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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois Outdoors

A life-sized bronze statue of the famous English pointer, Elhew Snakfoot, greats visitors at the main entrance to the National Bird Dog Museum. Snakefoot was inducted into the Field Trial Hall of Fame in 2006.

A visit to the National Bird Dog Museum

May 04, 2008 at 05:59 AM

National Bird Dog Museum

WHERE: Grand Junction, Tenn., 50 miles east of Memphis on Highway 51, 1 miles east of Highway 18
WHEN: Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saurday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
INFORMATION: (731) 764-2058 or

When you drive through hills and hollers of southwestern Tennessee, the last thing you expect to find is a deli run by two Pakistani brothers whose specialty is Philly cheese steak sandwiches.

What you expect is the National Bird Dog Museum and Field Trial Hall of Fame, a destination that fits its surroundings. Southwest Tennessee and the area around Memphis is bird-dog country, a fact underlined by the many kennels behind houses and statues of pointers in front of houses. It’s no accident Grand Junction is called the epicenter of pointing dog field trials.

“The very first public all-comers field trial in the United States was held in Memphis in 1874,” said David Smith, executive director of the Bird Dog Foundation that runs the museum “And the first national field trial was held just south of here in Mississippi for a couple years before it moved to Grand Junction in 1900.”

Since then field trialers have flocked to Grand Junction each year for the National Field Trial Championship, held since 1902 at the 18,000-acre Ames Plantation. Dedicated in 1991, the museum does a good job of capturing that history. Better than expected, actually. I feared a bird-dog museum would be hokey. Wrong. Ends up I didn’t have time to see everything before catching a flight out of Memphis.Illinois Outdoors

“A lot of people say that,” Smith said.

Among the 5,000 people who visit each year are art lovers. While dogs are the focus, their stories are told largely through paintings, pictures and sculptures found throughout this 22,000-square-foot complex of four buildings joined by a central atrium.

“We are a history and archives, an art and sculpture repository, a natural history museum and a library at the same time,” Smith said.

Nearly every piece comes with a story. Most show dogs in the field or pointing a covey of quail. Many have information cards next to them. There’s also a library and a room filled with stuffed birds and critters that children are allowed to explore.

As a proud owner of a Llewellin setter I was intrigued by pictures of past great Llewellins. Among the best-known are Count Gladstone IV, winner of the first National Championship Field Trial in 1896, and his sire Count Noble, whose remarkably well-preserved remains grace a large display case. What’s interesting about those older dogs is that they are holding their tails in a nearly horizontal position on point. Today’s top pointers and setters must hold their tails upright in a 12 o’clock position. Thanks to the museum’s wealth of pictures from the past 100 years, you can track that change and many others.

“You really should take time to stop there,” pointer trainer Larry Huffman told me during a visit to his kennels in nearby Michigan City, Miss. “The museum is worth seeing.”

I’m glad to have taken the advice of Huffman, trainer of this year’s national champion pointer, Whippoorwill Wild Agin. Owners of other breeds obviously agree. In 2004 Labrador retriever folks dedicated their Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame wing. Overall about 40 different breeds are featured in the museum.

“From the get-go it’s been a situation where other dog groups were envious of the pointing dog world having such a haven here,” Smith said. “They quickly sought the attention of the Bird Dog Foundation. So the retriever people came on board, the brittany people, the springer spaniel people and just last year the German shorthair people.”

Several breeds are also immortalized in bronze sculptures on the museum grounds. Incidentally, sitting near those sculpture is an excellent place to eat a Philly cheese steak from the deli down the road.
Illinois Outdoors


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