Sunday, July 20, 2008

Johnny Crockett

NC 3X CH Johnny Crockett with his trainer/handler W. C. Kirk.

Johnny Crockett was born on July 20th, 1964 in a litter bred by Claud Patterson of Mt. Pleasant, Texas by Wonsover's Crockett Jed X Patterson's Flying Lady. His handler, W.C. Kirk of Bowie, Texas, got "Boy" at about four months of age. He was owned during his Derby year by John S. Fisher of Garland, Texas. Hank Sheely became a owner of the dog early in 1966 . W.C. Kirk, his wife Mary, and Hank Sheely nurtured the development of the young dog.

He was small for a male setter – only about 34 lbs., but with tons of bottom and grit. He is renowned among setter enthusiasts as he was the last setter to win the National Bird Dog Championship, which he won in 1970 under his handler W.C. Kirk for owner Hank Seeley. ”Boy” is the only setter ever to win the Purina Top Field Trial Dog Award, and the only setter to win multiple all-age championships with heats longer than one hour since 1946.

Ed Soph developed and promoted the Crockett dogs in Texas. The line's foundation sire was Kid Crockett, who produced Eugene Crockett, who produced Eugene Crockett II. The Crocketts had a big impact on the setter breed as a whole. The Crockett line was built on Eugene M. linebred dogs with some Mississippi Zev blood added. By all accounts he was a thrilling dog to watch.. a great dog, with a ton of heart.

Editor William F. Brown when writing about Johnny Crockett’s performance at Grand Junction in the 1970 Christmas Issue of the American Field noted:

“It was not an easy assignment dog and handler faced. The going was rigorous, the footing difficult in places, but most worrisome was the fact that birds had been touchy on occasion, inactive a great deal of the time, inclined to tuck themselves away in sheltered places. The first week of running birds had been noted to flush well ahead of the dogs without provocation and fly into inaccessible recesses… Only a dog obsessed with finding birds, determined in his quest, oblivious of punishing cover could hope for success.
“Johnny Crockett soon proved he had the tools. He searched industriously, handled and got some results early...his fox-like gait indicative of the ‘route-goer’ got him through the grueling race. But it was his quail contacts at the very end of his long heat that earned him the title… he wound up with nine contacts and a back of his bracemate...” 

After an examination revealed that he had a malignant brain tumor "Boy" went to Canada to live out his last days in the household of his handler, W. C. Kirk. Johnny Crocket died in Canada on July 24, 1972. He was eight years old.

Before his death, his owner, Hank Seeley, had semen collected and frozen, which produced a litter of pups in 1980 - eight years after his death. His production record shows him to be the sire of 40 field trial winners with 147 wins. Among his descendants are the notable setters CH Crockett's New Horizon, CH See Johnny Run, RU-CH High Definition, and CH Jetsetter, among many others. His influence continues to be felt after more than 35 years. And setter people are waiting for another great dog to win the National.

Johnny Crockett was inducted into the Bird Dog Hall of Fame in 2008.


Steven said...

Hi, I found your blog searching for information on my family; Ed Soph is my greatgrandfather. Do you have any other information about his contribution to birddogs? Thanks! Steven

Mike Spies said...


I will see what information I can gather for you. Please send an e-mail to me at: mike(at)autohomeus(dot)com and put ED SOPH in the subject line so I can contact you directly.