March 3-5, 2017
Spring Bank Plantation at Barnsley Gardens
Georgia Region President Gene (Gator Man) Pritchett, working with Terry Taylor, cast about the state looking for suitable grounds for the Region Championships. Through contacts in the area, we were invited to hold the annual competition at Spring Bank Plantation @ Barnsley Gardens. Spring Bank Plantation is a hunting preserve nestled in the North Georgia foothills. Manager Lyle McClure (770-547-9360, www.barnsleyresort.com) did an excellent job of preparing the grounds and facilities for our group. The fields were not as large as some, but they hunted much larger than most. The reason being, the bird handler, Lonnie Jones, could release any bird any place he wanted- even in the cut strips! The broom sedge was tall and thick. This was no cut, green grass field! A field was relatively flat with an upturn toward the back into some planted pines. B Field was hilly with a fairly good climb to the top. The dogs had to hunt not only the edges, but in the middle of the blocks of tall grass, as well, to find all the birds. Smallish dogs, such as Brits, provided a real challenge for the judges- especially the darker dogs. They just seemed to disappear. Judges Ron Huels, Ron Becker, Rick Bertinetti and John Rawdin did an outstanding job following and scoring the 48 dogs that qualified for our Regional. Field Marshals Bodie (Gallery Nazi) Ray and Ed Ford kept the fields running smoothly.
Friday, we had a pre-trial, of sorts, as we all got used to the grounds. The weather could not have been more perfect for a trial. Cold in the morning, with clear skies, warming to cool in the afternoon. Breezes kept everyone cool. Saturday and Sunday were similar and we were thankful that the added element of rain/snow/etc. would not be a factor this year.
Saturday, we started the Region trial in earnest. 48 dogs started the day. The first cut was to 24 dogs on Saturday. Right away, we saw some major upsets as our picks for the favorite dropped out one by one. By the time of the Region banquet, Saturday night, there were a few long faces in the crowd as we met to elect new officers and present awards for last year. First order of business was to scan the crowd to see who was absent, and then elect them to office. So, the incoming line-up for 2017 is President Mitch Hurst, Vice President Clay Johnson, Treasurer Mark Clore, and Secretary Charlotte Taylor. We thank last year’s officers for the fine job they did and their dedication and service to the Region! You were all awesome!
Next order of business was presentation of several awards. We started off with the High Point Award for the 2016 trial year. Jeff Keck and Trim (S/M) won this one going away- no one was even close! Linda Lowe and Belle (S/F) won the High Point Female. Tyler Clore was designated the Rookie of the Year and the Most Improved Dog went to Kimber (GSP/M). Donald Roberts was named Judge of the Year and Bodie Ray garnered the Scott Clark Award for service to the Region.
Sunday dawned cold and breezy. The two fields were busy with 12 braces each and the cut was severe. Only the top 4 off each field would advance. The Final 8 were Shack/Schultz, Ana/Pannell, Toothpick/Brennan Greene, Ty/Miles, Tripp/Pannell, Max/Murdock, Hank/Johnson, Ruby/Schultz (last year’s Region Champion). After another 2 braces on each field, the Final Four were Tripp/Pannell, Ruby/Schultz, Toothpick/Greene and Ty/Miles. Tripp and Ty went out in the first brace of the Final Four, followed by Ruby and Toothpick. The top two dogs for the one hour runoff were Tripp/Pannell and Toothpick/B. Greene. After the final hour, Tripp/Pannell and Gerald Pannell were awarded coveted title of 2017 Georgia Region Champion! Toothpick/Brennen Green was 1st Runner-up, Ruby/Randy Schultz was 2nd Runner-up and Ty/ Dan Miles 3rd Runner-up. Congratulations to all the participants, but especially the Final Four finishers!
Again, “Thank You” to the excellent facility at Spring Bank Plantation and Lyle McClure for their hospitality. Also, thank you to our out-of-town judges and field marshals and bird handler! You were all very helpful and spot-on with your calls. We could not have done it without you!