I saw the older trainers doing it and thought that was the neatest thing in the world. Those field trials are steeped in tradition.”. I’ve judged it once and my wife has judged it once. These freshly minted owners converted the plantations into private seasonal resorts and took up the newly fashionable pursuit of hunting bobwhite quail. Lawson Mack, a chef in Thomasville, dishes up collard greens, smoked chicken, ribs, black-eyed peas, corn bread and pigs feet. Yet this same fact motivates me as a first generation African-American upland and waterfowl hunter and novice gun dog trainer from the South to engage in contributing new, diverse histories and legacies to the upland bird hunting, field trial and hunt test communities. He discussed how the Club’s field trials encourage the members’ families “to watch and visit us.” A three-time winner, he took top spot in 1997, 1999 and 2002. “They were all very good to me in helping understand how to host people and manage the lifestyle that gradually got me out of accounting and into the hospitality business of quail hunting.”, Perhaps Mr. Hutto of Elsoma Plantation characterized the Club and field trials best when he said of the experience “it’s really joyful.”. Approximately 150 private quail plantations are spread across the Red Hills Region’s 300,000-acres. He traced the Club’s origins to 1979, when several African-American bird-dog trainers, including himself, started the conversations with quail plantation owners about forming their group. Part of the training process is all about using the right equipment. As veteran Club members like Mr. Fryson approach retirement age, the field trials have come to play a pivotal role in attracting younger local African-Americans interested in training bird dogs. What American K9 Training has to offer….. Our promise as your trainers is to be the bridge to helping you reach your goals with your dog. Joe Fryson is a Club member who is now retired. Over the years, people involved grew to realize that these men deserved higher visibility through a competition devoted entirely to their own culture and talents. “Our field trials are a little different than most, more fun and more razzing each other,” said one African-American trainer who’s been a Club member for about 10 years. None of my boys want to do it, because there’s long hours involved.”, While I sat with Mr. Brooks at a picnic table under a majestic oak tree near a barn, he told me that “the Club helps us bring in younger trainers.” He was delighted that during the 2016 field trials “three of the younger guys beat out us old fellas. var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; When she visited her first Georgia-Florida Shooting Dog Handlers Club field trials and saw only African-American trainers competing her impression was “why is it that way?” she told me, until she understood shortly afterwards “that it’s a real tradition where the guys showcase how they handle and communicate with their dogs. no i just know the dog whisperer (great show) you can find some episodes on www.youtube.com and search for the dog whisperer , but he's not african american nor white.. but is a very decent trainer (youd be surprised During our conversation I learned that many of them were introduced to the profession through their families, although actually committed to it starting with after-school, summer or weekend plantation jobs. “We’ve been totally supportive of their group,” he said. Now us older guys need to work harder.”. The three men laughed that the 44-year-old Mr. Because in our minds, to love a dog is to love the dog’s trainer. We always called him Bull. For those newcomers, entering the Club immerses them into an “extended family,” as Mr. Clinton described it, which reaches beyond long-cherished tips for flushing, retrieving and holding steady. The barn at Kelly Pond Plantation where the first field trial took place for the Georgia-Florida Shooting Dog Handlers Club. Since 1982 we have trained more than 90,000 dogs to become well-behaved family members. “It’s a good learning experience for the young guys for what they need to know.”. Although Mr. Kimbrel spends most of his waking hours in the Four Oaks Plantation office, he fondly recalled those halcyon days when the African-American dog trainers and wagon drivers of Ichauway instructed him on the basics of guiding, courtesy and hospitality. Mr. Carter was appointed Sinkola’s lead trainer in 1992 after Mr. Stephens retired. “Everybody loves their dogs. A map of the Red Hills Region (source: www.redhillsregion.org). The plantation owners can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on land management to ensure the propagation of wild quail for the enjoyment of their families, friends and business associates, while at the same time preserving vast swaths of indigenous ecosystems against the northward urban development from Florida’s capital of Tallahassee. This 1954 photo shows President Dwight D. Eisenhower (center) with his Secretary of Treasury George Humphrey and dog trainer Ruphus Davis after a quail hunt on the Milestone Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia (source: Thomas County Historical Society). “We’re trying to bring younger people into the club who want to be dog trainers so they could carry it on,” said Neal Carter, Jr., who was involved in organizing the “Black Dog Handlers Association” and currently serves as its president. Please send your comments to letters@shotgunlife.com. Battles said of the field trials. “We went to all the plantations where the guys worked to find out where we could hold it, and got permission from the owners to take the dogs and horses off their property for our first field trial at Kelly Pond Plantation,” Mr. Carter recounted. That includes places to shoot, ways to improve your shooting and the latest new products. Lucille Glenn Morris recounted her life in “African-American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation” during the early 1900s on Susina Plantation in the Red Hills town of Beachton, Georgia by starting: “The name plantation symbolizes, for some people, a system of servitude in which workers were subjugated and exploited by this system for economic gain. Love, brotherhood, industry, responsibility, and goal setting were some of the values instilled in a loveable, family-like setting.”. Mr. Kirkham’s relative, Charles Chapin III, explained “when they got started the first president of the organization was LeRoy Bull Clayton. Like other plantation owners and their relatives, Mr. Bicknell, Mr. Kirkham and Mr. Chapin supplied the dogs, horses, wagons, money, land, served as timekeepers and judges and generally provided whatever was necessary for the field trials to succeed. Battles was initiated into the bird-dog world at age 16 by his godfather who worked on a plantation. Our team is dedicated to helping you identify the best place to start with your dog, and the customized package that will provide the most value. My journey started with Mr. Doolittle, who with his wife Hope, also raise the Tennessee Walking Horses favored for their gentle gait on the plantations’ wild quail hunts. I’ve always tried to participate as a timekeeper and I always look forward to it.”. A gallery observer of the field trials, he portrayed the occasion as a “celebration of life in terms of dog training passed down through multiple generations and a love for the woods, the dogs, the horses and the outdoor men that made a living from the sport of bobwhite quail hunting.”. One of the beautiful mule-drawn, bird-hunting wagons on Four Oaks Plantation. Reliable K9 Training offers effective and affordable puppy and adult dog training programs that produce long lasting results. Battles is considered one of the young members in the Club, and appreciated that even contenders in their twenties are eager to participate. I promise you that there is complete awareness to that fact.
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