— from Bill Tarrant’s column “Grand Junction: Bird Dog Capital of the World”
I grew up reading many of Tarrant’s columns on the men and dogs who made Grand Junction such a mythologized place for bird dog enthusiasts. And one of these days, at least once, when I have the time, when I have the money, when I learn how to ride a horse, I’m going to make that pilgrimage to Tennessee. I want to watch those dogs run over the same ground that so many famous dogs have trod before. But not this year. The 112th running of the National Field Trial Championship begins on Monday at the Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, so I don’t think I’m going to make it. But I will post a blog about the winner next week.
So what exactly is the National Bird Dog Championship?
The National Championship was first organized and run near West Point, Mississippi in 1896. Later, the competition was conducted on field trial grounds south of Grand Junction, Tennessee; near Rogers Springs, Tennessee; and finally, the Ames Plantation, north of Grand Junction and LaGrange, Tennessee. The National found a permanent home on the Ames Plantation in 1915 and each running since has been on the “hallowed” field trial grounds set in place by Hobart Ames, long time President and Judge of the National Championship
This year’s field has 27 dogs running in the all-age stake: 25 pointers and two setters. The derby stake has 18 dogs running: seventeen pointers and one setter. Obviously, as in most all-age horseback trials, pointers dominate. So here’s a trivia question for all you shag runners out there: who was the last setter to win the national championship and when did he win it? Hint: that’s his picture above…