In these rolling hills of Chenango County NY, Dr. Tom Flanagan and his brother Dr. James Flanagan, founded the Lost Pond Club in 1962 and that club has hosted single course events since then including Lost Pond yearly, and later the Region 2 Amateur Walking Championship and then The Empire Championship, which was established as a walking quail event in the early years of the new millennium.
Every so often, at one of these events, as a handler would go in to prepared to kick around for a hesitant quail, a grouse would rumble away from the point instead, or a woodcock flitter off, adding a bit of spice to the proceedings. Pete would reminisce about years gone by and remember Bob Wehle coming down to hunt grouse on the property with Dr. Tom. And of course, Luther Smith, who won the Grand National five times, developed some good grouse dog in those rolling hills.
The grounds are actually relatively close (about 15 miles) to the Pharsalia venue that hosted the Grand National regularly until 1977. In 1973, toward the end of the Pharsalia run, a second series had failed to bring about a champion and bird work was at a premium. According to the report, Luther Smith suggested Lost Pond as an area where he had seen grouse in workable numbers. A third series was run there, several grouse seen and Pleasant Valley Liz emerged Grand National Champion.
For many years Pete Flanagan claimed that there were still plenty of wild birds around and threatened to lay out courses. As an established field trial venue, Lost Pond already had a clubhouse, a house for judges and trial officials and Pete keeps horses for judges and reporter, so many elements of a high class grouse trial were already in place. It finally happened. Through concerted effort by Pete, and several work parties, multiple course were laid out and cut. The Empire Championship is now a grouse/woodcock trial and the grounds have successfully hosted the Invitational now for several turns.