By Dave Hansroth, RGS & AWS Regional Director
For several years, Maryland RGS chapters floated the idea of a Maryland Dog of the Year Challenge. Both active chapters in Maryland (Potomac Valley and Backbone Mountain) previously held individual chukar challenges, and logistics were complicated to make the new idea happen. However, it really started to take shape when Brad and Mark Minnick offered their Twin Ridge Game Farm for an entire weekend for just the cost of the birds. They also agreed to help market the event and to provide some of the help needed to run an event of this magnitude. It was hard to turn down a deal like that!
So on the first weekend in April, handlers and a variety of dogs descended on Twin Ridge. Weather was great and the first day went without a hitch with 40 runs being completed. Sunday was beautiful with just a bit of warm weather making dogs and handlers uncomfortable in the afternoon. Fortunately Twin Ridge provided plenty of water on the course and in the staging area. Forty Four runs were completed on Sunday for a weekend total of 84 runs. Competition was fierce, but smiles and grins went along with good-natured kidding.
The Maryland Chapters contributed a lot of labor to help make this a successful event! Several members of the Backbone Mountain Chapter traveled from Western Maryland and spent the weekend helping . . . and help they did as that chapter ended up planting all the birds for all runs on both days. Potomac Valley was not sleeping either, as they took care of all the registrations and money, plus several turned out to help with onsite registration, scoring and various other duties. This event would not have happened if not for volunteers from those chapters.
Handlers and dogs competed in several categories: Adult Pointing Dog; Adult Flushing Dog; Youth Handler; and Puppy Division (see photos below). Youth Handlers were 16 and younger and puppies were two years and younger.
The birds flew well, the dogs handled well and the handlers shot well – most of the time anyway! When the smoke cleared on Sunday afternoon, it was time to crown the winners. In many categories, just a tenth of a point or so separated the winners from second and even third places.
This event netted $3,000 for the Maryland Drummer Habitat Fund. Special thanks to Purina for their considerable support and to Brad and Mark Minnick for donating their Twin Ridge Game Farm – a perfect place for this event. We are already looking forward to next year.