrider Frank, owned by Dr. Jim Mills and Steve Lightle and handled by Allen Vincent, in brace 16.  Malcolm Story had birds at 30 and then was picked up at 50 when he had an unproductive.  Lowrider Frank had no birds during the hour.

The brace 17 contenders were Shag Time Red, owned and handled by Chris Cagle, and Lester’s Private Charter, owned by Bruce and Karen Norton and handled by Mark McLean.  Red finished the hour with no birds while Private Charter also went birdless and was picked up at 50.

In the final brace, Westfall’s River Ice, owned by Brad Calkins and handled by Andy Daugherty, was braced with the winner, Touch’s Gallatin Fire. River Ice backed a find of his brace mate at 28, but was picked up before the end of the hour.


A nice field of 24 fresh and exciting contenders was drawn for the Derby competition.  Several of the derbies did awesome jobs and produced performances that left no doubt that a great next generation of All-Age contenders are up and coming.

Touch’s Joy Ride, owned by Keith Wright and handled by Ike Todd, won first place.  He handled easily in the first brace and ran a great forward race, stylishly standing while Todd flushed birds in front of him at 24.

Chickasaw Hurricane won second place with his performance for Tommy Davis in brace two.  He is owned by Dr. Randy Peel and had an excellent find at 25 after crossing to the west side of Blalock Road on the first hour course.

Superstition’s Jake, owned by Ric Peterson and handled by Bubba Spencer, won third.  He had an outstanding limb find near Coffee Gap Road, where no other birds had been found at 16, while a long distance to the front of Spencer.


The atmosphere at the West Tennessee Club is like no other this reporter knows about or experiences anywhere else.  First, the club officers and core group of workers are young men, by field trial standards, in that most have young families and the experience there is filled with the presence of those entire families.  Moms, dads, and friends come together there in a manner not unlike returning to a wonderful field trial reunion. Children run and play; they ride on top of the dog wagon; some get their diapers changed; some get tired and need to take naps.  The wonderful old clubhouse is practically always full of and surrounded by dozens of happy, busy people.

In addition to the club officers and their families, is the community.  Each evening most of the land owners, neighbors, and friends of the club come together for social gatherings.  Those landowners on whose property the three one-hour courses lie included Bill and Allen Currie, Skip Taylor and Mrs. Jan McCloud, Dr. and Mrs. Gene Spiotta, Ed and Alice McClanahan, Larry and Janeal Humber, Blake Kukar and Rich Boumeester.  Neighbors housed judges and this reporter.  The Doctors Marion and Evelyn Brown housed the judges and Dr. Billy and Mrs. Bettye Butler housed the reporter and his wife, for about the 30th year.

Food was extraordinary. The evening social gatherings included Friday night cocktails and a buffet sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Spiotta, and Saturday night barbeque with all the sides prepared by Chris Mullens, supplemented by desserts brought in by Connie Fergie.  Mullens also prepared an amazing lunch on Saturday – quite different from what is normally available at field trials.  Breakfasts, offering several courses, were prepared by Phil Cagle, Gene Spiotta, Jr., and other members of the club. J P Hathcock and Crutcher Stoots organized lunches.

Then the core of club leaders performed the many other tasks.  Bill and Allen Currie put out birds.  Ike Todd helped in many ways with the courses. Allen Currie, Bill Currie, Ike Todd, and Rich Boumeester marshaled. Crutcher Stoots, Gary Brown, and others manned the dog wagon.  J P Hathcock moved horses as needed.  And Gary Brown was constantly moving – everywhere, doing everything.  Linda Hunt continued to keep plaques and trophies updated. 

The the beloved little clubhouse of the West Tennessee Field Trial Club is located on land owned by Bill and Allen Currie, having come down to them through four or five generations, which began with their paternal grandmother’s family. And the number of members continues to increase.  Just this year, new members included Chris Mullens, Larry and Janeal Humber, Dale Pool, and others.

Another unique aspect that truly represents the West Tennessee Club is a cozy fire surrounded by benches that is the principal location for gathering and visiting.  The fire never goes out, as embers usually remain and need only minimal stoking to rekindle each morning.  The fire truly symbolizes the energy and continuing growth and strength of the club.


Allen Currie sustained a serious horseback injury while marshaling the first hour of these stakes.  He subsequently had surgery at the Region One Medical Center “the Med,” in Memphis, and is now recuperating at home.  Please continue to remember Allen and Cindy during this time of his recuperation.

The West Tennessee Field Trial Club hosted its Open All-Age and Derby field trials on Saturday and Sunday, February 15 and 16, 2020 on the Currie Farm at Dancyville, Tenn. Judges were Jeff Haggis of Glencoe, ON and Bill Branham of Carleton, MI. Jim Atchison of Caruthersville, MO was the Reporter. There were 36 entries in the All-Age and 24 entries in the Derby.

Winners were:

All Age
1. Touch's Gallatin Fire, handler Mark McLean, owners Alex & Brianna Rickert
2. Nosame Sweetwater, handler Larry Huffman, owner Jeff Busby
3. Westfall's True Grit, handler Andy Daughtery, owner Bill Westfall
This win qualifies Touch’s Gallatin Fire for the 2021 National Championship.

1. Touch’s Joy Ride, handler Ike Todd, owner Keith Wright
2. Chickasaw Hurricane, handler Tommy Davis, owner Dr. Andy Peel
3. Superstition’s Jake, handler Bubba Spencer, owner Ric Peterson

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