Nation's best bird dogs compete in South Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nation's best bird dogs compete in South Georgia

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Terrell County -- Many of America's best bird dogs and handlers are in south Georgia right now. Thursday they started competing in their National Championship Dog Trials.

Bill Bickert's 3 year old English Setter Brutus is on point. Bickert shoots the bird with his first shell. Bill Bickert of Tampa said "It's not about the kill. It's about watching the dogs do their work."

For the fifth year in a row the Quail Unlimited National Championship Dog Trial is being held at Hufstetler Farm in Bronwood.

Bird dogs from across the nation are competing in the ten thousand dollar event. Huffman said "The top dogs are here. The trial we run is the national shoot to retrieve, and most of the best dogs from it are here."

 Nolan Huffman of Hickory, North Carolina is the two time defending champion, but his winning dog is not competing. Huffman said "Buddy here is in retirement now. He's ten years old. He's won this trial for the last two years. He's my pet, and my hunting dog, and my good friend. We ride around in the truck together and have a big time."

 Most of these dogs are worth tens of thousands of dollars, but their owners would never sell them. They are best friends. Jeff Gamble of Tennessee said "It starts from your first day out on the training grounds, up until the point where you can come and compete here."

 Two dogs and handlers go out on 40 acre plots at the same time, with judges on horseback. For 30 minutes the dogs have to find birds and the handlers must shoot them. The number of birds and judges score decide a winner.

They will decide a national champion Saturday. Huffman said "Just the accomplishment. Taking a young dog and develop it. And put it in competition and seeing it do well."

The National Championship Dog Trial benefits quail unlimited, in their work to preserve game bird habitat.

You can go watch the National Dog Trial free. They'll run all day Friday and Saturday leading up to the National Finals at 4 O-clock Saturday afternoon.

posted by jimw@walb.com