2014 Grand National Grouse Championship Report
MEREDITH, MICH. — The 72nd running of the historic Grand National Grouse Championship began November 4 over Michigan’s prestigious Gladwin Field Trial Grounds near Meredith, Mich.
The 4,940 acres sit in the Gladwin State Forest in Gladwin County. To most this field trial area looks like an ordinary piece of north woods. In actuality, it is known across the northern states as one of the country’s most outstanding field grounds for cover dogs. The grounds are unique; they boast two trout streams, four lakes and acres of rolling hills. These grounds have been in existence since 1916 and have been managed for grouse habitat and field trial activities.
Current DNR biologist Bruce Barlow oversees the area and takes a personal interest in our sport, with an emphasis on grouse and woodcock. Under his auspices our grounds continue to thrive. With the help and approval of the DNR, this year has brought many improvements to our grounds.
A new cement pad at the Alibi Hall under the canopy makes it a much nicer place to hold our events. Among other things we are grateful to the DNR for this year are the new road signs that have been added and a new map produced by the coordinated efforts of Bruce Barlow and Eric Naus. Many upgrades to the roads have also been realized, making our grounds a most attractive venue.
The drawing brought forth a field of 65 competitors, comprised of 57 English setters and 8 pointers. Secretary Dave Fletcher conducted the drawing Friday, evening, October 31, at Diane’s Restaurant in Morrice, Mich.
With daylight savings time falling back, it allowed for seven braces per day, beginning on Tuesday, November 4, finishing on Saturday, November 8. Weather was everything Michigan could offer: sunshine, rain and snow.
Judges were Peter Flanagan of Oxford, N. Y., and Kelly Shepherd of Waverly, Ohio, both experienced judges in their own right. Denise Peters of Battle Creek Mich., was reporter, and our seasoned veteran of the woods, Bryan Wood of Pinckney, Mich., served as stake manager. These folks could not do their jobs without the steadfast help of all those who come to help.
This year the Beaverton Club hosted the event and coordinated efforts of its members and members of our other clubs to get the job done.
Grand National top honors were captured by Long Gone Buckwheat, handled by Dave Hughes and owned by Lloyd Murray (Long Gone Setters) of Stark, N. H. The handsome six-year-old tricolor setter male is out of Long Gone Daisey (2x Ch) by Long Gone Murphy (2x Futurity and classic winner, out of 2x Grouse Champion Long Gone George). Buckwheat, now a 3x champion, is truly bred from the best and has proven himself to be “the best” as well.
Buckwheat won the North American Woodcock Futurity in 2009 and the 37th International Amateur Woodcock Championship earlier this fall in New Brunswick. Handling Buck was this year’s “Cover Dog Handler of the Year”, Dave Hughes. As stake manager Bryan Wood announced this great win, and with it the gold grouse hat pin, a Garmin donated by Tri-Tronics and a certificate for dog food from Purina.
Buckwheat drew courses No. 13 and 14, in brace No. 4 on the first day of the trial. His race carried through and was not to be outdone. His bracemate Bad River Rutherford was handled by Tom Vanecek. Both dogs hit the ground with an out-front race. In the misty drizzle, scenting conditions were decent. Buckwheat was handling well, Rutherford showing a strong foot race. Both dogs moved through the first half, searching for the best cover. Course No. 13 has a nice beginning but the middle is pretty open and not conducive for holding birds. Reaching the turn onto course No. 14, both bells stopped in the scrub oak at 35. Both judges and handlers went in to search for their dogs as it appeared that they were in close proximity. Buckwheat was found standing intently. Dave flushed wide in hopes that a grouse would take flight. When he was unable to kick up a bird, he said, “The bird has to be closer to the dog and it’s probably a woodcock.” He moved in closer and flushed within eight feet of the dog’s nose and sure enough a big woodcock took flight. Buckwheat held through wing and shot. We met the other judge and scout as we left the area and they still had not located Rutherford.
Buckwheat cleared the open cut and through the pole timber, reaching for the good cover. Steadily working out front, diligently hunting, his bell came up silent again at 58. Here the leaves still clung to the scrub oak, making it harder to locate a dog. We found Buckwheat steady on point. Dave flushed, while Buckwheat stood tall and handsome. A big grouse flew, Buckwheat holding with good manners through the shot. Time had ended.
As we walked out the railroad bed to the birdfield, the gallery walked up another grouse. Rutherford finished but without bird work.
Runner-up was awarded to 3x champion, 2x runner-up Terhaar’s Rogue, owned and handled by Dave Terhaar of Allegan, Mich. Rogue staged a performance that was truly awesome. This flashy tricolor female is by The Insider ex Grouse Ridge Paris. She is no stranger to the podium as her accomplishments include: winner, Wisconsin Grouse Championship (at only 19 months, she was the youngest dog to ever win a cover dog championship); winner, Region 4 Grouse Championship; winner, Michigan Woodcock Championship; runner-up, Lake States Grouse Championship, and her now runner-up in Grand National Grouse Championship. Not to mention her early achievements: Michigan Puppy of the Year and Michigan Derby of the Year.
Dave was also awarded a silver pin and a certificate for Purina dog food.
Rogue ran in brace No. 9 on day No. 2 on courses No. 9-10. The temperature cooled down to 39° when we began, with a cool wind blowing.
Terhaar’s Rogue and bracemate Hi Desert Dream (S. Forman) took to the hill, diligently hunting the cover, Rogue moving with Dave, listening and showing when needed. At 5 Dream’s bell stopped to the left toward the top of the hill. The flushing attempt failed to produce a bird. Scott relocated her to no avail. Dream took off up over the hill, heading up front. When her bell was no longer detected, Scott went into the cover to see if he could locate her. The judge and I went on up the hill to circle around for a better vantage point. We got to the top of the hill and Judge Flanagan said he was going in and advised me to wait. After a time I chose to head to the front to catch up with the other handler. Rogue had continued working up front and by the end of course No. 9 no birds had been counted. Handler picked up Dream by the end of course No. 9.
Moving on to course No. 10 into the scrub oaks, Rogue started to get birdy, the sound of the bell indicative she was on to something. Dave called to her to “Go find it” and soon, at 41, her bell stopped. Moments after the judge and handler went in, a grouse blew out. Rogue was beautiful, high head and tail, good manners through it all. She moved forward, intensely working the cover, soon stopping at 49 under a pine tree, looking picture perfect. Dave’s flushing attempt produced another grouse. We crossed the road as Rogue continued to the front. At 57 Rogue’s bell was not detected. Dave sent his scout to take a look along the ridge. Soon, the scout yelled “Point!” Rogue was on the edge of the hardwoods standing tall and in perfect stance. Dave flushed and a grouse went right over Rogue’s head. She stood staunchly through wing and shot. We were at time, a third grouse find in her favor, a job well done.
The first morning dawned with an overcast sky and steady misty drizzle. The damp conditions definitely made it easier to hear.
Brace No. 1 commenced at 7:42 a. m. on courses No. 7-8. Judges and reporter were introduced, along with current brace marshals. Our judges noted that they were “looking for the stake to be run at a reasonable pace, this being a walking stake.”
Jetwood (Chaffee) and Full Blast (D. Hughes) drove out hard with a forward cast. Jetwood worked the edges, making a nice cast into the pine valley before the ravine. After crossing heart attack hill, he continued to work on the fringes. Full Blast carried himself nicely, was in hand as well at the ravine, and then up onto heart attack hill. Moving into the scrub oaks, his bell stopped at 21. Judge and handler went in but Full Blast moved on before they were able to locate him. Moving forward, Full Blast came to a stop at 32. Handler’s flush produced a grouse, Full Blast with a high head and tail and acceptable manners. At 42 Scott leashed Jetwood. At 52 the gallery heard a grouse take flight, Full Blast working farther out front. Full Blast pushed forward toward the road crossing, his bell stopping at 59. Handler flushed until time and chose to “take what he’s got,” leashing his dog.
The steady mist continued.
Chasehill Little Thudd (Hughes) and Nobody’s Shadow (Wheelock) started up the new cut on courses No. 9-10. This course was rerouted this year to include a new cut, now ready to be used. Both dogs worked the hill intensely out front. At the end of the cut both quickly stopped on the knob at the top of the hill, and just as quickly moved on. At 17 Shadow stopped in the scrub oak. Handler and judge moved in. No bird was produced and Shadow was moved on. Taking to the edges through the ravine at an enthusiastic pace, Shadow’s bell stopped again. Locating him at 47, the dog didn’t look sure so Bob immediately moved him on. Thudd, working forward after the road crossing, seemed to lose some focus. Dave called him on, working him through the cover. We heard a grouse go up to the left of the trail and shortly Thudd stopped to the right at 58. Judge and handler moved in, flushing to no avail. The brace ended with no creditable bird work. However, two grouse were seen at the beginning of the brace in the new cut, two more after we crossed the road and one at the end.
The misty drizzle continued.
Away on courses No. 11-12, Centerfold Sis (Holmes) and Fireside Drama Queen (Chaffee) blew to the front past the beaver pond and beyond. Both were hunting with purpose and intensity. At 8 Queen pointed in the hardwoods. She stood majestically with head and tail high; the wind was in her face. Scott flushed without luck. She then worked forward and locked up again at 11. When no bird was produced, she again was moved on, heading to the front. We hit the tote road, thinking both dogs had moved ahead of us. As it happened, we discovered Sis on point up on a hill just off the tote road. Queen was stopped short of where Sis was in the hardwoods, then moved closer, stopping again, backing. Harold went in to flush. Queen’s handler was not in attendance. Unable to produce a bird, he moved Sis on, Queen moving on as well. Ahead Sis’ bell stopped again. Judge and handler went in searching, thinking she was on the left. But she was still to the right of the tote road. The judge saw a bird go up, Sis circling when a second grouse blew out. Sis was up at 30. At 32 Queen stopped again, pointing stylishly. When flushing did not produce, Scott relocated her. When this also came up empty, Scott leashed her at 38.
Brace No. 4 was previously covered.
After lunch we moved to courses No. 1-2. Willow Woods Boone (Hughes) and Nelson’s Van Max (Chaffee) took to the field on a mission. Max was a bit racier and more out on the edge, with wider range and effort. He hunted the bottoms and stayed out at bell range most of the time. Boone laid out at a moderate pace and was a little closer working within view more often. Both dogs came into their handlers’ calls prior to the black forest, Max making a nice cast along the bottom as we moved through. Moving onto course No. 2 and up the hill, Max’s bell stopped at 37 atop the first cut. We went in to locate but he moved on before we were able to reach him. At 42 Boone’s bell stopped. Judge and handler found him on point looking a little loose; as they moved in to flush, a woodcock immediately flew, startling us. Boone took a marking hop, within acceptable range, and held while the shot was fired. Boone then moved on to stop again at 46, the flush carding a woodcock at 47 at the end of the second cut. His composure and style were not quite as nice as his first find. On ahead he stopped at 54, was relocated and stopped again at 57 looking downhill, hard left. Boone let up a bit and appeared unsure, being relocated again at 58 with no further bird work. Max continued to work the edges and finished without bird work. A woodcock was walked up at the end as we walked out to the road.
The drizzle continued on and off as we moved onto courses 3a-3b. Fricke N Coco (Ecker) and McRae’s Gypsie Belle blasted up the hill. Coco was out on the edge in and out of bell range. Gypsie, handling a little closer, made some nice casts prior to the ravine. Both dogs were rounded up in the scrub oaks at the end of 3a to move through the cutover to 3b. The weather was starting to get colder. Gypsie, when not pleasing her handler, was leashed at 40. We moved through to the end of 3b when Coco stopped at 55 to the left of the downhill end. Judges and handler located her at time, handler choosing to relocate. She stopped again to no avail, ending her bid. No birds noted this brace.
Courses No. 5-6. Dark was closing in and time was of the essence. Both Impact Player (M. Hughes) and Baxter’s Apache John (Peters) ran a high energized pace, hitting the ridges and valleys with purpose. “AJ” stopped at 10 but moved on before an effort to locate was realized. Neither dog let up until the end. The brace ended with no bird work.
Day No. 2 started clear, near 45° and slightly overcast.
Courses No. 7-8. Both Doodle Ridge Mia (Hughes) and Fernwood Cove’s Bella (Dahl) began moving nicely to the cover. Dave had Mia gathered up to cross heart attack hill, while Joe had a harder time getting Bella through the ravine. Back up front, she was snappy with a high tail. At 32 Mia stopped at the end of course No. 7; Dave moved her on when he was unable to produce a bird. At 52 we were nearing the road on course No. 8 when both bells went silent. We found both dogs in the aspen slashings on point. Judges and handlers went in and a grouse went up. Both handlers shot and both dogs held mannerly for a divided find. Mia stopped again at 57. Dave flushed, but no further bird work was produced.
Brace No. 9 was previously covered.
Temperature was starting to warm; back up to 46° at breakaway. Sutter’s Country Race (Hughes) and Springpond’s Shooting Star (Chaffee) were down on courses No. 11-12 after a short coffee break. Race headed toward the beaver pond, working the cover intently. At 16 we heard a grouse go, no dogs involved. Star was nice to watch, flashy with a high tail when she runs. She stopped a couple of times, neither occasion producing game. Scott leashed her after the second. Race ran a nice steady pace, finishing with no bird work.
Sutter’s Real McCoy (Hughes) and Chip’s A One Hundred (S. Forman) were down on courses No. 13-14. McCoy made a couple of nice casts at the start, then was gone. Dave departed at 20 to go find his dog. One Hundred began working nicely out front. Nothing of note for course No. 13. At 26 we just took the turn onto course No. 14 when One Hundred’s bell could not be detected. Scott sent in his scout who soon found him on point. The flushing attempt was unsuccessful and after a relocation the dog moved on. One Hundred stopped again at 45 in the scrub oak looking unsure. Scott chose to moved him on. When One Hundred was not showing his best form, his handler chose to take him up.
After lunch it continued to be overcast and the temperature holding.
Courses No. 1-2. Call Me Maggie (Merlington) and Wild Apple Faith (DeLong). At the line the two dogs looked at each other as if to say “game on”. At the breakaway both took off up and over the hill heading to the right. Faith came back first, while Maggie was working the bottom. Maggie was checking in at ample intervals, with her bell going in and out of range up through the course to the black forest. Craig was able to reel her in right before we turned into the black forest, only to notice she had tangled with a porcupine. Maggie was leashed at that time. Faith worked wide and out front, checking in at longer intervals. She checked in just before the black forest and was ahead as we crossed the bridge. A grouse blew out of the trees right at the end of the forest and before we crossed the bridge. Faith was with Ken as we crossed the tubes and ran up onto course No. 2. She stopped at 35 on the side hill in the first cut. Judge and handler went in to search her out. They found her and commenced to flush, Ken relocating her at 37. Faith moved on, her bell stopping again at 42. We found her just off the trail at the top of the hill as the cut bends. With no luck at the attempted flush, the dog was taken up.
The sun finally decided to show for the 13th brace on courses No. 3a-3b. Dew Sweeper (Hughes) and Ghost Train Cody (Fruchey), not taking kindly to each other at the beginning, decided to go their own way, checking the cover up the hill. Dew Sweeper stayed to the front and had a moderate race but ended with no birds. Cody, looking snappy while running, went in and out of bell range. He stopped a couple of times but moved on to work the cover. He also finished with no birds.
The final brace of the day on courses No. 5-6 was exciting and eventful. Straight Forward (Hughes) and Upper Cove Billie Babe (S. Forman) were on fire and moved through the cover handling well and forward. Both dogs stopped at 23 down in the edge of the swamp. Both handlers went in. Scott yelled “Bird”, a grouse took flight, Scott firing his gun. Dave shot directly after. Scott moved to release his dog, as did Dave. When Dave approached Forward another grouse blew up. The decision was a divided find with both dogs mannerly. Both dogs were moved on and as we continued to move through the swampy area Forward stopped again at 30. Billie’s bell had also gone silent. We found Straight Forward on point with Billie backing. Dave flushed but no bird was produced and so he tapped Forward on. As Scott grabbed Billie to move her on Forward stopped again. Dave asked Scott to hold Billie as to not interfere because of the close proximity. A grouse took flight and Dave’s shot echoed. Both dogs were released to move forward. Forward carded the find, Billie a nice back. Still working hard toward the end of course No. 5, Forward’s bell stopped again. The scout was sent in, the dog located at 40 down a steep hill close to the trout stream. Looking staunch on her point under a pine tree, Dave attempted to flush, but came up empty and Forward was moved on. At the same time Billie moved on ahead going on point in the cut on the side hill of course No. 2. She stood with her tail poker straight while Scott flushed. Up came a pair of grouse, her manners and stance without fault. Scott moved forward on course No. 6, while Forward came through the tubes, headed to the front. As we were catching up we heard the shout “up front”. At 52 as Dave moved to catch up Forward stopped out on that long ridge on the first part of course No. 6. With the cover down you could see the whole ridge and valley. The judge called for Mark to handle the dog but looked back to see that Dave was near so decided to wait for him. Dave caught up to his dog and moved in to flush, a woodcock taking flight as a result. Again Forward stood with good manners all through. Both dogs finished the way they started, with energy to burn. This brace would definitely be talked about.
Day No. 3 was not so nice. We woke to rain and temperatures in the low 40s. Drizzle persisted through the entire morning, letting up as the day wore on.
Brace No. 15 got started a little sooner today at 7:37. With the cold and rain we didn’t want the day to go long and end in the dark. As we began on courses No. 7-8, we had the Liz/Liz show with Snyder’s Liz (Chaffee) and Ghost Train Liz (Fruchey). The gallery witnessed two grouse in the air soon after the beginning, then a couple more just before we went down into the ravine at heart attack hill. At 21 the gallery experienced yet another grouse moving out. Both dogs worked the cover away from the trail and made a valiant effort. Neither was an easy handle and both were up at 33.
Course No. 9-10. Long Gone Studley (Hughes) and Shady Hills Billie Too (M. Forman) began hunting the cover with much resolve up the first cut. When we reached the scrub oaks at the end of course No. 9 Marc could no longer detect Billie’s bell. We searched all along the area that paralleled the road but were unable to locate him. Dave thought his dog had stopped as well and began to search. Soon after Studley’s bell was detected and they moved forward. We were still searching for Billie when at 28 a grouse was heard taking flight across the trail. After a thorough search of the area for Billie, his bell started up. Marc was able to round up Billie and take him up at the half. Dave moved on with Studley which was working the cover forward. When he wasn’t listening as Dave would have liked he chose to pick him up when we got to the road crossing at 45.
Jaike (Hughes) and Quail Trap Max (Chaffee) went to the line on courses No. 11-12. Both dogs had a moderate start checking the cover along the side of the beaver pond. Jaike’s bell went silent at 22, Dave sending his scout in to look. Soon his bell started up and the scout called for Dave to “call him up”. Max got a little sticky around the tote road and Scott was working to get him forward at 33. Jaike continued to work the cover forward, coming to a point at 38. A grouse was flushed, Jaike standing with good manners through the wing and shot. Max stopped at 45, the flush nor a relocation producing a birds. Max moved a little further forward and stopped again. After another relocation, unable to produce game, Max was on the hook. Jaike was working the cover on the last leg of course No. 12 when at 52 he was found on point. A grouse was flushed, Jaike standing with a sound stance, all in order. He stopped again at 56 but was unable to produce a bird. Jaike was moved on, the brace ending with no further bird work.
Upper Amonoosuc Sadie (Ecker) and Chip’s Charlie Brown (S. Forman) drew courses No. 13-14 and ranged well at the beginning. Sadie came to a stop just off the trail to the left at 6 and was almost passed by as her dark black and white ticking blended well with the terrain. Robert moved in to flush and a grouse immediately took flight. Sadie held well for the shot. A second grouse was walked up shortly after, flying majestically out front. At the gate Scott had Charlie in hand, while Robert was working to gather Sadie into the turn. Sadie was handling nicely through the middle and Charlie had a couple of stops and starts. At 52 Charlie was working the scrub oaks at the end of 14 and came to a halt. No game was realized, the brace over with no further bird work.
We broke for lunch, the judges and reporter drying some of their gear and getting dry gear on for the afternoon. We had gained some time in the morning due to early pickups and were a little early for lunch.
With renewed spirit the trial picked back up on courses No. 1-2. Terhaar’s Daisey (Terhaar) and Thunderhills Ghost Rider (Hughes) worked through the pine bottoms and continued scouring the cover. Daisey’s bell went silent at 16, Dave sending his scout in to take a look. When the scout came back out reporting that the bell was moving south, judge and handler went in deeper for another attempt. The dog was not recovered in time, her handler picking her up. The judge noted sighting at least 10 grouse in the vicinity while on that search deep in the pines. Rider continued on, bagging a woodcock at 43 at the top of the hill on course No. 2. Soon after Rider stopped in that blowdown over the top of the hill. The handler flushed but could not put a bird in the air. Rider was picked up shortly after, not pleasing his handler.
The temperature was dropping and the winds came up, making it colder. Courses 3a-3b had been pretty dry this stake and today proved the same. Jar’s Way Shirley (Hughes) and River’s Edge Sadie (M. Forman) started with some nice swings into the cover early. Shirley applied herself well throughout, with Sadie looking good on her run. At 55 both dogs stopped in the cut at the end of 3b. Shirley was backing Sadie, while Scott attempted to flush. Sadie was relocated, while Shirley was pulled out and moved on. Sadie finished without bird work. Shirley ended with good a effort, but no birds.
Lucky Luke Star (Ecker) and Bloom’s Ole Dollar were down on courses No. 5-6. They both hunted down in the bottom of the swamp and out to the road. Dollar crossed the road and stopped in the cut to the left. We walked down the road to get a better vantage point. Dollar was found standing, posed up nicely. Lance went in with the judge and flushed a fat woodcock into the sky, Dollar with good manners throughout. Both dogs moved on toward the tubes. Star, her behavior not pleasing handler, was leashed at the half. At 42 Dollar stopped again over the hill. We thought she was just shy of the road. Actually she had crossed the road up into the cut on the side hill of course No. 2. Before we were able to get over there she had moved on up the hill. She stopped again up there in the briar slashings. We had a tough time finding her in those little dips and valleys. She was on point but didn’t look sure so Lance immediately moved her on. She went about 10 yards straight up a hard incline and had a stop to flush on a grouse. She stood tight until released. Dollar finished well but with no further bird work. Judges also noted that two more grouse were walked up at the end of the last cut on No. 6.
Day No. 4. Driving to the grounds we saw a full moon and snow coming down. At the start of the 22nd brace it was 30° with a dusting of snow on the ground. It was slightly overcast with the sun trying to peak out. It was downright cold. Phillips Half Moon (M. Hughes) got a little sticky in the first cut, putting some pressure on Mark to get her back up front. Spitfire (Spotts) worked out front in and out of bell range. Both dogs were available at heart attack hill. Spitfire’s bell went missing. Mike sent his scout in at 24 and her bell was then heard up front at 25. Everyone moved on. Just a ways up the course, both bells were lost. Mark went in with his judge to search for Moon, while Mike and his judge moved in to look for Spitfire. Both dogs were soon located, in the same vicinity but not together. We located Moon at 31. Moon was unsure so Mark chose to relocate. She moved out and continued scouring the area. I stood where I was at that point so as not to interfere, and was out of sight of the dog, handler and judge. Moon stopped again at 33, a shot fired soon after. Moon scoring a grouse in her favor, all in good order. Meanwhile, Mike was flushing for Spitfire. He was unable to put up a bird and decided to relocate. Spitfire continued to work the cover, while Mike and his judge looked on. When it didn’t look like Spitfire was going to stop again, judge and handler started to work their way out, moving a grouse behind where Spitfire had originally been pointing. We were close to the half when Mike chose to take her up. Moon continued on through course No. 8. She moved in and out of the cover, working forward. Before the road crossing Moon’s bell went missing. Mark sent in a scout, down into the valley to the left of the course. We soon heard “Point”. Mark and the judge went in and flushed for the dog. Nothing came of it so they moved her on. Moon finished with no further bird work.
Suemac’s Coventry (Hughes) was down as a bye when Rockland Ridge McGraw (Ecker) was scratched. We were unable to move up the bye dog since Coventry was drawn in season. Off to a good start, she worked the cover up the first cut of course No. 9. She was handling well and looking good. We hit the tote road while Coventry worked to the left of the course by the orange gate. At 18 a pair of grouse flew, with Coventry too far under them, the game over.
By this time the sun was out and clouds dotted the sky. It was warmer when you had a chance to get into the sun. Moving on to courses No. 11-12, Rowling’s Nike (Rowling) and Quail Trap Sadie (Chaffee) hunted the cover around the beaver pond and forward. Nike made a quick stop but while Chuck sent the scout in the bell was heard moving. Sadie made some nice swings and also went silent a couple of times, and as the scout was considered the bell was back in range. It was dryer today and with the leaves and slight wind it was sometimes hard to hear the bells. At the first tote road crossing Sadie’s bell was missing. Scott had Tammy go in as we continued up the trail. Nike moved ahead, while Scott continued to search for Sadie, creating a bit of distance between the handlers. Sadie’s bell was eventually heard again up toward the front. At 35 just as we turned off the tote rode down into the woods Nike’s bell went silent. Judge and handler searched a likely spot but couldn’t find Nike. Soon they heard her moving forward. Nike continued to handle well and at 55 judge and handler found her on point with the bird pinned about 10 feet off her nose. She stood with a superb stance, tail poker straight and head high. At the flush a big grouse flew about a foot over her head. A little more than this young dog could handle as she took some steps and fell out of contention. We were at the end of course No. 12 when Sadie’s bell again went missing. During an extensive search for her a grouse went up, but Sadie was not found. At time we heard her bell pick up again.
Kendal Hills Foxfire (Hughes) and Herbie’s Asta La Vista (S. Forman) were on courses No. 13-14. Asta worked the cover well as she moved forward. At 31 Asta went on point. The flush was unsuccessful so Scott relocated her, to no avail. At 36 both dogs stopped, Asta backing Foxfire. The flush came up empty; both dogs were moved on. Asta was a little more visible than her bracemate, finishing with no bird work. Foxfire turned out to be a bit harder to handle, but cracking with energy when we saw her.
After lunch on courses No. 1-2, Rocky Point Lily (Hughes) and Backwoods Bankruptcy (Chaffee). Bankruptcy was nice going and pleasing to watch, starting and finishing with a decent handle, but no birds. Lilly applied herself well, standing on point at the end of course No. 2. With nothing produced, she finished with a respectable race.
Courses No. 3a-3b had been dry this week, but Hunter’s Pale Face (Bressler) and McRae’s Ezekiel (McRae) were hoping to change the luck. Both dogs started enthusiastically up the hill, checking the cover as they worked forward. At 23 Pale Face pointed in the middle of the trail. Zeke came around and stopped to back. Lance flushed and a grouse took flight. Both dogs stood with acceptable manners throughout. All moved on through the cut over to course 3b. Through the cutover we heard a bird get up over to the right of the trail, cutting the corner to find Pale Face again on point. Lance flushed but was not able to produce. Pale Face was relocated but nothing came of it. Both dogs worked their way to the front. Pale Face was a steady handle and pleasing to watch to the finish. Zeke finished with some nice moves and handled well, but no birds.
The temperatures were cooling for the last brace of the day. My Cousin Vinnie (Hughes) and Texas Black Pepper (Ecker) were off to an excellent start as they both worked the cedar bottom to the left of the course on No. 5. Vinnie stopped hard at 2 in the cedar bottom. The flush was unsuccessful so Dave moved him on. Within minutes Vinnie was on point again, Pepper backing, both dogs intent. After an unsuccessful flush Dave took his dog up and Robert moved Pepper on down and across the road. Pepper went to the left and moved quickly through the cover. Robert lost his bell and called the judge in to search. Soon after we heard his bell up front so all moved forward. Pepper hunted with intent through the bottoms and cuts to the end of course No. 5. Pulling through onto course No. 6, he finished with no birds.
The final day greeted us with snow covering the ground and snow continuing to come down. The snow made it especially difficult to locate white dogs in the woods. Breakaway was at 7:44.
Islander (Ecker) was running big and covering the ground thoroughly. Centerfold Bette (Holmes) gave it her best, checking in at likely intervals. She got a little sticky a couple of times but moved forward for her handler. Islander’s bell stopped at 15 just short of the ravine. We went in search but before we found him we heard his bell moving. That walk through the hardwoods showed me a cut I had never seen before. Gave me a new understanding of the dogs that get sticky in that spot often. Islander came to a stop on the path right before the road. Robert flushed but was unable to connect. Judges noted that a bird went up prior to the down slope to heart attack hill and we all heard another go up at 59, no dogs involved. Both finished but with no countable bird work this brace.
Brace No. 30 set off on courses No. 9-10, the snow continuing to fall. Meredith’s El Deguello (Chaffee) made a couple of quick stops as he moved forward. Pouncey’s (M. Hughes) bell went silent at 18, judge and handler both searching the ridge. As coincidence would have it we walked up Pouncey just over the top of the hill at 22. Handler came up over the hill, face to face with his dog, as the judge and I stood watching. As Mark approached his dog from the front, Pouncey chose that moment to move on. Pouncey was ordered up. While we were in search for Pouncey, we heard Scott’s gun sound off at 20. Deguello’s bell stopped and started. We caught up to find Deguello leashed at the half.
Fire A Way (M. Hughes) and Glenrae’s Mr. Finnigan (A. Naus) were down on courses No. 11-12. An easy pace was set by Fin, while Fire A Way moved out to the edges. At 17 Mark sent a scout in to search for Fire A Way. We separated at 24 while Mark was still trying to locate Fire A Way. The judge later caught up to say Mark pulled up to go find his dog. Fin went on a hard point by a blowdown log. He stood intent while Ann attempted her flush. Immediately a grouse went up, Ann firing her gun. As she approached Fin, still holding, a second grouse went up. Continuing her approach to Fin to move him on, another big grouse went up. All in order. What a pretty piece of bird work. Fin steadily moved forward. Fin took a foray off to the right of the tote road as we began the hard left turn. She whistled him on in and moved forward. At 47 Fin stopped at another blowdown. The dog stood intent while Ann flushed. Two grouse took flight, Fin holding through the wing and shot. He was a little restless as she tried to reach him to release but held on, finishing with some good bird work.
We moved on to courses No. 13-14 where Pepper Jack Wood (Bodo) and Upper Cove Desert Devil (M. Forman) met on the line. Both dogs moved out quickly and made some nice casts out to the forward edges, both dogs in hand at the orange gate. At 25 we could not hear Grumpy’s bell (Desert Devil). We were just making the turn onto No. 14 and as we came around the corner Grumpy was standing tight on the trail. Marc flushed, but to no avail. Everyone moved forward toward the scrub oaks. At one point no bells could be heard, but as we listened both bells came in range and the dogs were forward. Both dogs finished, no bird work carded.
We removed for lunch and then back out for the final brace. Moss Meadow Traveler (Chaffee), the bye, hunted the bottoms, out on the edge. We made it to the black forest, with Trav still working out on the edge. Moving to course No. 2, Trav stopped up on the hill to the left. Scott, unable to produce a bird, relocated him. Trav was leashed at 33 at his handlers’ discretion. Everyone removed to the Alibi for the announcements.
Meredith, Mich., November 4
Judges: Peter Flanagan and Kelly Shepherd
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] —
8 Pointers and 57 Setters
Winner—LONG GONE BUCKWHEAT, 1603915, setter male, by Long Gone Murphy—Long Gone Daisey. Lloyd Murray, owner; Dave Hughes, handler.
Runner-Up—TERHAAR’S ROGUE, 1614696, setter female, by The Insider—Grouse Ridge Paris. Dave Terhaar, owner and handler