Blast Zone named Purina Coverdog of year, 2018-2019

Blast Zone

Blast Zone officially accepts Purina Award in NH ceremony, 11/2019

Blast Zone, now 5 years old started his life when Marty Stoker of Williamsport, PA bred his winning female, Hard Core to Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast. Dick Brenneman, co-owner of Full Blast with Bob Watts, picked out a strapping stud fee pup that showed the traits Dick has used to pick prospects that might lift the quality of the English Setter breed for more than fifty years. Even at 8 weeks one can see if a pup has boldness, athleticism, cracking tail and good conformation. The pup, call name “Strike”, was then transferred to Dick’s partner, Bob Watts for his early development. Bob’s been the ‘minor league manager’ in their 38 year-long partnership. With Bob “Strike’s first months were spent walking the miles of paths on Bob’s farm and then with summer “Strike”began finding, pointing and chasing pheasants on their farm and on a local farm he’s used for over 30 years, in nearby pheasant country. These farm grounds have streams running through it, so even in the heat of summer, it’s a safe and ideal place to run a pup. Usually the farm is too wet in the spring to plant along the edges of fields and this makes for ideal cover for birds and hunting. Even at this young stage, Bob who has worked literally hundred of pups over fifty years of competing bird dogs, was impressed with how “Strike” would get a bird pointed and then just stay there, riveted to the spot, until Bob found him and flushed. Time and again, “Strike” was found in tall switchgrass with his quarry nailed down and Bob doing the flushing honors. Pups that are just months old don’t do this–they point, stand and then when you get near they jump in and flush the bird. Not “Strike”.

In late July of his first year “Strike” was hunting on the local farm when he bounced out a herd of deer. He was gone for 30 minutes and Janet came over from their home 5 miles away to help look for him. They were parked in their truck next to a state highway when they saw “Strike” coming down the road and then ‘wham’ a car struck him right in front of their truck. The scene was awful as “Strike” came sliding down the road on his side and whipped around the truck they were sitting in. Bob got out and “Strike” was sitting in a stunned, shocked state. Bob gathered him up and took him to the vet he trusted just minutes before she left for the day. Xrays revealed that his rear hip socket had multiple fractures in it. It was decided to not do surgery and to hope that it would all heal back properly. It did heal back properly and “Strike” was back in action about a month later. At this point “Strike” went to Thor Kain. Thor took him and trained and hunted him into wild birds. The very first time Thor put “Strike” into grouse cover, he seemed to know where to look for them and he pointed them with ease. A winter trip to Texas with Dick for 5 weeks found “Strike” doing to wild quail what he’d done to the other wild game bird varieties–point solid, hold until the handler arrived and at this point be steady to the flush, shot and kill most every time. In the spring, just slightly more than a year after being born, Thor began the formal breaking process with “Strike”. “Strike” broke easily and quickly with little or no pressure. Once he knew what Thor wanted, he complied. More wild birds throughout the summer refined “Strike’s” development. Scores and scores of woodcock, some grouse and some wild pheasants were pointed with hardly a bobble. Strike is a unique dog in this respect. Bob and Dick, with over 50 years of experience each, never had a dog who could so naturally find, point and be finished on wild birds at this young age.

That fall with Thor, an amateur, in charge, “Strike” won two big derby stakes on wild birds with advanced shooting dog manners. He won other derby honors as well. At this point, “Strike” was still owned by Bob and Dick. As they have done with their shooting dogs for more than 25 years, they put “Strike” with pro Dave Hughes Dave polished “Strike”, particularly on quail.

Even though “Strike” wasn’t owned by Thor, there clearly had been a special bond between the two of them. With Thor’s incredible access to wild bird cover, “Strike” went back to him that summer and now at 3 years of age, Thor took “Strike” to the National Amateur Grouse Championship and came away with the title. After another winter Texas trip with Dick where “Strike” served as a guide dog for hunters on the Patterson Ranch (still steady with shotguns blazing away), that spring Thor guided him to RU Ch. at the Ontario Grouse Championship. The following fall in mid-September New York Grouse Championship kicks off the competitive season. “Strike” will always be remembered for his performance in winning this event. He hunted in the mid-afternoon, in the 88 degree heat, where he pointed and successfully relocated multiple times on a running grouse. Despite the heat he finished strong. Because Thor was an amateur, he could not take championship purse worth triple figures. At this point, Bob and Dick decided that with all this success, it was only just to transfer ownership of “Strike” to Thor, even knowing that an amateur might not be able to get to all the field trial calendar events that a pro can attend. The decision was the right one on multiple fronts. Thor had done yoeman’s work with “Strike” from the time he got him as a pup thorough the breaking process. Videos sent by Thor multiple times a week proved the progress and experience “Strike” was getting. With all this work and winning, there was a clear bond between the two of them. From NY, Thor and “Strike” went on the the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship where the team delivered again. A reaching all-age hunting effort is required to win the Pennsylvania. Grouse are scarce. It was a thrilling moment when Thor sent scout, John Stolgitis, to look for “Strike” in an area where his bell had stopped. 10 minutes later, the call of point came from John in a blueberry bottom. When judges and Thor arrived, “Strike” was standing tall with the grouse still in front of him. Flush and shot were executed with “Strike” intense and steady. He finished still strong and searching.

These two big championship wins gave Blast Zone the points needed to be named the 2018-2019 Purina Coverdog of the Year. Congratulations to Blast Zone and amateur, Thor Kain, on winning this prestigious award!

Blast Zone Pups Impress

Following Blast Zone’s championship wins of the National Amateur Grouse Championship, the New York Grouse Championship and the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship, breeders began to mate their females to him.

Power Forward

While most all of “Strike’s” pups were whelped in 2019 and are therefore quite young, we recognized “Strike’s” remarkable qualities and mated Straight Forward to him two year ago. Power Forward, female, (Blast Zone ex Straight Forward), won at the first three shooting dog stakes in which she was entered this fall. This included winning the Nittany Valley Grouse Trial All-Age with a strong race and a woodcock find. “Abby” has shown us that she has the same knack as her sire in that she can really find birds and when she does find them, she is riveted to that spot until you find her and flush. She did this scores of times on wild birds at less than a year of age–just like “Strike”.

Other pups that we have had from Blast Zone were born in 2019.

Boone

“Boone”, male, owned by Bradley Roth of New Hampshire is pictured pointing a grouse. She’s from a litter sired by Strike Zone ex Bridge Water Remi. Others in this litter mentioned below demonstrate the consistency in conformation (leggy, high headed, cracky, smooth-gaited, bold) found in this litter. Brad has been working his pup consistently and with enthusiasm. He reports that “Boone” is not only sticking his wild birds but hunting with drive and already shows a knack for finding game.

Lila

“Lila” (Blast Zone ex Claremont Lucky Brynn) is from the litter owned by Rick Simpson of DuBois, PA. She’s obviously a big strong female who showed an early desire to go out and find birds. She didn’t check back constantly as pups generally do until they build up their confidence. “Lila” pointed scores of pheasants and quail raised on our surrogator and released on our CREP grounds here at the farm. Bold, powerful, happy. breathtaking on point and wanting to please are her distinguishing traits.

Liz

Super Storm Liz came to us in early fall from Jeremy Avery. Jeremy bred his daughter of Long Gone Boston, Bridge Water Mtn Pemi to Blast Zone and had February 2019 pups. “Liz” showed tremendous potential for him and he wanted her to have a shot at the big time. Given time limitations on Jeremy’s part, he felt she’d have a better opportunity with us. We bought her after seeing a video of her running and pointing. Very few setters are as classy moving as “Liz”. It’s exciting to see her in action. It’s fun to run her every time. “Liz” has gained a lot of confidence over the last couple of months as she now goes immediately to work hunting for pheasants, chukar and quail on our CREP grounds and on nearby farms where we release birds over the fall. She’s been pointing birds with a poker straight tail and intensity–letting us come 100 yards+ to flush on many of her points. Liz won 2nd in the puppy stake at the only trial she entered, the West Branch Amateur Puppy, October 2019.

Nell

Super Storm Nell, also from Jeremy Avery’s litter, was the pup we originally picked. “Nell” continues to impress us with her drive, desire to find game and her good looks running and on point. She’s begun to really reach out to objectives in search of birds. In a stint with Thor, her co-owner, Nell has developed at an accelerated pace in pointing woodcock and grouse. She pointed solidly the first grouse she came across–all be it in an open woods. “Nell” is a sweetheart when it comes to teaching her during yard work sessions. She, like her sister “Liz”, loves to pose on the board, barrel or tailgate.

Deciding Point, 3rd at Venango Grouse trial

Deciding Point

Deciding Point, our first year all-age female, was third at the 14th Rich Tuttle Memorial Grouse Dog Classic, sponsored by the Venango Grouse Trial Club, October 27, 2019.

“Bek”, sired by 5x Ch. Pennstar ex Ch. Straight Forward (she 3x winner of the Mike Seminatore Award for the top All-Age Cover Dog), was handled by Dave Hughes to her initial all-age win in this her first all-age season. Lucas Poloff and Logan Moeller looked over a field of 24 contenders. “Bek” was called back on the basis of her strong, especially eye-catching one-hour hunting effort and handled game with perfect manners and high style.

It’s a start in the all-age world for a dog that Dick and Bob have high expectations for in the coming season.

Blast Zone Receives Setter Cover Dog of Year Award

Blast Zone

Blast Zone officially received the Seminatore Award presented to the top English Setter at the Grand National Grouse Field Trial banquet in Milan, New Hampshire in early November, 2019. The Seminatore Award is a part of the Setter Award program that was started when it had been 30 years since an English Setter had won the National Championship for horseback field trail dogs held at Grand Junction, TN. The English Setter Awards schedule recognizes horseback shooting dog and derbies as well as Cover Dog all-age dogs and derbies. The cash awards and recognition are meant to encourage breeders and trialers to accelerate the development of outstanding English Setters.

The Seminatore Award is named after famed New England professional trainer, Mike Seminatore. MIke was known as deeply involved in developing and competing the Chief line of English Setters that had great success in the woods and fields throughout New England cover dog territory. As a point of interest, Bob and Dick’s first dog in their partnership was Wire. Wire was sired by Mike Seminatore’s well-known male setter, School Boy Jim. Bob and Dick owned Blast Zone as a young dog. Ownership officially passed to Thor following his win of the New York Grouse Championship. Even so, Blast Zone–call name “Strike”–was with Thor Kain since “Strike”recovered from an automobile accident at about a year of age. “Strike” has always been “Thor’s dog”.

Thor Kain, owner, trainer, and handler of Blast Zone, was on hand to received the Seminatore Award. It’s an impressive accomplishment for an amateur to win this award as professional trainer/handlers travel the cover dog circuit from August to April, from Maine to PA to Michigan to Wisconsin. An amateur, holding down a 9 to 5 job, can hardly make the series of trial competitions the pros can but Thor and “Strike” prevailed in big entry championships in NY and PA and that clinched the Seminatore Award for them.

Blast Off wins RU MI Woodcock Championship

Blast Off

Justin Evans’ Blast Off was named RU Ch. at the MI Woodcock Championship October 11, 2019. Mark Forman handled “Sam” to this win which adds to his other championship wins as he earlier won the Northern MI Coverdog Championship and RU Ontario Grouse Championship. “Sam”, son of our Full Blast, scored 2 woodcock finds to go along with his always strong, searching ground effort.

End Game

Making the weekend even sweeter for Justin happened when his pup End Game, sired by Blast Off, won 1st at the Nittany Valley Open Puppy in his first start. We’ve been watching this pup over the summer and he has made an exciting impression in workouts and now under trial conditions.

Power Forward wins Nittany Valley grouse trial

Power Forward, sired by Blast Zone, racked up her third win this fall in the third start of her all-age career by winning the 1-hr, Open All-Age at the Nittany Valley grouse trial held October 12, 2019 over “The Barrens’ gamelands in central PA. Abby turned 2 in August and has transitioned from thrilling us in workouts to producing the same results under field trial conditions. At Nittany she coupled a strong, powerful ground effort with a woodcock find at 35. Her find demonstrated her remarkable bird finding and bird handling skills. She was standing with her typical high head and high tail when Thor and the judges located her. She was riveted to the spot when the bird flushed and shot rang out. Her finish in the last minutes showed the conditioning that Thor Kain, her handler, put on her as well as “Abby’s” innate desire as the cover was at times thick and heavy.

Power Forward continues winning ways

Power Forward

Power Forward, our ‘just-turned- two’ daughter of Blast Zone, went to her second shooting dog stake at the Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club on September 14 and came away with her second win at this level. Pitted against 20 other pointers and setters, “Abby” placed 2nd place in the Amateur Shooting Dog stake.

It was a perfect day at the new Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club’s first trial held over the Freeland Kennel Club grounds in eastern PA. Freeland has hosted bird dog competitions for well over 50 years. Bob won some of his first placements at Freeland fifty years ago this year. Today the grounds are groomed for bird dogs and they have never been so attractive and enjoyable for showing a hunting bird dog.

“Abby” broke away near the refurbished club house. Flying in the excitement of being turned loose, she reached out running along the tree lined fields. At the first turn we found her ahead pointing into the wooded edge. Birds were flown with “Abby” steady. Through the switchgrass and mowed strips of broomgrass she powered ahead. As the course went through a stretch with thick cover the judge warned handler, Thor Kain, that there were three quail sitting in the middle of the gravel path ahead. Just then “Abby” emerged from the cover and started down the path, slammed onto point and the birds made their escape without much flushing effort. “Abby” stood like a rock. In the last field below the clubhouse, “Abby” stood tall well 100 yards ahead looking into the field edge. Thor showed confidence in her as he walked at a normal hunting pace to her stand. Birds were flushed and from here “Abby” made the turn to home and finished still energetic and cracking ahead.

We’re excited with the strong start “Abby” has made to her shooting dog career. We’re looking forward to the rest of the fall campaign.

Power Forward off to a winning start

Power Forward

Power Forward, our female sired by Blast Zone ex Straight Forward, turned two in August and she celebrated her second birthday by boldly entering the DuBois-Beaver Meadows Open Shooting Dog stake. Thor Kain, her amateur trainer/handler was at the controls. 36 of the top walking shooting dogs from our region, including several recently named National champions, were handled by the best pros in the region, vied for placements under near ideal late summer conditions. “Abby” brought little experience to the matchup. She hadn’t been to many trials and never pointed a bird in competition–other than one derby callback. Naturally, having just turned 2, she had never been entered in a shooting dog stake.

While the odds were stacked against her, this meant nothing to “Abby”. She broke away hard and fast and was soon on the edge of bell range. Little was seen of her in the opening minutes but her bell rang out ahead, in the pocket. When she was spotted, she was driving from one objective to another. As we entered the woods-covered part of the course, she came by a few times, obviously concentrated on her quest. While many of the competitors have been over these grounds multiple times, “Abby” was new to the scene. She made the 90-degree course turn at 15 and powered ahead. At 18, point was called ahead and she was in a thicket with her bracemate backing. Thor put the bird in the air promptly with “Abby” a statue. From here “Abby” continued with class, tail cracking, down the course, through the woods. At 24 her bell stopped and Thor sent out Bob Watts to scout for her. She was found near a stream with the same intense, straight up pointing style she exhibited on the first find. No bird could be flushed with Thor covering a wide area. Then the judge spotted a quail coming out of a hollow log right in front of “Abby”. It was put to flight with “Abby” motionless. From here “Abby” kicked up her heels finishing, still hunting, well ahead and going strong in the afternoon heat.

At the pickup we all knew we’d seen a special start on a shooting dog career by a very young dog. While it was thrilling to see “Abby” perform so well at the trial, it was no surprise. We’ve seen her handle literally more than a hundred wild birds with perfect manners starting when she was barely a year old. Over the decades we’ve had only three dogs who were this ultra-precocious. “Abby”, her sire Blast Zone, and “Abby’s” half brother and Pennstar offspring Super Storm each could, at barely a year of age, find wild birds consistently, get them pointed and keep pointing them until you find them,–no matter how long that takes- -and then be steady-to-wing and shot at the flush. Each of these dogs was trained by Thor.

One 2nd place win does not make a career, but it’s a promising start and we’re excited by her step forward. We know we have a special dog in “Abby” and we’re thankful for that.

Blast Zone pups show potential

Lila
Nell

While we have not bred a litter for a couple of years, we continue to develop pups who come to us as ‘stud fee’ pups. Currently we are working with two youngsters born in 2019.

# 1. Lila, sired by Blast Zone ex Rick Simpson’s female, is a big strong female. She is powerful on the ground. She runs hard, likes to roll, and while she casts to distant objectives, she manages to stay to the front naturally. Lila is serious about her hunting as noted by the fact that she doesn’t feel the need to come in and touch base with her handler as many pups tend to do. She swings by at 20 yards and keeps going with her mind on game finding. Lila’s been pointing wild (mostly woodcock) and released birds consistently. Her pointing style is straight up. Lila’s bold personality makes her a good one to work with. She wants to please.

#2. Nell, sired by Blast Zone ex Jeremy Avery’s female, is a lithe female youngster whose athleticism is apparent when you see her get over the ground smoothly and gracefully. She’s younger than Lila and is just now starting to reach out. Always staying busy, Nell, is very cracky in motion–eye-catching on the move. She is a calm dog and likes to be worked on the board. Nell wants to please and her trainability is obvious when you get your hands on her. From her picture you can see that she looks heartstopping on point. Tail straight as an arrow every time.

Throughout the fall, we will hunt both these females. At the moment both are on track to be winners and with more time and training we will see if they are of championship caliber.

Straight Forward, still got it?

Straight Forward

Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Champion Straight Forward, (“Cracker”) is retired but she still loves to point birds and looks great doing it. Now ten years old, she’s enjoying retirement at Bob’s kennel. She has an acre to run in and is joined each morning by her kennelmate, Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Tilt (“Callie”). “Callie”, now 15+, is in the house overnight. Each morning she can’t wait to get out with the other dogs. “Cracker” is still spry enough that she gets roaded with the younger dogs. Just as earlier in her life, “Cracker” is a hard worker in the harness and pulls and drives throughout the workout.

Meanwhile, “Cracker’s” pups from the three litters she whelped continue to compete in the best of competition. Multiple winners Full Breeze (sired by Full Blast), Deciding Point and Super Storm (sired by Pennstar) and Power Forward (sired by Blast Zone) are all out of Straight Forward and all have been in competition this fall. Power Forward, the youngest of her offspring turned 2 years old this month and was 2nd at the DuBois FTC, Open Shooting Dog, 36 entries. 8/19).

Many regard “Cracker” as the best female that Dick and Bob owned in their 38-year partnership. It’s very satisfying to continue to build the breed on her genes and instincts.