Super Storm added another quality win to his record as he won the Amateur Shooting Dog stake at the Mountain View Bird Dog Club trial, September 16, 2023. “Fed”, two-time US Complete Shooting Dog of the Year, put forward the kind of flashy, tail-crackin’ hunting effort that is his trademark. At 13 he was found standing tall in a thicket where handler, Thor Kain, flushed the accurately located quarry with “Fed” staying high and tight even after the flush. On he went, forward, scouring the many objectives on the Mountain View course. Heavy cover did not deter “Fed” who rimmed field edges and explored islands of cover created when a farmer, decades ago, picked the field clear of rocks. At 24 minutes point was called for “Fed” as he stood just inside the edge at the end of a long field. Again, his style was magnificent and he had the bird located for Thor to put to wing. Down the stretch “Fed” continued to run hard and with plenty of jump in his step. He’s in great condition and even the warming temperatures were not a deterrent to a strong energetic finish. It’s been a thrill to have a dog like “Fed” who can put on show in a workout or in a field trial with friends watching.
Super Storm Cliff placed third in the 18 dog amateur shooting dog stake at the Mountain View FTC on September 16. A field of 18 hunted the grounds which are dedicated to bird dog training and field trials. Cliff ran and hunted hard and his efforts were rewarded with finds on three different game birds. At 12 minutes he handled a quail with high style and intensity. At 20 he had a chukar on the wood’s edge with the bird flushing well out in front of his high styled point. Headed out across an open field near the road crossing Cliff pointed to the right of the handler. Thor Kain flushed well out in front of Cliff but no bird was disturbed. He released his charge and Cliff went on forward another 40 yards and stopped immediately as a cock pheasant got up another 15 yards in front of him. And honest stop-to-flush. Released Cliff was looking hard for a fourth game bird as woodcock were found in the alders on the back course but he had to settle for the threesome of quail, chukar and pheasant. Leaves me to wonder how many dogs this season will handle successfully three different game birds in a half hour field trial hunt?
A strong entry of 29 amateur shooting dogs celebrated the first trial of the fall 2023 season. The Mohegan Bird Dog Club was the site of this event held over the well-groomed grounds of the Freeland Kennel Club, August 19, 2024. Entrants from NY, NJ, MD, IL and CT traveled to Weatherly, PA for this event.
Our Super Storm LIz put forward a fast, furious and forward hunting effort in the near 80-degree weather. Unfazed by the conditions and heavy cover, Liz searched hard in the opening 15 minutes of hunting. She was found ahead pointing with 12 o’clock style and excellent intensity. Handler, Thor Kain, dispatched a good flying single quail with Liz remaining staunch and intense. She continued her effort exhibiting consistent determination and drive. Always known for her speed, Liz scored again with similar arresting style and intensity as another quail was well located and dispatched. From here she faced the challenge of finishing in the heat with heavy cover taking its toll on many participants. Liz showed that she was more a match for these conditions as she hunted forward with plenty of go power until time was called. This is an outstanding start to the new field trial season and we look forward to seeing her compete over the full fall ’23 season.
Super Storm Fred, our 2023 male pup, has been thrilling us in workouts throughout the late spring and summer. Sired by Super Storm ex Pinekone Play Girl, a female sired by multiple Ch. Merritt’s Zachary. We acquired Girl in 2022 from Ashby Morgan. Fred was our pick of the 7 males in the litter.
To date Fred has fulfilled all the hopes we had for this mating. Fred has size, long-legs, a perfectly straight tail running and on point, cracky running style, drive, range and he has been getting woodcock and pheasants pointed regularly and from surprising distances. He’s a relatively calm dog who is easy to have around the kennel and to work with.
Bob, with over fifty-five years of breeding and developing young dogs who have gone on to win in more than forty championship placements, says “at this point in his development, Fred’s the best pup I’ve ever seen. Many things can go wrong in the development of a bird dog, but it’s performances like Fred’s been giving that keep me fired up and excited about running bird dogs.”
On August 5, at the annual meeting of the US Complete Shooting Dog Association, Thor Kain was recognized as the association’s Amateur Handler of the Year. This is the third consecutive year for which he has earned this honor by accumulating more points in US Complete bird dog field trials through the wins of the dogs he owned and handled than any other of the scores of handlers who entered their dogs in these amateur events.
Primarily Thor accumulated points through the performances of his four-dog shooting dog string. Wins by Super Storm (previous 2-time winner of the Amateur Shooting Dog of the Year), Super Storm Liz, No Limit and Super Storm Cliff (who capstoned Thor’s field trial year with his win of the Region 2 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship).
Keeping these four winners in condition to hunt in 30 and 60 minute stakes in addition to keeping them sharp and handling gamebirds with ideal steady-to-wing and shot manners requires an extraordinary commitment of time and energy. Thor gets up at or before 5am and works his dogs often at first light. Roading the string some days and training them on finding and handling wild and released birds on other days. Good supplies of woodcock with some ruffed grouse sprinkled in, plenty of pheasants in the summer and fall along with chukar partridge throughout the year are the gamebird exposures that Thor ensures each dog gets on a regular basis to keep them hunting with enthusiasm and pointing with style and intensity.
Not only does it take energy and time to win consistently enough to gain this Award, it takes bird dog training sense and skill. Thor is determined to know of the best training methods and he is always adjusting his own understanding and technique for the individual personalities of the dogs he work with.
Congratulations to Thor on earning this Award–again.
Our first-year shooting dog, Super Storm Cliff, won the US Complete Region 2 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship May 13, 2023. Warrior’s Mark Wingshooting Preserve, Houtzdale, PA, was the site of this late spring season event. The Preserve has hundreds of acres of reclaimed strip mine grounds that have been groomed with switchgrass strips and islands of various woody plants–it’s an inviting and challenging venue as a dog must run hard and hunt hard to get from one distant objective to another. These are some of the most challenging grounds in the northeast/mid-altantic region.
“Cliff” was more than up to the challenge. In the second brace, he broke forward and was spotted pointing with his trademark high style and intensity some 200 yards to the front. He remained intense, cool and collected as handler, Thor Kain, traversed the distance to flush “Cliff’s” quarry. From here “Cliff” drove forward, reaching for the next objective. In total, he delivered 7 finds, all pointed with the style and demeanor that is demanded of a champion setter this decade. “Cliff” hustled the entire hour and at the halfway point when the gallery topped a lookout you could see “Cliff” and his bracemate, Backcountry Bruiser, swinging through the country more than a half mile ahead. After this, on the back half of the course, there is a need to hunt at a more measured range as more objectives present themselves. “Cliff” adjusted his range and his smarts paid off as he registered find after find for a total of seven (7) total quail flushed over his points. “Cliff” was the bird finding star of the event and the judges noted that no other dog out ran or out hunted him.
For a first-year shooting dog “Cliff’s” effort here was rewarding, especially for his handler and trainer Thor Kain. Thor took over “Cliff’s” development from Bob Watts after “Cliff” had won several puppy competitions. From here Thor guided him to the US Complete Shooting Dog Association “Puppy of the Year” award. As a derby “Cliff” was not run a lot but he won most every time down, including first in a horseback derby stake and a shooting dog win. He’s been a precocious young dog. This spring “Cliff” won the Ridgerunner’s Amateur Shooting Dog stake and at that point we could see that he was ready for championship competition-even though being a first-year shooting dog.
Seeing a young dog take on the best regional bird dogs and come out on top is rewarding and gives us hope going forward that Super Storm Cliff can be a top notch winner that we can enjoy hunting, in workouts and at trials for years to come.
The historic Freeland Kennel Club grounds was the host of the spring Ridgerunner’s FTC events, April 29, 2023. When I, Bob Watts, moved back to eastern PA in the late 1960s, Freeland was a regular and popular stop for pros and amateurs on the field trial circuit. Now, more than 50 years later our 3-year old, Super Storm Cliff, also returned to these improved grounds after winning here in the fall of 2022. While “Cliff” only had one find here in the fall of 2022 to win the stake, here in the spring he scored five well-spaced finds. Each encounter with quail bore witness to his high style and pointing intensity. All finds were steady-to-wing and shot executed without moving virtually a hair. Not only was “Cliff” the bird finding star of the day, he put down a strong ground hunting pattern exhibiting plenty of drive. Classy moving and hard driving, “Cliff” won a lot of admirers this day.
Super Storm continues to build his record. On top of his RU title at the USC National Amateur Shooting Dog Championship this spring, “Fed” went out at the Region 1 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship and put on a strong 5-find performance to be named RU Champion at this event as well. Held over the John Stolgitis Wildlife Area at Arcadia, Rhode Island, the dogs all faced blistering heat in the days leading up to the trial–extremely uncommon for April in New England. Temperatures were pushing into the upper-80s as the “Fed” traveled first to the USC National Open Shooting Dog trial and then to the Region 1. There was nowhere to hide from the heat as it was unsafe to lay up in crates in the truck cap. Staked out in woods for a few days was the best that could be had. It wasn’t until after dark that it was safe to put the dogs back in their crates on the truck and leave to get food and drink.. After several days of this devastating weather, we wondered how “Fed” would perform for an hour. Fortunately temperatures did ease back into the 70s for his brace-no exactly ideal bird hunting weather. In the face of this “Fed” rendered a sharp 5-find performance. The judges elevated “Fed”‘s effort to championship status stating that it was his “crisp birdwork” that really stood out. As the clock wound down toward the 60 minute mark the course emerged from a woody section and a long open field lie ahead. The judges told handler, Thor Kain, that they wanted to see something special once they got to this open field. As the party emerged from the woods, “Fed” was spotted as a white dot cruising out more than 200 yards ahead, going with plenty of jump, crack and determination along the edge of the field taking it to the end without any coaxing from his handler. This was just what the judges were looking for and they elevated “Fed” to the championship circle in this talent-laden 20 dog field. Congratulations to Tim Cavanaugh and Little Miss Bella, pointer female, the champion
Full Breeze, Dick and Bob’s 7-year old female, was named champion at the Ontario Grouse Championship, April 13, 2023. “Bree”, now a veteran of the grouse trial circuit, came off a solid performance in previous days at the Grouse and Woodcock Invitational to defend her 2022 title at this important spring event. 32 of the country’s top cover dogs went to the line over a three day period at these historic Allegheny National Forest, Marienville, PA grounds. Courses covering more than a dozen square miles were designed to weave through traditional grouse and woodcock cover. “Bree’s” winning effort came in the afternoon of day 1 of the event . Temperatures were in the upper 70s when she was cut loose. At the breakaway “Bree” was flying. Moving with a lot of crack in her tail, she made the class impression that Dick’s and Bob’s dogs have become known for over their plus forty-year partnership. Running on the same course that she hunted on in 2022 when she won this event, “Bree” went to the same area she had scored on game the previous year. At 10, as she drove into inviting cover on the right side of the course, her bell suddenly stopped ringing. Handler, Dave Hughes, went to this strip of cover and found her standing with 12 o’clock style. She was so intense that her body was trembling with excitement. Dave flushed for quite a while finally putting up a woodcock 20 yards in front of her stance. From here “Bree” hunted through course 1 on the Loleta side of the grounds. At 35 she pointed in very heavy cover but no bird could be produced by Hughes who emerged with bloody arms from the effort to get a bird up. Perhaps “Bree” hunted too much, for at times she got lateral in her pattern, but each time she came to the front and went on gamely. Fortunately there was some water in the small streams that intersect this course so “Bree” could refresh herself occasionally. She was able to sustain her championship effort until the 60 minute mark where the ending found her 150 yards ahead still driving, still searching.
Full Breeze hunted the required first and second days of the Invitational with serious application. Despite unseasonably hot conditions which all the dogs faced, “Bree” fought through the conditions and hunted hard and with intelligence. On day one she was credited with a sharp, stylish find on a woodcock. The judges said they were impressed with how hard she stuck the bird and her composure through the flush and shot. On day two she continued to hunt and on occasion she reached out to some rather distant objectives/cuts where she was found pointing by her scout. Before he could call point, the woodcock lifted disturbed by the scout. She was taken on without getting credit for this find as it was not seen under judgment. These two days of good effort done in a classy fashion led the judges to ask for her to be among the four dogs they wanted to compete on day 3 for the title. Making the cut onto the day 3 roster is an accomplishment and honor in itself. On day 3 she again went about her business with surprising determination given the two previous consecutive days of hunting in the heat. Day 3 was more temperate. At 15 minutes on day 3 on a sharp turn on the course “Bree” got disconnected from her handler, Dave Hughes. About 15 minutes later as we came over a rise, there was “Bree” standing tall with an 11 o’clock, intense pointing pose. Since Dave was not on hand, Mark Hughes took over and flushed a woodcock well off “Bree’s” nose. Since she was not beating the eventual champion Chase Hill Poison Ivy, she was picked up ending her bid.