Competition for the 22nd Handler of the Year Awards came to a close April 30. When the proverbial “dust had settled,” two successful bird dog handlers stood indisputably at the top.
Steve Hurdle of Hickory Flat, Miss., occupied the top spot on the All-Age Handler roster, and Pennsylvania pro Luke Eisenhart was seated firmly in the lead on the Shooting Dog Handler list.
For Hurdle it is his second Handler of theYear honors, having won his first for the 2006-2007 season, when he also won the Purina Top Dog Award with Shell Creek Coin.
For Luke Eisenhart, the Shooting Dog Handler of the Award is a first, won convincingly with the highest point total ever amassed in the 22 years this award has been offered: 6469!
Steve Hurdle is among a select coterie of bird dog trainer/handlers whose resumés show the National Championship, the Purina Award and the
Purina Handler of the Year Award among their achievements.
Luke Eisenhart has now won the Shooting Dog Handler Award, adding this honor to his 2006-2007 Top Shooting Dog Award won with Chris and Peter Del Collo’s handsome pointer Sugarknoll Buckshot and to a wide array of other prestigious placements.
Steve Hurdle’s 2586 points were earned on twenty wins with ten different dogs. Among the wins are three championships: the Georgia Derby, the National Free-for-All and the Missouri, complemented by four runner-up championship wins. Steve also won three of the four places in the American Field Quail Futurity last fall.
Luke Eisenhart’s record-setting points total was achieved with wins by twelve different dogs accumulating 34 wins, among them the National Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship, Ontario, Ohio-Pennsylvania Shooting Dog, South Carolina and Garden State Shooting Dog Championships; the Atlantic Coast, Eastern and Southeastern titles, and wrapping up the season in convincing fashion with the Michigan and Canadian Shooting Dog Championships! Add eight runner-up championships, six Futurity placements, plus several other significant wins and you have a field trial season to remember.