Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska

Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska was the scene of the 2004 APC Nationals. This beautiful park was once the home of the world's largest cavalry remount facility. The park sits on approximately 20,000 acres in northwest Nebraska. The terrain ranges from high bluffs and wide grassy meadows to river bottom and swamp. It offers plenty of cover for a bird dog to hunt. Sharptail grouse are native here and were occasionally found on course.

The facilities at Headquarters were excellent and hold great historical value. Stately homes which once housed officers and their families; smaller homes of the married enlisted men and barracks of the single men now serve as lodging for State Park visitors. Camp sites are also available. This abundance of affordable and convenient lodging is a luxury to most field trialers.

The Park has what is known as The Mare Barn Complex. This area is available to large groups and has box stalls so that every field trial horse had his own comfortable stall. In the center of the complex is the Mare Barn Annex where participants could gather in a clubhouse atmosphere for lunch and dinner each day. The Park Food service served meals at reasonable rates.

On Tuesday night a banquet was held in the Main Lodge. A dinner of prime rib was followed by a fund raising auction and raffle. It was an enjoyable evening and was well attended.

The work that goes into a trial of this magnitude starts months in advance. The Colorado Pointer Club hosted this trial. In the spring of 2003 the grounds at Fort Robinson were checked out by Steve Bailey and the decision to host a weekend trial as a test run to the nationals was made. That trial was held at Fort Robinson in September 2003. Things went well and the 2004 Nationals were scheduled. Jack and Tracy Haines arranged for judges and took care of the paperwork. Steve Bailey worked closely with Nebraska Parks Regional Manager, Larry Voeks, himself a field trialer. Steve along with Marc Devos and Rex Roberts set and marshaled the courses and planted the birds. Jack Haines served as the dog wagon driver for the majority of the stake with the aid of Mitch Devos. Jack was spelled on occasion by Sandy Devos or Tracy Haines. Deb Freidus was available to lend a hand wherever needed. She took Jack to the emergency room after he injured his foot. She also took Judge John Malone to the airport for his flight home.

The National Championship commenced on Monday September 20. The weather was cool and overcast with some light rain. The stake was delayed by fog on Tuesday and was not completed until Wednesday morning. Twenty-one dogs competed for the title.

The 2004 National Champion, Tian Just Peachy gave a flawless performance for her handler, Tim Schillereff. Peachy, owned by the Schillereff family ran in the seventh brace. Her bird work was stylish and very well executed. Peachy scored five finds. She ran a beautiful, forward race at good range. She put it all together, handling well.

Cross Country Sue was named Runner-up Champion. Sue was handled by her owner, Steve Bailey. Sue ran an attractive race but slowed late in the hour. She scored two finds, displaying high style and good manners on each.

Heller's Wild Willy placed third. Willy is owned and was handled by Dave Heller. Willy ran an excellent gun dog race and scored two nice quail finds.

Fourth place went to Southern Sunrise owned by Sara King. Sunrise ran in the final brace and scored two finds in a handy gun dog race with Sara handling.

Judges for the National Open Championship were Eldon Hongo and John Malone. Eldon is from Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is a very successful dog trainer with numerous Championship wins on the German Shorthair circuit. John is from Connecticut and trials Pointers on the American Field Circuit. Both men have years of experience hunting and campaigning bird dogs and were extremely well qualified to judge this stake. These men were helpful to competitors and a pleasure to be around. They were looking for class, manners and consistency. Their placements were well received.


Blue ran a medium range shooting dog race. He scored one nice find with good style and manners. He also carded a stop to flush and one non-productive. Max started strong and forward but was lost early.

This was a fun pair to watch. They were fast and strong to the front. They showed at various intervals making good all age moves. The former was last seen to the front at 48 and not recovered under judgment. Clyde (Matzke) continued his fine race and pointed at 59 minutes; unfortunately he went with the birds.

LAST CHANCE (Freidus) - MAGGIE ANN (Chadwick)
Mike started well but pad trouble ended his hour prematurely. Maggie ran an attractive race for the entire hour but went without bird contact.

Sue's performance was listed earlier. Flare turned in a nice, forward race. At 45 she pointed but took out the birds to end her bid.

NOBODY'S ANGEL (Roberts) - TIAN MR. SPOCK (Schillereff)
Angel was strong and forward. She made some big moves but was not as wide as her brace mate. Spock made some fantastic all age moves, showing along the cliffs and coming across the water to show forward. Both dogs were fun to watch but neither found birds.

Bet ran an appealing shooting dog race. She scored two finds that were stylish and her intensity was good. She took steps on the second one and was picked up. Loosey scored two pretty finds and turned in an attractive shooting dog race. She took birds out at 46.

Peachy's winning performance was given previously. Pebbles was hunting in a workman-like manner when her interest suddenly turned to deer on and off the course. She was not returned to judgment until time had expired.

Mojo went hunting and was successful but took out birds and was picked up. Chuckwagon was forward.

Star did a nice job on the ground. Neither dog performed well on birds and were picked up early.

Chevy was nice on the ground but took birds out mid way and was picked up. Willy's third place effort has already been described.

Sunny ran as a bye on Wednesday morning. His third place effort has been told earlier.


The Derby drew an entry of seven and was run on Wednesday morning, following the final brace of the Open Championship. Judges for this stake were Susan Williams and Bonnie Hidalgo both of Brighton, CO.

Frank N Stein, owned by Bridget Bailey of Elizabeth, CO. and handled by Steve Bailey won this stake. Frankie hunted well and showed good range with a classy gait. He pointed birds along the creek, his head and tail high. He took them out before his handler could get to him. He remained forward through the brace but slowed in the final moments.

Heller's Attitude Jesse, owned and handled by Dave Heller was second with a gun dog race and mature bird work.

Red Rebel Rose handled by Sara King placed third. Rose ran a medium gun dog race and pointed quail nicely.

Heller's Thrillogy Lucy was fourth for Dave Heller. She pointed her birds with exquisite style and ran attractively. Unfortunately she was over cautious and suffered four non-productives.


This stake competed on Wednesday afternoon. There were five entries. Most of these pups also ran in the derby earlier in the day. Judges for this stake were Dave Towner of Bennett, CO. and Jack Higgins.

Heller's Thrillogy Lucy won for Dave Heller. She hunted consistently and pointed birds stylishly.

Second place went to Maker's Mark owned by Marc and Sandy Devos. He ran a nice race; Marc handled.

Frank N Stein, the derby winner was third. He ran a medium race under the whistle of Steve Bailey.

Saw's Jewels Maker placed fourth with a medium race. She is owned and handled by Scott Wilson.

The last three placements are littermates. Their dam, Cross Country Sue, was Runner-up in the National Championship.


The 2004 National Amateur Champion is Heller's Wild Willy. Willy placed third in the National Open Championship earlier in the week. Dave Heller, his owner, handled him to both honors. Willy ran after lunch on Thursday; the wind was blowing with increasing ferocity. Willy was on a bird finding expedition, running an attractive gun dog pattern. He scored on quail at 13, 17, 20, 33, 40 and 47. His intensity and manners were befitting of a champion. He pointed a rabbit at 36. At 43 his handler called flight of birds, Willy was standing but the birds were not officially witnessed. Heller's Wild Willy was consistent in his race for the entire hour.

The Runner-up award went to Setter Ridge's Natural High. Flare is owned by Richard Matzke and Paul Newman. Flare was forward for the entire hour but her hunting application was inconsistent during the first quarter. Flare's range was medium; she had one barren stand. Flare scored three nice finds in the last half. Her style and manners were excellent. Her last find came at 54; she stood with lofty style on the hill top. A big covey was flushed in front of her.

No other placements were given in the Amateur Championship.

The Judges for this stake were Jack Higgins, Lincoln, NE. and Bonnie Hidalgo. They were looking for the best overall performance with emphasis on style and manners. Bigger races were desired but the dogs with that type of race failed to meet the more important requirements. Jack campaigns Brittanys and has been judging field trials since the early seventies. He is also well respected as a scribe. Bonnie competes with Irish and English Setters. She has had a lifelong involvement in field trials and has also been judging since the early seventies.


Clyde pointed stylishly at 12; Maggie came in for a back. Clyde moved on the flush and was picked up. Maggie pointed at 17, relocation was necessary but she handled it well. She scored nicely at 23, pointing with good intensity and style. She stood nicely in a draw at 53, unfortunately she failed to handle them properly and her bid was over.

Flare's quality performance was previously told. Ziggy was impressive on the ground. He ran a strong, forward all age race; showing at important intervals. Ziggy was found on point, to the front at 34. He stood on the side of the hill above the swamp. It was a pretty find and well executed. He pointed again at 37, near the creek. This time he pushed the birds out and was picked up. He had been setting a high mark until then.

MAXIMUM GO (Roberts) - LOOSE LADY (T.Haines)
Max made some nice forward moves before being gone too long. Loosey showed promise early. She scored a picture perfect find at 13. She was under birds at 18 and was picked up.

Floyd was picked up early for taking birds out. Bet ran a beautiful shooting dog race. She scored three excellent finds on quail. Her style was terrific. She had everyone in the gallery sitting up in their saddles. At 57 as she topped a hill, sharptail grouse lifted and she failed to stop. She lacked three minutes to being an unbeatable Champion.

Spock was off to a strong start but was lost early. Willy's winning hour was given earlier.

Pebble stopped to flush moments into the brace. Later in the brace she took birds out and was picked up. Angel made some nice moves before she pointed and flushed quail.

This brace was short lived as both dogs had improper contact in the first twelve minutes.

This year's National Championship was another fun and successful event. If you haven't made it to one of these events, you really owe it to yourselves and your dogs to come and spend a few days enjoying the camaraderie whether you're there to run a dog or just join in to watch some of the best field trial competition AKC has to offer. The success of an event of this nature is dependent on those generous sponsors who contribute with their time, money, products and/or expertise. Please remember to support those companies and thank those individuals who help sponsor this year's National Championship:

  • AAB Awards - Steve & Lisa Bailey
  • Robin Boa
  • Blackthorne Kennels - Debby Freidus
  • Dr Howard & Karen Spey - Bookstor Pointers
  • C&A Companies - Karl Nyquist
  • Cascade Pointer Club
  • Colorado Pointer Club
  • Tammy & John Albee - Corywn
  • Laurie McCarthy - Dancindoll Pointers
  • Sandy & Marc Devos - FieldTrialNews.com
  • Fastrack - Francis Taphorn
  • Rose & Josh Goldberg
  • Jack & Tracy Haines
  • Judith & Rob Hamilton - Higby
  • Hideaway Training Kennels - Ben Garcia
  • Iams-Eukanuba Pet Foods
  • Jamie & Pat O'Donnell
  • Pointer Association of New England
  • Pointer Club of Central New Jersey
  • Purina Pro Plan
  • Rex & Shirlene Roberts
  • Royal Run Kennels - Dave & Sara King
  • Sauvie Island Kennels - Tim & Angela Schillereff
  • Charles & Susan Savage - Seagate
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • Taphorn Design - Jennifer Taphorn
  • Tarpin Hill Saddlery
  • Tracker Radio
  • TriTronics, Inc
  • Tuxedo Kennels - Richard Matzke
  • Katie & Tom Tazza - Up N Adam GSP