By Maria Bassham

The 2nd annual Tommy Traylor Memorial Youth Trial was held November 12, 2022 on the beautiful grounds of Conecuh Station. This trial is a Dixie Trace and Alabama youth handler of the year points trial. Eight 20-minute braces consisting of 9 youth handlers, (3 of which are in the 12 and under, Alabama Junior Division) and 16 bird dogs (1 Setter, 2 German Shorthairs, & 13 Pointers) ran that Saturday. In attendance for this memorial trial was Tommy’s wife, Kay Traylor. Brother, Toby (Uncle Doc) Traylor. Daughters Melissa Lewis and Mindy McDuffie (and son-in-law, Hunter). Grandchildren, Clay Lewis and Addison McDuffie. And childhood friends, Tony Gibson and Blan Bell. It felt extremely nostalgic to have them all come and support these kids participating in the sport they are so passionate about! We know Tommy was smiling down on the day with pride.

Judges for this very special event were Jamie Daniels of Arlington, Georgia and Claudia McNamee of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. We were very honored to have these two sit in the judicial saddles and share their time and expertise with these young handlers. We want to thank Darron Hendley for all he does to keep this sport alive and running. These kids are our future amateur handlers and without them this sport would not flourish. Thank you also for the delicious hamburger lunch which was provided by Ban and Allison Stewart. It was enjoyed and very much appreciated by all who attended.

A huge thank you to Chris and Cindy Sellers for paying the entry fees for all the young contenders. Beautiful winners’ prizes were graciously donated by Tony and Becky Gibson. The 1st place winner received the Tommy Traylor Memorial rotating trophy placed into competition last year by Jack and Fran Miller, a first-place plaque, six commemorative silver dollars in a gorgeous wooden box, and a beautiful leather headstall donated Roger Key. The runners-up also received plaques, silver dollars in wooden boxes and gorgeous, hand-made leather tack.

Along with our two judges joining us from across the river in Georgia, 2 of the youth handlers did as well. Daley Dalton and Kira Jenkins both travelled from South Georgia to run with their Alabama friends. They were back two weeks later for the Bama Quail Youth Trial. Not only are handlers Addison, Katie Bell, Reese, Shelby and Claire all fierce competitors, but the support and encouragement they showed each other, while braced against one another, was heartwarming and inspirational. Junior handler Sterling Woodruff was outfitted like a professional on his perfect pony, Shiny. From his starched white, button-down shirt, to his chaps, whistle, and shotgun, he looked like a pro while flushing birds at each find. Hayes Green captured everyone’s attention with his tone and projection of his calls while he handled his dogs in the 4th and 6th braces. The support of these young trialers and excitement of the gallery was thrilling to watch and be a part of.

Mrs. Kay Traylor announced the winners in the clubhouse. They came out of braces 5 and 8. Liver and white pointer female Belle, handled by Shelby Street took first place with an excellent showing. Belle is a retired All-Age dog that has found new life in the youth leagues! Shelby’s proud parents, Bucky and Meredith were present to enjoy this big win with Shelby. Kira Jenkins expertly handled her pointer male, Jag, around the course and earned second. Reese Green returned to the winners circle at third with her consistent performer, Josie. Josie, a very well-built German Shorthair with an uncanny nose.

The Alabama Youth Field Trial association recently started a Junior division for handlers 12 and younger. A Top Dog in the junior division is also awarded at each trial. At year end, the top junior handler will be recognized. Being just twelve years old, Shelby Street also won Top Dog in the junior division with Belle.

The Running:

1st Brace-Claire Street & Bo // Katie Bell Varner & Sassy.

Bo was on point at 5 mins but birds were elusive, brace mate Sassy backed. Then Sassy went on point at 6 mins and Bo backed, birds were flushed. Katie raised her hat a second time at pick-up and birds were again put into flight.

2nd Brace-Sterling Woodruff (Junior Division) with Sammy and Addison Duffie with TW Trouble. Sterling, Sammy & his pony “Shiny” were quite a team. Sammy had 3 finds along the gravel road. Sterling was outfitted handsomely upon his trustworthy steed who handled as well as his bird dog! Addison & Trouble weren’t as well rewarded for their efforts. Trouble ran big and hunted the piney woods impressively but didn’t have any bird work.

3rd Brace-Sterling Woodruff (Junior Division) with Jill and Addison McDuffie with TW Passion. Sterling & Addison were braced together once again with Jill & Passion, respectively. Jill handled well for her young handler but no birds were found. Passion had one beautiful covey find at 16 mins but the heat was visibly taking it’s toll on this contender. Both dogs finished well!

4th Brace-Hayes Green with Ann and Katie Bell Varner with Sam. Ann went hunting deep to the left and we went right, so her scout went to retrieve her at pickup; no birds. Hayes had the best handler’s voice out there!! Sam hunted hard for Katie and was always to the front. He went on point at 6 mins but there was only a pile of feathers and Katie took her on. No other bird work.

5th Brace-Reese Green with Josie and Kira Jenkins & Jag. Exciting brace both dogs hunting well with strong gun dog ground races. Reese & Josie had two good finds — the first at 8 mins with birds in flight before handler could flush. The second was a divided find at 13 mins. Kira & Jag had two finds the first was the divided find at 13 and then the second was at pickup with a memorable relocation.

6th Brace-Hayes Green (Junior Division) with Jack and Claire Street with Lucky. Hayes came back for another round, this time with Jack who had his first find at 5 mins. His second came at 14 where there were no birds but a bunch of feathers, and then a divided find at 19 mins. Claire & Lucky had the divided find at 19.

7th Brace-Daley Dalton with Sally and Shelby Street (Junior Division) & Jenny. Birds were elusive for Daley & Sally with first point finding feathers at 8 mins and second point no birds or feathers at 12 mins. Shelby & Jenny had a single find at 10 mins.

8th and Final Brace-Reese Green with Bo and Shelby Street (Junior Division) with Belle. Bo hunted close to Reese for the full 20 minutes but did not have any bird work. Shelby & Belle’s performance was strong and stylish with Belle hunting forward and deeper than the course path. All three covey finds at 6, 10, & 19 mins were flushed easily by Shelby impressing the judges.

If you are interested in Youth Field Trials, you may call Darron Hendley, 334-300-5836 for more information.

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