Virginia Upland Classic Series

By W2 Staff


    Not that long ago the typical Virginia gentleman or for that matter the ruddy cheeked Virginia farm boy, had his favorite dog, and “bird” hunting was the best thing going for those of us that kept dogs and loved to walk in the woods.  Coveys of wild quail were abundant, and reasonable access to a place to hunt was not that difficult to find.  Woodcock migrated through in the fall, and Ruffled Grouse were a worthy challenge in the wooded hill country.  Well, if you are a Virginia bird hunter, you know things have changed a lot. 

   Now the wild quail population is to the point that hunting them seems detrimental, woodcock are getting few and far between and access to good grouse hunting is getting harder and harder every year. Enjoying a gundog, as more than just a pet, is getting to be a real challenge. It has caused many gundog owners to look for other ways to take their dogs to the field to hunt, and one popular innovation is the “shoot and retrieve” hunting competitions.

    The National Upland Classic Series is one of these new and different Field Trial associations and they are now holding events here in Virginia.  Sponsored by the National Kennel Club, NUCS events are for gundogs and bird hunters.   

   The competition is based on as close to true hunting conditions as possible, and scored for performance as a safe bird hunting situation.  Virginia Upland Classic events started in January of 2009 at Keysville, Virginia with additional events in 2010 and 2011.  In the fall of 2011 events were held outside of Charlottesville, Virginia at Liberty Corners farm in Esmont including a Thanksgiving Pheasant hunt. 

    Upland Classic hunts mimic safe hunting conditions and are scored for the performance of the hunter and his dog as a team.  Three birds (pheasants, chukars or quail) are randomly hidden out of sight of the upcoming hunters, and then the hunter and his dog are then given 20 minutes to find the birds. Once the “find” is established, the hunter (who is allowed six shells) flushes and kills the bird and the dog retrieves it.  A simple point system is in place for each hunting activity, plus bonus points are given for using less than six shots and for any unused minutes of the twenty minute time allotment. 

   A scorekeeper goes along with the hunter to tabulate the score and maintain a safe hunt. No judges or arbitrary opinions about a dog’s performance enter into the scoring.  It is strictly about getting three birds safely, with fewer shots and in less time, and it is a lot of fun.

     The hunting takes place in separate fields of bird cover around five to ten acres each.  Mature dogs (open), three years old and older, hunt in fields with other dogs of similar age and experience. Younger, less experienced dogs (under three years) hunt in a separate field and compete only against other youngsters (amateurs).  First time participants (novices) are separated in a similar manner and the scorekeeper functions as somewhat of a coach for novices to help them learn the rules and enjoy the hunt.  It is a great place to take your dog and enjoy a day of bird work and shooting. Printed versions of the rules and regulations for these events as well as membership details are available at           

    All flushing and pointing breeds used to hunt upland birds are welcomed.  The next Virginia Upland Classic event is scheduled for January 7-8, 2012 at the FFF hunting preserve near Keysville, Virginia. For more information about participating in Virginia Upland Classic events contact Ben Norris


November Virginia Pheasant Hunt

   Virginia Upland Classic Series members were favored with great hunting weather for the Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt and gundog trial at Liberty Corners Farm  in Esmont, Virginia held November 11-12.  “Outstanding” is not enough to describe the two days of great hunting conditions.  

    Saturday morning was a clear and chilly 28 degrees and a strong campfire at daylight started a special two-day event with 81 runs for over 70 dogs. If you are a fan of gundogs, Liberty Corners was the place to be that weekend. Pointers, setters, Brittanys, shorthairs, wirehairs, griffons and even a Drahthaar showed up to represent the pointing breeds.  American and English Labs (black, blonde and chocolate) showed up along with a great hunting poodle, some Boykins, and two Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers to create a stellar field of upland flushing gundogs.  

    The pheasants were strong flyers, but a slight breeze put the bird scent up and available to the dogs, and there was nowhere to hide, even though the cover was waist high and plenty thick.

   The birds were much safer in the air, and they knew it. A burst of feathers and a noisy cackle to startle a hunter was a better path to freedom than staying on the ground with this caliber of bird dog on the prowl.  

   When all runs were made and the scorekeepers’ results tallied the following folks were top of their respective classes:  Open Pointing Singles

(dogs three years old and Older of a pointing breed) First Place winner: Morgan, German Shorthaired pointer Owned by Tom Glynn of Canandaigua NY, Amateur Pointing Singles (dogs three years old and younger of a pointing breed) First Place:  Jake, German Shorthair owned by Shawn Burkholder of Stuarts

Draft, Virginia, Open Flushing Singles: (dogs three years old and Older of a Flushing breed) First Place:  Dixie, Black Lab owned by Richard Sipes of Esmont, Virginia, Amateur Flushing singles: (dogs three years old and younger of a Flushing breed) First Place:  Wendy, Blonde lab owned by Marlene Sipes of Esmont, Virginia, Novice Pointers (first time participants) First Place:  Bella, German Shorthair owned by Shane Shubert of Hardy, Virginia, Novice Flushers (first time participants) First Place:  Boo, Nova Scotia Toller owned by Ed Callander of Woodbridge, Virginia, Pointing Double (Two open pointing dogs and two shooters) First Place:  Snake Eyes, American Brittany with Alke, German Shorthair Owned by Ben Norris of Dutton Virginia and Rich Achors of Yadkinville NC, Flushing Double (One open Flushing dog and two shooters) First Place:  Dixie, Black Lab owned by Richard & Marlene Sipes of Esmont Virginia, Ladies: Kimberly Hathcock of Scottsville Virginia and her blonde Lab "Missy".