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”.
Jumpstart, daughterof Pennstar, won the prestigous Harold Y. Cooper Amateur Shooting Dog stake in mid-October, 2010. Jumpstart was handled by her owner Mike Spotts of Bloomsburg, PA. The Cooper Classic is a highlight stake of the Pennsylvania Amateur Grouse Trial Club’s fall program and has been run for decades with notable dogs having claimed this win. “Woodie” had a fast, snappy and hard-driving race similar to those she put down in other starts and wins this fall (including 1st in the West Branch Open All-Age). She interspersed her hunting with four perfectly handled and stylish finds to grab the first prize.
Wintergreen Max, son of Pennstar, was Runner-Up Champion at the inaugural running of the Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship which began October 24, 2010. The 86 dog draw is one of the largest fields ever to compete in a coverdog stake. Max put forth a thrilling effort on the ground and near time point was called. The one judge said he saw a grouse run from the cover. “Mickey” Fancher of Hubertus, Wisconsin, Max’s owner and handler, showed confidence in his dog when he tapped him to relocate. Mickey held his breath as Max ripped forward and then jammed up on point. The grouse was put to wing with Max standing tall and steady. This win adds to Max’s record that includes having won the Wisconsin Grouse Championship.
Fernwood Cove Bella won the 66th Grand National Grouse Futurity held at Milan, NH the last weekend of October, 2010. Bella, daughter of Pennstar ex Magic Mist Bandit, is owned by Maine resident, Jim Gill of Harrisoin, ME. She was handled by her breeder and trainer, Joe Dahl also from Bangor, ME.
Bella had a forward, hard hunting race capped by a solid grouse find with good manners. She’s a stylish dog who flows over the ground easily. You could tell that she had been hunted hard in the weeks prior to the running by her owner as she went to the objectives in her search and was rewarded. Bella began her winning with a placement in the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic last spring and then she went on to also win this fall’s prestigous North American Woodcock Futurity.