Been there and done that (although it was longer ago than I care to admit!). I don't think you'll get much debate that this is one area where you almost always get what you pay for. If you're willing to put some work in there is a lot you can do on your own though and lots of people willing to help you out. CBSRC has their hunt test this weekend in Millen. That's not too far from you and it'd be a great chance to get to know some people from your area. You should come out and watch if you can.
edit: good job on the name by the way ... I like it!
SHR Turtlecreek's This 'Ol Cowboy - Tucker
GRHRCH Oak Point's Traveling Man MH - Mason
You can also check with Ralph Ardis at Will Do Kennels in Silver, SC. Silver is just off of I-95 North and about 1 3/4 hours from Savannah. Ralph has beautiful training grounds and he qualifies several dogs for the MN each year as well as running HRC.
Carolina American Water Spaniels
HRCH UH Carolina's Duck Gumbo MHA SHR RN WDS CGC TDI (Gumbo) 1000 Point Club
UH HR GCH Carolina's Wild March Hare SH JHR RAE OA OAJ WDX CGC TDI (Bunny)
HR BISS GCH Carolina's Running with the Hare SH JHR RN WDX CGC TDI (Blew)
HR Carolina's Tale of the Hare (Bea)
There are several very good professional trainers near you, and all have had success within their areas of the sport. What makes more sense then having people give you one name over another is to go and meet with the ones within a reasonable drive from you and spend some time checking out their training and their facilities. After you do that ask people that have actually had their dogs with those trainers for their opinion, the good and the bad. The challenge you will have is of course the budget of 600 to 800 a month given that you are still in school, and that is something that you need to share with the pro when you talk to them. You are welcome to come to meet our training group in Richmond Hill where we have dogs at all levels from puppy to QAA & Derby List dogs running field trials. All of us have had dogs with different trainers, some mentioned in this thread and others not, and you can ask us and see the end product. Just be prepared to throw your share of marks for the group. Good luck.
Brian Skibicki, Richmond Hill Georgia (South Bryan County)
HRCH Ogeechee River's Spur of The Moment MH
HR Ogeechee River's Midnight Rider
Gunners Up Dealer and User
I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there [in Heaven], I believe he'll be there. - Rev. Billy Graham
What are your plans for the dog? I've used Stephen durrence and he has been awesome. Probably the only pro ill ever use regardless if I'm hunt testing or trailing.
It depends on what you plan to run. If you want to run HRC and the Grand you probably couldn't do better than Durrence anywhere remotely nearby. If you plan to focus on AKC hunt tests and running the Master National, I think you would be hard pressed to do better than Ray Shanks at Swamp Run Retrievers at any distance. He is in Greene county, GA.
HRCH UH "Boomer" MH
UH HR "Hunter" SH (RIP)
"When you go to a test or a trial, your dog should be underwhelmed." ~ Evan Graham
"It is unreasonable to expect a dog to be more precise than you are." ~ Rex Carr
"You own what you condone." ~ Mike Lardy