When the requirements to hold a quality trial are out of whack, the event is less than what it is supposed to be and ALL of us who care suffer the consequences. The Ames Plantation is an historic place - the home of this championship now for several generations. Without a doubt, Mr and Mrs Ames would be moving heaven and earth to get their birds back just as some other plantations and ranches across the country have done.
My concern is that we identify the best bird dog as our national champion each year. We require these dogs to win at the highest levels to have an opportunity to compete at Ames. We require their handlers and owners to commit to the training and hard work to prepare their dogs for the three hour grind in the toughest of conditions. We want special dogs with all the right qualities to win this trial and be the breed on dogs of the future.
The sport, the die hard fans of great dogs and these owners and handlers deserve the best available proving grounds for this contest. Moving the trial does not make sense IF there are proven methods of assuring a viable population of game birds to run on. I think there are ways to increase, sustain and build that wild bird population thru aggressive trapping and relocation or quality habitat revision and early pre-release efforts.
I believe Ames Plantation Management, the University of TN, the Ames Foundation trustees and the National Championship Field Trial Committee have tried to deal with the bobwhite situation at Ames but like many have failed to come up with a solution. Is it time for them to admit failure and ask for outside help? Is a solution available thru changed farming, burning, grazing, predator control, mechanical alterations of the property, etc ALONG with a quality jump start of new bird introductions?
The concern for me is the old definition of insanity..."Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". We do see the results of the current management and I do think we all recognize the difficulty of sustaining wild quail populations as we've watched them disappear over a wide section of the country. Instead of worrying about UT, the Foundation, the trial, money, etc. - LET'S WORRY ABOUT THE BOBWHITES FIRST AND FOREMOST. The rest of this stuff will take care of itself. What do you think Hobart Ames would be worried about? Wouldn't he look at the successful places where bobwhite are sustained and get that success started at his beloved plantation?
I have personally been involved in large organizations, gov't bodies and affiliated university institutions. Their goals and agendas are not the same and believe me, this does matter. I'm not trying to be critical but facts is facts. Between these groups, I doubt we can find anyone who truly obsesses about wild bobwhite quail on that plantation as much as they care about their jobs or the budget or succession, etc. Mr Ames though would have turned that place upside down and inside out until there were bobwhite to be found when he turned loose his dogs or invited you to his plantation.
No one wants to reach a point where owners, handlers and the field trial public doesn't care to get their dog to Ames or even who wins. We're getting close folks. Let's get this trial back where it belongs in status at its time honored location. Everyone needs to pull this wagon in the same direction and that direction is all stops need to be pulled out for the bobwhite quail. Mr and Mrs Ames would have it no other way!