Current Report

74th Grand National Grouse Championship

Daddy’s Little Butch Boy named Champion, Double Deuce Molly, Runner-Up

By David A. Fletcher

The 74th running of the Grand National Grouse Championship featured outstanding performances by the New Champion Daddy’s Little Butch Boy pointer male, owned by Paul Scot of Manchester, Ct., handled by John Stolgitis, and Runner-Up Double Deuce Molly pointer female owned by Doug McMillen of Dubois, Pa., handled by Dave Hughes. Both were outstanding in their search for Ruffed Grouse, and handled these somewhat touchy Ruffed Grouse with great style and manners. A full description of the performance and  background information of these remarkable dogs is given in the Winners and Others portion  of this report.  

The Grand National has a long history, 74 years of Championship stakes, and was staged this season at the Kilkenny Region of the White Mountain National Forest just west of Berlin, N.H. Hosted by the Northern New Hampshire Bird Dog Club, the Championship was blessed by a sizeable entry, 72 dogs – 48 Setters, 22 Pointers and 2 Irish Setters. Starting on Tuesday, November 1 the completion came Sunday November 7. Grouse were not as plentiful this season, yet there were ample birds on the six one- hour courses to host a Championship and Grouse were seen on every course. Many of the locals related that the hatch was not quite as good this spring as it is normally.       

Trials on Ruffed Grouse got their start at Carmichaels, Pa. in 1913. Herbert H. Cahoon and his associates staged a trial exclusively on native Ruffed Grouse which many of his contemporaries believed could not be done. The trial was a success, and Grouse trials and Grouse Championships became part of the field trial scene. The Grand National Grouse Championship club was formed at a meeting August 23, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio  and the first Championship was held at Black Forest, Slate Run, Pa., October 27th., that year, featuring one-hour heats and two-hour finals. The winner was Caviar, pointer male owned by C.R Barton and  John S. Applegate, handled by the latter. As this new Championship Club went forward,  three regions were formed, Lake States, Middle Atlantic and North East. and the event was rotated each year if that region had proper grounds and sufficient birds to host the premier event. All three regions hosted the Grand in the early years, Mid Atlantic in the 1970’s having to yield to the Lake States Region for nearly a decade while their Marienville grounds Grouse populations came back from low numbers. The Northeast Region did not have suitable grounds with birds for many years and passed their turn in hosting to the other two regions. In  1959 The Grand was held in Mass.,  Frank Foss they key man in locating the Championship there. Later for a period of seven years the Championship was staged at Pharsalia, N.Y. I reported the 1970 Championship there which Grouse Ridge Will won handled by owner Dr. Tom Flanagan, and in the Lost Pond Clubhouse that evening the legendary Luther Smith was presented his Field Trial Hall of Fame scroll. The Northeast Region did not again host the Grand National until 1998. In the early nineties prominent northeast trialers began to run their dogs in the Grand and the Invitational at the Gladwin and Marienville venues, and realized they had similar grounds with native Grouse and could bring the Championship to the Northeast Region successfully. A committee was formed including Lloyd Murray, Tony Bly, Craig Doherty, Bob Lang, Jim Kennedy and Paul Merschke, and others, and they petitioned the National Forest Service for a special use permit in 1993.  In 1994 the Northern New Hampshire Bird Dog Club hosted the one-hour Kilkenny Classic, applied for, and received the 1995 National Amateur Grouse Championship and hosted it again in 1997. Kelli Short brought in that era the Northern New England Woodcock Championship to Kilkenny several years when her Frytburg, Maine grounds had difficulties. Since 1998, the Kilkenny grounds have hosted the Grand National every third year, and the future looks secure for this venue.

Events this season began Sunday evening at the Chalet with the Futurity party, then Monday evening the Grand National Purina Banquet, consisting of  prime rib and all the trimmings, and presentation of Purina’s William Harnden Foster Cover Dog Awards. Purina’s Dean Reinke presided. Cover Dog handler of the year was John Stolgitis of Ashaway, R.I. The Cover Dog Shooting Dog of the year Award was won by  Grousehill Bell, owned by John Cappoci, and handled by John Stolgitis. The Cover Dog Derby of the year was won by Long Gone Mersadies, owned by Lloyd Murray, handled by Dave and Mark Hughes, Lloyd Murray and Mike Spotts.  The Seminatore and Flanagan Awards followed with Lloyd Murray’s Mersaides capturing the Flanagan and Straight Forward, owned by Richard Brenneman and Bob Watts took the Seminatore. Both were handled by Dave Hughes.  More presentations followed. Each year the region hosting the Grand selects dogs or persons  for the “legends of the cover dog world” plaques which are presented here and a second copy hangs in the Grand National display at the Bird Dog museum in Grand Junction, Tn. This years’ selections were Dr. Tom Flanagan, Grouse Ridge John and Beaver Meadow Benjamin.

Also on Monday evening at the Chalet The Northern New Hampshire Bird Dog Club hosted a retirement and celebration party for Dave Fletcher, elected this year to the Field Trial Hall of Fame, at Grand Junction, Tn. Dave,  after 27 years of service as Secretary/Treasurer of the Grand and approaching his mid eighties announced last season he would like to retire in 2016.  The club brought in  wonderful lady comedian “Henrietta”. Her presentation  had all 50  plus in attendance dangerously close to falling from our chairs with almost uncontrollable laughter, and her skits took on an atmosphere more like a “roast” than anything else. It was an enjoyable session.

A host of trial people worked hard for a week to put this huge event on, starting with the stake managers, Joe Dahl, Tony Bly and Lloyd Murray They rotated, walking the braces as marshals, making sure vehicles got moved up to the end of the courses and not left behind at the start. Many others pitched in to help. The flow of the braces was remarkably well done. Lloyd Murray arranged almost everything connected to the event, the Monday night Purina Banquet at his White Mountain Chalet, the award presentations, the Prime Rib feast. He also, with his team laid out the courses, secured the use of the “White House”, on the grounds at the fish hatchery for noontime lunches where his White Mountain Chalet manager Shelly Beaudette created  great hot lunches each day. Michelle Cyr of the Eastern Depot Restaurant in north Berlin served judges, reporter/secretary great breakfasts every morning, at 6 a.m. after our stop at Dunkin Donuts for the coffee and donuts served on the grounds at the mid morning break.

The Grand National Grouse Championship  and in fact all operating Grouse Dog Clubs owe a great debt of gratitude for the financial support, awards, banners, and product put forth by Nestle-Purina. The attendance of Purina’s Dean Reinke is a great benefit to the Grand National and the hosting club.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the Chalet, the Grand National General Membership and Board of Directors Meetings were held. At the General Membership meeting reports were given by the secretaries along with financial reports of bank balances, investment accounts and profit or loss statements from the 2015 GNG trials. Eight new members were proposed by sponsors and two re-instated. Several motions came to the floor, one to revise the bylaws which stated a handler was not obliged to run more than two braces in a row, and retirement of the Grouse Bowl after having been won by the same owner three times. The latter motion was resolved, the former to be brought to the Board next year for a vote. Several Director’s terms were expiring. The nominating committee consisting of Joe Dahl, Craig Merlington  and Joe Cammisa  recommended the following Directors be re-nominated, Roger Johnson, Tom Fruchey, Lloyd Murray and John Stolgitis. John Stolgitis respectfully declined the re-nomination, and Robert Lang was chosen to fill the vacancy. At the Board of Directors meeting Wednesday, all the newly proposed or re-instated members were approved. Dates for the 2017 events were set, the Stolgitis motion to remove the bylaws wording that no handler was obliged to run more than two braces in a row was to be studied and voted on by the Board next year. Robert Lang who had been appointed to fill the John Stolgitis vacancy on the Board also declined and Tony Bly was nominated to fill that position. The replacement of retiring Secretary/Treasurer Fletcher had two nominees, Tom Fruchey and Larry Sutter. A paper ballot vote was taken with Tom Fruchey the winner. The move of Director Fruchey created a Director’s vacancy in the Lake States Region and Rich Hollister was nominated to serve until his confirmation of the position next year. Secretary George Johnson of the Puppy Classic, Futurity and the Invitational resigned his duties with the Futurity. Thor Kain was nominated and elected to the position. A the incumbent officers not retiring were re-nominated.

Judges for the 74th running of the Grand National were Thor Kain of Carbondale, Pa. and Craig Merlington of Cedar Springs, Mi. The  first compliment to their effort would have to be for their strength and determination to walk six full days in the woods, up and down the hills, over the boulders and dodging the deadfalls to do their job. What an endurance challenge this is for a pair of judges. They came through with flying colors. Both are very well qualified to judge this historic Championship. Both hunt birds, train and campaign their own dogs and they have both won Championship handling their own dogs and have judged multiple championships on the Grouse Dog and horseback circuits. Conferring with both of them each morning over breakfast for my report and in the evenings at dinner I soon learned they were looking for the exceptional in performance not the ordinary.       

The Winners and Others

In today’s world of Grouse Dog Championships almost every dog turned loose to hunt is blessed with a pleasing gait, a wealth of strength and  stamina, very pleasant to the eye in motion, and style and intensity standing on point. It is the exceptional dogs judges look for in the final analysis. Judges Thor Kain and Craig Merlington who walked for six days to make their choices from the field of 72 starters related all their effort was worth it in finding the two exceptional dogs they named. The winner Daddy’s Little Boy Butch, pointer male, who will be three in January  had a rich supply of the basics. He was strong afoot, going to the good looking places every minute. He displayed all the running style and pointing style imaginable and hunted the complete hour, start to finish with great energy and determination to find a Grouse. His outstanding feature was his determination to hunt, dig into the heavy coverts, the deadfalls, and the extremely thick places and he was successful in finding and handling superbly two Grouse individually. His keynote was his utter determination to look for birds despite what treacherous cover might get in his path. On one occasion, Butch collided with a tree which caused him to somersault. He got up as if nothing happened and went on his way with the same fervor. He really hunted with a reckless abandon putting  himself in harms way to find and point a Grouse.  Bred by his handler John Stolgitis, Butch’s sire is Chasehill Little Bud and the bloodline go back to John’s great Beaver Meadow Benjamin, a  remarkable winner and producer. Butch has many placements in his young career, notable are a win of the National Grouse Derby Classic as a puppy and he won the US Complete Northeast Regional Championship as a Derby. Both his sire and Grandsire have Runner-Up title in the Grand National Grouse Championship.

Runner-Up, Double Deuce Molly, pointer female owned and bred by Doug McMillen of Butler, Pa. was handled by Dave Hughes. Molly was sired by Cover Charge, a son of Beaver Meadow Benjamin. Benjamin was the grandsire of both Champion and Runner-Up in this edition of the Grand National. Molly’s assets were a superb Grouse find…as good as they get and she displayed the smoothest handling of any woods dog you could imagine. Her bond with handler Hughes was a sight to witness. Molly added to her appeal near time when she was sent across a road where she finished the hour with some remarkable moves. Molly won the Mid States Championship last spring, was Runner-Up in Region 4 Amateur Championship and now has added Runner-Up in the Grand National Grouse Championship of 2016,     

Other dogs in contention for this important Grouse Championship were Shady Hills Colt, pointer male owned by Shady Hills Kennel, handled by Marc Forman. Colt had two great Grouse finds and an unproductive near time. Ponderosa Mac, Setter male owned by Steven Snyder of Ellentown, MN., handled by Scott Chaffee had two flawless Grouse finds, and an honest hour of Grouse hunting. Also a contender was Hershner’s Grouse Gunner, Setter male, owned by Scott  Hershner of Bellville, Ohio, also  handled by Scott Chaffee. Gunner had a single Grouse find of great quality but had a tough uphill course on which to show his wares.   

The Running

The Grand National Championship started on its’ traditional date, the first Tuesday in November, mostly cloudy skies, some sunny intervals,  coolish morning braces,  warming to the fifties after the luncheon.

Dew Sweeper(Hughes)-Paucek’s Tomahawk(Short). Both went hunting with a lot of energy from the breakaway. They were attractive in motion and hit the front of course every minute. As time went on both efforts moderated both in pace, and the scope of the search. No birds this first brace.

Fire Away(Hughes)-River’s Edge Bailey(Forman). Mark Hughes sent the former away. a bit of a slow start, the pattern improving as we went along. Fire Away pointed at 28, looked to be sitting down, but a closer inspection revealed his hind quarters were in a hole. He had a very erect tail, looked sure, but nothing could be flushed, or relocated. Bailey did not put forth a wide, hard charging effort this time down, pointing at 37 but was whistled on by handler.   

Upper Cove Billy Babe(Forman)-Merhe’s Gypsie Belle(McRae). Babe was very classy in motion, maintained a good hunting speed and showed plenty of desire to find birds. She dug in the sides of course in her search, getting lateral and at times was forced to catch up from behind. Babe was birdless. McRae let Belle reach as deeply as she wanted to, doing that with gusto. She was wide, gone several intervals, but always made it back under judgment. No birds for Belle, but two Grouse wild flushed during the hour, the first birds seen thus far.

Full Blast(Hughes)-Sunrise Star(Ecker). The former won this Championship last year. Owners Brenneman and Watts walked the brace. Full Blast had lots of eye appeal, but was not without a few slower moments. His finishing cast was huge, and handler worked hard to get him back. He finished under judgement. Handler Ecker was able to send Star anywhere on the course he wanted him to search. He ran hard and searched purposefully. Neither dog found game for the hour. A wild Grouse flush came at 50 minutes.

Wayward Flying Tomato(Hughes)-Stokely’s Frankie B(Bly). Handled by owner Tony Bly, Frankie logged a pair of unproductives for the hour. He was large in stature, powerful and attractive in motion or standing on point. Flying Tomato owned by Anne Hughes was fleet afoot nicely gaited but looped a bit in  pattern, possibly moments of immaturity showing.

Wild Apple Calvados(Doherty)-Grouse Hill Pepper Ann(Forman) Apple went deep in the course early in the hour, scouted, but it was Doherty’ whistle that brought her along. Judge Kain heard Apple’s bell stop in river bottom alders at 21 and she had a Woodcock nicely. Ann was a treat to the eye moving, made some big moves and finished strong, all without a bird. Both dogs ended the hour going hard. Six wild flushing Grouse were moved this brace.

Wednesday was again overcast and coolish to begin the initial brace. It warmed to the fifties after the luncheon break.

Jar Way Shirley(Hughes)-Fernwood Cove’s Bella(Dahl). Despite a bit of a slow start, Shirley upped her effort as the hour went on, and turned in some fine hunting. Her tail was high and cracking and her gait very smooth. By half time Shirley was wide and scouted but was back without delay, a birdless hour. Bella had a spectacular initial 30 minutes, great eye appeal and strong forward hunting, birdless for the hour. Wild flushes of Grouse, mostly out of trees occurred at 32, 35, 42 and 46 minutes,

Double Deuce Dexter(Hughes)-Islander(Ecker). Dexter hunted laterally to begin, but was directed ahead nicely by handler’s whistle. His bell stopped at 54.  Judge Merlington and handler walked in to find the dog standing. At that moment a Grouse came up on the perimeter, difficult to determine the exact location.  Handler was instructed to shoot and was credited with a Grouse find. Islander was moderate in his search this time down, however some of his casts were deep, always to likely places. He looked good moving and finished the hour still hitting the cover.

Celtic’s Signature(Ecker)-Out of the Shadows(Wheelock). The former, an Irish Setter seemed out of sorts this time down. From the breakaway she trailed bracemate an interval, not her normal way of doing things, and she was leashed early. Shadow was speedy of gait, attractive to the eye and his actions assured you he was hunting hard for birds. At times he hunted very thoroughly, slowing his course progression. No birds for either dog

Grouse Ridge Darla(Hughes)-Chip’s Peppachina(Forman). Darla took a few minutes warming to her task. Peppa was the opposite, very strong footwork, rapid of pace and always forward. Darla pointed at 19, tall and sure, but the flush attempt and relocation were without results. Darla pointed again at 12 but moved ahead on her own. Peppa, in the latter moments was deep, down in a valley, handler struggling to get her back in touch. No birds this hour.

Paramachine Slight(Chaffee)-Woodcock Haven Stella(Ogilvie). Slight went away strongly, but had some closer moments later, perhaps immaturity on display from the youngster. Slight was blessed with a great tail and gait in motion. Stella went deeply on the breakaway, judges only able to keep track by the sound of her bell. Very seldom in the hour could she be called “handy” but she did display a great rapport with her handler, and never gave him a moments trouble in the handling department. No Grouse seen this hour.

Ponderosa Mac(Chaffee)-Shadyhill Colt(Forman). Both went away hard, lots of tail style and the athleticism of both was plainly visible.  At 26 point was called, both dogs standing stylishly. They were near each other, but not facing each other. Two Grouse were flushed and one could say each dog was focused on “their bird”. Mac had a second find at 30, standing nicely on a hillside. A Grouse was flushed right in front to this pretty stand. Colt, in the meanwhile hunted forwardly, came around regularly, and logged a second find where handler flushed a pair of Grouse, stylish and mannerly work. Colt pointed again at 58, and after a brief flush attempt handler sent the dog on without a relocation attempt.

Thursday was again cold and overcast, with a steady rain most of the day. It was certainly not a pleasant or warm day to be in the woods.                          

Herbie’s Asta La Vista(Forman)-Uptown Girl(Hughes). The former went deeply ahead from the breakaway. Attractive as she went, she logged an unproductive at 30. She stood again at 55 not as stylish on point as her earlier stand, situated in alders along a river bottom in the chilling rain. One Grouse flew well out, and another came up practically under her nose. All nicely done. Girl hunted hard, worked well ahead, and handled. She had an unproductive at 20 and a nice back of bracemate at 55. Both were still hunting hard as the pickup order came.

Sutter’s Back Country Race(Hughes)-Chasehill Little Thud(Stolgitis). Both went away well, Race establishing a pattern of moderate range, but went to good places and kept touch with handler at the end of her casts. The noise of a steady rain hindered hearing a bell. At 50 minutes Race skidded to a stop as four Grouse took wing, perhaps her momentum contributing to the flush of the Grouse and she was leashed. Little Thud was a great dog to watch, where he went and how he went would make you want to watch him all day. He was gone several intervals but always handled back,  all his efforts without results.

Caird’s Little Macy Mae(Little)-Nobody’s Shadow(Wheelock).  At this level of competition very few dogs have little style moving or are without a high tail in motion. This pair had plenty of each. Mae hunted good looking places, stopping often to maintain rapport with her handler Shadow had a pretty Woodcock find at 5 with a very high, arched tail. After this find Shadow had intervals deeply on course, a bit out of touch, but he always got back in good time. No bird for Mae and only the Woodcock for Shadow.

Suemac’s Coventry(Hughes)-Miss Pennstar(Ecker). A pleasant day to be hunting in the woods. Both dogs seemed to think so too. Sue went deep at times, gone was the tinkle of the bell, but she handled back and seemed to know just when to show her whereabouts to the judges. Something was not right with Miss Pennstar this time down, and she was leashed early in the hour.

Attitude’s True Grit(Ecker)-Backstop Rudy(Hughes). They raced ahead, well up front quickly from the breakaway. At the first course turn to the right, Grit went left, and was gone an interval. A good effort from handler got Grit back. At 12 minutes neither dog could be located and Ecker called for the tracking caller and went back looking. Hughes continued on course. Moments later a faint call of point from behind was heard, where handler Ecker had found both dogs on point. Grit was backing Rudy. Nothing was produced. The brace was uneventful until the hour expired.

Highpoint Left Turn(Chaffee)-Grousehill Bell(Stolgitis).They made a good start. At 10 minutes Left Turn’s bell went silent. Scout Tammy Chaffee went out, momentarily telling husband Scott that she had heard it deep, prompting handler to walk in looking. Left Turn was found standing on a remarkably stylish point. Handler flushed nothing and on relocation a Grouse took wing. There was no chase to this flush nor was there a stop. Left Turn was taken up. Bell made a tremendous start,  giving all she had to the search. She pointed at 19, nothing flushed, and handler did not try the relocation, simply releasing her to go on hunting. At 14 Bell had a superb Woodcock find. Her tail was not high, but it was wedged under a tree branch. She hunted bottomland along the river the next 15 minutes. At 33 she pointed in alders. On the way to her a Grouse flew a bit out from her strand and handler fired. At the shot a Woodcock got up close to the dog. All was in order, officials crediting Bell with a Woodcock find. At pickup two Grouse were flushed from a Birch limb, presumably out budding, and Grouse had been flushed here each day of the running.

Friday was cool at the morning breakaway at 37 degrees, warming to 43 after the luncheon with a sunny afternoon in the making.

Double Deuce Molly(Hughes)-She’s Misbehavin(Forman). Molly’s start was fast to the front, eye pleasing and she had a speedy gait. In the meantime handler Forman was trying to get Misbehavin to take a serious approach to hunting this time down. She could not get rolling to any degree and was taken up. Molly had a pretty find at 18 reaching to an aspen glade. As handler and judges came in a Grouse was seen on the ground walking in front of Molly. The flush came, and it was a great piece of work, complete with perfect manners. No more birds for Molly, but the gallery was appreciative of her great hunting skills which had been on display the full hour.

Beaver Meadow Rose(Hughes)-Hershner’s Grouse Gunner(Chaffee). Rose, a youngster with great energy went hunting as hard as a dog could. Her effort seemed to promise a bright future for her. She backed her bracemate at 29 minutes but the rest of the hour was uneventful for her. Gunner was a sizeable Setter male with a powerful gait. He scored a nice Grouse find at 23, downhill in an Alder bottom. It was a great piece of work. He hunted forwardly to good cover as the hour went on, making a nice course progression, and  adding an unproductive at half time.

Foxbrook Ike(Ecker)-Chasehill Baby Bella(Stolgitis). Ike’s casts carried him deep in the course. His bell stopped at 15 beyond a large open glade in dense Fir stand. It was a difficult place, very thick to walk into. At this juncture his bell started up deeper in. Ike could not be rounded up and the tracking collar was given to handler. Bella dug into the cover forwardly with much eye attraction. Bella’s bell stopped at 50, and while she stood another bell was heard, likely prompting Bella to move on ahead. A Grouse then came up well out, Bella not considered involved. Bella finished the hour attacking the course.

Straight Forward(Hughes)-Celtic’s First Strike(Ecker). They started with lots of go. Straight forward was scouted at 10 and found pointing in great form in a small popple stand. The flush and relocation did not produce a bird. Coming ahead, scout Mark Hughes handled but was told to hold up as only one judge was present. This may have caused Straight Forward to lose a little focus on his hunting and when sent on had a few here, there and everywhere moments. Strike was fast, forward and hunted hard, but at times lingered in faraway places. Ecker asked for the tracking collar late in the hour.

Phillips Half Moon(Hughes)-Fireside Lady Antebellum(Chaffee). Moon started hard, hunting with great purpose but stopped many times, not to point, but perhaps to hear and receive direction from handler. She logged an unproductive at 10 and had a nice back at 26, the remainder of her hour uneventful, yet she hunted diligently. Antebellum was swift of foot, looked good as she hunted, and had a nice Grouse find at 26 in a low, watery area. Two Grouse came up right in front, all manners perfect, and as handler shot, another Grouse took wing. Ahead, Antebellum stood again at 36. A Grouse was seen walking in front of her. At flush the Grouse came closely over her head. She might have moved her head an inch or two, but it was more of a duck than anything. She stood again at 40 minutes, walking with a very high head keeping touch with the body scent of a moving Grouse. She stopped and came to a very high solid point, a Grouse flushed right where she indicated and wall was perfect for the shot. Antebellum finished well, going hard, but she was not forward every minute of the hour.

Quail Trap Will(Chaffee)-Bud of Piney Woods(Ecker). Both had exceptionally fine efforts the first half.  Bud pointed at 23, a good looking place for a Grouse to be. He stood tall, stylishly and sure but nothing could be flushed or relocated.  Bud stood again at 48, stylish on point and sure, but for a second time nothing could be flushed or relocated. Bud was taken up. Will had a great ground effort the full hour but also had an unproductive at 52,

Our vehicles at the motel were covered with frozen raindrops, early morning temperature at the freezing mark.  It was an overcast sky all day but temperatures climbed into the forties after the luncheon.

Grouse Ridge Sarge(Hughes)-Old Glory Kate(Parsons). Sarge made a bold start, absent a short interval. He got back to the front of course without delay and hunted well. Kate headed for some good looking cover on the breakaway and flew over the course with plenty of eye appeal. Bells were silent at 28. Kate was found standing with Sarge backing, a pretty place for a Grouse and with lofty dogs standing frozen in stature, it was one of the prettiest scenarios one could witness. Kate relocated, Sarge sent on, nothing flown. The remainder of the hour was without birds, Kate upping her scope and hunting pattern, Sarge, in his last field trial performance in his career allowed to hunt his heart out until the pickup order came.  

Long Gone Mersadies(Hughes)-Nic of Time(Forman). They hit the front immediately and went on boldly. At 15, a Grouse flew laterally across the course route. Nic’s bell stopped to handler’s command and the flight was honored. No shot was fired. Nic went ahead. He was sent ahead and hunted well as did bracemate Mersadies. The latter pointed at 55 on the end of a great cast to swampy cover amid a row of Alders. She stood regally, judges spying a Grouse in a tree. In telling handler to look in the tree the voice noise likely caused Mersaides to move up. She obediently stopped to the whoa, was not shot over and was leashed.

Boston(Forman)-Waymaker Super Sam(Chaffee). Both sped away  brimming with enthusiasm. Sam pointed at 7 on far edge of sizeable woods clearing. He was not stylish on this stand and was sent ahead. Sam stopped several times, apparently to get direction from handler, but each time went on hunting hard and into the front of course. Boston was deep and a bit unruly early in the hour, but smoothed his pattern out and hit the far forward edges the major portion of the hour but his efforts were birdless.

Analake Kia(Hughes)-Whynot Whitney(Doherty). Kia started well, and it was obvious she was hunting for birds by the places she went. Some moments of her hunting hinted at a bit of immaturity. Kia pointed at 20, but this may have been a back of a very white birch log, laying on the woods floor. Whitney was very attractive moving and made a nice search, perhaps slowing his pace a bit in the waning minutes of the hour. No birds this brace.

Kendal Hill Dawson Creek(Hughes)-Grouse River Rock and Roll(Forman). Both started with some very good footwork. Dawson Creek stopped frequently, seeming to seek from handler “where do you want me to go next”, but this did not persist. Dawson Creek pointed with style and intensity near half time, nothing flushed or relocated.  Rock and Roll made some big swings early, got very deep in course, and as the gallery moved ahead came in laterally at times to catch us. The hour was without bird contact.

Jetwood(Chaffee)-Daddy’s Little Butch Boy(Stolgitis). Jetwood was big and strong, going hard into the front of course. Jetwood went deep left on the breakaway, handler got him back then went deeply left again. He seemed to have his own agenda this time down, handler, as the heat went on, resorting to the tracking collar. Boy was also nicely gaited, fast afoot and cared little about the punishment his body took as he crashed the tough places to find a Grouse. At 25 he stood tall and stylishly in a thick place, heavy woods, deadfalls and the like. Judge Kain saw the Grouse right in front of Boy, on the ground. Handler flushed, shot and stature and manners were perfect. Some great casts followed, mostly uphill in this section of the course.  Boy stood pointing  again at 47. His Grouse was flushed under a large pine directly ahead of his nose, and again he was perfection as the flush and shot came. Boy was still attacking the course, full throttle at pickup.

Pistol Grip(Hughes)-Grouse Trails Cracker Jack(Chaffee).  Both went ahead with lots of jump. At 18, a Grouse wild flushed near the course route, both dogs were stopped by handlers, shot over to honor the flight, and were sent on. Cracker Jack pointed at 46. It was a nice stand  with Pistol Grip backing but nothing could be flushed. At 51 Pistol Grip was standing tall and sure, with Cracker Jack backing. Again the flush attempt and relocation were birdless. Both hunted ahead until time without bird contact.

Long Gone Studley(Hughes)-Stokely’s Trash Can(Bly). Studley made a bold start, showing ahead on course on some great moves. Trash Can also hunted hard out front, his bell stopping at  8. Handler and judge Merlington walked in looking. As handler blew his whistle the bell started up deeper and we went ahead on course. Moving forward, Trash Can’s bell stopped again at 32 minutes. We walked in to a stylish point but the flush attempt and relocation produced nothing. Studley’s bell was silent at 35 nicely ahead. He stood tall and sure and a Grouse was flushed right in front. As handler went to his dog,  Studley moved on a bit early, and was leashed. It was a bad break for a dog that had seemingly made a challenge for recognition in this stake.

Guardian(Flewelling)-Upper Ammonusic Sadie(Ecker)- Guardian was hunting hard and reaching for the far parts of the course. He had two beautiful stands. Both were unproductives, and later some lengthy absences.  Handler failed to get him back to the course. Sadie was pleasing to the eye, a bit moderate in range and pace at intervals, but this did not persist. Sadie had a Grouse beautifully at 50 and an unproductive at 58. She had hunted forwardly and handled well the full hour.

“Rockland Ridge McGraw(Ecker)-McRae’s Ezekiel(McRae). McGraw hunted forwardly and made some big moves on course. There were intervals when McGraw shortened his search but these did not persist. On his first stand at 21 nothing could be flushed or relocated, and on his second stand, the dog, after the flush attempt, decided to relocate a bit before handler was ready for him to make the relocation. Ezekiel was sizeable and hunted hard at moderate speed. He had three bang up Woodcock finds at 7, 14, and 25 minutes all well accomplished. An unproductive followed at 47. Overall Zeke hunted hard, and finished well.             

Berlin, N.H., November 1

Judges: Thor Kain and Craig Merlington

GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE CHAMPIONSHIP (One-Hour Heats)48 Setters, 22 Pointers and 2 Irish Setters

Winner-DADDY’S LITTLE BOY BUTCH, 1655649, Pointer male by Chasehill Little Bud-

               Richfield Stella. Paul Scot, owner, John Stolgitis, handler.

Runner-Up-DOUBLE DEUCE MOLLY, 1642562, Pointer female by Cover Charge-

                    Double Deuce Casey. Doug McMillen, owner, Dave Hughes, handler.  


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