September 5 was another scorcher in the southern New York State. 89 degree temperatures and high humidity faced the 5th brace cut loose at 3pm on Day 1 of the New York State Grouse Championship. Blast Zone, our 4-year old male setter, under the whistle of handler Thor Kain was more than up to the challenge. “Strike” fired around the course demonstrating his high at both ends carriage. Watered at 10, he didn’t stop for anything until 35 when his bell went dead in a thicket to the left of the course. Thor and scout John Stolgitis along with Judge Ann Naus went in to look for “Strike”. After 5 minutes they found him and handler elected immediately to send him on. On command “Strike” dashed forward 30 yards and pointed solidly. Thor got in front of the dog but couldn’t raise a bird. He again touched “Strike” on the shoulder and told him to go on. “Strike” went directly forward another 50 yards and slammed onto point. As Thor approached, “Strike” was a statue with his tail at 12 o’clock and his head nearly as high. The pinned grouse rose from immediately in front of where he stood, “Strike” composed through the shot. This display of bird dog intelligence, instinct and experience was the key to “Strike” win of this prestigious and high quality championship competition. From here he continued with strength, not water stops, determination and enthusiasm. Going strong at the end, the judges cautioned Thor “don’t lose him” as at this point all realized they’d seen what would be deemed a very special performance under any circumstances, but made especially memorable given the extreme conditions.
57 contenders towed the line with scores of fine contenders, many champions, over the next four days. The extreme weather conditions abated. Some of the days the temperature never got out of the 60s. 14 of the contenders finished their heat and had clean work on grouse which were not overly abundant, but more than sufficient to have a fair test of grouse dog hunting skill. The Partridge Run Field Trial Area, Berne, NY is perhaps the best area in the east for competing cover dogs who hunt mainly in the woods for grouse and woodcock.
Blast Zone, the current National Amateur Grouse Champion, is sired by our Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast. The dam, multiple winner Hard Core, is by noted performer/producer Ch. Long Gone Boston ex 24-time winner Electra who is from generations of our winning individuals.
While “Strike” is the best dog we have owned at finding and pointing steady on wild birds, full credit goes to amateur Thor Kain who has presented “Strike” with numerous opportunities on wild birds in his northeast PA covers that few dogs would ever get. In many ways, “Strike” has become Thor’s dog and Thor treats him that way giving “Strike” the best of care and development. “Strike” took full advantage of his environment and proved to be a smart, easy-to-train dog that Thor had essentially finished on wild birds of every wild game species before he was 18 months old. Trips to Texas with co-owner Dick Brenneman also sharpened “Strike’s” skills. For the past two seasons “Strike” has been used on guided quail hunts on the Texas ranch where Dick trains and guides in the winter. If you are having trouble finding birds or getting them pointed due to the hot, windy, dry conditions, then its time to get “Strike” out and run him.