Owned by Justin Evans, Blast Off, son of our Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast, scored a bigtime win in mid-October by claiming the Northern Michigan Coverdog Championship. Facing a high quality field of 54 of the best coverdogs in the country, Blast Off waited his turn until Day 2 in the 9th brace. It was worth the wait as “Sam”, under the whistle of Mark Forman and DunRoven’s Drifter handled by Rich Hollister attacked the hour hunting course. Drifter was eventually named the RU Ch. in this event so the judges had a one-on-one direct comparison of the two eventual winners. Blast Off scorched the course, running hard and going to not just the nearby objectives but reaching when needed to check out likely coverts. First “Sam” scored a beautiful grouse find with the quarry accurately located and Blast Off demonstrating his high and intense pointing posture. This was followed later with a sharp woodcock find. This is the second trip to the Championship circle for Blast Off as he earlier had earned a RU Championship.
As with all dogs, there is a back story to “Sam’s” outstanding win. Four years ago, Justin was just getting into competing grouse dogs. It’s challenging to get a dog who can compete against the best dogs, who are often campaigned by folks who’ve been dedicated to this sport for decades. They’ve got the lines and individuals who can produce winners and understandably they are keeping the best for themselves. As Dick Brenneman and I have each been trialing for more than 50 years, at this point we recognize we can’t keep doing this forever and that bringing young folks into the game is critical to its survival. When Michigander Ken Moss bred our Full Blast to a daughter of his Grand National Grouse Ch. Moss Meadow Traveler, we decided to offer Justin the pick-of-the-litter, stud fee pup. The dam’s side of the female was from our Ch. Pennstar and we were confident that there would be pups in the litter who could compete with the best. I recall Justin and his son driving out to get their pup. While on his way, we were texting about my similar drive to pick out our first English setter pup. I recall on the way home how my 8 year old son whispered, “Dad, look at his tail”. The pup was laid out, sleeping on the front seat between us. His tail was straight up, at 12 o’clock! That pup, Wire, became a Grouse Dog of the Year and a foundation dog for our kennel with his genes contributing today to bird dog performances across America.