78th Grand National Grouse Championship Winner Grand Champion Double Deuce Zeke
MEREDITH, MICH. — The Grand National Grouse Championship started on Tuesday, November 3, in a forest that has been the most prestigious of Michigan’s grouse woods venues for over 100 years. The field this year drew 66 dogs. Sixty-five started, 37 setters, 27 pointers and one German Shorthair.
Just prior to the opening day, we experienced an early blizzard that dumped 4+ inches of snow at the refuge and challenged the running of the previous Futurity to the end. With the woodcock vacated, this would be a challenge to all who participate. Who would have thought that we would start in snow and end up with 70+ degree November temperatures in our great state of “Pure Michigan”?
This is a Purina-sponsored event and we shout out a big THANK YOU for all that Purina does for this event and all events here in the Gladwin Field Trial Area. We also appreciate our other sponsors Garmin and Lion Country for their support as well.
Judges this year are gentlemen with reputations that precede them, both experienced at this game. Craig Merlington of Cedar Springs, Mich., and Chad Wheeler of Riner, Va., have been in this game for many years, both competing and judging in many venues in our cover dog arena. Thank you to these two for their close attention and valued judgment skills. It was a pleasure riding with them all week.
Our forever Stake Manager Bryan Wood was here to call the customary “dogs on the line,” promptly the opening morning.
2020 has been a challenge to all of us on many levels. With COVID affecting all states and state mandates challenging the clubs to abide by permit rules. Not everything has gone as expected this year, but we will survive this as we have done in the past. The GNG chose to forego the customary pre-trial dinner and awards ceremony for the safety of all involved. The survival of this game that we all have grown to love is most imperative and what we all work hard to protect.
I was last privileged to report this trial in 2014. Retiring and moving to Gladwin has been a bonus. Since then there have been many changes to our refuge. We have witnessed the drainage of Hoister Lake, the rehab of the drain and dam, and a year later the refill of that lake. We have seen the cutting of hundreds of acres of aspen and hardwoods, and the regrowth of many other cuts.
We thank the DNR biologist Bruce Barlow and his forestry crew for their careful attention to our woods and its rehabilitation. They have added many educational signs to help educate the public about the positive aspects of doing scheduled cuts to help further the habitat of grouse and woodcock on our refuge. Those signs also have educated others about field trials and what we do out here in these woods. This support will help with the survival of this refuge.
Double Deuce Zeke was named Grand National Champion.
The winner came in the afternoon on the second day in brace 13, on courses 9-10. Pointer male Double Deuce Zeke with handler Dave Hughes met Attitude’s True Grit, setter male with Robert Ecker. As the dogs began, True Grit chose to go to the left, down by the creek, while Zeke worked the cut on the right. Both dogs moved forward, Grit stopping in the pines at about 12. While searching for the dog, the bell started up, behind in the thick stuff. All moving forward to the half.
Grit’s bell lost again at the road but soon showed up as all moved onto course 10. Both dogs worked the hill and cut until both bells stopped at 44. Zeke was up to the left and Grit to the right. Grit was readily seen and after a flushing attempt, was moved on. On the left, Zeke was found buried in a blowdown, standing staunchly with a poker-straight tail. At 46 the shot rang and Zeke counting a grouse find, all in good order. Robert chose to leash Grit as Zeke went on to heart attack hill. As we stood at the bottom, Dave knew Zeke had gone to the right into the ravine. Zeke ran that ravine, turned and covered the ridge on top to meet Dave at the top of the hill, like clockwork. Zeke finished with no further birdwork.
Handler Dave Hughes (Hall of Fame member) earned his 14th Grand National win in 2020. A big applause for Dave for this accomplishment and many others that may never be duplicated in our lifetime. Dave’s dedication to this game and to the training of good dogs in the woods is an accomplishment that he and his family can always be proud of.
Zeke is owned by Douglas E. McMillen, Jr. of Dubois, Pa., who is an experienced member of this game. This was a very eventful week for the McMillens. The night they arrived, driving their truck with travel trailer in tow, they experienced the worst. Black ice and poor lighting conditions contributed to an accident that totaled both their truck and trailer. Luckily the only injury was to his wife Kristy, who suffered a broken wrist and unfortunately had to return home to seek her local medical team. We are pleased that the week turned positive, into a win for them both!
This white and liver pointer male is by Double Deuce Peter ex Funseeker’s Holiday and has some get-up-and-go that will undoubtedly be seen again. At four years of age this was Zeke’s first championship win, after a slew of placements both in the grouse woods and quail trials. He was recently invited to the U.S. Complete Amateur Invitational. We understand that each win drives Doug to shave his beard. We look forward to seeing the “shave” after this win.
Out of The Shadows was named runner-up champion, which came at the end of the third day in brace No. 21, also on courses 9-10.
Deciding Point, setter female with Dave Hughes, was braced with and Out of the Shadows (Bob Wheelock). The last brace of the day, these dogs hit the cover, both working the edges. Maddie was giving Bob a bit of concern as she was her usual energetic bunny and on the move. Point was not working Dave as hard. Course 9 was uneventful with Deciding Point a bit more noticeable than Maddie, as she was working the edges more. We crossed the road onto course 10. At 44 Bob went in to look for Maddie and found both dogs stopped with Deciding Point backing. Handlers went in and Bob flushed to no avail. Bob relocated and Dave brought Deciding Point out. After about a 40-yard relocation, Maddie stopped again. A grouse lifted in the scrub oak and Maddie carded the point, all in good order. Deciding Point continued to finish with no birdwork. Maddie finished well with the enthusiasm and energy that she started with.
Out of the Shadows (callname Maddie Mae) is a now a one-time champion and three time running-up, and was qualified for the 2017 Grand National Invitational and has many other placements to her credit.
Maddie is a petite white and orange setter female, probably 33 pounds soaking wet and just over eight years of age. She is great to watch on the ground with a fast and fancy run that most small dogs cannot accomplish.
By Nobody’s Shadow ex Ramblin’ Ruby Lou, Maddie is part of the family with owners Bob and Diane Wheelock of Thompsonville, Mich. She enjoys plenty of space to run with other members, Tugger, Mickey, Charlie and Birdie, on their spacious property. Bob handled Maddie this day, with the attentive eye of his scout Diane. I can say that I know I saw tears in Bob’s eyes at the announcement. Proud as all of us were, as well.
Congratulations to both winners, their handlers, owner and scouts. A job well done!
Opening day began with freezing temperatures. The snow we received at the refuge on Sunday had melted in some places and left 4+ inches in other shaded spots.
Brace 1, courses 1-2. Hifive’s Power Line (PM/Bruce Minard) and Grouse Hill Bullet Proof (SM/Marc Forman) began like clockwork with Stake Manager Bryan Wood singing “dog’s on the line” and appropriately starting at 8 a.m. Both dogs headed forward, both on their own agenda, Powerline working close at first and Proof heading for the fringes. Power Line handling a bit easier, Proof worked farther out, but showing when needed. Bruce leashed Power Line at 34 just before the end of course 1. Proof settled in to a better pattern after the half, working out front. Grouse tracks in the snow proved that the elusive grouse at the road crossing was still in the vicinity. Proof finished without birdwork. No birds were sighted in this brace.
Brace 2, courses 3-4. Bud of Piney Wood (PM/Robert Ecker) and Dun Roven’s Drifter (SM/Richard Hollister) lit toward the swamp at the beginning, working ahead and forward. Drifter stopped at 9 but moved on. Bud stopped at 19 on the right in the cedars. Judge and handler went in, with Drifter drawn into the mix. Rich was up front trying to get Drifter forward. As we listened, both dogs were working the cover when the judge said “There went the bird,”no dogs involved. At 32 Drifter stopped in the ravine at the road. After accessing the situation, Rich moved him on. Drifter scoured the area and headed through the tubes to join Bud to the front onto course 4. Woodcock having left the grounds, the dogs headed for the grouse cover. Drifter was working ahead and Bud separated and a bit back. Bud stopped to the right on the ridge at 47 as we edged across the new cut. After a relocation, Robert chose to leash Bud. Drifter finished with no bird-work. One wild flush noted at 22, no dog involvement.
Brace 3, courses 5-6. Hershner’s Thunderbolt Jet (SM/Tammy Chaffee) and Pistol Grip (SM/Mark Hughes) hit the cover with Jet’s bell lost at 4. Tammy sent her scout in just as Jet’s bell started up ahead. Jet worked at a distance with some nice casts the first half but settled in closer the second half. He stopped at 53 in likely cover, but was relocated to no avail, finishing without birdwork. Pistol began his brace working close, but stretching out in the second half reaching for the right cover. He too stopped in the last cut, was relocated, but had no luck. Pistol ended with no birdwork. We observed a lot of tracks in the snow and had four birds flush wild along the way.
Brace 4, courses 7-8. Leslie’s Jiggster (SM/Scott Forman) and Braggabull (PF/M. Hughes) hit the cover with intent, covering the area well. Both handling well, Braggabull stopped at 30, Jiggs coming in from the edges, and was whoa’d to a stop, backing Braggabull. Jiggs, being impatient, decided to move and was leashed. Braggabull was relocated but had no gain. At time, Braggabull was found standing. Finding a possum under his nose, his bid was over. A lone wild flush observed after time.
Brace 5 courses 9-10. Rebellious Fearless Fred (SM/Mike Luebke) and Thornapple Cody (SM/Minard) headed directly to the cut, moving with more enthusiasm than expected. Both dogs rolled through course 9, with Cody thought to be stopped at the crossover. When his bell started up, all moved across the road to course 10. The bells were similar and were causing some fits for everyone. Fred was up front and stopped at 58, carding a grouse find, but handling a bit rough for Mike. As they returned to the course, they walked up another grouse. Cody stopped at 54 and found no-one home on the relocation, ending his brace with no birdwork. Three other grouse flushed wild during the brace. One was after the main group had passed it.
Brace 6, courses 11-12. Phillips Moonlight Lilly (SF/Dave Hughes) and Ghost Train Sassy (SF/Tom Fruchey). Lilly began working the cover effectively along the scrub oaks. Sassy quickly started working the corridor as well. When we made the turn, Lilly didn’t come and was not heard from. At the tote road, Dave called for the retrieval device. Before we crossed the creek, we heard her coming in. Sassy had one stop and was relocated without results. She finished with no birdwork.
Brace 7, courses 13-14. Anna Lake Sophie (SF/D. Hughes) and Snyder’s Full Rage (SF/Scott Chaffee) started a moderate race from the beginning. Rage stopped at 15 as Dave whoa’d Sophie in to back. When the first flushing attempt gained no results, Dave pulled Sophie out as Rage was relocated. She stopped again at 19 and a shot rang out, with a grouse lifting. Dave lost touch with Sophie at 25 and sent in his scout. Rage moved forward and the dogs and handlers were separated. We could hear that Dave and Sophie hooked up at 30. Rage made a big cast at 35 and was at the end of bell range when Scott was able to bring her back in. At 41 Rage stopped again in a very likely spot. As Scott moved in, we saw Rage take a forward grab into a hole in a tree. Scott yelled and Rage pulled back. Not sure but likely a porky trap. Getting rage to move on she was diligently hunting the cover. She stopped again at 43 off to the right in a blowdown. A grouse lifted and the shot was fired, all in good order. Rage continued to hunt with Sophie catching up to the front. Both dogs finished with no further birdwork. One other wild flush was noted during this brace.
Day 2, brace 8, courses 15-16.Early morning, cool temperatures and clear sky. A Distant Spec (PF/M. Hughes) and Bawl of Fire Slipper (PF/Minard) were eager to get to the cover and hunted well and forward to the first road crossing and on. Slipper made some attempts to stop, but never went through with it. These dogs worked the cover but never connecting with game. Both finished with no bird-work. One wild flush on course 16.
Brace 9, courses 1-2. Jar Way LeRoy (SM/M. Hughes) and Grouse Hill Smokey (PM/M. Forman) hit the ground running and stopped early at 3, very close to each other and standing well. Both handlers flushed, but agreed to move on at 5, with both dogs moving on ahead. Handlers drove through the cut with both dogs scouring the cover in the scrub at the end of course 1, but nothing transpired. After crossing over onto course 2, Smokey stopped at 39. After a search, he was found at 41 and flushing attempted. Smokey was moved on at 43 and had another stop at 52, backed by Leroy. After a relocation to no avail, both dogs were leashed. A pair of birds was flushed wild just after pickup.
Brace 10, courses 3-4. Highbank’s Down’N’Dirty (PF/S. Chaffee) and Full Breeze (SF/D. Hughes). Both these girls headed to the front to cover the cedar ravine. As Highbank’s moved forward, Dave had to tug on Breeze to get her to the berm, where she came to a stop at 14 in the soggy bog to the left. A spot that at times has produced birds. After a relocation, she moved forward, stopping again at the end of course 3, with no luck. The second half was not productive. Dirty was working to the front and also had a couple of failed attempts. This brace proved unsuccessful for both dogs.
Brace 11, courses 5-6. Baxter’s Apache John (SM/Brent Peters) and LaSombra (PM/D. Hughes). With the weather warming up into the 60s and bluebird skies, this would pose a challenge for any dog. A J did what A J does and left the start with his usual energy. Lasombra handling a bit better for Dave. It was clear that AJ had his track shoes on and only touched base at 5. A J showed again at the half, but was leashed. Lasombra continued onto course 6, working the cover well. He ended the brace with a nice ground race, but no birdwork.
Brace 12, courses 7-8. After lunch, temperatures were getting warmer. Highbank’s Back’N’Black (PM/S. Chaffee) and Pond Road Pete (SM/Hollister) rolled through the cut with Scott sending in his scout a couple times, but Black’s bell showing up. When we hit the berm by the deer pen, there was some confusion as to which bell was which. Black ended up being forward and Pete at the deer pen. After the deer pen, Pete was succumbing to the heat and was leashed. Black was a bit inconsistent start to finish,. No birds
Brace No, 13 was covered.
Brace 14, courses 11-12. This course has a hazard at the beginning with the first run down a two-track and a hard right away from the scrub cover.
Blast Off (SM/M. Forman) and Wayward Flying Tomato (SM/M. Hughes) did as their handlers wanted and covered the scrub to the left of the course and turned with them into the course. This does not always work. These two started the brace, listening and handling well. Both worked through course 11 and onto 12. The handlers got separated when Blast Off went forward and Tomato gave Mark a time keeping her in range. The winds were at their worst during this brace, making it hard to hear. We crossed the road with Blast Off ahead and Mark still trying to catch Tomato’s bell. A shot was heard at 59, Blast Off having a pretty consistent run, scoring a grouse find and Tomato was up front to back it.
Day 3. Brace 15, courses 13-14. The morning was chilly, frosted. The sky was cloudy. The snow now gone and unbelievably dry in the forest.
Hifives Top Shelf (PF/Minard) and Sumac’s Sashay (PF/M. Hughes) hit the scrub oak to the road with no action. Moving on, both dogs worked like well-oiled machines. Not much handling needed. They both worked the cover as expected and showing when needed. Both dogs finished with no birdwork. One wild flush was witnessed on the brace.
Brace 16, courses 15-16. Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire (SM/Forman) and Flycast Rollie Fingers (SM/S. Chaffee). Still with overcast skies, these guys worked the cover with Whiskey working farther out than Rollie. Working the cover, there was no action until Rollie stopped at 28 by the orange gate at the end of course 15, with whiskey backing. Rollie was moved on and Whiskey as well. Rollie had some stops and starts, but no birdwork prevailed. Both handlers chose to pick up at the half. One wild flush noted.
Brace 17, courses 1-2. Rebellious Boisterous Bart (SM/Luebke) and All Out (SM/S. Chaffee) started working the cover and wanting to please their handlers. Inconsistency was a hazard and All Out suffered the heat of the day. Both handlers picked up at the half.
Brace 18, courses 3-4. Travel Alert (SM/Harold Holmes) and I’ll Be Back (SM/M. Hughes) headed for the cedar ravine. “Buster” coming off a championship run on this course two weeks earlier, he seemed to know the route. I’ll Be Back handled well for Mark and showing when needed. Buster was in sync with Doc and needed minimal handling. After the berm, both dogs hit the bottom of the cedar swamp on the right. After no bells were heard, handlers, scouts, judges and reporter hit the ground and went down in to figure it out. The result: both dogs were just a bit further up from the rest of us. Wet boots and a bit of time later we were all on course again. Through the black forest at 33 with handlers with their dogs, we hit the creek. Buster crossed the creek and headed left, where he remembered where that grouse was. Between there and the corner, Buster stopped at 37. Doc Holmes and judge headed that way. I’ll Be Back started to take the right turn to the tubes, but was drawn to the action and turned around. He headed down to where Buster was stopped and at 38 stood for a back. It took Mark a bit of time to get down there, but was able to be there when after a flushing attempt, Doc decided to relocate Buster at 42. Mark pulled I’ll Be Back out of there. Buster stopped again and the shot resounded at 45. He got that grouse again. Both dogs headed up onto course 4. At 54 both bells were silent. Doc’s scout was whoaing Buster as Doc ran to get there. Buster was stopped on the left of the course and I’ll Be Back on the right. Mark flushed, Doc flushed, and both dogs were released. Nothing produced and time was up. A fun brace to watch.
As the group crossed the tubes, the road crew watched a grouse cross the road.
Brace 19, courses 5-6. Wild Apple Siri (PF/Minard) and Snyder’s Pioneer Scout (SM/(T. Chaffee). Up the hill, Scout stopped at 1:54 and looking like a million bucks on point. Tammy flushed, but to no avail. Scout was relocated at 4 but just moved on. Siri moved along nicely with Bruce and Scout stayed with Tammy through the big hill. Tammy chose to leash Scout at the half while Bruce moved Siri through the crossover and onto course 6. No action prevailed as we got to the last cut. Siri had some stops and starts but no birdwork happened through the end of the course. It was noted that one wild flush was observed.
Brace 20, courses 7-8. Grouse Trails Tuscarora (PM/M. Hughes) and Fireside Aidan (SM/T. Chaffee). On the way in to this course on the two track, the judges observed a wild flush onto the course area. The briars being beaten down through the fall, it wasn’t as bad as these two went through the first cut. No action prevailed as we got to the berm by the deer pen. Tammy was about to send her scout across to the deer pen when both dogs were found on point just ahead of the berm. Tusc stopped first with Aidan backing. Mark flushed to no avail, Tammy moving Aidan forward and Tusc moving forward as well. At 42 Tusc stopped on the right in a big blowdown. Mark moved in to flush when a big grouse blew out. Shot fired, all in order. Aidan had a good race, finishing with no birds. Tusc finished with a nice grouse find in his favor.
Brace No. 21 was noted.
Day 3. Brace 22, courses 11-12. This course is always a challenge to dogs new to these woods. A long two-track with good cover on both sides. Takes a hard right away from it and many handlers struggle to keep the dogs with them at the turn.
This day was a good one, as both Cal Peak Hundreth Meridian (PM/Sarah Gomes) and Angel’s Envy (SF/Wheelock) turned with their handlers and went on through to the creek. Envy was handling through the half, then had some stops and starts that made Bob decide to leash her. Meridian worked the edges, staying with Sarah. Not pleasing her handler, Meridian was also leashed at 46.
Brace 23, courses 13-14. Melville Sure Shot Buck (SM/M. Forman) and Maximum Resistance (SM/Ecker). Maximum Resistance was a scratch. Buck stopped at 7 and after a flushing attempt was relocated at 9. With no game and another stop at 10, Marc reeled Buck in at the road crossing and ended the brace.
Brace 24, courses 15-16. Bo Of Piney Wood (PM/Ecker) and Double Deuce Oscar (PM/Doug McMillen) hit the scrub oak and covered it. Doug had a hard time pulling Oscar out of the corner. Giving Doug a rough time and going out of bell range too long, Doug called it at 27. Bo worked well with Robert through the first half and went on point at the end of course 15 on the right, where birds have prevailed this fall and last. Robert and judges headed to the cover, Bo chose to move with the judge seeing the bird go up, ending his bid.
Brace 25, courses 1-2. Baxstar’s Doc Holiday (German Shr Male/Shane Baxter) and Bawl of Fire Charley (PF/Minard) started with Doc working closer to his handler and Charley hitting the edges. The heat started to take its toll on Doc and Shane chose to leash him at 13. Charley was causing Bruce to pull hard the first 10 but seemed to settle a bit better after. She still wasn’t pleasing Bruce, so he chose to call it at the half.
Brace 26 courses 3-4. Upper Ammonoosuc Violet (SF/Ecker) and Faith’s Maximum Justice (PM/Ken DeLong) hit the front and into the pines. Violet was giving Robert a hard go from the beginning, with the brace being uneventful. Justice was handling well for Ken through the half. We made it to the second cut on course 4, when Justice’s bell went silent at 39. This area is very thick and full of hills and briars. Both judges and handler searched extensively but were not able to find Justice and the retrieval device was called for.
Brace 27, courses 5-6. Boston (PM/Ecker) and Game Winner (SM/D. Hughes). This course proved to be a challenge with the heat and the big hill. Boston had some stops and starts at the beginning with Game Winner having a nice go until the heat caught up. This brace ended early, No birds.
Brace 28, courses 7-8. Double Deuce Sage (PF/McMillen) and Nobody’s Shadow (SM/Wheelock) pushed through the briars to the pole timber, both dogs having a good run. Sage went down into the bottom to the left and worked the cedar swamp, while Mickey headed forward. Both had a good second half, but finished without birds.
Day 5. Brace 29, courses 9-10. Sterlingworth Jack (SM/Ecker) and Warrior Zeke(PM/ (M. Hughes) went through the first cut, working well with their handlers. Zeke stopped at 17. Bird was called when Zeke chose to move forward. Zeke went to the truck at the half. Jack stopped at 36 in the scrub oak. After a flushing attempt and relocation, Jack moved on. Jack finished with no bird-work.
Brace 30, courses 11-12. Grouse Ridge Larry (SM/Hollister) and Double Deuce Dexter (PM/D. Hughes). The heat was rising fast and the dogs were not handling it well after acclimating to the fall temperatures these past few weeks. Rich pulled Larry out at the Creek and Dexter took a hard right. Up the creek and across the road, Dexter stopped. When we found him, he stood staunch and proud. A grouse lifted and it was a nice piece of birdwork. Dexter finished his brace with no further birds.
Brace 31, courses 13-14. Texas Elhew Bodie (PM/M. Forman) and Hershner’s Grouse Gunner (SM/Chaffee). Into the scrub, both dogs went. Scouring both sides, Gunner stopped at 5. After a flushing attempt, a grouse lifted and shot fired. Gunner was a little loose, but was moved on. He stopped again at 10 and was relocated to no avail and was leashed at 23. Bodie stopped at 12 and was moved on. Marc chose to leash Bodie at 23 as well. The temperature was pushing 60° at this point.
Brace 32, courses 15-16. Kendall Hills Dawson Creek(PM/M. Hughes) and Titanium Hammer (PM/Minard). Blue bird skies and it continued to warm up. Hammer gave it a go, but was leashed at the road crossing. The humidity was outrageous. Dawson stopped at 4, was relocated and moved on. Dawson also was suffering from the heat and ended his bid at the half. There was one wild flush witnessed at the very beginning of course 15.
Brace 33, courses 1-2. Ponderosa Mac (SM/S. Chaffee) and Wildland Warrior (PF/Eric Munden) were the final brace of the trial and began where we started the trial. Mac headed forward and stopped soon at 4, looking staunch. He was relocated at 5 and went forward, stopping again at 12 just before the birdfield, with no luck. He went through the final cut on course 1, struggling with the heat with no luck. Scott chose to pull Mac at the half. Warrior was like the energizer bunny. This little pointer has loads of bottom and worked this hour start to finish without letting up. She handled for Eric like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, there were no birds involved and the trial ended.
Meredith, Mich., November 3
Judges: Craig Merlington and Chad Wheeler
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] —
28 Pointers, 37 Setters and 1 German Shorthair
Winner—DOUBLE DEUCE ZEKE, 1673940, pointer male, by Double Deuce Peter—Funseeker’s Holiday. Douglas E. McMillen, Jr., owner and handler.
Runner-Up—OUT OF THE SHADOWS, 1650996, setter female, by Nobody’s Shadow—Ramblin Ruby Lou. Bob & Diane Wheelock, owner; Bob Wheelock, handler.
Help at trials has been one of the biggest challenges that all clubs face. This year many stepped up to not only participate, but to help move cars, marshal braces and lend a hand where needed, and this was huge to the success of this trial.
This year we have seen many new faces come and continue to come to participate. Thank you to everyone who participated and for helping us get it done successfully. A big THANK YOU to Purina for sponsoring this event. We enjoyed a visit from Dean Reinke, our Garnin representative who has been a friend and prior Purina rep. Eric Munden from Lion Country spent the entire week here, walking braces and running a dog as well.
Thank you to longstanding stalwarts Wayne and Marlene Fruchey for having hot coffee and treats every morning; Tom Fruchey for his organization and running this trial; Roger Johnson, Mike Singleton, Ken and Mary Moss, Brent Peters, Harold Holmes, Dale Ash, Scott and Tammy Chaffee, Dave and Mark Hughes, Marc Forman, Deb Nihart, Scott Forman, Christy Helmes, Bruce Minard, Lonnie Radamacher, Sean McKellip, Bob and Diane Wheelock.
Thanks also goes out to our horse wranglers, Richard and Jennifer Hollister. Boots, Dusty and Ed did their usual superb job this week. Our thanks for the smooth rides.
We are looking forward to another good year in 2021. Be safe out there, everyone!
Daily Summary of the Grand National Grouse Championship
Day Three 11/05/2020
Today was nearly perfect, overcast skies while temps di reach to the low 60’s the cloudy skies helped some with performances but a few dogs did succome to the heat.
5 grouse were sighted by officials today and 3 dogs pointed grouse. The tally keeps growing and the judges are beginning to have dogs to choose from. We did get 7 more braces in today and will start on brace 22 on course 11-12.
Day Two 11/04/2020
Today we were blessed with bluebird skies and temps reaching 70 degrees, great weather for people but not good for birds. However we had 2 different dogs point grouse and 5 total birds were seen. We got 7 more braces in today. will be starting on course 13,14 with brace 15 in the morning.
Day One 11/03/2020
We were greeted with clear skies and temps in the low 30’s and about 4″ of snow still left on the ground from the weekend snow storm. The day warmed to a comfortable 52 degrees with mild winds and the snow melted and was nearly all gone by the last brace. 7 braces were completed today so we will start brace eight on course 15-16 at 8am Tuesday. several spectators were on the grounds today most notably Dean Reneke from the Garmin Comapany and Eric Mundan from Lion Country. Today 15 grouse were observed by officials and two dogs had clean birdwork with three finds. The woodcock have seemed to have left the area as none were seen today.
Grand National Grouse Championship
78th Running November 3, 2020
Gladwin Field Trial Area Meredith, Michigan
Start Time 8:00am each Morning
Courses: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16. Will start each morning where we leave off.
Brace Dog’s Name B/S Handler
1. Hifive’s Power Line p/m Minard
1. Grouse Hill Bullet Proof s/m M Forman
2. Bud of Piney Wood p/m Ecker
2. Dun Roven’s Drifter s/m Hollister
3. Hershner’s Thunderbolt Jet s/m T Chaffee
3 Pistol Grip s/m M Hughes
4. Leslie Jiggster s/m S Forman
4. Braggabull p/f M Hughes
5. Rebellious Fearless Fred s/m Luebke/Forman
5. Thorn Apple Cody s/m Minard
6. Phillips Moonlight Lilly i/s s/f D Hughes
6. Ghost Train Sassy s/f Fruchey
7. Anna Lake Sophie i/s s/f D Hughes
7. Snyders Full Rage i/s s/f S Chaffee
8. A Distant Spec i/s p/f M Hughes
8. Bawl of Fire Slipper p/f Minard
9. Jars Way LeRoy s/m M Hughes
9. Grouse Hill Smokey p/m M Forman
10. Highbanks Down N Dirty p/f S Chaffee
10. Full Breeze i/s s/f D Hughes
11. Baxter’s Apache John s/m Peters
11. LaSombra p/m D Hughes
12. Highbanks Back N Black p/m Chaffee/Nelson
12. Pond Road Pete s/m Hollister
13. Double Deuce Zeke p/m D Hughes
13. Attitudes True Grit s/m Ecker
14. Blast Off s/m M Forman
14. Wayward Flying Tomato s/m M Hughes
15. Hifives Top Shelf p/f Minard
15. Sumac’s Sashay i/s p/f M Hughes
16. Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire s/m S Forman
16. Flycast Rollie Fingers s/m S Chaffee
17. Rebellious Boisterous Bart s/m Luebke/Forman
17. All Out s/m S Chaffee
18. Travel Alert s/m Holmes
18. I’ll Be Back s/m M Hughes
19. Wild Apple Siri p/f Minard
19. Snyder’s Pioneer Scout s/m T Chaffee
20. Grouse Trails Tuscarora p/m M Hughes
20. Fireside Aidan s/m T Chaffee
21. Deciding Point i/s s/f D Hughes
21. Out of the Shadows s/f Wheelock
22. Cal Peak 100th Meridian p/m M Hughes
22. Angels Envy s/f Wheelock
23. Melville Sureshot Buck s/m S Forman
23 Maximum Resistance s/m Ecker
24. Bo Of Piney Wood p/m Ecker
24. Double Deuce Oscar p/m McMillen/Hughes
25. Bax-stars Doc Holiday gsp/m Baxter
25. Bawl of Fire Charlie p/f Minard
26. Upper Ammonoosuc Violet s/f Ecker
26 Faith’s Maximum Justice p/m DeLong
27. Boston p/m Ecker
27. Game Winner s/m D Hughes
28. Double Deuce Sage p/f McMillen/Hughes
28. Nobody’s Shadow s/m Wheelock
29. Sterlingsworth Jack s/m Ecker
29. Warrior Zeke p/m M Hughes
30. Grouse Ridge Larry s/m Hollister
30. Double Deuce Dexter p/m D Hughes
31. Texas Elhew Bodie p/m M Forman
31. Hershner’s Grouse Gunner s/m S Chaffee
32. Kendall Hill’s Dawson Creek p/m M Hughes
32. Titanium Hammer p/m Minard
33. Ponderosa Mac s/m S Chaffee
33. Wildland Warrior p/f M Hughes
The Executive board of the Grand National Grouse Championship has decided that in the best interest of everyone’s health the Monday Nights Banquet and the Tuesday and Wednesday’s membership and Board of Directors meetings be canceled this year. There will be an attempt made to hold a virtual Board of Directors meeting after the first of the year to take care of the annual business of the club.
Respectfully Submitted by Richard Brenneman and Tom Fruchey
77th Grand National Grouse Championship
The Winner. Owner Robert Leet poses Titanium’s Hammer, joined by, from left Judge Bert Benshoof, handler Bruce Minard, and Judge Brian Ralph.
BERLIN, N. H. — The 2019 Grand National Grouse Championship ran to a successful conclusion at the Kilkenny Management Area in the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire. The Championship, cover trials’ most coveted prize, was established and first run in 1943 and set up to rotate to three different geographical regions in “grouse country.” It was first run at Kilkenny in 1998. We are fortunate to still have some venues with wild birds.
Lloyd Murray, John Stolgitis, Joe Dahl, Joe Cammisa, Bob Little, Thom Richardson, Dick Brenneman, Tom Fruchey, and Thor Kain were among many who helped during the running.
Many others helped move vehicles and contribute in other ways.
Many thanks to Dean Reinke and Purina for the unwavering support of the Grand National and other cover trials over many decades now. We can never adequately express how grateful we are. Seventy-eight dogs were drawn and seventy-five would run.
The monumental task of judging that many dogs on foot fell to Brian Ralph of Grove City, Pa., and Bert Benshoof of Roseville, Minn. Both brought championship level experience to the task. They not only held up superbly but both seemed to be humbled to even be asked to judge such an historic stake. Their efforts were truly appreciated.
THE WINNERS AND OTHERS
Winning in fine style was seven-year-old white and orange pointer male Titanium’s Hammer, owned by Bob Leet of Paw Paw, Mich., and handled by Michigan trainer Bruce Minard.
This dog checked all of the boxes. He moved nicely, hunted hard, ranged well in a forward manner, but handled easily, and had a magnificent dug up find.
No stranger to the winners’ circle, Hammer also won the Lake States Grouse Championship, the Midwest Open Shooting Dog Championship, and was runner-up at the Wisconsin Cover Dog Championship.
He was sired by Ch. Dateline Black List out of Ch. Hifive’s Wrangler. Black List was also a runner-up champion. Wrangler was a 3x champion, one of those a national title (National Amateur Grouse Champion) along with five runners-up.
For many of the dogs up-close in Hammer’s pedigree, Bruce was involved with both campaigning them in the field and in orchestrating the breedings.
The runner-up was Panola Bacon, coming three-year-old white and liver pointer male handled by John Stolgitis, and owned by Mac Stidham of Columbia, S. C. He came from brace No. 26.
Bacon’s was a similar performance in many respects to Hammer’s. Stolgitis rolled the dice and pushed to the end of the course in the hope that Bacon would push on into cover that was not yet explored by dogs the previous four times the course had been run. The gamble worked. Bacon also had a spectacular dug-up find at the end but the pace required made the dog look slightly lateral at times and that was one of the hairsplitters. It was, however, a performance that would have won this stake outright most years.
Bacon is a first year shooting dog and was sired by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch, out Richfield Rose. Bacon was, previously this fall, awarded runner-up honors in the New York State Grouse Championship with 50 dogs. He also placed in multiple horseback Derby stakes as well as winning the Woodcock Futurity, and placing in the Grouse Futurity.
Bacon’s line has had unprecedented success in the Grand National at Kilkenny, which hosts the trial every three years.
In 2016, Daddy Little Boy Butch (Bacon’s sire), champion; 2013, Chasehill Little Bud (Butch’s sire), runner-up; 2010, Chasehill Molly (full sister to Chasehill Little Bud), champion; 2004, Beaver Meadow Benjamin (sire of Bud and Mollie), runner-up; 2001, Benjamin’s dam, Beaver Meadow Bette, champion.
The judges also liked the championship worthy performances of (in the order they ran): Wild Apple Spot On (PM/Craig Doherty) in the 9th brace; Spring Brook Maximus (PM/Russell Ogilvie), 12th brace; Ponderosa Mac (SM/Scott Chaffee), brace No. 32.
A dozen dogs would have grouse work during the running and two others finished with woodcock finds.
Long Gone Porky (SM/Lloyd Murray) and Wild Apple Calvados (PF/ Craig Doherty) were up first on Lonesome Ridge. Temperatures were in the 40s and it was breezy. Both dogs hit the cover well, had plenty of range and snap, and both handled kindly. Porky continued strong through the middle and punched well to the finish. Calvados also worked hard down the stretch and both dogs applied themselves to the course but nothing was seen in terms of game.
Bawl Of Fire (Bruce Minard) and Braggabull (Mark Hughes), both pointer females, began well on Deer Mountain. Brag moved well and hunted but was inconsistent. She would execute a big showy, forward cast then follow it up with a short or medium swing. Bawl was consistent in that regard but lost a step the last 20. Both hunted to the finish and neither connected with game.
Fireside Aiden (SF/Tammy Chaffee) was snappy, quick and hunted well. She was rewarded with a nice woodcock find at 50, done with fine style and impeccable manners. She finished the last 10 with fire to spare. Wild Apple White Lightning (PM/Craig Doherty) was rangy and hard to handle at times but always showed up in time. His style and drive were topshelf. Near the half he pointed a woodcock with good style but broke at the flush and was taken up. Three other grouse were seen on the course, one out of a tree.
Chasehill Little Thudd (PM/Doherty) and Quail Trap Will (SM/Scott Chaffee) set out with enthusiasm, both working at the edge of their bells for much of the first half but forward and no big absences. Thudd was scouted at 30 but faded back in after two minutes or so. Doherty rejoined the front at 45. Thudd was wide again by then and not returned to judgment. Will was generally rangy down the stretch but had a five-minute short spell before ranging out again and finishing strong.
Cairds Little Macy Mae (PF/Bob Little) and Pistol Grip (PM/Dave Hughes) were next on the Moosehorn. This course proved tough for the judges to evaluate dogs on. Both of these dogs hunted hard, looked good going, and were forward. They were described by the judges as “medium ranging” but, with the cover being so tight, along with the twisty nature of the trail, a wider ranging dog would have missed cover or risk being lost on point. So the judges were easy on this aspect of the performance. Macy posed up in likely cover near the half, looked good on point, but nothing flew. It was much the same the second half: both dogs worked hard and hunted to the finish but neither had a contact. As luck (bad luck) would have it, after both dogs were on the leash and the party deadheading out, five or six grouse were walked up.
Phillips Half Moon (SF/M. Hughes) was alone in the last brace as Wild Run Kat (Ecker) was scratched. Moon hunted well at an easy pace and was medium ranging with the occasional big move. At 35 a grouse blew out near the trail and Moon stopped mannerly but was low-stationed. Another grouse blew out to the fore and Hughes shot, all in order. Moon looked fine on point at 44 but nothing flew. She stopped again four minutes later. Two grouse flew out in the general vicinity but not in the direction she was pointing in. Hughes did not shoot and no unproductive was assigned. She finished as she started and so ended day No. 1.
Hypointe Left Turn (S. Chaffee) and Baxter’s Apache John (Brent Peters), both setter dogs, were up first the second day on Lonesome Ridge. They began well, hunted the cover and handled. John looked good pointing in a likely spot between two blowdowns at 25 but nothing flew. Turn looked great on a woodcock at 42 and with perfect manners. Both dogs lost a bit of steam down the stretch but continued to work to the finish.
All Out (SM/S. Chaffee) was fancy, worked hard, was generally forward, but had trouble keeping the fore at times. Grouse Hill Annie (PF/Stolgitis) moved nice and drove hard but was wide at times with several short absences always showing in time. All Out posed up at 53 and looked good but no feathers flew. Both finished strong and forward.
Cairds Remi (PF/Little) and Wild Apple Spot On (PM/Doherty) were loosed on Goldenrod. Both dogs set out strong with Remi wide at times. Spot made some nice moves but got hung up a time or two. A grouse was walked up at 18, neither dog near. Remi was wide about then and Little asked for the retrieval unit at 23. Spot made some nice moves through the middle and was generally forward but did return from the rear a time or two, though nothing persistent. He looked great on a grouse at 53 where he showed commendable style, good location and exemplary manners. He finished strong and forward.
Pointer males Cairds Lefty and Titanium’s Hammer were loosed on the Pancake course. Both dogs impressed immediately with good style and showy forward moves. Though the casts were big and forward, sometimes to the end of the bell, each dog handled well without a lot of effort from the handlers. By the time they hit the swamp in the middle, the judges were praying for a bird. Things went a bit awry for Lefty down the stretch. He spent a chunk of time up on a hillside and Little had to work to get him to cross. When he did finally come down he had two barren stands at 52 and 58. Hammer, meanwhile, made a big move into a bowl in the terrain and the dog was at the end of his bell when it fell silent. Several minutes passed until they arrived in the vicinity of where the bell stopped. The cover was tight there and Hammer’s owner, Bob Leet, was called over to help search. About the time Leet arrived, though, Minard saw part of Hammer’s head sticking slightly out of the cover about fifty yards away. It took a minute or two to work their way to the dog but Hammer still looked good when they arrived and, more importantly, had a grouse neatly pinned in the brush. The grouse rumbled out, the shot rang out, the manners were perfect and the judges’ prayers were answered: A dug up find and great forward race was what they had. The brace ended shortly after.
Setter female Meredith Grade Annie and Caliber Peak Storm Warning (PF/D. Hughes) were first up after lunch on Moosehorn. Both dogs performed admirably on this tough course. Annie hunted hard, got hung up briefly in a corner a time or two, was forward and handled. At 35 she appeared “birdy” working back and forth frantically. A grouse blew out 25 yards away and she never changed her direction or countenance. It was a bit suspicious but there was not nearly enough evidence to indict. Warning worked hard down the stretch, stayed in touch well and hunted hard. She was scouted at 57 and a grouse moved during the search but her bell faded in from further along. Both dogs finished strong. Three grouse were walked up during the brace.
Double Deuce Zeke (PM/D. Hughes) and Spring Brook Maximus (PM/Russell Ogilvie) broke away hard on the Ammonoosuc and looked good going. Maximus crossed nicely, well to the front several times with hardly a word from Ogilvie. Zeke was also hunting forward and at good range and, by the half, both judges were again praying for a bird. Both dogs were deep at 40 along the Ammonoosuc bottom. Neither handler was sure as noises in the distance sounded like they might be bells (and there always are such noises). Ogilvie saw a tiny patch of white through the brush and went to investigate. Indeed, there was Maximus looking good and a woodcock put to flight, all in order. Then things got a bit strange. They noticed Zeke standing there too AND a grouse blew out nearby. The dogs were awarded a divided find. Up the hill to the finish, Zeke got hung up a time or two and required some handling, but nothing serious. Maximus stopped to the left and fairly deep but corrected shortly after Ogilvie left the trail. Both finished strong and forward.
Sanderling’s Wild Pepper (PM/Little) and A Distant Spec (PF/M. Hughes) were up first on day No. 3. Both dogs hit the course hard and looked good going. Both were wide at times the first half and both handlers had to work on occasion to keep the dogs in touch. After the halfway point, both settled in to an easier handling race and a more modest pace. Pepper posed up nicely in a likely spot at 46, corrected as Little was flushing and was taken up. Spec finished the hour without incident.
Single Shot Barley (SF/D. Hughes) and pointer male Daddy’s Little Boy Butch were next on Deer Mountain. Barley ran a very good race with fine style and good range. She hunted, punched and handled throughout. Butch was all that and more. He made cast after cast, each strong and forward and with evident rapport with his handler. Both dogs had the judges wishing for a bird, but none were seen.
All On (PF/Stolgitis) hit the course hard early but was up at 8 after an encounter with a woodcock. Miss Penn Star (SF/ Ecker) looked good going but was wide at times and while she always showed in time, was often out of touch. Penn Star stood at 11 left of course in an area where birds had been seen in previous days. An extensive flushing attempt came up empty. She had a tough time negotiating the turn at the half but she was on track after a few minutes and shot to the front. She continued wide though and Ecker asked for the retrieval unit at 41. No other birds were seen.
Caliber Peak Hundredth Meridian (PF/Sarah Gomes) looked good going and was wide the first 10. She settled in thereafter, hunted well, handled but lost a step down the stretch and had no contacts with game. Blast Zone (SM/Thor Kain) also had his running shoes on. He looked good when seen but spent a lot of time at the end of his bell deep and left early. Stolgitis spotted a small pool of fresh blood on the trail and Kain asked for the retrieval device. The blood did come from Zone but nothing serious.
Texas Free Mason (SM/Ecker) hit the cover well but was wide at times the first half, though always showing in time. His bell fell silent at 28 but he started back up and continued on before he was located. Setter male Lester’s Jiggster was easy on the eyes but also wide at times and made Scott Forman work. Three grouse were moved at 18, and two more at 37 and 45, but neither dog was near and neither would connect today. Both worked hard down the stretch and finished strong.
Bud Of Piney Woods (PM/Ecker) moved nicely and was ambitious off the breakaway but settled in by 25. He looked good on point at 35. Nothing flew but woodcock splash was observed near the stand. He was industrious up the hill, handled well and Ecker elected to take him up near time. Grouse Hill Bullet Proof (SM/Forman) drove exceptionally hard, looked good going, but had periods where he put his handler to work. He worked hard around the course, wide at times for short periods, and finished strong and forward but without incident.
Snow fell overnight, perhaps two or three inches, just enough to be troublesome. Light snow fell periodically throughout day No. 4, but the bigger issue was the first bone-chilling temperatures of the season along with a stiff breeze.
Up first were Blast Off (SM/S. Forman) and Stokely’s Willie B (SM/ Tony Bly). Both moved nicely and worked the cover well. Blast ranged a bit wide a time or two the first half, though nothing too bad, while Willie handled kindly throughout. Both dogs were a pleasure to walk behind the second half; each worked hard at good range and handled kindly. It was, overall, an enjoyable brace, but neither dog connected.
Two setter males were up again on Deer Mountain, Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire (S. Forman) and Stokely’s Willie B (Bly). Whiskey began with some big, forward and fancy going. Willie, according to his handler, was under the weather but started pretty strong nonetheless and ranged well, though tending to check back all the way. Bly elected to take him up near the half. Whiskey was beginning to shorten some by then, nothing too bad, but Forman took him up as well near the half.
Chasehill Baby Bella (PF/Stolgitis) offered a very good effort on Goldenrod. She charged hard, applied herself well in a forward manner and handled well to the finish, but with no game contacts. Double Deuce Molly (PF/Hughes) looked good and worked hard as well. She was, though, a bit of handful at times, lost to judgment near time.
Setter male Islander went on a distant search off the breakaway, was not seen again under judgment and Ecker asked for the retrieval unit at 23. Long Gone Juicy (SF/D. Hughes) offered an exemplary race. She charged hard, hit the cover well, was forward and handled kindly. She had the judges’ attention. Juicy looked good on point at 30 in likely cover, and fresh tracks were seen in the snow near the stand but no grouse. Her second half was also outstanding for ground work and she finished strong, but with no bird contacts.
A Game Winner (SM/D. Hughes) and Snyder’s Pioneer Scout (SM/T. Chaffee) were up on Moosehorn. Both dogs faced a tough challenge on this course and the snow added to the tough going. Scout’s bell stopped in thick cover just off the swamp at 20. Both Chaffee and her scout went in to search as the cover was thick there. After about two minutes of searching, the bell started up further along, no game seen. Game Winner battled through, keeping to the front and never off bell. Both finished, both, all in all, having done a good job. Again, while deadheading out, four grouse were seen; a single and a group of three.
Wayward Flying Tomato (SM/M. Hughes) and Chasehill Little Izzy (PF/Stolgitis) were the last brace of the fourth day on Ammonoosuc. Both dogs began hard charging and with good application. No game was seen in the bottom and both dogs handled kindly up the hill. Tomato slowed slightly the last 15 and was taken up at 55. Izzy was still as strong as at the start but with few chances to show on game left Stolgitis elected to pick up as well.
Day No. 5 began with temperatures around 10°, but it was calm and sunny. By afternoon things warmed to 34°.
Boston (PM/Ecker) and Duck Hook (PM/Stolgitis) were up first on Lonesome Ridge. Boston hustled throughout and moved well. A couple of spells where he seemed to prefer the pole timber to the cover were the only faults observed by the judges in his effort. He was forward, handled and finished strong. Hook looked good going, hunted hard and handled throughout. He stopped and posed up to the right at 45. No feathers flew but there were fresh grouse tracks in the snow. He finished strong. Neither dog connected today.
Leslie’s Silo Joe (SM/Marc Forman) worked hard, hunted well but did not reach. He was medium ranging and Forman took up near the half. Panola Bacon (PM/Stolgitis) impressed early with a strong stride and several big, searching, forward casts. He worked the cover well through the middle, occasionally lateral as the pace of the handler was driving forward, but Bacon charging and hunting. Birds had been a bit hard to come by and, wisely, Stolgitis was hoping to find one at the end of the course where no dog had yet been. The gamble paid off. Near time he was at the end of his bell when it fell silent in the distance. The search lead the party across a dirt access road to a thick stand of evergreen trees; perfect winter grouse cover. But the dog had been so far off that finding the dog in there would still be no easy task. Fortunately, the dog’s tracks were seen in the snow and followed they found the dog in short order and noted his intense, stylish stand. He looked great on point, and had a grouse neatly pinned. The grouse boiled out, Bacon’s manners were true. A great limb find! The dog was leashed immediately as it was several minutes past time.
Maximum Resistance (SM/Ecker) and Long Gone Mersadies (SF/D. Hughes) were up next on Goldenrod. Both set off strong. Not much was seen of Resistance after 15 and Ecker asked for the retrieval unit at 39. Mersadies had a very good first half. She drove hard, was fancy, hit the cover well and handled. She pointed at 22 forward and right in likely cover but nothing was home. She ranged increasingly wider as the heat progressed and Hughes requested the retrieval unit at 50.
Upper Ammonoosuc Violet (SF/ Ecker) did some good things and was fun to watch. She was a bit inconsistent though, mixing some showy big casts with a short one here and there. She punched well throughout. Violet looked good on point at 57. A grouse had been moved from there the day previous but nothing flew today. She finished well. Phillips Moonlight Lilly (SF/D. Hughes) did a fine job on the ground. She was fancy and fun to watch work. She pointed without results at 27. Lilly continued her fine effort the second half, finished strong, but without bird work.
Thornapple Cody (SM/Minard) was all bird dog. This dog hunted hard and though it was difficult for a dog to reach on this course, Cody ranged fairy well. He was searched for near the half and found pointing after six or seven minutes. He was intense and posed up nicely. Minard swung in and put a grouse to flight with dog showing faultless manners. Cody continued to work hard down the stretch and finished well. Suemac’s Sashay (PF/M. Hughes) was very fancy and handled well. She was generally in the pocket and hunted hard throughout. Sashay finished strong but with no bird work.
Anna Lake Sophie (SF/D. Hughes) set out ambitiously and looked good going. Quickly though she became a bit too ambitious, was out of pocket for several spells and Hughes took her up near the half. Bo Of Piney Woods (PM/Ecker) started with several nice forward swings where he crossed nicely at good range. He shortened some down the stretch (an injured pad may have played a role in this) but gamely finished the hour. No birds seen.
Day No. 6 began with temperatures in the mid 20s; they warmed to about 38°. Shady Hills Colt (Forman) and Warrior Zeke (M. Hughes), both pointer males, were up first and the brace did not last long. Colt did not set out strong and Forman leashed him early. Zeke was better for range but not better enough. Hughes hooked him at 10.
Ponderosa Mac (SM/S. Chaffee) offered a solid ground effort. He was strong and easy on the eyes. According to the judges, there were a few times where he did not reach to what the course allowed but he hunted every step. He pointed without results at 26. His bell fell silent again in the distance at 45. As they searched for the dog, Judge Benshoof spotted some grouse tracks in the snow and followed them. Then he heard a grouse flush and called to Chaffee. They went in together to where the grouse had flushed and there stood Mac. A nice piece of work. Mac finished strong. Sterlingworth Jack (SM/Ecker) offered a strong, hardworking sixty minutes. He hunted hard, came from behind a time or two, though nothing persistent, and had a few “stops” and starts, though no unproductives. It was a solid effort with a strong finish and no bird contacts.
I’ll Be Back (SM/M. Hughes) and Ruffed Grouse Lilly (SF/Paul Christopher) were up next on Goldenrod. Back wore a small bell, was hard to track at times as he was rangy. He was never out of touch for long periods and ran hard with a good hunting effort when seen. Back was strong to the finish but with no contacts. Lilly was fun to watch, worked well and at good range for the first 45. Thereafter she shortened a bit but continued with a good hunting effort and pace to the finish. Neither dog connected today with a grouse.
La Sombra (PM/D. Hughes) and Snyder’s Full Rage (SF/S. Chaffee) were loosed on the Pancake Course. Sombra was fancy, forward, but wide and out of touch at times through the middle, though never gone long enough to be counted out. He was strong throughout and finished well. Rage was fancy going and carried a strong pace. She generally did not reach to the limits, handled well, hunted hard and finished strong. Neither dog connected today.
Kendall Hills Dawson Creek (PM/ M. Hughes) and Hershner’s Thunderbolt Jet (SM/T. Chaffee) broke away on Moosehorn. Dawson worked hard, was wide at times with several short absences, but was hunting hard when seen. Hughes requested the retrieval unit at time. Jet had a very good first half on this difficult course. He hunted and worked the tight cover at a good pace. He lost a step the last 15 but never quit. Neither dog had a contact with game.
Mooselook Mac (SM/Little) and Rockland Ridge McGraw (SF/Ecker) comprised the last brace of day No. 6. Mac looked good and worked hard early. He was taken up near the half for failure to back. McGraw had a hardworking first half and was hunting the cover well. She pointed toward the Ammonoosuc River at 35. Her bracemate came in just then and flushed the grouse. McGraw took a small hop, the judges determined a “bobble,” and not enough to be ordered up. McGraw worked well up the hill and pointed another grouse at 50, all in order. She finished strong.
Both Hershner’s Grouse Gunner SM/S. Chaffee) and Upper Ammonoosuc Sadie (SF/Ecker) ran well in the open timber, shortened a bit around halfway. Gunner was a bit pathy early but got on track after about 15. Sadie hunted well and forward at a moderate pace but well applied and handling well. Gunner had a nice grouse find deep to the right as the course turns left along the river at 45, accomplished with fine style and manners. Sadie was forward at the time and Gunner came up to the forward group and hunted hard. Both dogs crossed the road, Gunner without handler or judge. Both then stopped, Sadie about 80 yards ahead of Gunner. Craig Doherty took over handler duties for Gunner. Judge Ralph was caught between dogs. He went with Sadie, which, as events transpired, had a grouse pointed and her manners flawless at the flush and shot. Nothing was seen for Gunner. Chaffee and Judge Benshoof arrived as the action concluded. Another minute or so and time was up.
Wild Apple Jonathon (PM/Doherty) and Double Deuce Dexter (PM/D. Hughes) did not go the distance. Both dogs started well enough but the races by that point in the trial were not clearing the high bar that had been set and both handlers took them up near the half.
Berlin, N. H., November 5
Judges: Bert Benshoof and Brian Ralph
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] —
36 Pointers and 42 Setters
Winner—TITANIUM’S HAMMER, pointer male, by Dateline Black List—Hifive’s Wrangler. Robert Leet, owner; Bruce Minard, handler.
Runner-Up—PANOLA BACON, pointer male, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Richfield Rose. Mac Stidham, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.
News, Notes, Anecdotes
Dean Reinke was a gift to cover trials by Purina. He has now retired and, in honor of that occasion, was roasted by Auntie Henrietta, a local comedian. His replacement, Greg Blair, will have some big shoes to fill.
On Tuesday night, after the members meeting and the first day of the running, Tom Fruchey called an emergency meeting of all available directors.
Weather forecasts at the time were calling for up to eight inches of snow, which would certainly have delayed the running. The problem was that deer hunting season in New Hampshire was scheduled to begin the following week and no one wanted to be out in the woods with bird dogs alongside people shooting rifles. They came up with a contingency plan which, fortunately, never needed to be carried out because, while snow did fall Thursday and Friday, the amount was only two to three inches or so, and no delays in the trial resulted.
Judge Bert Benshoof wore a device that tracked steps. Through the six full days and one partial day of running, the device recorded over about 213,000 steps, figuring to roughly 101 miles walked by each judge.
Matt Mentz won the Grand National in 1999 with Seneca’s Autumn Reign and would judge the Grand National with Tim Tufts at Kilkenny in 2004.
He loved the sport and requested before his passing that portions of his ashes be spread at various cover trial venues. With a somber moment of silence, this was accomplished before brace No. 32 was loosed on Deer Mountain. He was far too young when he left us.