Ch. Blast Zone, 52 lb. male, 1656272, whelped 1/6/14 is a complete cover dog who has proven to us over and over again to be the best bird finding, bird handling, steady-to-wing shot male dog we have ever owned. On top of that “Strike” has the athleticism, drive and determination facing whatever conditions to go hard and fast to wherever birds are to be found.
Right from the start, as a pup and derby, “Strike” showed us that he has the unique abilities of being a big dog who can move with the athleticism and class that our kennel is known for. Like his sire, Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast, “Strike” moves over the ground quickly, making a light footprint. With a smooth and fluid gait he gets from one objective to another with speed and eye appeal. We’ve been pretty stingy the last few years in allowing young dogs we have been looking at to make the varsity team. At the time when Blast Zone came along, we had both Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast and Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Champion Straight Forward on the dog wagon. It was going to take an exceptional youngster to be invited aboard. Blast Zone earned his place.
While having the necessary class is important, it’s the bird dog part of “Strike” that has amazed us. Amazed is the right word and not an exaggeration. “Strike” showed us time and time again as a pup and derby that he possessed the ‘knack’ to figure out where wild birds were likely to be and to go to these spots prepared to get the bird pointed and not disturbed. Be it pheasants, woodcock, grouse or Texas quail, “Strike” scored over and over again. Standing as a pup to let us flush virtually every time and as a derby standing steady-to-wing and shot. We’ve never had a dog who possessed this ability to the degree/extent that “Strike” has demonstrated in workouts and in trials for the public that he can find wild birds and handle them with confidence and arresting pointing style.
Each winter of his relatively young life, “Strike” has gone to Texas with Dick Brenneman. Dick trains and guides there for 4-6 weeks. Most years Texas quail are very difficult for pups to get pointed, hard to scent in the dry/windy conditions, flushing with the least amount of pressure. As a pup and derby “Strike” not only consistently nailed these bobwhites, he would stand them stylishly until the handler found him and flushed. Time and again, “Strike” would put on a bird finding, bird handling show. Usually he would be down with other pups/derbies and they would naturally come to where he was pointing and fuss around until the birds flushed. “Strike” still standing tall through it all.
Upon returning from Texas as a pup, “Strike” went to be with our friend and fellow amateur cover dog enthusiast, Thor Kain, in northeast PA. Thor got “Strike” into spring woodcock and some grouse and again “Strike” seldom bumped a bird and was typically found standing them confidently for the flush. Over the summer, with very little pressure, Thor got “Strike” to be steady. The lessons stuck into the fall trial season. For 90% of his life, “Strike” has been with Thor Kain of Carbondale, PA. Bob Watts gave “Strike” his early opportunities getting him to handle and run to the front. Dick Brenneman has taken “Strike” to Texas for 4-6 weeks of wild quail hunting each year. Pro Dave Hughes honed “Strike’s” manners with a stint at his kennel. But be clear, “Strike” is Thor’s product.
In the fall of his derby year, “Strike” impressed at the Mohegan trial. “Strike” with Thor at the controls, registered a woodcock and then a grouse find with both encounters steady-to-wing and shot. Not even the all-age dogs found a grouse. At the New York Grouse Championship Open Derby, “Strike” ran a strong hunting race and pointed a grouse, again steady-to-wing and shot. No steps. At West Branch, still in the early months of his derby year, “Strike” registered a dug up woodcock find, again with adult manners and straight up pointing style and intensity. He was first in all these events.
In his first all-age season, “Strike” won the National Amateur Grouse Championship in his first shot at this title. With Thor Kain handling, “Strike” ran strong, hard and to the right places as grouse were scarce and difficult to locate.
In the spring of ’18, “Strike” faced the wintry conditions at the famed trial grounds at Marienville, PA and was named RU Ch. at the Ontario Grouse Trial. Winter would not let go, snow laid inches on the ground. Bells were clogged. “Strike” was impervious. When he did not return from a cast, a scout was dispatched and point was called. It took the judges ten minutes to get to “Strike’s” point but he was still high and tight with his bird still in front–all in order at the flush.
The opposite conditions were faced in the early September at the 2018 New York State Grouse Championship. 57 entrants, more than a score of cover dog champions, 14 other dogs pointed grouse clean, the temperature was 89 degrees when “Strike” was cut loose. “Strike”, after a double relocation on a running grouse and a start-to-finish powerhouse, class hunting race was named Champion. Thor was responsible not just for handling “Strike” that day but for “Strike’s” development, training, conditioning and preparation for the event. Remember, Thor is an amateur. He gets up every day at 4:45am. He’s out with his dogs before going to his high responsibility day job. He roads, runs, trains and cares for “Strike” as if he were his own…..he thinks of him that way. His hard work, done rain or shine, hot or cold, day-in and day-out has paid off in wins. “Strike” is lucky to have Thor. Thor is lucky to have “Strike”. Dick and I are fortunate that Thor has chosen to work with and campaign “Strike”.
“Strike” comes by his abilities naturally. It’s in the genes. His sire, Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast, additionally won the top derby and top all-age setter awards/ Purina all-age award at a young age. Early development is a goal of our program. Full Blast has been known as a cool character around his birds and who wanted to naturally stand and be staunch. I recall him nailing pheasants in September of his puppy year and with other now well-known pups moving all around him with Full Blast standing firm. “Strike” also has the size and body type that his sire was blessed with–at 52 lbs, “Strike” run with power and strength. But in a rare combination of physical traits, “Strike” is also athletic–graceful, snappy, jumping and eye-catching in motion. It’s unusual to get a big dog who has captivating eye appeal, something we’ve been fortunate to get in both sire and son. We would credit Full Blast’s sire, 5X wild bird Champion Pennstar, with infusing the running style and class into these next generations.
On the dam’s side, breeder Marty Stoker female Hard Core is an 8x winner that epitomizes he and his Dad’s, Gardner Stoker, commitment to setters who can hunt and be campaigned with consistent success. For years, Marty bred to our successful dogs. The Inspector was acquired from us by Gardner and he put 20 wins on him. The Inspector goes back on his sire’s side to our Flanagan Award winner Topseed. The Inspector was bred by Marty’s to his female, Lita, herself sired by our super bird dog, Rock Hard (RU Fruchey Classic and littermate to Topseed). Both these dogs were sired by Grindstone–his blood being a key ingredient in many of our classiest individuals. Marty took Electra from this mating and put 24 placements on her and then bred her to prolific producer Ch. Long Gone Boston–who must be one of the best bred dogs in cover dog history with his sire being Grand National Grouse Champion s Cracklin Tail Speed and dam, Ch. Long Gone Agnes–perhaps the all-time greatest female cover dog.
“Strike” comes from proven cover dog royalty.