By LINDA HUNT
|History of Winchester Farm
In 1986 Stephen Walker, from Novato, CA had been told by his physician that to relieve the stress of his profession as an investment banker, he needed to find a place he could get away and relax. Stephen's main avocation at the time was field trial bird dogs. Being a client of Bill and Linda Hunt at Bates City, MO he asked their advice as to where would be an ideal spot for such a place. Considering the West Tennessee area sort of the Mecca of field trials, it was agreed for the parties to meet in Memphis and explore the possibilities.
Two days later when the 855 acres near Dancyville was viewed, and seemed to meet all the criteria, it was obvious this was the place. Existing there at the time was a tenant house and equipment shed. They were leveled and the road changed and construction began. What followed in succession was a barn, which housed the office facility, kennels and horse stalls as well as ample space for parties and dinners during the field trial season. A lodge was completed for the Walkers, a mobile home, and house for managers. Later a second house for additional employees was added as well as other building for shop and storage.
Mr. Walker said the name is "Winchester Farm." When asked what prompted this he stated that when he was a small child riding in the back of the family station wagon they had gone by a farm that seemed to have miles of white fence. When they got to the gate it said "Winchester Farm". He told himself "sometime I am going to have me one of these." So Winchester it was.
The area was managed with quail habitat in mind. Farming continued but was secondary in nature. Mr. Walker was able to purchase a number of good dogs from a man that had health problems and needed to liquidate. David Johnson, who worked for that man, also relocated to Dancyville and was most capable with the dogs as well as taking care of the habitat.
The Walker-Hunt team was very successful in the field trial world. Rebel Wrangler, an orange and white pointer, broke the record for open all ages championships (that stood at 12 for many years) by amassing 14 such titles (a record likely to stand for many years). He was named Purina Dog of the Year twice. He was elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame in 1997.
Eight champions were present in the Walker kennel at one time. A graveyard was designated to honor these great dogs and a tombstone was erected to pay tribute to them. In 1998 Winchester Farm was sold to Peter Schutt of Memphis. The tombstone was resituated on the property of Bill and Linda Hunt on Tripp Road and someday will probably be placed at the Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction.
Our thanks to Linda Hunt for providing this history.
Photos and scans by Mary Kay Dancy Smith.
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