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2010 UFTA Nationals
Posted on 03/05/2010 in Notes From The Field.

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The 2010 UFTA Nationals
Todd Kellam

By now most have heard that United Kennel Club and United Field Trialer’s Association have reached an agreement to work together to preserve the titles issued by UFTA on UKC pedigrees. From the moment that agreement was reached, I’ve been looking forward to attending the UFTA Nationals in Town Creek, Alabama. Having just returned from that event, I can only say I’m already counting the days until next years UFTA Nationals!

The slogan on the UFTA event apparel says it all…..Good Dogs, Good Folks, Good Times. Well, that almost covers it anyway. I suppose it was only for a lack of space they didn’t also include…..Good Grounds, Good Food, Good Weather, Good Help, and the list could go on and on. In that respect, it’s not unlike many other quality events that I am fortunate to travel to each year but I certainly left this one convinced that the affiliation between UKC and UFTA will be a long and successful one.

On the way to the event I remained cautiously optimistic that the bulk of the UFTA members would be excited about the opportunity to have their titles recognized by UKC and included on official UKC pedigrees. Boy was I relieved when that was exactly the case. I didn’t speak to anyone that was the least bit hesitant in this respect. What really surprised me were the number of people that already have a fairly good understanding of what United Kennel Club was about. Seemed like everyone knew a coonhunter and knew how well respected UKC has become in that sport and in the dog registry business in general. Sure made my job easy for the weekend.

This event, at least for the last several years, has found a home at Doublehead Resort which is located about 15 miles East of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I remember thinking it was interesting, even to the point of being odd, that leading up to this event, so many people made a point to mention how nice the facility was and how helpful and accommodating the staff is. I’ll tell you what, you don’t have to be there long to figure out why most people are mentioning the hunt grounds when the truth is, that’s something that’s not often brought up when major events are discussed. If there is a better facility and staff for this type of event, I’ve not seen it.

The weather for the event got progressively ‘nicer” throughout the trial to the point that on the final two days, it may have been a little “too nice” during the heat of the day for the dogs. The first few days before I arrived were reported to be a little soggy and cold. From Thursday on, mornings would dawn frosty and a blazing fire in the fireplace of the hunt headquarters actually felt good. The frost burning off each morning did cause scenting complications for those dogs drawing that time of the running order. Towards the end of the week, the days were sunny and pretty with just the slightest breeze.

Regrettably I do not have the number of dogs that actually ran during the event but suffice it to say that the trial was large and well attended with roughly 550 advanced entries representing many states. The staff of Doublehead served in planting birds and were on the ball and kept things moving along in a timely manner. Similarly, Judges and Marshalls were equally well organized and dealt with the occasional hic-up of handlers being needed in two places at the same time without issue. The truth is, some days they needed every minute of daylight they had to get everyone run but that was only due to the volume of entries and everyone associated with this event administratively gets a big ol’ attaboy for a job well done.

It was refreshing to see all the pointing and flushing breeds so equally well represented for the most part. Sure, there were some relatively rare breeds represented in smaller numbers but from a spectator’s standpoint, I couldn’t begin to tell you if there were more English Pointers, Setters, Shorthairs or Brittanys entered in the pointing dog divisions. It’s pretty interesting because you see bigger running dogs and you see closer working dogs. And it was quite evident that different fields, run during different times of the day, favored different styles of dogs. I like that. Luck of the draw comes into play a little bit but it just goes to show that anyone, regardless of what breed you favor, can win on any given day. All you need is for the stars line up just right! Well, that’s what I would need anyway.

UFTA and Doublehead did an excellent job of providing other activities for members throughout the week. The sporting clays (five stand) championship saw lots of activity as people had down time throughout the week. The keg and karaoke party on Wednesday and the Calcutta for Open finals dogs on Friday also provided some light hearted get-together time. Saturday was a big day for extracurricular activity and featured a chuck wagon lunch and shooting demonstration by Benelli team shooter Tim Bradley. Those two events were quite a draw and brought out many locals in addition to the UFTA crowd

New this year and noteworthy was a “Dog Show”. Nobody knew what to expect Thursday night for this first time event and those pre-entering were a little apprehensive. But the casual nature of the show once it got underway must have set some at ease because late entries started coming fast and furious. It ended up being very well received with over 40 dogs participating. They had some of the younger members participating as Judges along with some more experienced in the ways of conformation events which was not only a great experience for the younger “judges” but also gave the whole event a very friendly and family oriented feel.

In closing, I have to say, I had a great time at this event. For those of you that were involved….job well done! For those of you that are on the fence about making the annual trip to the UFTA Nationals at Doublehead….you are missing out! See you all next year!

For a list of winners in each division please refer to the UFTA website at http://www.ufta-online.com/