Super Storm Cliff notches 1st at Sandy Valley Amateur Shooting Dog

Super Storm Cliff

The historic Freeland Kennel Club was the site of the fall 2022 Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club field trial, October 2. A perfect fall bird dog day greeted the entrants of the three-stake program. Emerging the 1st place winner of the 13 dogs Amateur Shooting Dog stake was Super Storm Cliff.

Cliff’s performance on this day stood out for the quality of his hunting. From start until the judge ordered pickup at the end of the 30 minute heat, Cliff ran forward to objectives no matter where on the vastly improved Freeland grounds he needed to go. He ran, not only to the limits. but forward on the edge of bell range. At 17 his bell went silent ahead and he was found by handler Thor Kain standing tall with straight-up tail ahead. After the trek to his stand a quail was dispatched with Cliff maintained his composure throughout the fight and shot. While several other competitors had multiple finds, the quality of Cliff’s hunting and bird work elevated him to the blue ribbon on this day.

Cliff has been a favorite of ours right out of the gate as a pup for in trial competitions, he dug up finds including wild game that he pointed and held until flush. His numerous wins at this level earned him the US Complete Amateur Puppy of the Year. As a derby we generally entered Cliff in shooting dog and championship stakes as his training advanced quickly for a derby-aged dog.

Super Storm shows versatility in horseback shooting dog win

Superstorm

Super Storm (Ch Pennstar ex Ch. Straight Forward) placed 3rd at the Mountain View BDC Amateur Shooting Dog stake held as part of the horseback Southern Bird Hunters circuit. “Fed” had a sharp, 3-find performance that left us highly satisfied with his complete effort. As the two-time US Complete Amateur Shooting Dog of the Year, we feel that “Fed” is actually getting better as he moves into the sixth year of his bird dog life. He’s giving us plenty of thrills and his performance here was no exception.

Super Storm Hank, 1st at Mountain View BDC, Amateur Horseback Derby

Superstorm Hank

Super Storm Hank, (Maximum Resistance ex Gold Rush) won the Mountain View Bird Dog Club Amateur Horseback Derby, run over the Murphy Farm, Lake Ariel, PA, on Sunday, September 25, 2022.

“Hank” had never been worked/handled off of horseback prior to this stake that was run as part of the Southern Bird Hunters circuit. “Hank” was unruffled by the horseback handling, scouting nor gallery. He just went out and did his best to locate birds. He was successful on three occasions where he got to demonstrate his very high pointing style. High on both ends, “Hank” is a picture on point. Throughout his 30 minute heat 55lb “Hank” was strong and forward. He wants to please, he wants to handle while at the same time being aggressive in his hunting application. Going down the stretch to the finish, “Hank” drove forward showing he had plenty left in his tank.

We were thrilled with “Hank’s” performance in this horseback stake against some veteran handlers whom we respect. We were also thrilled with “Hank’s” performance on these same grounds the prior day where he was 2nd in the US Complete (walking) Amateur Derby stake in an event hosted by the Mountain View Club. Here too “Hank” had a strong effort and clean birdwork, to show his training, only surpassed by the ideal effort of his kennelmate, Super Storm Sandy, who was 1st.

Super Storm Sandy, 1st Mountain View US Complete Amateur Derby

Super Storm Sandy, (Ch. Blast Zone ex Gold Rush), won the Mountain View US Complete Amateur Derby, September 24, 2022. “Sandy” is a later-in-the-year born pup, but she has advanced smoothly during the summer training program conducted by her handler, Thor Kain. She showed her training as well as her genetically endowed hunting abilities in this foot handled stake. Snappy, with lots of jump in her step, “Sandy” motored around the 30 minute course with good speed and serious application. On two occasions she stopped with birds accurately located. It took a bit of time to get to her but she was cool and calm as Thor approached, flushed and put the birds to flight. Her pointing style was 12 o’clock on both pointing occasions. She was a logical choose for the blue ribbon.

Super Storm Liz, 1st Mountain View BDC Amateur Shooting Dog

Super Storm Liz won the Amateur Shooting Dog stake at the Mountain View BDC event held at the Murphy Farm, Lake Ariel, PA on September 24, 2022.

Liz’s win is especially gratifying to us as over the summer she experienced a severely broken tail. While we don’t know what caused the break, there was a time after more than a month of the tail not responding to treatment that we were all but resigned she would never be able to compete in field trials again. This was quite a bitter pill to swallow as Liz has had such a spectacular career as a derby and our hopes for her were sky high. But now, just in the last days/week we saw glimmers of her tail that had hung limp behind her for well over a month beginning to be held up straight again.

At Mountain View, Liz buzzed around the course, hitting the heavy cover hard and opening up when the cover lessened and the opportunity to reach out presented itself. He was very hard driving, leaving us a bit scared for more damage to her tail. As she drove through the cover she was hunting with determined application. At 15 and 20 she had point called for her and when we found her we were holding our breath to see how her tail looked. She did not disappoint as her tail was absolutely straight and at 10:30 on the one find and 11:30 on the other. As Liz went across the dirt road that separates the south part of the course from the finish on the north end of the farm, she was ripping, putting her athletic body into high geaIt might be a bit of an obsession to be so concerned with a bird dog’s tail but its a part of judging a bird dog

Arcadia Derby good for Hank and Sandy

Our derby prospects delivered solid performances at the Arcadia FTC event in Exeter, RI, September 18, 2022. Super Storm Hank and Super Storm Sandy were 2nd and 3rd respectively in the amateur derby. Both dogs displayed the requisite drive and class that you’d need to see in a young prospect. Hank, a strapping 55 lb. boy who earlier won the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic, has the smooth gait and high carriage that makes you pay attention to him on the move. He pointed quail with high style on both ends and was steady to wing and shot on his find. Hank has come along readily in Thor Kain’s summer training program and that work showed itself in his performance.

Super Storm Sandy (Ch. Blast Zone ex Gold Rush) also had clean birdwork coupled with a very classy hunting effort to garner 3rd in this competitive stake. She’s not as big running/wide ranging a dog as her kennelmate, Hank, but she drove hard to the various objectives and exudes class in her every move.

Bo

Super Storm, 1st Arcadia Am Shooting Dog

Super Storm traveled to Rhode Island and the Arcadian Bird Dog Club to continue his fall campaign. The trip proved worthwhile as he was named the first place winner of their amateur shooting dog stake. The account of his running follows from his handler, Thor Kain.

“Fed was to the front as far as the eye could see at the breakaway, but hunting. First on the left of the course, then crossing and hunting to the left. Got him and put him on an edge perpendicular to the course. About the time I thought he reached the end of that edge I started singing to him and he turned forward toward the front. He rimmed the field to the right side of the course. Then last seen going forward, singing for him again and I could just hear his bell as he came back. When he saw me he turned and went out the other side. Ahead he was seen crossing far to the front and swapping ends-standing like a bull. Couldn’t produce the bird so sent to relocate and he rifles ahead 30 yards and pinned 3 quail that I put to wing. Fed steady to the flush and shot. Forward upon release, Fed faded off the bell and we found him standing to the front. A bird was dispatched and Fed steady throughout the wing and shot, all the while not blinking an eye. Just before the big field that is the finish, Fed swaps ends again and is a statue on a long quail. I heeled him out into the field and made him turn and then I hit the whistle. He was on and off the bell hunting both sides of the course and occasionally crossing hunting with totally application to the end.”

Thor confided that he thought this was the best single 30 minute performance by any dog he’s ever seen.

Game Winner, RU Ch. at NY Grouse Ch.

Game Winner, Bob and Dick’s 6 year old male, trained by Dave Hughes and handled on this occasion by Mark Hughes was named the RU Champion at the conclusion of the 2022 New York Grouse Championship. The grounds and courses at the famed home of Grouse Ridge Kennels were in top condition for this year’s running that saw 34 of the nation’s best cover dogs compete for honors.

Game Winner, call name “Finn”, distinguished himself early in his competitive career by winning 1st at all the open derbies that year in his home state of PA (Nittany, PA Grouse and Venango) as well as going to Michigan and winning 1st at the Grand National Grouse Futurity with a finished grouse find in the closing minutes of an exciting 30 minute hunt. Since then, “Finn” has been campaigned almost exclusively in grouse championship stakes.

In New York, “Finn” ran a flashing one hour. He’s a classy moving dog as were his many winning siblings who won the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic on multiple occasions. It was the thrilling performances of “Finn’s” siblings from earlier litters that had us determined to get a pup from this mating. On the third repeat mating of Dave D’Hulster’s Springfield Showgirl to our Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast we were able to get in the que for a pup. Our pup pick didn’t let us down as “Finn” has the carriage, jump and crack in his running form that we have sought and demanded of the dogs we campaigned for now over 40 years.

“Finn” not only put down an exciting hour of hunting at this event, he also found grouse and got them pointed with style. On three occasions point was called by Mark Hughes and in each instance “Finn” had the quarry in front of his nose. At the flush on each of his finds “Finn” was steady and just as intense as when he first pointed. It’s been a long long time since any dog has pointed grouse successfully on three (3) occasions in a championship on the east coast. This underscores what we’ve know about “Finn” since his early days, that he’s a smart dog who has the instincts and intelligence to find wild birds and get them pointed.

An emotional aside to the story of “Finn’s” win is that the pointer who was named champion, Duck Hook, was braced with “Finn”. The pointer also had three (3) beautifully handled grouse finds. Duck Hook is owned by our friend Dick Straub and his recent partner Mike Flewelling. Our friendship with Dick goes back 50 years to Bob Watts’s early horseback field trialing days where “Straubie” lived nearby and both attended the local Brandywine FTC draws, runnings and parties after the day’s running. Dick Brenneman and “Straubie” become close friends through the grouse trials that both attended and competed in successfully for decades. Dick Straub’s dogs accumulated 20 Championship and RU Champion awards over these years through the performances of some exceptional dogs, both pointers and setters. It was reported that Dick Straub’s health was fading and that he was near death when he received the news that his Duck Hook had won the NY Grouse Championship. Dick, on hospice, was pleased and had a smile on his face at the report as he had a goal of achieving 20 championship wins in his life. Dick Straub passed away on September 26, 2022, the day following the announcement of Duck Hook’s win.

Thor Kain, US Complete Amateur Handler-of-the-Year, ’21-22.

At the national US Complete annual meeting held in late June in Gettysburg, PA, Thor Kain accepted the recognition as his success in placing his bird dogs in US Compete field trials over the previous season. This is the second consecutive year that Thor has earned this honor.

Wins with Thor as the handler were earned by Super Storm, Super Storm Liz, Super Storm Cliff, No Limit and Super Storm Hank.

The field trial year runs from August until May of the following year. It’s a long slog of keeping dogs healthy, in condition and sharp in their hunting and bird handling. It’s a marathon of caring, conditioning, training and traveling to have dogs that are prepared to demonstrate their innate best week after week. It takes tremendous physical effort to not only prepare but then show a string of dogs at a series of field trials sufficient to win more than anyone else to earn this Handler of the Year recognition.

Thor Kain has put in this kind of effort and coupled it with superior training skills to earn this Handler of the Year award again, repeating this same outcome from the ’20-’21 trial season. I know that he has done this hard work as I, Bob Watts, am his partner and I’ve witnessed of what I write firsthand.

Thor is up before 5 am every day. 5 or more days per week he is out with the dogs at daybreak getting them ready to do yard work training, roading on the 4-wheeler for conditioning or doing work so they are sharp on their pointing, backing and on being intense, steady-to-wing and shot and composed throughout the pointing and flushing process. He does this for half dozen or so dogs that he campaigned during the season.

When the morning’s work is done, Thor is off to work–usually among the first to get to the office at the home health agency.

Most afternoons Thor is out there, not just caring for the dogs, but often engaged in some yard work to keep the dogs sharp and building his relationship with each of them.

There’s a lot of just plain hard work (which Thor loves to do) that goes on behind the scenes to win an award of this stature.

Our Super Storm Repeats as US Complete Amateur Shooting Dog of the Year

Super Storm, our 5 year old male handled by Thor Kain throughout the year, racked up a series of amateur shooting dog wins sufficient to eclipse scores of competitors and claim the US Complete ASD of the Year award for ’21-’22. He won the same recognition in the previous ’20-’21 season as well.

Call name “Fed”, (think GOAT tennis player), was guided to placements where he consistently displayed thrilling running style and sharp, intense finished finds. “Fed” is breathtaking to watch hunt with his hard cracking tail and determined drive as he focuses on going to the birdy objectives. Since his puppy days, when he pointed literally hundreds of wild birds, “Fed” has always had a knack for finding game birds of every species. On point “Fed” is the epitome of intensity. He looks like he’s just an instant away from busting in on the pointed quarry, but he stays steady and intense even after the flush.

To earn this recognition, Super Storm scored first place wins at Northern Bucks County FTC and the Mountain View FTC. He was 2nd at the DuBois FTC and the Sandy Valley FTC. Additionally, he was RU Ch at the US Complete National Amateur Championship.

Shooting dog competition across the US Complete circuit is stronger than ever. It takes a quality performance to place. Week in and week out over various venues, through hot and dry conditions, through sleet/rain and mud, over open fields, through thick weeds/briars/ switchgrass or through the open woods, “Fed” delivered his patented hard driving effort that would make his parents , Pennstar and Straight Forward (who won 15 wild bird championship trophies) proud! He’s made us proud of him as well.