2014 National Champion; Shadow Oak Bo

Shadow Oak Bo 2

Shadow Oak Bo is a male setter owned by Butch Houston and Dr. John Dorminy and handled by Robin Gates.

For the setter world, lightening has struck twice on the Ames Plantation!

While it had nothing at all to do with trees, buildings or even an electrical storm, lightening struck for the second time in 112 years for setter fans!

Shadow Oak Bo made history last year when he captured the National Championship crown after a 43 year dry spell for the setter breed. The last setter to win the Grand Junction title had been Johnny Crocket in 1970. Bo’s 2013 win was challenged by many other fine performances but when the dust settled, the orange and white setter from South Georgia was named the winner. Bo had pointed 7 times and had backed his brace mate on 4 other occasions. His finds at the three minute mark and at the very end of his three hours displayed his ability to stay focused on the most important task of finding and pointing birds.

Bo’s automatic requalification returned him once again to defend his title for the 115th running. Bo had been drawn to run on the first Saturday afternoon at the end of the first week. An ice storm the first week had delayed the running a half day pushing Bo to the morning course on the first Monday of the second week. The weather had improved considerably by the second week allowing birds to move about and feed for the first time in many days.

Bo’s brace mate, Miller’s Happy Jack, was lost to the right side of the course before the first road crossing. That left Bo with the course all to himself for the remainder of the three hours. Bo took full advantage of that opportunity quickly settling into a bird hunting frame of mind. When the cover and terrain allowed, Bo took the country to the limits. When the terrain and cover appeared to hold birds, Bo left little unchecked. His first find came after crossing Buford-Ellington Road when we entered the new pond basin area. Bo was standing out in a mowed strip a good 40 yards from a broom sedge patch of cover. The location of these birds was perfect and Robin Gates, Bo’s handler, put a large covey of nearly 20 birds to wing!

When we crossed Turner Road, Bo took the large Turner crop field to the far end appearing as an aspirin tablet nearly a 1000 yards to the front. The Turner Pines have an undergrowth of Bi-Color Lespedeza and that is where Bo was spotted next, pointing a covey which had not been seen once during the first week. Again, Bo’s location and manners were perfection. Bo seemed to be figuring out that the birds were feeding and Bi-Color might be the key. His third find came in heavy bi-color to the right of the course, once more Bo’s location and manners were perfection. In the Mary Scott Loop, Bo was spotted pointing in heavy cover. A rabbit was produced bolting from the cover nearly running into the rigid setter.

 Bo was zeroing in on cover and this paid off just before entering the lowlands for find number four directly ahead on the course. Number five came straight ahead on the course with Bo standing some 10 yards off the cover.

Birds appeared to shut off from feeding and Bo started to make some big swings to the front while always staying in contact with his handler.

As the course wound back into the lowlands coming from a different direction, Bo was seen pointed to the left side with the wind to his advantage. Robin spotted a fresh roost directly in front of Bo but he continued to flush in ever enlarging circles. When nothing could be produced Robin tapped Bo on the head asking him to relocate. The setter immediately backed up, swinging out to the right where he could use the wind to his advantage. 30 yards farther on Bo zeroed in on the birds pinning this scattered feeding covey in a heavy thicket. As Robin approached the birds boiled out from the backside of the thicket for a perfect piece of work.

Bo was not done. For the next 45 minutes Bo once again settled into a bird searching mode. When we entered the Edward Clark North field near Rube Scott Road Bo went up into the left corner where he could use the wind to his advantage. Bo wheeled and pointed into a briar patch where he had his seventh and final covey, this bunch also located to perfection.

With time left on the clock, Bo never let down rimming the field edges, always on his mission to find game. When the call of pickup came Bo was to the front digging into the same type of cover that had paid dividends for his entire three hours.

Fourteen more dogs would challenge Bo’s performance. Although some of these dogs would come close, in the eyes of the three judges none of these challengers would come as close to the Amesian Standard as Bo had displayed in his three hours.

The win would make history! The last setter to win back to back was a tough little female from nearby Hickory Valley named Sioux. There were some major differences in these two wins. Sioux had won the title in 1901 against 9 other contenders, all of which were setters. In 1902, when Sioux won her back to back titles, there was only one other dog in the stake and the brace was 3 & ½ hours long. What was also much different is that there was only one brace in 1902 with Sioux’s handler, Jim Avent, handling both Sioux and her kennel mate at the same time.

Bo’s back to back wins came against 75 other contenders while Sioux’s two titles came against 0nly 10 contenders. While Sioux was considered by many in her era to be the greatest bird dog of her time, Bo’s admirers have every right to recognize Bo as one of the leading setter performers in recent years!

Will Bo return to defend his title? Will he become the first and only setter in history to capture three National Title Crowns in a row? The answer to that won’t be known until the 116th running comes to a close!

For more photos of Shadow Oak Bo and the 2014 National Championship Award Ceremony visit the Ames Plantation Photo Album.