2016 National Champion; Whippoorwill Justified

Whippoorwill Justified is owned by Ronnie Spears and handled by Larry Huffman.

Click here to visit the Ames Plantation Photo Album for a recap of Whippoorwill Justified's performance.

Whippoorwill Justified


William Smith

Three-year old liver and white pointer male, Whippoorwill Justified, was declared the 2016 National Champion after all 47 entries had tried their hand. He is from a Bob Walthall breeding of Whippoorwill Wild Again and Sparkles. He ran in the first week of the trial in the eight brace on Thursday the 11th. He drew the afternoon course and he used all of it and more in his three hour run. He is owned by Ronnie Spears of Jacksonville, Arkansas and was handled by Larry Huffman.  Ronnie was riding to watch Justified’s bid but some bad luck caused him to miss witnessing the winning performance. Ronnie’s son, Jacob, was riding in the gallery when a spooky horse caused him to be thrown from the saddle and in the process he sustained five broken ribs.

The Amesian Standard is the yardstick used to evaluate a dog’s performance. Justified came as close to that standard as has been seen in recent times. He set the mark and everyone fortunate enough to have observed Justified’s accomplishment knew it when time was called. The Amesian Standard states that a dog under consideration must have and display great bird sense and he must show perfect work on both coveys and singles. You cannot question Justified’s bird sense. He found and handled three coveys that no other dogs pointed during the trial. He was not working off foot scent. On every find the birds were precisely located—right in front of his nose. He was not asked to relocate on any of his eight finds.  He was working off body scent. He used his brain, his eyes, and his nose to the fullest advantage by hunting the likely places on the course. The Standard says he must possess speed, range, style, character, courage, and stamina. He began his effort with speed and he had slowed very little at the conclusion of the marathon. He was consistent in his range—always pleasing, always ahead. No fault can be taken as to his style. He trembled with anxiety as he stood fixated on his quarry. Not a muscle moved when the birds exploded just inches away or when the shot vibrated all around. You cannot separate his character, his courage, or his stamina—they go hand-in-hand. His character gives him the desire to please his handler. His stamina allows him to run, and keep on running, and all the while not just running, but hunting. Without courage he would not defend his character or be able to go the grueling three hours. His manners beyond reproach. Not one instance in his eight finds could his demeanor be faulted. The Standard declares he must hunt birds and not the handler hunt the dog. Six of his eight finds were directly to the front where Huffman found him. Only twice did Scout Thompson find him and both of those times he was standing in food plots. He was only out of pocket once during the entire brace. That absence was only for a short time and it occurred on Cox’s Ridge where there are several reasons for the absence. There are food plots in several locations, there is an extremely dense cut over area, and there is an old field road that is tempting to distract. No one knows which path Justified took, but to his credit he was back with Huffman in Fasom Bottom after a minimal absence. He was not always in sight during his bid but he always appeared when and where he should be. Huffman rode the center of the course, displaying the confidence he had in his young contender. The Standard expresses he must be bold, snappy, and spirited and his range must be to the front and never to the rear. He ran with a cracking tail and he attacked portions of the course with boldness and his movements were crisp and quick. He was always to the front, never behind because he kept checking in with Huffman and he worked off Huffman’s horse and voice commands. It was evident after coming up Fasom Ridge that Justified was going to need more territory than the normal three-hour course allows. He was sent across Ellington Road to make the fifteen minute loop through Morgan Swamp where the muddy ground is saturated to the point that footing is treacherous. Justified took the swamp as if he was skating on blacktop and this was after two hours and forty-five minutes into the brace. His stamina and courage were clearly displayed here. He started strong and he finished strong. One official was heard to say that he had run an almost perfect race. When he was picked up after his eighth find at 3:04 he looked as if he could have gone longer. His performance, without question, merited the title of National Champion.