KILKENNY, N. H. — The 2019 renewal of the Grand National Grouse Futurity marked the 75th anniversary of this prestigious stake.
As is with all Futurities, it’s a breeders’ stake. The process for nominating a dog starts when the dam is bred, followed by a litter nomination and finally a forfeit fee paid by the puppy’s owner.
Throughout its history the Grouse Futurity has been well supported by breeders. Placing in the winners’ circle has been a benchmark for bigger things to come for the dogs who have done so.
The beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire provided the backdrop for the running. I’d be willing to bet the Kilkenny grounds are the most scenic grounds a grouse trial is run on.
The Northern New Hampshire Bird Dog Club hosted the event. Club members worked tirelessly this summer making sure the grounds were in top shape for the Futurity and Grand National Grouse Championship that followed.
Judging this year’s Futurity was this reporter from Carbondale, Pa., and Justin Evans of Duncannon, Pa. Justin’s dog, Blast Off, won the Grouse Futurity several years ago in 2015 and Justin has judged the Grand National Puppy Classic as well as other important championships and stakes.
Shortly after 7:30 a. m. stake manager John Stolgitis gave the call to “Get ’em on the line.”
Herbie’s Shasta La Vista (Forman) and Grouse Hill Pepper Ann (Stolgitis) broke away with excitement on the Ammonoosuc No. 1 course. Shasta had a little trouble adjusting to the New England cover as she was fresh off a month of trials in Michigan. She eventually got going and handled kindly. Pepper Ann was big and bold from the start and was pleasing to watch with her fast and fancy ways. Just before time Shasta’s bell stopped along the river and Forman headed toward his dog. She was quickly located and a woodcock was put to wing, shot fired, all with perfect manners from Shasta.
Stan the Man (Fruchey) and Elhew Snakewood (Doherty) competed on the Ammonoosuc No. 2 course, and like Ammonoosuc No. 1 runs along the scenic Ammonoosuc River. Both dogs searched the course merrily but neither was rewarded with a bird on this day.
Springbrook Sweet T (Stolgitis) and Hifive’s Power Line (Minard) were brought to the line on the Moosehorn Course. Both dogs shot to the front and had the judges’ eyes from the start. Sweet T got birdy on the left of the course and was working one but before she got it pointed a grouse blew out. Several minutes later this judge/reporter heard a grouse blow out on the right of the course. Power Line was working in from the front right and his bell suddenly stopped. Minard was informed that a grouse had blown out but he wanted to take a look. He quickly pointed out Power Line standing with breathtaking style and as soon as he pointed him out this judge saw a grouse sneaking out the front and pitching off the hill. Minard quickly shot with Power Line holding perfect composure throughout. As all this was going on, Sweet T had stopped. Stolgitis and Judge Evans went to look and handler put a woodcock in the air and shot. Both dogs seemed to know they had a bird and were now determined to put on a show. Power Line laid out to the front as big as Minard would let him but he was hunting the whole time and when Minard wanted him back he could do so without too much handling. T ran like she was trying to light the ground on fire and just before time she took the whole top side of hill and faded out the front. Time was called and the bar had now been set for the rest of the field.
Hifive’s Top Shelf (Minard) and Ghost Train Solitaire (Fruchey) were on the famous Beaver Hole course. Both dogs ran with the speed and style you want to see. Top Shelf ran her whole half hour without ever coming from the side or behind and was in perfect tune with Minard. Down in the bottom along the river a woodcock was walked up with neither dog involved. Both judges were hoping a bird could be pointed by either contender but it wasn’t to be on this day.
Grouse Hill Smokey had his running shoes on early and his scout told Forman he thought he was to the right and forward but handler wasn’t sure. Deb’s McKeachie Road (Kennedy) is an eyeful with her speed and running style. About halfway down the hill Smokey started up about where Forman’s scout had told him he thought he was.
Mumblings could be heard in the gallery about not only always trust your dog but trust your scout. Marc’s scout happened to be his brother Scott and the duo are a successful team but several in the gallery seized on the moment to get in some good-natured ribbing. McKeachie was under a woodcock at 28 and Smokey stopped and started a couple times but neither got a bird pointed before time.
My Long Gone Sprinkles (Avery) and Grouse Ringers Woody (Forman) were cut loose on Ammonoosuc No. 2 course. This course is thick and it definitely shortened both dogs’ range. Sprinkles has speed and style and Woody hit the cover like a freight train with no fear. At 27 Sprinkles was under a grouse whose two buddies quickly roared out from under the fir tree as well. Handler Avery shot his gun with a big smile on his face and commented how much fun he had running a dog he bred and developed in the Grouse Futurity.
No. 7 had good friends Craig Doherty and Bob Little paired running their respective charges, Elhew Snake Dancer and Cairds Cracklin Rosie. Both dogs hunted all the cover and moved through the country with style. Rosie was in the area of a grouse that blew out but it was touchy and gone before she could get it pointed. Both stayed busy until the end but luck wasn’t on their side this day.
Chasehill Little Speck (Stolgitis) and Grouse Hill Duke (Forman) brought us back to the Beaver Hole course. Both dogs shot down the hill toward the cover. Duke took a little bit to get going but found his groove and went to work. At 7 Speck’s bell was stopped just ahead on course. Stolgitis called the flight of woodcock for his dog but neither judge saw it. Shortly after Duke stopped near Speck which was still standing like a bull. It was determined Duke wasn’t backing and as Forman moved toward his dog a woodcock was seen leaving; both handlers fired and both dogs were credited with a find. Speck ate up big pieces of the river bottom, hunting out cover then stretching out further looking for more. Stolgitis was confident in his dog and let him roll until we approached the corners where he’d gather him up and let him roll again. Speck moves with lightning speed and hits the cover with reckless abandon, much like his sire. His power and speed on the ground coupled with his beautiful pointing style set him apart from the rest of the field. As we approached the end of the course Duke got a little sticky and Forman had to whistle him on a few times but he got back to business. Both finished going away.
Shady Hills Savannah (Forman) was drawn as a bye in the 9th brace. She showed some nice moves but could have benefitted from a bracemate.
With all the dogs run, handlers and spectators were summoned to the guard shack for the announcement.
Fourth place was awarded to Grouse Hill Duke, white and liver pointer male owned by field trial enthusiast and longtime supporter of grouse trials, John Capocci of Katonah, N. Y. John was also the breeder of Duke. Scott Forman had the handler duties for Duke and is also credited with his development.
Third went to Springbrook Sweet T, white and liver pointer female owned by Russell Oglivie of Waldoboro, Me., a hardworking amateur who put a lot of time into T’s development. T was bred and handled by John Stolgitis.
Second place honors were given to Hifive’s Power Line, pointer male bred and owned by the team of Bruce and Neil Minard of Beulah, Mich. This father/son duo put a great deal of time into their dogs and it shows. Bruce handled Power Line but he was quick to credit his son for his involvement in Power Line’s success.
Winner of the 75th Grand National Grouse Futurity was Chasehill Little Speck. John Stolgitis was the breeder, handler and developed Speck which is owned by John’s daughter Erin, and Elias Richardson of Uxbridge, Mass.
This was Speck’s second Futurity win, having also won the International Woodcock Futurity earlier in the fall.
A Futurity is a breeders’ stake and it should be noted that the multiple time champion Daddy’s Little Boy Butch was the sire of the first, third and fourth place dogs. Butch’s prepotency in his offspring is evident.
As secretary of the Grand National Grouse Futurity I would first like to thank all the breeders who nominated litters. Thanks is in order for the Northern New England Bird Dog Club and their members for all the hard work getting the courses ready, especially Tony Bly and Lloyd Murray.
John Stolgitis took on the role of stake manager and a couple days before the trial a bad wind storm knocked down trees all over the grounds that hosted the trial. John took a day out of a hunting trip and headed to Kilkenny with his chainsaw and cleared the roads into the grounds so we could have the trial. Thank you to John for stepping up and getting the roads and grounds cleared.
Greg Blair and Nestlé Purina provided generous amounts of Pro Plan to all the winners and for that and their continuous support we thank them.
Also, Garmin sent us a tracking collar for the winner and thanks is in order for them as well.
We look forward to starting the Futurity process over this winter with new litters. Hope to see you next fall.
Kilkenny, N. H., November 3
Judges: Justin Evans and Thor Kain
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE FUTURITY — 10 Pointers and 7 Setters
1st—CHASEHILL LITTLE SPECK, pointer male, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Porter Meadow Bette. Erin Stolgitis & Elias Richardson, owners; John Stolgitis, handler.
2d—HIFIVE’S POWER LINE, pointer male, by Arizona’s Sixgun Syd—Hifive’s Sin Again. Robert Minard, owner and handler.
3d—SPRINGBROOK SWEET T, pointer female, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Porter Meadow Bette. Russell Oglivie, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.
4th—GROUSE HILL DUKE, pointer male, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Grouse Hill Bell. John Capocci, owner; Scott Forman, handler.