Thursday, March 18, 2021

Gear That Works! Carrying the Water: RuffLand Waterhole and Dakota 283 Dash


RuffLand Waterhole (Note the carefully applied orange tape, so I don't donate another one to Rest Areas around the country.)


This is, and has been for many years, my primary dog watering hole. I like it.  A lot.  It's a recommended piece of gear.  In addition, I carry gallon jugs to fill this container while on the road or hunting.  I always thought it carried 2 gallons of water, however the company website reads it carries one gallon of water.  The video on the website shows it accepting a gallon of water, but it's a misnomer (in a good way).  Yes, you can pour one gallon of water into the front, open section of the bucket.  But, the way I handle this is to then tip it back and have the water run back in to the container, then add another gallon up front.  So, it will hold almost two gallons.  The downside is that driving using my method will splash a lot of water out- back to nearly the original gallon. And, although the back of the truck is all-weather, I now have water splashed into the back of my truck. 


How the Waterhole travels.

When I went to the "4 kennels in the back" method of hauling the Brit pack, I could not find room for the square cube Waterhole.  Now it sits, angled up to keep water from splashing out, between the kennels and the tailgate.  A keen observer will note: I cannot open the tailgate without first grabbing the water bucket and lifting it out.  It's not a huge inconvenience, but it's not the best solution, either.  

Enter the Dakota 283 Dash.  When I won a Regional NSTRA field trial, this was one of the awards.  I'd never heard of it.  I got home, opened the box, and pulled it out. 

Dakota 283 Dash 3.5

It's made out of a hard plastic (that's a non-technical term I apply to most things not wood or metal) similar to the Waterhole.  I was initially unimpressed with the cute little, blue plugs.  So, I filled it, inserted the plugs, and it's water tight.  Wait!  No splashing?  I laid it flat, and pulled the bowl plug.  The bowl filled with water using the same siphon wizardry the Waterhole uses. Then, I tilted it back up, and all the water in the bowl ran back into the hole.  Plug inserted, I lifted it back to the vertical position. I was pondering how long it would take me to lose the little, blue plug in the bowl, when I noticed a round slot in the back perfectly sized for the plug from the bowl. It's a clever, little storage place for the plug. (I can see already, I'll need to order and extra plug. Or, run a little cable from the plug to the handle, so it won't walk off on its own.)

Back of the Dash with bowl plug storage showing.

So, all that is good, but here is the BEST feature.  The shape of the Dash allows me to store it between my Bed Slide and the bed sidewall using the integral handle grip at the top.

Dash stowed out of the way.

To recap: The Dash gives me 3.5 gallons, that won't spill, and stores out of the way.  

Cost for each unit might be a factor.  The Dash goes for $89, regardless of color, at various online retailers, while the Waterhole goes for $46-$49, depending on color (white's the cheapest).  I suppose the techno-geek in me is rearing its head when I say I can haul 3.5 times the water, without splashing, for about twice the cost.  Sounds like a win-win to me. 

Dakota 283 Dash and RuffLand Waterhole

I really like them both.  I am a huge fan of RuffLand (notice the kennels), but in this case, the Dash scores a home run.  I think the combination of spill-proof, 3.5 gallons, and storable on the side wall makes this water delivery system a MUST BUY!  

(Full Disclosure:  I bought the Waterhole (and lost three other ones), and I won the Dash.  I was not compensated in any way, by either company.  The opinions and crackerjack science are my own.  No animals were harmed during the testing.  (In fact, no animals were harmed during most of my last bird hunting trip, but that's another story.  See Endless October on Amazon Books.)  #abirdhuntersthoughts

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Good Day Trialing in Georgia

NSTRA CH FlyBoy Ace's Bullseye (Shack)


2021 Georgia Region Championships

Hufstetler Farm, Bronwood, GA

March 13-14, 2021

 Members of the Georgia Region and their families gathered at Hufstetler Farm for the 2021 Georgia Elimination Pre-Trial, 2021 Georgia Elimination Championship, and Awards Ceremony. Members enjoyed a delicious BBQ supper and a presentation by Quail Forever representative, and NSTRA Sponsor, Kenny Barker before the Annual Meeting.

 Gerald recognized Tyler Clore who served as Vice President this year. CJ Pearson provided the financial report, and officers for 2021-22 were elected. Officers for 2021-2022 are President – Gerald Pannell, Vice President – Keith Howard, Treasurer – C.J. Pearson and Secretary – Brittni Pannell.

 2021 Regional Awards were presented to:

High Point Dog - PINEYWOODS SWEET AS HONEY – Owners Janice and Harold Hufstetler

High Point Female Dog - PINEYWOODS SWEET AS HONEY – Owners Janice and Harold Hufstetler

Most Improved Dog - BRYSON'S DIANA aka ANA – Owners Gerald and Bryson Pannell

The Scott Clark Award – Harold Hufstetler

Judge of the Year - Harold Hufstetler

Sportsman of the Year – C. J. Pearson

Rookie of the Year – A tie – Maggie Adams and Bryson Pannell

Junior Handlers were recognized and given personalized leads. Georgia Junior handlers are Kam Hill, Bryson Pannell, Madissyn David and Maggie Adams. Not present was Sarakate Pannell. 

Oldest and Youngest Handlers (Green Shirts) Bryson Pannel (12), Randy Schultz (70)

 The 2019-2020 NSTRA Georgia Region Board of Directors drafted a proposal for the establishment of and the requirements for induction of dogs into the Georgia Region Hall of Fame. The members of the Georgia Region approved the proposal of the Georgia Region Hall of Fame at the 2020 Georgia Region Annual Meeting. Nominations of dogs that meet the requirements are to be submitted by their owners to the Georgia Region Board of Directors. The first induction ceremony held at the 2021 Georgia Region Awards Banquet was an emotional event. Congratulations to the following dogs and their owners who were the First Inductees into the Georgia Region Hall of Fame.

 CEDAR HILL TOBY - Donald and Jared Roberts

CIRCLE R MISS ROLLING DICE - Donald and Jared Roberts

TOP GUN KING - Ricky Gunnyon

TOPGUN SHOTGUN - Ricky Gunnyon

POPCORN - Ricky Gunnyon

GET ER-DONE SKY - Ricky Gunnyon

SHE'S A SCOOTER - Keith Koon

TROOPER'S BOY TRIPP - Gerald Pannell and Jeff Keck 

All of us and Top 4: Shack/Schultz, Skeeter/Koon, Howard/Trim, Jane/Hiland

The PRE-TRIAL was held on Friday, March 12th. LOTS OF SUNSHINE and NO RAIN! Placements were earned by the following on

 Field A





 Amateur Placements on Field A were earned by





 Field B:





 Amateur Placements on Field B were earned by





 Round One.

On Saturday, March 13th, the field was cut from 34 to 16.   Bodie Ray served as Field Marshall. Ed Ford and Gene Pritchett were Judges and Noah Sheriff was the Bird Planter. There were 34 dogs in the trial that began at sunrise. 16 dogs continued to Sunday.


2 FLYBOY ACE'S BULL'S EYE aka SHACK/ Randy Schultz



(Yes, the top three were Brittanys!!!)


 Round Two.

After 8 morning braces the field of 16 was cut to 6. 


Final 6 Kieth Howard/Trim, Charles Hiland/Jane,Keith Koon/Skeeter,Ken Buck/Chance,RandySchultz/Shack, Ricky Gunnyon/Tater

 Round Three

The semi-final was 3 braces which resulted in the following placements:

 1st.- Skeeter/ Keith Koon

2nd- Shack/ Randy Schultz

3rd - QUAIL VALLEY'S GOT TRIM/Jeff Keck, Handled by Keith Howard

4th - T T'S SOUTHERN JANE/ Charles Hiland

5th - BUCK'S CHANCE/ Ken Buck

6th - GETER DONE THUNDER/ Ricky Gunnyon 

Round Four 

The top two dogs ran in the final hour.  The final scores differed by 17.5 points.  It was a real nail-biter for those that hung around.

 2nd place went to SHE'S SKEETER GEORGE – SKEETER owned by Keith Koon and Keith Howard and handled by Keith Koon. 

Trophy Presentation by Gerald Pannel (President) to Randy Schultz

 1st place and 2021 Georgia Region Champion - FLYBOY ACE'S BULL'S EYE – SHACK owned and handled by Randy Schultz.

Keith Koon congratulating Randy Schultz


Monday, March 1, 2021

When are they retired?


They are fit and ready to go.  The five Brits in my pack started in Montana in September and finished in NM in January.  Then, I threw in a few NSTRA field trials to keep them tuned and happy. Today is the First of March, and, true to form, thunderstorms and scattered showers are announcing a cold front on the way.  This morning is mild and unsettled.  Tomorrow will be cold and blustery.  I think the dogs know it's over for another long, hot summer.  It's a shame, too, because they are in the best shape ever.  

Ruby (above) is 11 years old, now.  She's as smart as ever, and is still a runner. The arthritis in her left front elbow and in her back is painful to her, I can tell.  Modern medicines, and a few homeopathic remedies, keep the pain at bay for the time being. Our goal (hers and mine) is to run and win the Georgia NSTRA Championships in a few weeks.  She's two-time winner (the only Brit to ever win), and I think she deserves a shot at a third one.  It's a pipe dream, I'm sure, but she never ceases to amaze me.  

So, I think the question is, "When are they retired?"   Maybe, "What is retirement for a bird dog?"

Honestly, I really don't think the sedentary non-hunting lifestyle applies.  When I have a dog 10+ years old that wants to run, he's welcome on my trips. He will get extra attention, special rations, meds, bedding, etc. And, that is what he's earned over the course of his life. As long as he's eager and ready to hunt when the tailgate drops, he'll be along for the ride. I don't know too many dogs that live long after they lose that desire to hunt- sometimes just weeks. 

It seems so short, only 10 years.  One hears it all the time, when a dog passes.  I hear of dogs hunting at 13 and 14 years old.  None of mine, so far.  Bocephus (Bo), my English Setter of the 2000's, hunted all the way to 12 1/2 years. Then, the end came quickly.  Rocket, Brit male, 12 years old. Ace, Brit male, almost 10. 


The conundrum is: we want to hunt them and let them fulfill their genetic destiny, yet, by doing that they develop arthritis and sustain injuries that shorten their hunting lives.  Arthritis in a hunting dog seems ubiquitous, especially when they near 10 years old. The good news is that new drugs (Adequan) can help mitigate the arthritis, and older drugs (Rimadyl, etc.) can help with the pain and inflammation.  I even had some success using hemp oil. (Yep, Ruby's a junkie.)  The problem is not curable, but it is manageable, to some degree.  My attitude:  Whatever it takes, they deserve it.



Two weeks from now, we head for south Georgia and the Championships.  All five of my Brits qualified this year, and, pretty much, they all have a shot.  It will be fun, nonetheless. Ruby and Cap, my other almost 11 year old dog, say they are ready.  Wouldn't it be amazing, if the old girl did it again? It would be amazing, and a miracle, actually.  But, I'll receive a miracle any day!