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!