National Bird Dog Museum
The holy land of bird dogs is Grand Junction, Tennessee. Located in Grand Junction is both the National Bird Dog Museum and Ames Plantation. Ames Plantation is where the National Bird Dog Championship field trial is held each year. The Bird Dog Museum is a shrine to the bird dog. It’s the Bird Dog Museum we’re going to discuss in this column.
The idea of a Bird Dog Museum was conceived by the meeting of Garrett Lockee, a field trialer, and Wilson Dunn, who owned Dunn’s Sporting Goods of Grand Junction. This meeting happened in the late 1970s. Dunn and Lockee shared a vision for a museum that would recognize and honor sporting dogs. The museum would preserve bird dog history and represent all breeds of sporting dogs.
Lockee, Dunn and a few other sporting dog enthusiasts visited Bernie Matthys, managing editor of the American Field, to solicit his support in the museum idea. Mathys was persuaded to help promote the idea of a museum. Lockee and Dunn returned to Grand Junction to begin work on the project.
A great deal of work was done over the next several years. Creating a non-profit organization, a foundation, establishing funding, organizing a board of directors, selecting a building site, collecting objects for the museum and many other tasks were completed. It should be mentioned that Garrett Lockee and Wilson Dunn personally bought the original 4.5 acres of land for the museum. They then donated the land to the Foundation. It was felt that Grand Junction would be the ideal location for the Museum due to the close proximity to Ames Plantation.
By 1990, sponsorships had successfully raised the money needed to begin construction of the National Bird Dog Museum. Before the Museum was completed, the entire cost had been fully funded. On February 16, 1991, the National Bird Dog Museum was opened to the public.
Your author personally visited the Museum in 2016. I had the privilege of being guided through the building by one of the founders…Garrett Lockee. What a treat that was. Having been with the Museum since the very beginning, Garrett had many wonderful stories to tell. The guided visit was actually taped for Bird Dogs Afield TV. Go to www.birddogsafield.com. Click on the Video button. Go to year 2016 and locate the 'Romancing Grand Junction Video 1'.
The National Bird Dog Museum is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of bird dogs, field trials, and hunting traditions. The museum houses a repository of art, photography and memorabilia about field trials, shooting sports and over forty breeds of bird dogs. Those breeds include pointing, flushing and retrieving dogs. The specific dog breeds include English pointer, English setter, American Brittany, English cocker spaniel, English springer spaniel, German shorthaired pointer, Gordon setter, Irish setter, Vizsla and Weimaraner. The Retriever Hall of Fame spotlights various retriever breeds such as Labrador retriever, Golden retriever and Chesapeake retriever.
In addition to everything you could imagine about bird dogs, there is a Wildlife Heritage Center. The Center consists of a large collection of taxidermy showcasing the wildlife of North America and the William F. Brown Memorial Library.
If you have any interest at all in sporting dogs, I strongly encourage you to visit the National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tennessee. I found it a truly memorable visit. And, if you go to Grand Junction, suggest you time your visit with the running of the National Bird Dog Championship which is run at Ames Plantation. The trial is usually in early February.
For more information, go to www.birddogfoundation.com.
Copyright 2023 Paul Fuller