To claim three spots in the top-10 at a national event … that’s hard to describe in words.
Springville’s Scott Deuel and family can claim such an achievement — Scott and his dog Bella took first place at the United Field Trialers Association’s national tournament last month at Doublehead State Park in Town Creek. To make things even better, he and dog Mac (Bella’s son) took third place. And, as the icing on the cake, father Don Deuel and his dog, RJ, took sixth.
“We got to celebrate that together, and that made the whole day for me,” Scott Deuel said.
A field-trialer since 2003, Scott was competing in the nationals for the third consecutive year. He said he and his dogs have competed across the Southeast and Midwest.
The rules of the game are simple.
“It’s one hunter and one dog,” Deuel said. “And you sit in a blind, and they put three quail out in a 7-acre field. And then you have 15 minutes to go find those three quail. Your dog’s got to hold point, you have to flush the bird, shoot the bird — so you ‘lose’ if you miss a shot, typically — and the dog has to retrieve it back to you.
“(The birds) can go any direction. But that’s part of it – you’ve got to be able to shoot consistently. The main thing is, the dog’s got to be able to find the birds quickly.”
Bella, a 5-year-old English Setter, also hunts with Scott when she is not competing.
“I personally like to hunt wild birds with trial dogs, just because I think they get a better sense of how to find birds,” he said. “Some people just like to have a trial dog and then a wild bird dog. But I hunt pheasant, grouse, chucker, quail, wild birds, with the same dog.
“A good bloodline, almost train themselves. All you have to do is fine tune. So you want to start with a dog that actually is a good bloodline, and is a good field dog.”
Deuel said he had no expectation when he showed up to compete for the weekend.
“You compete against the guys all year, and there’s certain guys you know are going to be tougher to beat than others, just because they have good dogs, but then they’re also good handlers,” he said. “So I didn’t go in expecting to win; I went in wanting to win, but not expecting to win.”
The competition averages the scores of two runs to measure performance; this year’s national trial field was 265-deep in the “open division,” open to all breeds and ages of pointer dogs. Semifinals and finals separate the competitors.
“I had a good run with Bella her first run,” Deuel said. “I had a good run on the second.
“I had the last run of the day, of the finals, with Mac. The two dogs right before Mac, my final run, could’ve beaten Bella – they had good times on the first run, so I got to watch them. Both of them didn’t do what they needed to do to win.
“So, going into my last run, I had a pretty good sense that Bella was already in first place, but I also knew that Mac had a chance to beat Bella. So it was actually a pretty good feeling.”
But not quite as good a feeling as what followed — Scott’s father, Don, who has long competed in field trials, was there to celebrate his top-10 and his son’s finishes, as well.
“When I came off the field, my father was there,” Scott said. “I could see the look on his face, that he was proud of me. … We took first, third and sixth.”
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.