Published 11:21 pm Friday, February 8, 2013

MacKenzi Williams will fool folks.

As a high school senior with her sights sent on attending cosmetology school, she is also the 2012 Alabama Duck Dog Series state champion. She will compete in the 2013 UFTA National Flushing Competition at Double Head Resort in Town Creek the week of Feb. 16.

MacKenzi admitted with a smile that she is in the minority when it comes to those who compete in flushing dog trails.

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“Most of the women who compete are middle aged but I’ve been involved with flushing dog trails since I was about seven years old,” she said. “My dad, Doug Williams owns Puddle Duck Labs and he is a professional dog trainer and guide. He has labs and he competes in flushing dog trials. So, I grew up with sport and I enjoy competing.”

MacKenzi learned to shoot with a BB gun but it wasn’t long before she was shooting pigeons – clay pigeons.

Williams taught his daughter about gun safety and hunter safety and etiquette. But the love of the outdoors came naturally.

“I loved being outdoors and I love working with animals,” MacKenzi said. “I love to ride horses and I competed in rodeo for a while. I ran barrels and that was exciting and fun. I still ride a lot but I’m not competing in rodeo. I’m enjoying competing in the flushing dog trials.”

MacKenzi said the flushing dog trails are highly competitive and everyone wants to win but the competition is “comfortable.”

“What happens at the trials is that from three to six birds are released on about two acres of land,” MacKenzi said. “You have 15 minutes for your dog to flush out the birds so that you can shoot them on the fly. The dog is supposed to retrieve the bids and bring them back to you.”

The hunter receives points according to how many birds are shot, the number of shells used and whether the dog retrieves the birds and returns them to the hunter. Time is also factored into the score.

“Your dog has to bring the bird back to your hand to get the most points,” MacKenzi said.

But there is more to the flushing dog competition than a dog flushing out a bird and the hunter shooting it.

“You have to have to have a game plan when you go in the field,” MacKenzi said. “I try to position my dog so that it can pick up the smell of the birds. I try to always be up wind because that’s the best chance of the dog picking up the smell.”

Weather is also a consideration.

“Rain complicates things,” MacKenzi said. “The birds get wet and don’t fly as well and your dogs can pick them up and bring them to you. That counts but not as much as if you had shot the bird.

“Cold weather is good because it’s easier on the dogs. Their endurance is greater. Hot weather is bad on the dogs. It tires them quicker.”

MacKenzi said she is hoping for cold weather when she competes in nationals.

“I’ll compete with our family dog, Maddie,” she said. “I’ll also run two other dogs. Buddy is my cousin’s dog and Creek is a friend’s dog that was trained by my dad.”

While both Buddy and Creek are outstanding flushing dogs, MacKenzi is hoping to win with Maddie for an obvious reason. “Maddie belongs to my dad and me.”

MacKenzi has won prize money competing in flushing dog trails and she had trophies on the mantle. But, to win a national flushing competition at such an early age would be a “feather” in MacKenzi’s hunting cap.

“I’d really like to win and I’m going to give it my best,” she said. “There will probably be about 10 competitors in the women’s division and there’s no age division. So, I’ll need to have a good plan and Maddie and I will have to be a great team to win. I’m looking forward to nationals and being outdoors and competing with three really great flushing dogs.”