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March 3, 2006

Terrell County, Dougherty County -- Several of the nation's top hunting dog field trials are underway in Southwest Georgia.

Hundreds of people from across North America will spend the next week in the area for competitions. And that will make a big economic impact for our region.

The second brace of the day is underway in The Southeastern Field Trials in Terrell County. Some of the best game hunting dogs in the nation will find and point birds, with judges and dozens of fans watching.

Southeastern Field Trials Secretary Lamar Childers said, "We have people from Montana and Wyoming this year, the farthest I'm aware of."

At Potter's Community Center, the Master's Open Shooting Dog Championships are being held. Roger Duerksen of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania will be in town for the next week for the competition. "Stay in motels and eat in your best restaurants, if we can find them," he said.

Duerksen's three and a half year old English pointer Talisman just won the National championship in Hoffman, North Carolina. Now he is in Southwest Georgia trying to win another leg of field trials' Triple Crown.

Albany businesses will benefit from the hundreds of people taking part in this sporting event. Duerksen said, "My wife is with me, and she loves to shop, so she's happy."

Southwest Georgia is one of the few places with the natural resources needed to host these events, with an influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy.

Master's Open Field Trial organizer Tim Moore said, "What makes this one so unique is the vast landholdings that we allowed to run this trial on."

Javier Soto came from Mexico City, Mexico to experience these field trials. "Oh, it's beautiful. It's the paradise," Soto said.

The field trial dogs are treated like stars as they compete for thousands of dollars in prize money, so Southwest Georgia's economy is also a big winner as the field trials get underway.

The dog field trials competitors follow a North America circuit, that starts in Canada in September. These Southwest Georgia events are some of the last of the season.

In field trials, there are no guns or game killed, but the competition is keen, with thousands of dollars on the line as these dogs show their skill.

This is the last weekend of competition for the winningest field trial champion in history, Elhew Sunflower from Indiana, better known as Jill. The Master's will be the final competition for the nine year old English pointer. Jill will go into retirement Sunday.

"Fifteen championships and two time National Dog of the year. Just coming off the National Invitational title last week in Arkansas. I'm thrilled for what she's done, and proud of her. But it's time for her to call an end of a career," said Jill's Owner, Shawn Kinkelaar.

Shawn says Jill has won over $100,000 in prize money and sponsorship fees in her career. After this weekend he says she will only go hunting when she feels like it.

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