Every field trialer should have the luck and good fortune to experience at least once in a lifetime a dog like Wild Apple Jack who with his win at the Southern New England Woodcock Championship this weekend is now a 5X champion, 1X runner-up champion. From the very beginning he has done what was needed to excel. He naturally runs to the front, always runs hard, and often has the birdwork needed to win. This weekend in a trial where wild birds were at a premium and excessively elusive which resulted in many non-productives throughout the three days, Jack had two perfect woodcock finds and a find that the gallery saw unfold on a pair of quail that had migrated from the nearby derby course. His first find was not far from the spot that Stokely’s Mikey D came up on to what was then course five to win runner-up laurels on these grounds when it ran on Labor Day weekend under a different name. The quail find came in the swamp along the river, and the second woodcock was right on the edge of the road by the bridge. On the last find the woodcock flew right out over the gallery for everyone to see. It was quite a show. I wish I could take all the credit, but I’m pretty sure in Jack’s case nature outweighs nurture.
As a whole it was a great weekend. There were many of the regions amateur handlers as well as a couple of Georges from PA on hand. Pros John Stolgitis, Joe Dahl (who was also the reporter), and Robert Ecker also supported the trial. John and Jill Stolgitis graciously opened their home to any and all attendees with many of them staying at the house. Eddie McGovern, Karen Unsworth, Dave Marshall, and other members of the club worked hard to ensure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there and took care of the myriad details that need attention to make a trial run smoothly. It is an thrill and an honor to have Jack win this trial. It was fun to walk around with Jack’s super scout Mike Flewelling and reminisce about all the times that Jack has run in this championship and in the Invitational on these grounds. I still owed Mike a bottle of scotch from his scouting job at the Amateur Woodcock and now I can’t decide whether to get him two or just one really outrageous bottle. Last and definitely not least I wish to thank the judges — Tony Bly and Mike Best — judging a wild bird trial, especially in New England where the judges walk, requires a commitment that, unless you have done it, is hard to fully appreciate. I know how heavy those feet can get and truly appreciate the effort these two made.