For two weeks every February, Ames Plantation in Grand Junction goes to the dogs.
Ames Plantation has hosted the National Bird Dog Field Trial Championship continuously since 1915, and the event draws some 40 competing English Pointers and Setters and 3,500 people annually.
Each dog’s objective in the competition is to find and point Bobwhite Quail along a designated 11-mile course.
“The dog uses his nose to smell game, and he will stop at 10 to 15 feet from a group of birds and point to them using his nose,” explains Rick Carlisle, director of Ames Plantation. “He looks like a motionless statue.” Judges follow the dogs on horseback, and spectators ride behind them to observe. The handler of the winning dog receives $16,000 in prize money.
“It’s like the Super Bowl of dog field trials,” Carlisle says. “We’ve had dog owners from as far away as Japan, and usually two-thirds of the states are represented.”
The 2012 competition begins Feb. 13 at 8 a.m. and lasts through Feb. 24 or until all the dogs have had their chance.