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Local bird dog enthusiast shows why Hall County has the competitive edge

POSTED: March 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

William Greene's bird dogs anxiously wait to be released for a training session at a rural North Hall property.

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It may have taken a full half-hour episode for Lassie to find the missing boy in a well and bring help, but William Greene's pointers could have accomplished the same task in less than three minutes.

Before you dispute that fact, you should know that his bird dogs can cover a 250-acre training field in North Hall in under 15 minutes.

Greene has been training his dogs to compete in various bird dog competitions for more than a decade.

"I'm the third generation of my family to quail hunt and to keep the dogs, but I'm the first generation to take it to this level with competitions," Greene said.

Although his family's quail hunting was primarily in central Florida, Greene says Hall County is being put on the map for producing quality bird dogs.

"I'm not just one person in Hall County that has bird dogs and trains them," Greene said.

Bo Ackerman, a local opthalmologist, has raised and trained three national champion bird dogs.

"Dr. Ackerman is known all over the country for his Brittanys," Greene said.

"They're gorgeous animals; he's been doing this since the 1980s."

Retired Hall County veterinarian Wilbur Dellinger is also famous on the bird dog circuit as a top-notch breeder, Greene says.

Even after a decade as a competitor, Greene is still considered an amateur trainer. That may be the case, but his training fields are tried and true.

In total, he has access to about 1,000 acres of open fields that provide ample ground for the dogs to earn their place on the competition team.

During their training sessions, the dogs are learning how to locate birds in a field, point them out and wait for their handler to flush them from the brush. If they were on a real hunt, the handler would shoot the bird after flushing it out from the brush, and the dog would then retrieve it.

Although there are more than a dozen American Kennel Club recognized pointer breeds that are suitable for bird dog hunting, Greene is currently training his Brittanys, German short-hair pointer and English pointer.

This year, Greene has four dogs that are competition ready, but he also has a few others that he's grooming for the circuit.

"We come out and train three or four times a week in all types of weather," Greene said.

"You never know what the conditions will be during a competition, so you have to train for everything."

Although the dogs may go through runs in the heat, rain and other inclement weather, Greene says he's no task master. "Gentle hands" and a steady mind are key ingredients to creating top-competitors, he says.

"My favorite (award) is the Open Gun Dog (from the American Kennel Club Field Trials). We went down to south Georgia, to big open fields. There were 24 dogs and I only had 1 dog entered," Greene said.

"And that one dog beat out 23 other dogs for first place. We just showed up, nobody knew who we were. It was quite a blessing."

Raising quality hunting companions sometimes means seeing things that others overlook.

"I picked up Diesel when he was about 5 months old. His owner then didn't think he had potential," Greene said.

"And now, he's a master hunter — the highest training level of the American Kennel Club — and a North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association utility dog. He's also soon to be a field champion."

Greene drives the dogs all over the country for about 10 competitions each year.

"A lot of people won't travel as far as I will, but if it's a good trial, I'll go. We continue to compete in a variety of trials because it's a challenge," Greene said.

"Say you win a title when your dog is 2 years old, well they live to be about 15 and you don't want it to just sit. You want to continue to train it, and enjoy it.

"What I've found is that by crossing over to all these different types of events, you get to learn what the dog loves to do the most. I have one dog that loves the hunt tests. I've got another that loves the shoot to retrieve competitions."

His wife Amy Greene and their young children also get in on the road trips and dog training action.

"I have three boys — you talk about involved. Everywhere we go, they're involved. They absolutely love it," Greene said.

"It's a very family-oriented activity. Everywhere I go, people always comment on how well-behaved our dogs are. I think a part of that comes from their interaction with our children."

Although placing in a competition comes down to the performances of the dog and their handlers, Greene says his success has a much larger support team.

"We couldn't do this without community support. Everything we have, we can get from close proximity," Greene said.

"All my food comes from a local Purina dealer. My birds come from a local quail farmer. My dogs come from a local breeder.

"We are very fortunate to have this right here at our fingertips."

 

 



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