Rock Hard Passes. RU Fruchey Classic

Rock Hard, Grindstone ex Barnburner, passed away at the age of 13 this fall.  “Tac” and his litter brother, Topseed, were a pair of contenders for us in the early years of this century.  Topseed won the Flanagan Award but we kept his brother “Tac” as he was more bird dog.  He found more birds and wanted to point and stand them.  Topseed was harder driving and more rangy.  “Tac” has a nice list of wins to his credit, the best was being Runner-Up in the Fruchey Classic (44 dogs), an all-age stake in Michigan with Dave Hughes doing the handling.  My favorite recollection of “Tac” was out pheasant hunting with him as a derby and finding him standing on the other side of a creek high on the other bank with a cockbird pinned.   He had been standing there a long time and I was able to call in my hunting pal to show him the breathtaking style and exceptional intensity that “Tac” displayed. 

When “Tac’s” trial days were over he went to live and hunt with the Tom Morris family in western PA.  Tom’s boys were in high school and loved to hunt.  It was a race between the boys getting home from school and Dad getting home from work to see who would be the first to get “Tac” out hunting that day.  At “Tac’s” passing Tom wrote Dick and me a moving letter recalling the enjoyment “Tac” brought the family.  One son wrote separately to second Dad’s praise and appreciation for being able to have a super bird dog while growing up.



Impact Player
Impact Player

Impact Player, son of Pennstar ex Joe Dahl’s Magic Mist’s Bandit, won the DuBois-Beaver Meadows Amateur Shooting dog in this his first season as an all-age.  Tall and strong, “Joe” flashed around the course at DuBois with eye-catching style.  At the 20 mark, he pointed a running bird which he had relocated twice before his handler, Dick Brenneman, put it to wing.  “Joe” finished off with a find as the clock ticked down.  His style was arresting and some in the gallery commented, “breathtaking”.  We are enthusiastic about this tri-color and believe he can make a mark in all-age grouse competition in the coming seasons.


Full Blast
Full Blast


Full Blast, son of Pennstar ex Walnut Hill Cracklin Patch, won the DuBois-Beaver Meadows Open Derby over a field of 14 on September 3, 2011.  “Jeb” was handled by Dick Brenneman to a three-find performance in his first derby start.  “Jeb” was steady-to-wing and shot on all his finds.  Even though “Jeb” is one of the largest dogs we have ever campaigned, he moves smoothly over the ground and has the crack and eye appeal that Pennstar progeny are known for.



Veteran daughters of Pennstar scored second and third respectively at the West Branch Grouse Trial, Open All-
Age, October 9, 2011.  Jumpstart is owned and handled by Mike Spotts of Bloomsburg, PA and Spark’s Fly is owned by Gardner Stoker of Mifflinburg, PA.  While temperatures were in the 80s, both showed their determination in hunting the heavy cover of “The Barrens” outside State College, PA.  Both of these females have mulitple wins on these grouse grounds over the years.  It’s satisfying to see dogs handled and trained by amateurs do well in open grouse dog competition.  Jumpstart had just returned from NY where she, according to the judges, laid out the best race of the Region 2 Amateur Championship run in grouse cover.

Our 4 Winning Male Pups

All In & Full Blast


chance working 2 copy1











We have been “blessed” (?) with four male pups of high quality.

  • All In, whelped June 4, 2010.  By Ch. Lilleyhills Secret Stash x Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Tilt
  • PepperUpper, whelped January, 2010.  By 5x Ch. Pennstar ex Stella Doro
  • Navistar, whelped Feb. 11, 2010.  By 5xCh. Pennstar ex Starlite Jessy
  • Full Blast, whelped March 5, 2010.  By 5x Ch. Pennstar ex Walnut Hills Cracklin Patch

Each of these pups has placed in puppy stakes.  Typically by this age we would have been able to see that some of the pups we are carrying don’t have Championship characteristics.  Dave Hughes is working three of these pups this summer and so far he says they are “‘all keepers”.   They all look good on game and are progressing well in standing steady to wing and shot.  They all look exciting running hard with cracking tails.  They all look exciting on point with straight tails.

Ten years ago we would have been thrilled to have just one pup who looked as good as any of these do.  The quality of  the setters we are seeing has been elevated over time as we have stuck to our philosophy as to the type of dog we want to produce and develop.  We are now in our thirtieth year and 7th generation of dogs we have produce and campaigned.  Sticking with a plan over these decades is paying off.  We can’t keep them all and eventually we will pick out the dog(s) we like best from this crop.  It’s been an exciting year working these pups and seeing them develop as bird dogs.

Straight Forward, our female, 2nd at the DuBois Open Derby

Straight Forward
Straight Forward

Straight Forward, by Keystone Red Rage x Quixstar, ended her derby career with a 2nd at the DuBois–Beaver Meadow open derby.  “Cracker” ran hard and ahead throughout the half-hour heat.  In the open areas she reached and in the woods cover she adjusted her range.  She was clearly applying herself to hunting and her efforts were rewarded with four finds.  She stood each with her characteristic high tail and excellent intensity.  She was steady on some finds.  At the 30 minute mark she was still driving and showing off her merry, cracking running style.

Impact Player, derby-age, wins 1st in the Dubois Open Shooting Dog


Impact Player

Impact Player, son of Pennstar, was handled by Dick Brenneman to his first all-age win at the season-ending DuBois–Beaver Meadows Open Shooting Dog stake.  Joe is still a derby, but he had done so well in handling birds that he was entered in the shooting dog stake.  Pro Dave Hughes deserves much credit for “Joe’s” early development on game.  While “Joe” spent the spring in a long recovery from limber tail, he showed no effects of this in his three find performance at DuBois.   Joe burned up the first half of the course is rather open with some large fields.  Here “Joe” hunted the edges and showed to the front.  Then through the wooded area he dug in and started scoring on game.  His first find featured a challenging relocation on a running bird.  This tri-colored setter is a picture on point with his  high and straight tail and his tip-toe intensity.

Jumpstart wins 2nd in West Branch Grouse All-Age

Jumpstart, Mike Spotts’ all-age female sired by Pennstar, continued her winning ways with a 2nd place win at the West Branch Open All-Age held at “The Barrens”, State College, PA.   “Woodie” ran the one hour course with drive and determination.  She reached in the open areas and was not deterred in her quest in the heavy cover that occurs at the beginning and end of the course.  “The Barrens” are a test of bird dog courage and versatility as dogs have a tendency to avoid the rough, heavy cover and to not reach out in the open areas.  “Woodie” did both.  She is an eyeful to watch in action as she’s very light on her feet and flashy with her cracking tail.  Her birdwork was flawless.

Spitfire wins the Nittany Valley Open Derby



Facing a field of top contenders Spitfire, Mike Spotts’ female sired by Bold Move, won 1st at the Nittany Valley Open Derby.  “Lola’s” strong hunting effort through a course that features some quite heavy cover and some places where you need to reach for objectives impressed the judges.  Her flashy running style and her high, straight pointing style put her over the top.    This year’s eventual Flanagan Award winner was 2nd.

Ch. Wintergreen Max wins the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational


Ch. Wintergreen Max


Mickey Fancher traveled from Wisconsin to New York’s Flanagan Farm to guide his Wintergreen Max, son of Pennstar, to the top placement in the 2011 Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational.   The Invitational is a three-day event in which all the invitees run for an hour on two consecutive days with the judges determining what dogs they would like to see on Day Three for an hour.  This is a great test of bird dog skill and determination. 


Max and Mickey teamed to record a strong hunting effort each day.  Coupling this with grouse finds on Day 2 and 3, he was the logical winner.   The field included the best of the coverdog world.  Only placements earned during 2010 in Grouse and Woodcock Championships count toward the invitation to this classic event.  Especially impressive is that Max is trained and handled by his amateur owner, Mickey Fancher.   They went up against the best dogs of the cover dog world as well as several of the all-time most successful professional handlers and emerged on top.  This is a great win to be savoured for a lifetime.