MARIENVILLE, PA. — On November 4, 21 young Derbies took to the Pennsylvania Championship courses near Marienville, Pa., for the 68th edition of the Grand National Grouse Futurity. Although the quantity of entries was limited, the quality was not.
The Grouse Futurity is a breeders’ stake to determine which dogs of the many nominated litters have the potential to go on to the next level. Some of the past winners have been Pleasant Valley Liz, Tomoka, Ghost’s Star, Heart Breaker, Jubilation, Sycamore Sweet Sue, Elhew Cassie, to name a few. All of these dogs placed in the Futurity and went on to have stellar field trial careers.
Another winner of this stake that is near and dear to my heart was Star’s Misty Ghost, the winner in 1987 running under Lance Bressler and Charlie Gardner.
Emerging victorious in the 2012 running was the young pointer dog Pleasant Valley Buddy, owned and handled by 80 year young Dr. Jim Stiteler from nearby Dubois, Pa. Buddy was sired by Thunderhills Zeus ex Grouse River Sheena. Buddy scoured the course and his work paid off with a find on two grouse at 22. Buddy showed mature manners around his game. He was bred by Bryan Wood (Grouse River Kennels) from Pinckney, Mich.
Second went to Kendall Hills Foxfire, young setter bitch by Montero’s Rock out of Keystone’s Best Bette. Foxfire started slow but gained consistency as the thirty minutes went on. She had a mature grouse find at 26. She was bred by local resident Bill Henke. Third went to Pepper Jack Wood and relative newcomer John Bodo of Howell, Mich. Jack is by Terhaar’s Elvis out of Grouse River Princess and was also bred by Bryan Wood. Two of the three placements were bred by Bryan and Grouse River Kennels. This is an outstanding feat and shows the forethought and dedication Bryan has to the sport.
Closest to the winners were Double Deuce Dexter, Pouncey, Grouse River Eros, Long Gone Studley, The Bone Man, Call Me Maggie and Orange Blossom. They were all being carried for a possible callback at one time or other.
Judging this year’s event was your scribe and Paul Rebarchak of nearby State College, Pa. Paul has judged championships and has bred champions. Body Guard and Northern Anndee were both bred by Paul, out of his winning bitch Liberty Express Wire. Paul has a keen eye for a good performance. We both found this stake rather difficult to judge. There were many good performances and in order to separate we had to be somewhat negative.
Much work goes into making an event such as this successful. George Johnson is the coordinator and catalyst behind the success of not only this event, but the Grouse Futurity as an organization. George not only handles the trial responsibilities but also all of the preliminary duties as well. George capably fields nominations, handles forfeit fees, procures judges, and takes entries, etc. He is aided and gives much credit to his lovely wife Shirley.
Many thanks also go to marshals Joe Cammissa and Richard Brenneman who ensured that the handlers (and judges) stayed on course. There are eight half hour Derby courses on the Loleta side and four on the Lamonaville side. All the courses go through great grouse and woodcock cover. There were 14 grouse moved during the running of the event. The weather was typical for an early weekend in November.
A welcome dinner sponsored by Purina was held at the Bucktail Hotel on Saturday evening. The judges were introduced and handlers were able to socialize and get to know the trial officials, judges and the competition. The cover dog fraternity is grateful to Purina for the continued support provided to all cover dog field trials.
The first brace was loosed at 7:00 a. m. sharp. Pete Casgrain’s Orange Blossom was down with Pete Campsey’s Autumn Grouse Tinker Bell. Both showed nicely with Blossom being the wider ranging of the two performers. Blossom applied herself well and was being carried through a good portion of the stake. Bell looked well as well, a little more dependent on handler direction. Both hunted hard. No birds were seen or heard.
Dirty Dutchman (Dave Hughes) and Hard Driving Dot (Scott Forman) had their running shoes on today and were initially in and out of the pocket. Both dogs were absent by 15. Handlers threw in the towel at that point, deer suspected. A grouse was moved out of a low hanging limb, neither dog being involved.
Anna Lake Kiah (Hughes) and Willow’s Ivory Snow (Ray Weisgarber). Each hunted the cover in fine fashion, Snow being slightly wider ranging and Kiah hitting the objectives nicely. Each exhibited style and class with high cracking tails. A grouse got up wild as we made the initial turn. A few minutes later a deer crossed to the front with both dogs giving a slight chase. Ray got Snow turned and Dave whoaed Kiah and she stopped for a minute, however, her mind was still on the chase. She broke after the deer and was out of contention shortly thereafter. Snow finished the brace as she started, making some nice moves down the stretch. Her bell was lost at time but she returned on her own. Kiah put down a fine race until the point she was lost to judgment.
Rowling’s Nike (Craig Merlington) and Pepperwood Jack (John Bodo) both carried themselves well. Jack is fast and classy and drove hard through the half hour. This drive caused him to stray from the pocket a few times, making handler work extra hard to get him around. However, he always showed on time and to the front. He applied himself well showing great drive, class and style to go along with the extreme range. This effort garnered him the top dog on the ground and first callback position. Nike was admirable as well. She hunted hard through the entire half hour. She was slightly more dependent than her bracemate but showed well. One bird flushed wild from a beach thicket at 12. No dog was involved.
Honey Hole Bobber seemed to tune out Scott Forman and was quickly lost to judgment. The Bone Man (Gardner Stoker) put down a nice race hitting the cover with speed and style. As Bone Man was working a blueberry bottom a grouse took flight. The pointer came in and made game in the vicinity of where the bird got up. Bone Man finished strong making some nice moves along the way and at the time was being carried for a callback position.
Grouse River Eros (Bryan Wood) and Double Deuce Dexter (Hughes) complimented each other nicely, driving with class and style to the objectives available on the course. They each hit the cover hard and both finished strong with Dexter being a little more forward. This was one of the nicest overall braces of the stake. With the ground performance that was laid down, these two were now being carried for callback position immediately behind Pepper Jack Wood.
Long Gone Studley (Hughes) and Call Me Maggie (Craig Merlington) hunted hard, hitting the cover nicely. At 11 both dogs stopped in a blueberry bog. Maggie was found on the right in the blueberry thicket and someone stated that he thought Studley was in the same vicinity, but Dave had him stopped further down to the left of the course. The handler flushed but could not produce anything. About that time Studley’s bell started up in the vicinity of where Dave thought he was standing. Maggie was then relocated. During the relocation a grouse took flight; however, the dog was moving when the bird was in the air. At 26 the pair once again was standing, with Studley farther down the hill. A bird was heard leaving; however, once again both dogs were in motion so no definitive bird work was recorded. This was another nice brace and ground performances by both dogs. No birds were adequately handled but both made into the potential callback conversation with the races they put down.
John Dillinger (Bob Lang) and Pouncey (Dick Straub) made some nice moves early with Dillinger checking in slightly more. Pouncey rolled and stayed to the front mostly checking with handler at a distance. Both ran with high cracking tails seemingly enjoying every bit of their task. No birds were seen, however, it was not for the lack of effort. With his nice effort Pouncey became worthy of callback consideration. The trial party broke for lunch as the horses were transported to the Lamonaville side.
The first brace after lunch was on course No. 1 at Lamonaville. Kendall Hills Foxfire (Tim Perschke) and Boston Tiger Lil (Lance Bressler). Foxfire started the half hour slowly, somewhat unsure of the situation. Lil ran an industrious race at moderate range. Foxfire began to pick up the pace as the brace went on and at the midway point was flying through the cover with excellent class and speed. At 26 Foxfire’s bell stopped in the conifers to the right of the course. Tim went in and immediately flushed a grouse, the dog standing high and tight. An excellent well mannered grouse find. Two more grouse flushed wild in the same general vicinity. Both dogs finished strong and to the front.
Double Deuce Molly (Doug McMillen) and Kendal Hills Georgia Peach (Perschke) had admirable performances as they crossed to the front making one nice cast after another. Two birds got up wild to the right in blow downs as we made our way down the first hill. Both showed potential but the performances rendered did not displace any of the previous performances.
Pleasant Valley Buddy (Dr. Stiteler), as a bye. Buddy started strong and worked the cover in and out of bell range exuding class in every stride. At 22 Buddy’s bell stopped to the left of the course. He was found standing high and tight. Doc made a flushing attempt but no birds could be raised. Doc released Buddy and he bolted down the course a few hundred yards and stopped. Once again he was found standing pointing into some conifers to the left of the course. As Doc got closer to his charge a grouse took flight. Doc fired his .32 and briefly after the report another bird flushed. Buddy remained steady throughout both flushes. This was a handsome mature piece of bird work. Buddy finished as he began, hunting the objectives with a certain maturity that exceeds his years. This performance garnered him first place in the 68th running of the Grand National Grouse Futurity!
With two of the three placements (three placements for 21 entries) determined, a callback was held for the contestant with the best overall ground performance in order to decide the final placement. Pepper Jack Wood, which had the best initial ground performance, went in to the bird-field and immediately locked up looking fantastic with high head and tail. His nervous handler initially could not find a bird. Eventually, however, a bird was located and flushed with the dog remaining steady to wing and shot at the report of the .32 blank pistol. There was a standing ovation for the rookie handler which he seemed to appreciate immensely.
We then traveled to the clubhouse on the Loleta side where George announced the placements and awards. Again the theme of this trial was that although there were not many entries in terms of quantity, the quality made up for it!
Marienville, Pa., November 4
Judges: Robin Frame and Paul Rebarchak
SIXTY-EIGHTH GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE FUTURITY —
3 Pointers and 18 Setters
1st—PLEASANT VALLEY BUDDY, 1642065, pointer male, by Thunderhills Zeus—Grouse River Sheena. J. E. Stiteler, owner and handler.
2d—KENDAL HILLS FOXFIRE, 1642165, setter male, by Montera’s Rock—Keystone’s Best Bette. Tim Tufts & Tim Perschke, owners; Tim Perschke, handler.
3d—PEPPER JACK WOOD, 1627073, setter male, by Terhaar’s Elvis—Grouse River Princess. John Bodo, owner and handler.