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, 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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
Pennstar, now 11, continues to be available at stud. This winter, as we always do, we had his sperm checked by the leading reproductive specialist in our area. When he took Pennstar’s sperm sample and examined it in the lab, he excitedly called in the other vets and lab technicans to see the sample under the microscope. “This looks like the sperm of a five-year old dog”, he exclaimed. There was a high sperm count, high motility and very few deformed sperm in the sample. He declared Pennstar ready to continue producing pups in the forseeable future.
Pennstar is reaching new heights in terms of his offspring’s accomplishments. To date he has produced 67 winners who have won 367 field trial placements. Our kennel’s record for number of wins by progeny was held here by Wire whose offspring recorded 340 wins. These statistics add up to a lot of enjoyment for dogs and owners.
Beyond the shear numbers, Pennstar’s setting records in terms of the quality of the wins that his offspring achieve. With Wintergreen Max winning The Grouse and Woodock Invitational in 2011, with Full Tilt winning the Grand National Grouse Championship in 2010, with three of his progeny winning the Grand National Grouse Futurity in earlier years, Pennstar’s record in producing dogs who can win at the highest level places him in the elite in grouse dog history. On our Home Page, we describe our goal as focused on producing and campaigning dogs that meet the standards of the Grand National Grouse Championship and associated competitions at this national level. Through Pennstar and with hard work by many owners, we have accomplished our goal.
Quixstar, dam of Straight Forward, passed away 11/12/10 from a kidney disease at the home of her owner, Jim Smythe of Lititz, PA. “Riggs” won a couple of Puppy Classics for us and then went to our friend, Jim, to live with the agreement that we would be able to breed her to sires we agreed upon and that we would get pups from her. Unfortunately we were only able to breed Riggs once, but that was a very successful mating to Keystone’s Red Rage that produced our current multiple puppy and derby winner Straight Forward. Straight Forward looks to have a bright future and we are grateful to have her to carry on “Riggs'” Pennstar X Barnburner bloodlines that have been so successful in the grouse woods.
“Riggs” really came on as a first year all-age and her performances on the prairies of North Dakota on wild pheasants, huns and sharptails will always live in my mind as a nothing-less-than-great display of far-flung hunting and keen staunch points on difficult birds. Time and again, thanks to Garmin, we found her styled up in deep cover on pheasants. I recall one evening hunt where she pointed a large covey of huns from a distance that I’ve never seen a dog point previously. She had a great nose and loved to get them pointed. Her owner took her grouse and woodcock hunting in PA each fall and she was very efficient on these game birds. There were days when I felt we should be campaigning “Riggs” ourselves, but the quality of her new home and her usefulness as a dam outweighed that alternative.
Jim gave “Riggs” the best of everything and she replied with the same.
Straight Forward, daughter of Pennstar, was 2nd at the Venango Grouse Trial Club Open Derby, 11/14/2010. This adds to a string of wins she has recorded this fall including 1st at the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club Open Derby, 2nd at the West Branch Grouse Trial Club Open Derby,and 3rd at the Nittany Valley Open Derby. “Cracker” is among the leading contenders for the Flanagan Award for the top cover dog derby. “Cracker” has become known for her drive and running class–two ‘must-have’ qualities for an all-age cover dog prospect. She has handled birds with derby manners in each of these wins. “Cracker’s” wins are a testament to her breeding, Keystone Red Rage x Quixstar. She is very much like her Mom who unfortunately passed away this month (11/10) at a young age. Speed, flash and remarkable bird handling ability were marks of Quixstar and we hope Straight Forward will continue to enhance her record and her abilities as she matures.
Sorber Run Serena, dam of Grand National Grouse Champion Full Tilt and multiple all-age grouse winner Bold Move, has died. Serena was a dog bred by our kennel mating Grindstone to Scirrocco. Grindstone was by Body Guard and Grindstone’s influence on the speed and flashiness of Serena’s offspring was obvious. Grindstone was an exceptionally classy dog and this was passed on through to the next generations. Serena’s dam was also sired by Grand National Grouse Ch. Body Guard. Body Guard’s drive is apparent in Serena and her pups.
Serena was whelped in our kennel in the same year that we had a litter by Super Ghost x Ch. Northern Anndee. This litter by Super Ghost produced two exciting pups who would go on to make a significant mark on the breed–Pennstar and his sister First Option. In workouts that year, 2000, Serena had two formidable competitors for space on our dog truck. Eventually we sold Serena to Donnie Spencer of Sugar Valley, PA, and he placed her–most notably winning the Lancaster County Open Derby with Pennstar 2nd. Later, Donnie sold her to his buddy going back to high school days, Walt Konopke of Noxen, PA. Walt used her to hunt grouse the rest of her life. Through the generosity of Walt, we were able to lease Serena to produce litters by Pennstar. It is from the first mating that we got Full Tilt. After she won the Flanagan Award, we repeated the mating and got our Bold Move. Two terrific dogs that are currently competing at the top of our sport is a great legacy made possible by Sorber Run Serena. As Walt said when he reported her passing to me, “She went out on top–the dam of the reigning Grand National Grouse Champion”.