2016 Grand National Grouse Championship Winners

The Winners. From left: Judge Thor Kain, John Stolgitis with the new champion, Daddy’s Little Boy Butch, Dave Hughes, Mark Hughes with the runner-up, Double Deuce Molly, and Judge Craig Merlington.

BERLIN, N. H. — The 74th running of the Grand National Grouse Championship featured outstanding performances by the new champion Daddy’s Little Boy Butch,  pointer male owned by Paul Scott of Manchester, Conn., and handled by John Stolgitis, and runner-up Double Deuce Molly, pointer female owned and bred by Doug McMillen of Dubois, Pa., and handled by Dave Hughes. Both dogs were outstanding in their search for ruffed grouse, and handled these somewhat touchy game birds with great style and manners.

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 began 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 October 27 at Black Forest, Slate Run, Pa., that year. It featured 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 the new Championship Club went forward, three regions were formed, Lake States, Middle Atlantic and Northeast, 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, Middle Atlantic in the 1970s 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 Massachusetts; Frank Foss was the 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 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 1990s 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. In that era Kellie Short brought the Northern New England Woodcock Championship to Kilkenny several years when her Fryeburg, Me., grounds had difficulties. Since 1998, the Kilkenny grounds have hosted the Grand National every third year, and the future looks secure for this venue.

A host of trial people worked hard for a week to put on this huge event, starting with the stake managers, Joe Dahl, Tony Bly and Lloyd Murray. They rotated, walking the braces as marshals and made sure vehicles got moved up to the end of the courses.

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  to be 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 provided by Nestlé Purina. The attendance of Purina’s Dean Reinke is an asset to the Grand National and the host club.

Judges for this 74th running were Thor Kain of Carbondale, Pa., and Craig Merlington of Cedar Springs, Mich. 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 boulders and dodging  deadfalls. What an endurance challenge this is for a pair. 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 championships 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 attractive 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 coming three years old 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.

A 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, causing him to somersault. He got up as if nothing had happened and went on his way with the same fervor. He hunted with a reckless abandon, putting himself in harm’s way to find and point a grouse.

Bred by his handler John Stolgitis, Butch’s sire is multiple winner Chasehill Little Bud. The bloodline goes 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 U. S. Complete Northeast Regional Championship as a Derby. Both his sire and grandsire have runner-up titles in the Grand National Grouse Championship.

Runner-up Double Deuce Molly, pointer female handled by Dave Hughes, was sired by Cover Charge, a son of Beaver Meadow Benjamin, which 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 Hughes was impressive.

Molly added to her appeal near time when she was sent across a road, finishing the hour with some remarkable moves.

Molly won the Mid-States Championship last spring, was runner-up in the 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 title 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, Minn., and 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 Chaffee. Gunner had a single grouse find of great quality but had a tough uphill course on which to show his wares.


The Grand National Championship started on its traditional date, the first Tuesday in November, under mostly cloudy skies, some sunny intervals, cool morning braces, warming to the 50s after the luncheon.

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

Fire A Way (M. Hughes) and River’s Edge Bailey (Forman). Mark Hughes sent Way away, a bit of a slow start, the pattern improving as we went along. Way 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 handler whistled him on.

Upper Cove Billy Babe (Forman) 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 McRae’s Gypsie 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) won this Championship in 2015. 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 judgment. Handler Ecker was able to send Sunrise Star  anywhere on the course he wanted him to search. Star ran hard and searched purposefully. Neither dog found game. A grouse flush came at 50.

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

Wild Apple Calvados went deep in the course early in the hour, scouted, but it was Doherty’s whistle that brought her along. Judge Kain heard Apple’s bell stop in river bottom alders at 21 and she had a woodcock nicely. Grouse Hill Pepper Ann (Forman) 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 this brace.

Wednesday was again overcast and cool to begin the initial brace. It warmed to the 50s after the luncheon break.

Jar Way Shirley (Hughes) and 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 halftime 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.

Double Deuce Dexter hunted laterally to begin, but was directed ahead nicely by Hughes’ 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 (Ecker) was moderate in his search; 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), 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. Out of the Shadows (Wheelock) was speedy, 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) took a few minutes warming to her task. Chip’s Peppachina (Forman) was the opposite, very strong footwork, rapid of pace and always forward. Darla pointed at 19, tall and sure, but the flushing 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.

Parmachenee Flight (Chaffee) went away strongly but had some closer moments later, perhaps immaturity on display from the youngster. Flight was blessed with a great tail and gait in motion. Woodcock Haven Stella (Ogilvie) 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 moment’s trouble in the handling department. No grouse seen this hour.

Ponderosa Mac (Chaffee) and Shady Hills Colt (Forman) went away hard, lots of tail style and the athleticism exhibited by both. 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 his handsome stand. Colt, in the meanwhile, hunted forwardly, came around regularly, and logged a second stylish find where handler flushed a pair of grouse. Colt pointed again at 58, and after a brief flushing attempt handler sent the dog on without a relocation attempt.

Thursday was again cold and overcast, with a steady rain most of the day.

Herbie’s Asta La Vista (Forman) 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. Uptown Girl (Hughes) 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) and Chasehill Little Thudd (Stolgitis) 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 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 Thudd 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.

Cairds Little Macy Mae (Little) and 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 an attractive 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) and Miss Penn Star (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 Penn Star this time down, and she was leashed early in the hour.

Attitude’s True Grit (Ecker) and Backstop Rudy (Hughes) 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 neither dog could be located and Ecker called for the retrieval unit and went back looking. Hughes continued on course. Moments later a faint call of point from behind was heard, where Ecker had found both dogs on point. Grit was backing Rudy. Nothing was produced. The brace was uneventful until the hour expired.

Hypointe Left Turn (Chaffee) and Grouse Hill Bell (Stolgitis) made a good start. At 10 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 stand 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 a cool 37° at the morning start, warming to 43° after the luncheon with a sunny afternoon in the making.

Double Deuce Molly’s start was fast to the front, eye pleasing, with a speedy gait. In the meantime Forman was trying to get She’s Miss Behavin 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), 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, but the rest of the hour was uneventful for her. Hershner’s Grouse Gunner (Chaffee) is a sizeable setter male with a powerful gait. He scored a nice grouse find  downhill in an alder bottom at 23, 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 the half.

Foxbrook Ike’s (Ecker) 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 retrieval unit was given to handler. Chasehill Baby Bella (Stolgitis) dug into the cover forwardly with much appeal. Bella’s bell stopped at 50, and while she stood another bell was heard, likely prompting Bella to move on ahead. A grouse came up well out, Bella not considered involved. Bella finished the hour attacking the course.

Straight Forward (Hughes) and Celtic’s First Strike (Ecker) 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 retrieval unit late in the hour.

Phillips Half Moon (Hughes) 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. Fireside Lady Antebellum (Chaffee) 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 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, 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 all was perfect for the shot. Antebellum finished well, going hard, but she was not forward every minute of the hour.

Quail Trap Will (Chaffee) and Bud of Piney Woods (Ecker) had exceptionally fine efforts the first half. Bud pointed at 23, a good looking place for a grouse to be. He stood tall, stylish and sure but nothing could be flushed or relocated. Bud stood stylishly  and sure again at 48, but for a second time nothing could be flushed or relocated. Bud was 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. An overcast sky all day but temperatures climbed into the 40s after the luncheon.

Grouse Ridge Sarge (Hughes) made a bold start, absent a short interval. He got back to the front of course without delay and hunted well. Old Glory Kate (Parsons) 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) and Nic of Time (Forman) 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 was sent ahead and hunted well as did 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. When telling handler to look in the tree the voice noise likely caused Mersaides to move up. She obediently stopped to “Whoa!”, was not shot over and leashed.

Boston (Forman) and Super Sam (Chaffee) 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) started well; 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. Wynot Whitney (Doherty) 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.

Both Kendal Hill Dawson Creek (Hughes) and Grouse River Rocken Roll (Forman) started with some very good footwork. Creek stopped frequently, seeming to seek from handler “where do you want me to go next”, but this did not persist. Creek pointed with style and intensity near the half, nothing flushed or relocated. Rocken 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) was big and strong, going hard to the fore. 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. Chaffee ultimately resorted to the retrieval unit. Daddy’s Little Boy Butch (Stolgitis) was also nicely gaited, fast afoot and cared little about the punishment he 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 Butch, on the ground. Handler flushed, shot, the dog’s stature and manners perfect. Some great casts followed, mostly uphill in this section of the course. Butch 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. Butch was still attacking the course, full throttle, at pickup.

Pistol Grip (Hughes) and Grouse Trails Cracker Jack (Chaffee) 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 flushing attempt and relocation were birdless. Both hunted ahead until time without bird contact.

Long Gone Studly (Hughes) made a bold start, showing ahead on course on some great moves. Stokely’s Trash Can (Bly) 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. We walked in to a stylish point, but the flushing attempt and relocation produced nothing. Studly’s bell was silent at 35 ahead. He stood tall and sure; a grouse was flushed right in front. As handler went to his dog, Studly moved on a bit early, and was leashed. It was a bad break for a dog that had seemingly made a challenge for placement.

Guardian (Flewelling) 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. Upper Ammonoosuc Sadie (Ecker) 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 forward and handled well the full hour.

La Sombra (Hughes) and Stoke’s Willie B (Bly). This was a great pair to watch, nicely gaited, high cracking tails, busy making a search for birds. La Sombra hunted well for the hour, getting a bit lateral in the final going. Willie B was very biddable, great rapport with handler and the future of both dogs seems promising. No birds for the hour.

In  No. 35, Wild Apple Spot (Doherty) was paired with Chip’s A Flash (Forman). Both were strong from the breakaway and made some deep casts forwardly. Chip continued to hit the far places and was lost to judgment. Spot clearly was hunting for birds and his moves were deep and to the front of course. He stood at 46 on a very stylish point on a rather steep hillside. The intensity and posture were top of the line but the relocation could not produce a bird.

Rockland Ridge McGraw (Ecker) hunted forward 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. On his second stand,the dog, after the flushing attempt, decided to relocate a bit before handler was ready for him to make the relocation. McRae’s Ezekiel (McRae) was sizeable and hunted hard at moderate speed. He had three bang up woodcock finds at 7, 14 and 25, 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, pointer male, by Chasehill Little Bud—Richfield Stella. Paul Scott, owner, John Stolgitis, handler.

Runner-Up—DOUBLE DEUCE MOLLY, pointer female, by Cover Charge— Double Deuce Casey. Doug McMillen, owner, Dave Hughes, handler.


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 Grouse Hill Bell, owned by John Capocci, 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 Mersadies capturing the Flanagan, and Straight Forward, owned by Richard Brenneman and Bob Watts, taking 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, Tenn. This year’s 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. 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. Her skits took on an atmosphere more like a “roast.”

It was an enjoyable session.


At the Chalet Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, 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 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 directors’ terms were expiring. The nominating committee — 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; Tom Fruchey named.

The move of Director Fruchey created a director 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.

Incumbent officers not retiring were re-nominated.

D. F.