April 7, 2017

Headlights cut through the darkness on the road leading to the Quail Valley Hunt Club as excited dogs barked in anticipation.  The temperature hovered in the mid 30’s as a cold, gusty northwest wind greeted the members of the Dixie Region.  The high ground above both fields was soon filled with trucks.  Ringing hammers, the clatter of water pans and the sound of four wheelers being unloaded greeted the dawn as handlers released their dogs to clean the fields.

Cover was aplenty in the fields cut in strips of sage grass, millet and assorted other grasses.  There was excitement in the air.  Field trialers from as far away as Baton Rouge, LA were here for the pretrial double to get a feel for the fields and size up the competition.  Sixteen braces of English setters, German shorthairs, French and American Brittanys and English pointers seemed to be growing out of the countryside as they added their eager voices to the cacophony.   As the bird planter came off the field the cry of “Bring ‘em out!” echoed off the nearby hills.  Dogs with handlers in tow came to the line with judges on four wheelers following.  The judges asked, “Handlers ready?”  Then, “Turn ‘em loose!”  The pretrial for the Dixie Regional was under way. 

The scenting was to prove to be tough for some but for others it was all in a day’s work.  A gusty cold breeze kept the feel of the air cold in spite of the rapidly warming temperatures as the dogs and handlers steadily worked the fields.  There was some fine dog work from all the participants and finds came hard for all the dogs.   From the beginning the Autrys and the Jasperings dogs came to work with impressive showings on “A” Field.  At the close of the day Jeb with Steve Jaspering handler was 1st, Ike with Steve Autry handler was second, Mo’ Money with Steve Jaspering handler was 3rd and Tex with Don Milligan handler was 4th.

The “B” field proved to be quite a challenge as well but the dogs and handlers were up to it.  Steve Jaspering’s Mo’ Money, James Erwin’s Trooper, Mike Grissom’s Chipper and Steve Hawkersmith’s Katie definitely came to play with great scores.  Don Milligan’s Shad owned by Joe Walker was the star of the “B” filed with 7 finds and a score of 1324.3.  The afternoon scenting conditions were truly tough which made his score all the more impressive.  In the end the “B” field results were Shad with Don Milligan handler 1st, Chipper with Mike Grissom handler 2nd, Trooper with James Erwin handler 3rd and Katie with Steve Hawkersmith handler 4th.

Lots of thanks to our Judges Brandon Beard, Roy Meyer, Larry Mize, and Russ White.  The bird planter Jerry “Red” Sudberry.  The field Marshalls Dorothy Jaspering and Neal Golden.  The crew at Quail Valley Georgia Ann, Betty, Micah, Talley, and Don Milligan the trial chairman.  A special thanks to Joe Walker and Jane Walker for making this fine facility available to the region for trials and the regional trial this year.

Now with the pretrial finished there was anticipation for what tomorrow would bring for the members of the Dixie Region.

April 8, 2017

The Morning Star hung over Quail Valley as the first hint of daylight touched the sky.  Headlights illuminated the “A” field and its abundant cover coated with a light frost that twinkled in the predawn darkness.  Temperature was in the low 30’s but predicted to rise to nearly 70 degrees.  Today would prove to be a busy day as there were 19 braces of dogs competing to move on to the next phase of the regional.  Dogs and handlers hit the field as soon as it was light enough to clean the fields.  Curt Klaustermier, the bird planter, was in the field as soon as they cleared and Judges Anthony Sluder and Donald Roberts went over score cards as the Field Marshall Ken McNabb briefed the handlers in the blind. 

“Bring ‘Em Out!” marked the start as the first dogs and handlers eagerly started their run.  30 minutes can seem like no time at all or like eternity according to how your dog’s run is going.  Getting out there and doing what they do best is the only way to get past that apprehension for dogs and handlers.  This day proved to be a difficult day for scenting as the scores generally remained low throughout the day.  The wind that had plagued the day before died to almost nothing and at times nothing.  Scenting was tough.  The average number of finds remained low. 

Lunch time in the cabin on the hill with Georgia Ann and Betty was Richard Talley’s barbeque, their own recipe of baked beans, slaw, chips and desserts of cookies and brownies that were worth going back.  The talk was lively about the morning runs and there was much anticipation about the afternoon as the temperature continued to rise.  The judges ate on the run to keep the braces going.

A surprising number of spectators came to the trial adding to the crowd.  Donald Hodge, Sr. from Johnson City, TN was participating in spite of a serious injuries suffered in a wreck and atrial fibrillation that prevents him from driving.  His cohorts made sure he was present proving him to be a stalwart in the region.  Mike Small and crew came all the way from Baton Rouge, LA with a gaggle of French Brittanys.  Few things get in the way of field trials.  Ask our wives!  Larry Sane, vice president of the region, had grandkids in tow as did several other participants.  Larry recognizes that in order for our region to thrive and grow we must involve the younger generation of bird dog enthusiasts. 

Start them young and the love of these marvelous creations of the Almighty and the excitement of the competition will keep them interested.  The beauty and grace of a dog on point, the whirring sound of the bird as it flushes, the wingshot and the wonder and joy of the retrieve brings us back to the sport.  It makes all that work, time and effort that we put into training these magnificent creatures worth it.  On top of all that we have companionship, that bond between you and your dog.  Why do we do this?  It becomes an important part of us.  As we are teaching we are learning patience, kindness, gratitude, joy, perseverance, loyalty and a host of other lessons.

The afternoon was more of the same although scores began to improve for in the last four braces.  At the end of the day Jesse with T.O. Finchum handler/Bill Finchum owner was 1st, Zax with Ed Ford handler was 2nd, Topper with Jerry Daniels handler/Jeff Gamble owner was 3rd and Hootie with Jim Thompson handler 4th.

Ken McNabb, Carolyn Oakes and Ed Ford poured over the score sheet as they sorted out those who were moving forward to the next cut.  It was disappointing not to go to the next round as some packed up for a long trip home after the dinner and annual meeting.  The wireless connection was not reliable at the trial grounds and in the end the next rounds had to be drawn by hand because of computer related problems. 

April 8, 2017 Saturday Evening

The Annual Dixie Regional meeting was held a Tina’s Restaurant in Petersburg, TN.  The food was plentiful, tasty and the service was great.  The desserts required a second tasting by many of the region members.  When you go there check out the banana pudding!  The meeting got underway minutes from last year’s meeting and other business were read.  Carolyn handed out a financial report.  Don Milligan and owner Joe Walker were presented a plaque for Shad as the High Point Dog for the Dixie Region.  The election of officers for the coming year resulted in:

T.O. Finchum-president

Larry Sane-vice president

Neal Golden-secretary/treasurer

John Keohane- board member

Donald Hodge, Sr.-board member

Ed Ford-past president/board member

Don Milligan-board member

Joe Walker-board member

Justin Sane-board member

April 9, 2017

Sunday found the trial grounds busy with clearing fields and preparing for the next braces.  The weather continued to cooperate as the temperature warmed early and headed toward the 70s at a fast clip.  Sunshine was abundant as attested to by the red faces and arms of everyone present.  Most sought shelter under tents or in their cars from time to time. 

16 dogs moved on to Sunday and although the weather was better the scenting conditions failed to improve for most of the participants.  More than half of the dogs found two birds or less.  Bandy handled by Steve Autry led the pack while Faith handled by Larry Sane was just 30 points off the lead.  The 16 were pared down to 8 dogs and finally down to 4 dogs in two braces with Hootie handled by Jim Thompson 1st, Jorge handled by Jim Thompson 2nd, Chipper with Mike Grissom handler 3rd, and Shad handled by Don Milligan 4th. 

The final hour was unusual in that both dogs, French Brittanys, were owned and handled by Jim Thompson.  Don Milligan stepped in to handle Jorge while Jim Handled Hootie.  Jorge was eager and still had lots of bounce in his step finding 7 birds.  Jorge did not have a back and this would come to haunt him in this final hour.  Once the final hour was completed Trial Chairman Ed Ford set up a backing situation and Jorge failed to back.  Making Hootie the victor.  Congratulations to Jim Thompson and Hootie.

Again, we thank the Quail Valley Hunt Club for use of the facilities, Jane Walker, Joe Walker, Don Milligan, Richard Talley, Georgia Ann, Betty and Micah for their hospitality and hard work to make the regional a success.  We thank Ken McNabb for struggling with that pesky computer and field marshalling this event.  Thanks to trial chairman Ed Ford for all his efforts as president and Carolyn Oakes for keeping things on track as secretary/treasurer for the region.  Thanks also to all the participants

Now, it is on to the Trial of Champions and it is time to think about the fall trial schedule.  The fall trial schedule is due to the NSTRA office by May 1st.  Please contact T.O. Finchum at 615-308-4607 with your trial information.  In order for our trials to have ample participation we must have the information out there for others to see. 

Next year the Regional will be on the weekend of the 7-8 April 2018.  The location to be announced.  I look forward to the fall season and seeing you all at our trials when we will hear the cry, “Bring ‘Em Out!”

Check out our images page for pictures of the trial.


June 24, 2017

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a dog to two national trials, one in Indiana and the second in Nebraska.  Some of you may ask, “Why travel all that distance for a trial?”  The answer is simple.  I may never have another dog that qualifies for these trials and I truly enjoy the competition, comradery and the learning experience that these trials foster. It is an opportunity to compete with dogs that we see on the cover of the NSTRA Magazine.  Wouldn’t it feel great for you and your dog to do well against that caliber of dog and handler?

I saw Ed Ford from our region there and as usual he had some very competitive dogs in the trials.  In our region I see many fine dogs and handlers that are capable of competing at that level.  Yet, I don’t see them.  I know that work, family, financial and other considerations get in the way to keep many of us away from these trials.  Life gets in the way. 

What if there was another way to compete?  Think about it.  I see at these trials handlers that handle dogs for several owners.  If you have a friend you trust that knows your dog, has the time, the skill, and is willing to work with you and your dog to prepare for a trial you may have the answer.  If several owners got together with that person then they could send their dogs to a national trial.  All the owners could share expenses for that one person.  Perhaps, you could rotate between friends each year in order for your qualified dogs to remain in competition.

The NSTRA national trials that are held each year are an opportunity for handlers to take their dogs to the next level of competition.  You will see more than one hundred dogs at most of these trials and have the opportunity to make connections with top trainers, handlers and breeders in the country.  In some of these trials a single placement will get your dog in the trial.  When dogs compete at these trials they get experience on different terrain, cover and environment.  It makes for a more confident and competitive dog.  You will forge new friendships and take away experiences that will make you a better trainer, competitor and judge.

Consider taking your dog to the next level.  The next national trial on the horizon is the Purina Endurance Trial in Nebraska in September, Dog of the Year is in October, Quail Invitational is in February, Trial of Champions is in May and UKC Performance Championship is in June in Nebraska.  See you there!


Members who have an email address please send that to deaconthales@bellsouth.net .

It is a much quicker and cheaper way to communicate. 

July 5, 2017

Rick Bertinetti, president of the Illinois Region, announced that the Shriner's Trial is scheduled for October13-15, 2017 at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, Illinois.  This is a great trial for a worthy cause.  Enter early.

November 21, 2017

The address for Breezy Knoll Farm is 469 Warmbrod Lane, Belvidere, TN.  See you there for the after Thanksgiving field trial!

NOVEMBER 30, 2017

The Dixie region has five trials in December:

Dbl/Dbl at Quail Valley December 9 & 10, 2017

Single at Parrotsville on December 10, 2017

After Christmas trial Dbl/Dbl will be at Breezy Knoll Farm on December 29th and 30th(Friday and Saturday).  This is a great facility and fantastic trial grounds.  What a way to end the year!   See you there!

December 8, 2017

Photos of winners at Breezy Knoll Farm in November are posted on the Image page!

January 1, 2018

Check out our Facebook page "NSTRA Dixie Region"

February 5, 2018

Now is the time to think about the Regional Elimination Trial that takes place in April.  If your dog has placed in a trial in the Dixie Region you are eligible to participate in the Regional.  Send your applications to T.O. Finchum, 3130 Richmond Hill Drive, Nashville, TN 37207.  Feel free to give me a call if you have questions at 615-308-4607.

Dogs who have a 4th place placement in any Dixie Region Open Trial are eligible for the Regional.  1st through 3rd placements are given priority and remaining openings will be filled with 4th placements.

February 8, 2018

Dixie Region Members,

The Regional Elimination Trial is fast approaching and we have a record number of dogs qualified for the trial.  

If you are wondering if your dog is qualified?  Here is the answer. Up to two (2) weeks prior to the Regional Elimination Trial.   Any dog that has a placement in a NSTRA sanctioned open trial OR is an amateur dog that has acquired five (5) points in amateur trials this year OR your dog is a champion in this region.  These are the ways that your dog may enter the Regional Elimination Trial.  The trial is the gateway to the Dog of the Year Trial held in Amo, IN each year.  (Remember that your dog may only enter one (1) regional elimination trial each year.)

I look forward to seeing each of you at the Regional Elimination Trial.  Come enjoy the fellowship and compete with your dogs, the finest bird dogs in the country. Good luck!

T.O. Finchum

Check out our website “dixienstra.com” and our facebook page “NSTRA Dixie Region”.   

February 19, 2018

After consulting with the Board of Directors for the Dixie Region the location of the Regional Elimination Trial is changed.  The Regional Elimination Trial will be held at Parrottsville Bird Hunters at Parrottsville, TN.  This location is near Newport, TN.  Accommodations and dining opportunities are available in Newport.  Please check the nstra.org website and dixienstra.com website as well as our Facebook page for further information.

Come join us at the regional to see some of the best bird dogs and handlers competing in NSTRA today!

T.O. Finchum

March 11, 2018

If you have not received a letter about the Regional Elimination Trial/Annual Meeting then we do not have your proper address.  

The entry fee for the Regional is $80 and checks are made to "Dixie Region."  Get your entries in as soon as possible.

April10, 2018

The 2018 Regional Elimination is in the books. The rain, cold and the mud on Saturday made for a grueling, miserable day. The participants braved the elements and the performance by the 38 dog/handler teams were remarkable. Our judges, Gary "Doc" Ramsey and Anthony Sluder, and our bird planter, BJ Carrol, were real troopers as they kept the trial rolling along through 19 braces.

On Sunday the weather started out crisp and cold but warmed slowly as the participants reduced to the top 16 took the field. The competition was fierce as the field was reduced to the top 6 for the next round. While trial officials struggled with the computer lunch was served. Most of the handlers ate pretty light as they anticipated the coming round.

The final 6, Jack/Ken McNabb, Meg/Neal Golden, Charm/Reggie Allen, Strike/Jerry Daniel, Rock/JJ Keohane, and Willie/Don Milligan, were drawn by the computer in three braces to determine the top two dogs that would run in the final hour. As it was throughout the trial, most braces were decided within about 15 minutes. However, the dog/handler teams ever hopeful of finding another bird continued to thoroughly scour the field for the whole 30 minutes.

The top two, Golden's Star Meg (Meg) and Reba's Sweet William (Willie), took to the fields for the final one hour brace after a short rest. The competition was fast paced and exciting to watch as the dogs searched both fields. In the end both dogs had 5 finds each. When the opportunity for a back presented itself Meg rose to the occasion and got a back. Willie, however, was not inclined to back when he got the opportunity and the "0" on the card told the story. Meg was triumphant winning the Regional Elimination with Willie being the 1st runner up.

Congratulations to all the participants in the Regional Elimination Trial.