Blast Zone, handled by our amateur friend Thor Kain, hunted with power and serious application, going strong the entire hour at the Ontario Grouse Championship, April 8, 2018. “Strike’s” efforts were rewarded at the 40-minute mark with a scouted woodcock find handled with arresting style and intensity. Conditions during the Championship were challenging for both dogs and handlers. Winter would not let go of its grip as snow flew over and laid on the courses at Marienville, PA–home of the Ontario Grouse Ch. for the last several years. “Strike” was impervious to the conditions. When he did not return from a cast and his bell could not be heard, a scout was dispatched. Several minutes were required to locate him standing on an edge facing out into a weedy field. It then took nearly ten minutes total for the judge to arrive on the scene to witness the find. “Strike” still standing, looking like a bull, on his bird that was flushed with all in order. From here “Strike” continued hunting with application and desire through a variety of pole timber and regrowth to a forward finish. While the spring trial season was abbreviated, “Strike” exhibited consistent excellence winning the Nittany Valley Grouse Trial, being the first call-back in the Grand National Grouse Invitational and then capping the season in the Championship circle at the Ontario. In all these events he was handled by Thor Kain who has worked with “Strike” since he was a pup.
Deciding Point, our female puppy from the frozen semen litter sired by Pennstar ex Straight Forward, wound up her puppy competitive career with a fine performance in the Venango Puppy Classic, April 7, 2018. The Venango Puppy Classic has been regarded for decades as the premier puppy event in the east. In her 20 minute run, “Bek” hunted with drive and determination right from the start. She flashed through the woods with lots of crack in her tail and jump in her steps. She’s a classy youngster. Her pattern was forward and when her hunting brought her near the handler, she was quick to turn into the cover and resume the search. She finished ahead and going strong, handling in a most responsive manner, a trait inherited from her famous parents. It’s exciting for us to have a high quality female from what may well be the two best dogs of our 36 year partnership. “Bek’s” got a lot to live up to, but so far she has not disappointed.
Super Storm, owned by Thor Kain and bred in our kennel, won 2nd place in the 71st Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic. “Fed” (originally named by Bob after his tennis idol Roger Federer) got right to business and he stayed right at it throughout his heat held March 31 at the Black Ash Club grounds, Guys Mills, PA. Staying forward, occasionally drifting out of sight then showing to the front, “Fed” flowed through the course from objective to objective–clearly hunting his way for the thirty minutes. He finished like he started. “Fed” showed his promise in trials last fall by winning the Nittany Valley Grouse Trial Open Puppy. However, it is in workouts on Thor’s training grounds where “Fed” really won over believers. He’s surely pointed more than 100 wild birds in his first year, standing nearly all until the flush. He has a remarkable knack for sticking woodcock and showing just enough respect for grouse to get them pointed without bumping them. He is magnificent on point. Planning goes into any winner of the Grand National Puppy Classic as their mating must be nominated into the Grouse Futurity for which fees are paid at the time of mating and after whelping. Planning even farther in advance occurred in “Fed’s” case as his sire is 5x wild bird Ch. Pennstar. We froze Pennstar’s semen and this is the first time that we have used it for ourselves. Precious as this semen is to us, we were quick to employ it in mating to our 9x Ch/RU Ch. and 3x Seminatore Award winner Straight Forward. While there were only 4 pups in the litter, we have kept two, “Fed” and his sister Deciding Point who won the 27 dog Nittany Valley Open Puppy a few weeks earlier. We are thrilled to get these two quality pups to hopefully carry on some of our most productive bloodlines and individuals.
Straight Forward celebrated her 9th birthday this month by winning 1st at the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club Open All-Age competition. “Cracker” has been an exceptional bird finder all of her life. It’s in her genes, it’s in her brain, it’s in her heart. In this event birds were very scarce. Some were flushed wild, but “Cracker” was the only dog who got grouse pointed and she did it twice. 25 dogs competed. “Cracker’s” brace featured her consistent application and her consistent determination. She went to the places grouse live based on her 9 years of hunting for them in training and in competition. She has been in training with Dave Hughes all spring. Dave was scheduled to handle her, but with multiple derbies to run on other courses, it was decided that co-owner Dick Brenneman would handle her. When Dick had a last minute conflict with running our derby, Thor Kain was deputized to handle “Cracker”. “Cracker” had spent the winter with Thor while Dick went to Texas with younger dogs. Thor did a great job in pointing out “Cracker” standing off to the side at 20 and then she was standing again at 35 ahead. On the first find, a single grouse got up ahead as Thor approached her stand. On the second, one grouse left and then another erupted from underneath Thor’s feet, “Cracker” steady as a rock throughout. She went on to finish swinging through the cover and searching ahead.
Full Breeze, our 2- year-old female, placed 3rd in the prestigious 1-hour National Grouse Derby Classic held near Marienville, PA, in the Allegheny National Forest. “Bree” had a start to her hour on a course that was practically barren of cover as the area had been recently timbered. In this area, with not much in the way of objectives, she didn’t look her best. After about 20 minutes, with the cleared area behind her, “Bree” settled in and really applied herself to hunting the objectives and thicker cover. She did this without let up. Smooth gait, consistent drive, smart hunting and a classy carriage were what endeared “Bree” to the judges. On her find, she was high and tight right through the flush and afterwards. “Bree” is from the first small litter by Grand National Champion Full Blast ex Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Ch. Straight Forward….she comes by her ability naturally.
In the first trial of the spring at the Nittany Valley Grouse Trial, our
dogs took 1st place in each of the three stakes each of which featured a large entry.
Ch. Blast Zone, our all-age male, ran a strong hunting hour over “The Barrens” course known for its heavy cover. “Strike” was eye-catching with his athletic gait and cracking tail as he made a series of forward casts, handling naturally for Thor Kain who guided him to this placement over a quality 27 dog field. His reward was a perfectly handled grouse find at the 28 mark. Thor has been working with “Strike” since the dogs returned from their winter jaunt to Texas with Dick where “Strike” displayed more of this remarkable bird finding. Quail were hard to point this year as the conditions in TX are marked by a severe drought. Scenting is more than difficult, but “Strike” is more than up to it. Dick used him as the lead dog on a number of hunts and he produced for the gamebag–hunters shot quail out of the coveys “Strike” pointed as well as the near scentless singles he was so adept as nailiing down. He’s amazed us with his ability to find and handle all the wild bird species since he was a puppy…..never seen anything like it!
In the Nittany Open Derby, female Full Breeze bested a field that featured many winners. “Bree” went about her business by consistently driving in a mature pattern. She’s a strongly built female and even so, she’s a pretty dog on the move. And move she did with speed and determination to a strong finish. She was steady-to-wing and shot on her birdwork. “Bree” is sired by Ch. Keystone Red Rage ex our Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Ch. and 3x Seminatore Award winner, Straight Forward.
The Nittany Open Puppy featured 27 up-and-coming youngsters. Emerging victorous among this group of prospects was our female, Deciding Point. “Bek”, who gets her name from an Australian nickname for Rebecca, ran a thrilling 20 minutes. “Bek” clearly benefited from the Texas quail hunting trip as well as the consistent work that Thor Kain, who handled her to this win, put into her last fall and this spring on his training ground’s woodcock and grouse. She attacked the mixed cover on the course with drive, speed and application. Swinging from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock, her pattern was ideal. We have always focused on having a classy dog that makes you want to watch them hunt. “Bek” personifies this class standard we have sought. “Bek” is from the frozen semen mating of our 5x wild bird Ch. Pennstar to our Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Ch. and 3x Seminatore Award winner, Straight Forward. All the energy and expense that went into making what we feel is an ‘ultimate breeding’ has paid off.
Full Blast, our winner of the Purina Cover Dog awards, the derby Flanagan Award, the all-age Seminatore Award as well as the Grand National Grouse Championship has retired. “Jeb”, about to turn 8 years old, has more than earned his respite from the competitive field trial world. Pro Dave Hughes handled “Jeb” through this all-age career. Known for his power on the ground coupled with an eye-catching, flashy way of carrying himself, “Jeb” scored championship wins across the cover dog spectrum. Known as a dog who could dig up a bird when birds were scarce, he scored in the closing minutes of his hunting hour in several important wins. Additionally, he earned a reputation as a dog who performed well in the heat recording wins in large fields with the thermometer registering at and above the 80 degree mark.
Full Blast continues to be available at stud. “Jeb” has had a lot of high quality results as a sire. His 35 winning offspring place him as a leading sire of cover dogs today. Especially when considering the high quality of his offsprings’ wins, he rates at the top among living cover dog setter sires. His offspring have won The Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic, the Grand National Grouse Futurity (twice), the one-hour National Derby Classic as well as earning a place in the championship circle.
In retirement, “Jeb” will be living the life as a house dog and hunting companion with the Matt Miles family in Duncannon, PA. Calm, happy and responsive, “Jeb” has the personality to be a family dog. Matt is an ardent bird hunter and “Jeb”will get to do a lot of what he does best. Matt and his family have given others of our dogs a great home. His kids took off from school the morning Jeb came to live with them.
To breed to Full Blast, you can still contact Dick Brenneman.
Game Winner, our male sired by Full Blast ex Springtime Showgirl, was 1st in all the fall derby stakes in Pennsylvania. We cannot recall that any other dog has ever swept the first placements in all these stakes in the 100 year history of cover dogs run in the state. “Finn” eclipsed the field at The Venango Grouse Trial Club, the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club and the Nittany Valley Grouse Trial Club Open Derbies.
“Finn” also won the 75th Grouse Futurity in MI was a sharp, steady-to-wing and shot grouse find. In PA, the cover is more open, requiring a dog to reach for objectives and hustle from one covert to another. “Finn” has tremendous drive and speed. He’s also got the flash, snap, jump and crack that we have emphasized in choosing dogs to develop over the decades. This pays off when as one judge told us, “you can’t take your eyes off of him.” “He commands your attention.” That’s the reason we have underscored class in the Grand National Grouse standards that guide our program–“Finn” is a prime example.
“Finn” is headed to Texas in January for a month of quail hunting with Dick. It’s the wild bird exposure and training that he got early in the fall with Thor Kain and the Texas trip last year that has helped reveal the winning genetic qualities in “Finn”
A litter of two pups, one of each sex, were born in August. At that time young Blast Zone hadn’t earned his National Amateur Championship title and Straight Forward was prepping for her eighth fall trial season. “Cracker’s” competition start was delayed for a month with the birth of these orange and white prospects. Now three months old, “Stone” and his sister, “Abbey”, are making all the bird dog moves that you’d hope to see at their age. Bold, snappy, energetic, straight tails, strong pointing instincts, happy and want to be with you are the stuff winners are made from. About all you could hope for at this age!
It’s not easy to be a quality field trial contender but we are giving them all the best of attention and opportunity. Keep a lookout for these two in the spring.
Straight Forward, our 8-year-old female, was recognized as the winner of the 2016-2017 Seminatore Award. This Award goes to the setter who has the best winning field trial season. This year’s recognition along with wins by “Cracker” of this Award for the 2012-13 and 2015-16 season makes her the only setter in bird dog history to win this award three times. We are very proud of “Cracker’s” accomplishment. We feel humbled to have owned such a dog.
Our entire team has played a role in “Cracker’s” record setting career. She stood out as a pup whelped and started at Bob’s kennel. Then, after her first win with Bob, Helen Brenneman took to handling her in workouts with Dick handling older bracemates. “Cracker” showed that she had the whole package at a young age and Helen found that she handled like a dream, consistently driving and hunting objectives but conscious of where her handler was. Later in “Cracker’s” derby life Dick and pro Dave Hughes came prominently into play in training her to be steady. Breaking
Cracker was a smooth and relatively easy affair. Dave’s HOF handling skills have shown “Cracker” to championship wins all over the cover dog hunting territory–ME, NH, NY, PA MI.
Beyond the people involved in “Cracker’s” competitive life, her third win of the Seminatore shows what a dedicated worker “Cracker” is in whatever you ask her to do. She always gives you her best effort beause she loves to go to work preparing for and going hunting for grouse and woodcock in workouts and in competition. Our experience with “Cracker” this year is a good example of the kind of grit, determination, desire and willingness that you seldom find at these extreme levels in a dog.
In the fall of 2016 “Cracker” scored RU Champion in three consecutive cover dog championship events–the NY Grouse Championship, The New England Grouse Championship and the MI Woodcock Championship. No dog has ever done back-to-back-to-back championship placements like this. She followed these wins a few weeks later by claiming RU Ch. at the PA Grouse Ch. That was it for the fall of 2016 but it was not the end of her work as “Cracker” was bred to Ch. Pennstar using frozen semen and she whelped a four pup litter in January 2017. She recovered from this, got back in shape and scored a win at the PA Grouse Open All-Age in the spring.
This concluded “Cracker’s” run at winning the Seminatore (she also won the Purina Award for top field trial grouse dog of any breed) but she wasn’t done working yet. In the summer of 2017, “Cracker” whelped two pups sired by our National Amateur Grouse Champion Blast Zone. She was roaded and wanted to work hard at it right up until 2 days prior to the August whelping and she was back in the harness preparing for the fall 2017 season just 4 weeks after the whelp ( I just laid the harness over her as she was still too plump for the strap to fit under her). This sounds almost cruel, but “Cracker” couldn’t wait to get back to conditioning and training and put everything she had into this work. “Cracker” managed to get to her handler, Dave Hughes, in mid-October and in her second start of the fall she scored a nice second place win in the Rich Tuttle Grouse Dog Classic!
The work of our team was critical to “Cracker” achieving her greatness as a cover dog. However, we are all humble enough to know that it’s “Cracker” herself who needs to be elevated to the pinnacle position she has earned. It’s “Cracker’s” physical abilities, skills, intelligence, knowledge and desire that have made her one of the all-time bird dog greats.