Blast Zone, 48 lb. male, 1656272, whelped 1/6/14 is a quality youngster who has impressed us mightily with his package of bird dog qualities. “Strike” has three firsts and a second in top level cover dog events in his brief career.
Right from the start “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, 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. With Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast and Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Champion Straight Forward on the dog wagon, it takes an exceptional youngster to be invited aboard. We’ve passed on some very nice pups whom we would have been proud to campaign a decade ago. Blast Zone had to earn 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 last winter that he can find wild birds and handle them with confidence and arresting pointing style. Texas quail are very difficult for pups to get pointed, flushing with the least amount of pressure. “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, “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.
In early September 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. We have never had a dog who was so precocious in finding and handling wild birds. Just this week (11/16/15) with the trial season over, we hunted “Strike” with a winning all-age dog who was high in the Flanagan Award running last year. “Strike” dug up a grouse find with his bracemate backing when we found them. He was steady to the shotgun blast. Later, on the edge of a swamp we found him pointing and again the bracemate came in and backed. Pheasants are known to seek refuge in this swamp and upon relocation “Strike” pinned a rooster on the edge. Again, steady to shotgun and dropping of the bird. We have never had a dog at this age who has been so proficient and so naturally well-mannered at “Strike” be it in a trial or out with a shotgun. All this would mean we have a terrific hunting dog but were it not for “Strike’s” ability to get out and move with jump, verve and determination from objective to objective–making him a complete young dog we welcome to the team.
“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 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 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 48 lbs, “Strike” will fill out more this year and his athleticism, like Full Blast’s, will stick with him. 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 ton 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.