Hunting competition draws hunters to Plainville
This weekend, dozens of hunters came to Plainville, Illinois to participate in the Ruffcorn Kennel Spring Qualifier at Boone's Hunting preserve.
It's a competition that allows some of the country's best hunters to participate in one of the six trials they need to pass in order to qualify for the United Field Trailers Association 2015 National Finals.
Paula Wallace's favorite competitive sport is upland hunting.
"I'm out here competing with all the men and it's fun," Wallace said.
It's a sport that requires hunters to depend on their dog's instincts to find their target so they can shoot it.
Wallace relies on her dog Charlie's tracking skills to help her win.
It's a sport Wallace deeply cherishes.
"I take away that we have good dog work, and there's a lot of friendships built here," Wallace said.
At Sunday's trial, Wallace joined many other hunters who compete in different divisions of the competition.
"It's a qualifying event, so we do," Ruffcorn Kennel Spring Qualifier Coordinator and Judge Dan Ruffcorn said. "We're having an open pointing, open flushing, and an amateur pointing division." But there's a slight difference between flushing and pointing hunting.
"In the flushing event, the dog actually flushes the bird," Ruffcorn said. "The hunter stays back, the dog will flush the bird. The hunter will shoot the bird if possible."
Both competitive styles require the same goal. That goal is to shoot, kill and retrieve three birds as quickly as possible.
Before each competition, one of the judges releases a few quail into the pointing and flushing fields.
"The dog will go out and find the bird, stop and point the bird. They will get a three second point. The judge will tell the hunter when the point is good," Ruffcorn said.
"The hunter will go up and flush the bird up. They shoot the bird, get the retrieve back, and you want to do three of those," Ruffcorn said. " As soon as you get three, you catch your dog and the time stops."
In her second run, Wallace shot and killed three birds without any penalties in 6 minutes and 19 seconds.
Wallace said winning is not that important to her.
"It's the people that you hunt with, and it's always fun to win but it's the dog work, and being able to hang out with your friends," Wallace said.
If Wallace wins four more trials, she will be eligible to compete in the UFTA Nationals, which is expected to be held in Town Creek, Alabama next February.