Super Storm Atlantic, our year old male from Sean Derriig’s breeding program, won the Amateur Puppy stake vs 8 competitors at the Mountain View BDC trial, April 10, 2021. “Hatch,” fresh from first career win the previous weekend, kept up a forward, driving pace throughout his coverage of the excellent grounds of the Murphy farm. “Hatch” exhibited a smooth gait, mature application for his age and a high cracking tail. He reached where appropriate and hunted into the cover where that was inviting. As a large setter it took a while for “Hatch” to grow into his body. Sean Derrig told us we wouldn’t know how he was going to go until he was a year old and that has turned out to be spot on. We are liking what we see in “Hatch” and the judges agree on this day.
The Murphy Farm near Lake Ariel, PA was the scene of competition as 16 shooting dogs gave their best for thirty minutes on a warm April Saturday. The course features woody hedgerows, open switchgrass fields and some small wooded thickets. No Limit took to the task of bird finding with enthusiasm. Fast, snappy and flashy “Zoey” buzzed about the grounds. In the process she located and pointed quail 5 times. On each occasion she had the birds right in front. Her pointing style was intense, 12 o’clock–a statute during and after the flush. That’s what it took to be named the first place winner on this April 10, 2021.
Super Storm Atlantic placed 2nd at the Delaware Pointer and Setter Club Amateur Puppy, March 27, 2012. “Hatch”, a magnificently built animal, has found his stride upon growing into his body this spring. He took on the Petersburg grounds open spaces with enthusiasm. Driving forward from start to finish, “Hatch” carried himself with style–tail flashing–as he ran along the edges of fields. This is his second placement in two events this spring. We look forward to where all this leads in the seasons ahead.
No Limit, owned/handled by Thor Kain, won the Amateur Shooting Dog stake at the Delaware Pointer and Setter Club, March 27, 2021. “Zoey” began her life as a part of the Watts/Brenneman grouse dog program but early on, as they were working closely with Thor, her ownership passed to him.
“Zoey” eclipsed the field by rendering a race featuring total application to the job at hand–finding birds. While others were recording a maximum of two finds, “Zoey” located half a dozen quail. Along the way, she gained the judiciaries attention with no only her focus but also her beautiful movement and running style. Cracky, busy, forward all describe her thirty minutes. On each find “Zoey” was as ideally styled up as you could hope for. Intense, no letdown at the flush and shot, she was immaculate on each point. Thor remarked that he’d not seen her or any of his other dogs have that many consecutive finds that were that close to perfection. The judges too were impressed as awarded her first.
Aside from her field trial life, “Zoey” has another role which she regards as her #1 purpose in life. She is the guarding and constant companion of Jackson Thor, Thor’s 2 year old so. When Jackson was an infant, “Zoey” slept by his crib. It’s been common to find the two of them together on the couch cuddling each other, napping or just hanging out. There’s a bond between the two of them that defies explanation. Good job on both fronts “Zoey”!
Super Storm dealt with the dry, windy conditions at the Bucks County FTC spring trial better than the 13 other competitors in the amateur shooting dog stake and for that he came away with first place. Conditions were tough for bird finding as no dogs had more than one find and some veterans went birdless. Therefore, it took a dog with intelligent application and a good nose to ring up a score on birds. It also took a standout ground effort as multiple finds was not the basis for making placements this particular Saturday.
“Fed”, guided by Thor Kain, came through on all counts. He’s a ball of fire on the ground. Driving, punching forward he rimmed the long edges of the fields at the Indian Spring WMA for the full 30 minutes. He’s an exceptionally snappy, tail crackin’ young setter.
In this initial trial of Spring 2021, dogs who live up north had a tough winter with little opportunity to hunt, train and get in shape. Nevertheless, “Fed’s’ desire was evident as he was identified 150 yards to the front standing on the edge of the field pointing into cover. Tall, puffed up, with his poker straight tail at 11:30, “Fed” had the judges impressed with his pointing demeanor and intensity even after the wing and shot.
Super Storm Atlantic won the Amateur puppy stake with his kennelmate, Super Storm Cliff, garnering second place at the Buck County Field Trial, March 13, 2021.
Atlantic, call name “Hatch” was made for the grounds at the Indian Springs WMA in Clear Springs, MD. He’s bred from Sean Derrig’s kennel that is focused today on setters that can compete in all-age horseback competition. Long edges invite a dog to reach forward, carrying the casts at times hundreds of yards. “Hatch”, running with strength and carrying himself and his tail high, took advantage of the quail hunting opportunity and showing off his desire and style. On several casts he dug into the edge and then would pop out well ahead looking for his handler, Thor Kain, and then go right back to work. It’s “Hatch’s” first trial placement and he made it a memorable one.
Thor also handled Super Storm Cliff. “Cliff” who also made some impressive casts to the front once he got his legs under him. Especially classy, “Cliff” impressed the judges with his freewheeling, enthusiastic effort to the end of the brace. This is “Cliff’s” third placement.
Straight Forward, Dick and Bob’s 9-time cover dog championship title winner, has died. “Cracker” was an all-time favorite of ours and of her handler to all her championship wins, Dave Hughes.
“Cracker”, as all the dogs in Dick and Bob’s 40-year old partnership, started and spent the first year of her life with Bob (the minor league manager). It was clear from the start that “Cracker” was something special. Her dam Quixstar was from a niche that produced nine winners (Pennstar x Barnburner). Barnburner, a terrific bird dog and competitor, passed on her bird finding and attitude on point to Quixstar, multiple classic winner as a young dog. Quixstar, was given to my hunting pal, Jim Smythe, and we marveled at her beautiful running gate, drive and skill on game on many grouse hunts in PA and trips to Kansas and North Dakota. When Jim took her to breed to Craig Peter’s, athletic and thrilling Ch. Keystone Red Rage, I told Craig that this was the best dog her would ever breed to Rage. Maybe that is true or maybe not, but I meant it and the results proved that there was something going on.
A personal memory of “Cracker” comes to mind when I think of her. In the fall of 2004, “Cracker” was still a relatively young pup. She was so precocious in training for me that I entered her in the Open Derby at the Nittany Valley grouse trial. Dick was traveling and I didn’t mention that I’d entered her to him. He got home just before the trial and I’m sure he thought I was nuts putting a 9 month old pup in the derby stake against dogs who were twice her age. On the heavy cover dominating the course, I had a tough time keeping her to the front. Helen, Dick’s wife, was scouting for me. I was glad Dick was busy elsewhere at the trial as “Cracker” needed to get out front more. I knew he’d roast me for entering her at such a young age. On we went and I kept calling to her, “Cracker…get ahead, Crack….head, Crack….head” Later, Rob Boos who was judging, asked me if I knew what a “crackhead” was! In the final minutes the course came to a 40 acre open overgrown meadow. At this point, “Cracker” found energy enough to rim the field and finished out front, still running hard. She got third after a sharp find in the bird field. I was smiling like a Cheshire cat when they called the winners. Probably this was “Cracker’s” least significant win, but the memory sticks with me today.
At this point, Bob the minor league manager, passed responsibility for “Cracker’s” development over to Dick and almost immediately Helen was handling her in training. Dick and Helen went together to almost every training session and “Cracker” was such a natural that Helen loved being in charge of her. It was never a struggle. “Cracker” was Helen’s dog. When “Cracker” won the Seminatore for the first time, Dick was proud and made a special point of giving Helen credit for “Cracker’s” accomplishments. Remember, “Cracker” won the Seminatore (top cover dog setter award) 3 times!
“Cracker” traveled as an all-age with Dave Hughes to all the regions where cover dog championships were hosted. We ran her only in championships, as has been our policy with all-age dogs for decades. No matter where Dave put her down, she won. From Maine/NH (New England Grouse Ch.) to New York (3 times RU NY Grouse Championship), to PA (PA Grouse champion) to Michigan (RU CH. MI Woodcock Ch.) . In all these places “Cracker” found the elusive grouse. Somehow, she had the brains to figure out where they would be and the instincts to get them pointed. The old cliche was true with her, the trial wasn’t over until “Cracker” ran. Dave continued to win with her until she was 8 years old. At this point, our friendly competitors would, in jest, beg us to retire “Cracker” so that they could get some placements. ‘
Perhaps the most important recorded win of “Cracker’s” career was winning the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational in 2013. Not only was this her biggest recorded win but it was her finest performance. On the afternoon of Day 1 over the famed Gladwin, Michigan grounds, “Cracker” in her prime, hunted with speed, great eye appeal, determination and intelligence to rack up 4 well-spaced woodcock finds topped it off with a grouse find in the closing minutes of her hour. All the finds required scouting and each time there she stood, straight up style, intensity and mannerly as Dave flushed and shot. To this day it brings a chill to recall “Cracker’s” performance on that afternoon. The rest of the Invitational turned out to be mostly a formality as the judge later recounted that “Cracker” had won the three-day event on that special first afternoon.
“Cracker” managed to fit in 3 littters of pups along with her field trial career. She was first bred to our Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast, In that litter we got our currently campaigned bird finder, Full Breeze, winner of the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic. In the second breeding we matched “Cracker” with 5x Ch. Pennstar using frozen semen. From that litter we got both multiple winners, Super Storm (Bob Watts’ and Thor Kain’s producer/winner of the Peter Ecker Amateur Shooting Dog Classic) and Deciding Point (Dick Brenneman’s and Bob Watts’ winning grouse dog competitor in Dave Hughes string). Incidentally, Deciding Point now has pups sired by Maximum Resisitance. The winning genes carry on. Finally, “Cracker” had a litter of just two pups when bred to our National Amateur Grouse Champion Blast Zone, handled by Thor Kain and now owned by Thor. From this we got an outstanding shooting dog winner, female Power Forward. Unfortunately, Power Forward died this fall.
Upon “Cracker’s” retirement we gave her to Evangelos Aposporis . He’s an avid hunter and she got a lot of opportunity to do what she did best–find birds, especially grouse. We enjoyed the field reports and photos of “Cracker” standing proudly with her latest quarry in the bag.
Since 1981, Dick and Bob’s partnership has been focused in a determined fashion on producing, developing and campaigning cover dogs for these 40 years. We bred to the best, no matter who owned the dog or where they were located. We both took our dogs afield for training three times a week without fail. We worked with the best trainer/handler, Dave Hughes. There were no pauses, no let ups in our efforts . In return, we were rewarded with dogs who had the goods to get the hunting job done with class and win consistently at the highest level. “Cracker” life and career epitomizes what we have sought to accomplish and we are humbly thankful to have had such a great dog.
Power Forward, our 3 year old multiple winner, died November 7, 2020. “Abby” was a favorite of our kennel who earned her place in our string with her strong bird dog instincts which were harnessed to make her a formidable competitor by Thor Kain.
Abby came into this world by accident. In 50 years of bird dogs Bob and DIck never had an unplanned litter until the late summer of 2017. Straight Forward, who we never could get mated naturally had earlier in the year given birth to a frozen semen litter sired by Pennstar. That summer “Cracker” was on vacation at Bob’s where she enjoyed running in the dog pasture she shared with 3x Ch. Blast Zone. Since she had an erratic menstrual pattern and refused to stand still for a natural mating throughout her life, we never gave any thought to her mating naturally and unplanned with “Strike”. We were roading her and the other competition dogs regularly thoughout the summer. Late one Sunday evening after returning from roading, “Cracker” looked a little heavy around her flanks. Upon closer inspection, her teats seemed swollen and even a bit of milk could be extracted! A quick trip to the Emergency Vet confirmed that she was pregnant and was carrying two pups. Bob went directly from the Emergency Vet to the whelper helper we have used for several years and two days later the two pups were on the ground. That’s how “Abby” got her start.
Both of “Abby’s” parents had won the prestigious Purina Cover Dog-of-the-Year Award. We had high hopes for the pups and “Abby” did not let us down. What we liked best about her was her ability to find birds and get them pointed. In sight or out of sight, she then would stand on point until you found her and flushed. She was like this at less than a year of age. This trait made finishing her training and getting her to be steady-to-wing-and shot a relatively easy job for Thor Kain.
While “Abby” had wins as a puppy, derby and shooting dog with her last placement just weeks before her death (attributed to a sepsis infection of her uterus), we remember the win that got away from her. At the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship “Abby” was braced with her kennelmate, Deciding Point. Deciding Point was handled by Dave Hughes and Thor Kain had “Abby”. Grouse finds were scarce, as usual. Both dogs gave a championship effort on the ground. At 35, “Abby” pointed and “Bek” (Deciding Point) backed. A postcard picture with both intense and stylish. Bob has this photo in his living room. Thor flushed for “Abby” and way out front a grouse lifted low getting away unseen by the judiciary. This happens in wild bird trials.
There are lots of heartaches and heartbreaks in bird dogs. “Abby’s” early death is certain one of these heartbreaking events that we have learned to absorb, deal with, and then move on to work and love other good bird dogs we are fortunate to won.
Super Storm Liz finished the fall 2020 campaign the way she started by earning 1st in the Amateur Derby at the USCSDA Northeast Region event held November 1, 2020. The Flaherty Field Trial Association grounds, in East Windsor, CT, are an historic venue where bird dogs need to reach for objectives if they are going to be efficient in their hunting. Liz did just that right from the start. Her first find was 175 yards to the front. The succeeding finds were also well ahead and in each instance Liz stood until her handler, Thor Kain, arrived and dispatched the birds. At the flush Liz stayed high and tight and displayed shooting dog manners in each find.
This is Liz’s fifth 1st place derby win this fall. We don’t recall owning a dog who recorded five 1st place wins in one season.
Super Storm, Ch. Pennstar ex Ch. Straight Forward, won his 4th shooting dog placement of the fall season by earning second in the Amateur Shooting Dog stake at the Mountain View Bird Dog Club trial, October 10, 2020. “Fed”, running in the heat of the day, powered his way through the rather heavy cover of the Murphy Farm in a forward searching effort. Plenty of goldenrod and weedy cover is found in some of the fields. Other fields feature switchgrass, corn and other grain feed plots/strips. To hold wild pheasants and covies of prereleased quail, it takes cover and feed. The Murphy Farm is managed successfully in this regard. A dog needs to be one that attacks the cover to win here. You have to get into the hedgerows and woods edges in search of game. “Fed” did just that and located quail twice. On both finds “Fed” showed his first class style and intensity on point. He’s got a perfectly straight, short tail when posed on point. His intensity holds throughout the flush and shot. His first find was on the woods edge at the half way mark with bracemate backing and then across the dirt road he registered his last find in the closing minutes of the 30-minute stake. He finished ahead deep in a island of cover.