When we arrived Friday, the Open Shooting dog stake was running. The weather Friday was cool and sporadic rain, then wind, then finally it calmed down. It ran over from Friday into Saturday, and with some delays and long turnarounds the announcements were made around 12:30 in the afternoon. Some great dogs ran in both the Shooting dog and the Open all age (both the broke dog stakes. The winner of both was "Boots" owned by Dustin Ochs and handled by Bryan Long.
The 20 dog derby didn't start until nearly 1:30 in the afternoon. Willowynd dogs drew short straws all the way around on this, having pulled Hank to run in the first brace, and bookending the stake with Scarlet running in the next to last and Pearl running last brace. Ordinarily the last two might not be so bad, but with the very late start, this pushed running the last two braces in twilight - finishing up nearly at 8p.m. I think this affected the late running dogs, but that's the luck of the draw, and I'm sure the committee was doing their best to git'er done.
Hank ran well. He reached out and loved the country! He had a covey find in a corner of heavy sage and when I called point and turned around, the judge was probably 100 yards behind and not indicating any intent of coming on to see the dog. I don't quite know how he could see the point, as I had to ride up the hill and into the sage to find him standing, but he saw birds, so I gather he figured that was enough. I had trouble getting Hank back out of the cover that held the birds to cross the open valley to the other ridge, but once we got a handle on him and gave him water, he took the cast and lit out for the other side. We caught up with our bracemate "Buck" owned by Jim Ochs handled by Bryan Long (who took third - congrat's!). Hank hunted the conifers on the side of the hill at good range, then dropped in front and took to the objectives on the horizon and disappeared as time was called. It took us a solid three minutes to ride to where we saw him last and found him standing. It was likely he was standing at time, but we just couldn't see him then. He finished the 30 minutes strong and roaded in on a rope to the truck in front of our new friend Cindy Pescod. I'm pretty confident the difficult handle getting him out of the corner after birds cost us a placement. He was really "on" with the exception of that piece.
Scarlet started out a bit close then opened up after the first couple minutes or so. Her bracemate was having a tough handle, and the opposing handler was vocal which shorteneed her up a bit until she got the "feel" for the brace. Then she took a really wide forward cast and wrapped the first hill. Unfortunately, the lateness threw off her timeclock I think and she got thirsty early - she came back to the horses looking for water at about 6 minutes. Then she yoyod until she got to the water trough where she could get a drink. The second half she worked a moderate gundog pattern and then reached into the trees - she went on point and is generally very honest about birds, but Janet was unable to produce. She cast on forward and finished the half with plenty of gas in the tank, and no hearing left. Janet and I were unable to get her to come in for pickup and ended up having to run her all the way back to the start line where the dog wagon folks were able to finally catch her.
Unfortunately, my horse was acting up a bit - three hours past feeding time I think was part of the problem - and I elected not to watch Pearl's run in favor of not riding a rodeo horse. The sun was down and darkness falling - Pearl elected to not run in favor of staying close to the horses and not becoming coyote fodder or lion dinner and Jim picked her up without finishing her brace.
We ate a good dinner courtesy of Riccardo and Georgette Spaccarelli then Janet and I hit the road about 9 p.m. We drove through til about 3 a.m. stopping somewhere in the high desert in Nevada and crashed for a couple hours - then on home and arrived back from our whirlwind trip about 4 p.m Sunday.
Back to work for me Monday - and boy oh boy am I looking forward to finally seeing the weekend at home!