A litter of two pups, one of each sex, were born in August. At that time young Blast Zone hadn’t earned his National Amateur Championship title and Straight Forward was prepping for her eighth fall trial season. “Cracker’s” competition start was delayed for a month with the birth of these orange and white prospects. Now three months old, “Stone” and his sister, “Abbey”, are making all the bird dog moves that you’d hope to see at their age. Bold, snappy, energetic, straight tails, strong pointing instincts, happy and want to be with you are the stuff winners are made from. About all you could hope for at this age!
It’s not easy to be a quality field trial contender but we are giving them all the best of attention and opportunity. Keep a lookout for these two in the spring.
Straight Forward, our 8-year-old female, was recognized as the winner of the 2016-2017 Seminatore Award. This Award goes to the setter who has the best winning field trial season. This year’s recognition along with wins by “Cracker” of this Award for the 2012-13 and 2015-16 season makes her the only setter in bird dog history to win this award three times. We are very proud of “Cracker’s” accomplishment. We feel humbled to have owned such a dog.
Our entire team has played a role in “Cracker’s” record setting career. She stood out as a pup whelped and started at Bob’s kennel. Then, after her first win with Bob, Helen Brenneman took to handling her in workouts with Dick handling older bracemates. “Cracker” showed that she had the whole package at a young age and Helen found that she handled like a dream, consistently driving and hunting objectives but conscious of where her handler was. Later in “Cracker’s” derby life Dick and pro Dave Hughes came prominently into play in training her to be steady. Breaking
Cracker was a smooth and relatively easy affair. Dave’s HOF handling skills have shown “Cracker” to championship wins all over the cover dog hunting territory–ME, NH, NY, PA MI.
Beyond the people involved in “Cracker’s” competitive life, her third win of the Seminatore shows what a dedicated worker “Cracker” is in whatever you ask her to do. She always gives you her best effort beause she loves to go to work preparing for and going hunting for grouse and woodcock in workouts and in competition. Our experience with “Cracker” this year is a good example of the kind of grit, determination, desire and willingness that you seldom find at these extreme levels in a dog.
In the fall of 2016 “Cracker” scored RU Champion in three consecutive cover dog championship events–the NY Grouse Championship, The New England Grouse Championship and the MI Woodcock Championship. No dog has ever done back-to-back-to-back championship placements like this. She followed these wins a few weeks later by claiming RU Ch. at the PA Grouse Ch. That was it for the fall of 2016 but it was not the end of her work as “Cracker” was bred to Ch. Pennstar using frozen semen and she whelped a four pup litter in January 2017. She recovered from this, got back in shape and scored a win at the PA Grouse Open All-Age in the spring.
This concluded “Cracker’s” run at winning the Seminatore (she also won the Purina Award for top field trial grouse dog of any breed) but she wasn’t done working yet. In the summer of 2017, “Cracker” whelped two pups sired by our National Amateur Grouse Champion Blast Zone. She was roaded and wanted to work hard at it right up until 2 days prior to the August whelping and she was back in the harness preparing for the fall 2017 season just 4 weeks after the whelp ( I just laid the harness over her as she was still too plump for the strap to fit under her). This sounds almost cruel, but “Cracker” couldn’t wait to get back to conditioning and training and put everything she had into this work. “Cracker” managed to get to her handler, Dave Hughes, in mid-October and in her second start of the fall she scored a nice second place win in the Rich Tuttle Grouse Dog Classic!
The work of our team was critical to “Cracker” achieving her greatness as a cover dog. However, we are all humble enough to know that it’s “Cracker” herself who needs to be elevated to the pinnacle position she has earned. It’s “Cracker’s” physical abilities, skills, intelligence, knowledge and desire that have made her one of the all-time bird dog greats.
Super Storm, owned by Thor Kain, got his competitive career started by winning the Nittany Valley Open Puppy, November 12, 2017. His stint at Nittany featured his precocious desire to hunt, driving to the front with plenty of crack and jump in his step. “Fed” (tennis fans recognize the nickname of the world’s greatest player) is from the special frozen semen mating of 5x wild bird Champion Pennstar ex 3x Seminatore Award winner, Ch. Straight Forward. Together his parents have been to the championship circle in grouse and woodcock trials 16 times.
“Fed”, even at just 10 months of age, has already demonstrated that he has the brains and bird finding ability of his parents. Since mid-summer “Fed” has easily pointed staunchly more than a hundred grouse or woodcock under all types of conditions. “Fed’s” a bird finder extraordinaire and he’ll stand until you find him.
We are equally excited about “Fed’s” sister, Deciding Point. “Bek” has the class, desire and bird finding ability that we’ve come to desire in our dogs. Both “Bek’ and “Fed” are prospects that seem worthy of their exceptional heritage.
Game Winner, our young black and white male, topped a strong field of contenders in the 73rd Grand National Grouse Futurity held November 5, 2017. “Finn” put down an impressive thirty minutes of hunting which featured his strong drive and extreme running class. He’s the kind of dog you just can’t take your eyes off when he’s going at his work of finding wild birds. And connect with wild birds he did as he pointed old ruff at the 20 minute mark with high intense style. As his handler, Dick Brenneman, approached “Finn”, the grouse got up with “Finn” standing regally steady-to-wing-and-shot. A finished piece of wild bird work. The combination of the best hunting effort of the day and the bird work won him the recognition.
In 2015, “Finn’s” breeder, Dave D’Hulster, nominated his female, Springfield’s Showgirl in the Futurity at the time of mating. He spent the money to start the futurity process and more money later to maintain the litters’ eligibility because he had confidence in what was already a niche between Showgirl and the sire of the litter, Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast. Previous litters of this mating had produced #1 #2 and #4 placements in the 2015 Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic as well as the #1 placement in the 2016 Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic. At the time Dave bred Showgirl this third time to Full Blast, we asked if we could get a pup. Dick drove out and picked out “Finn”. “Finn” spent much of his puppy development life with Bob Watts and then over the summer of 2017, “Finn” spent months with our friend, Thor Kain. “Finn’s” prowess in finding wild birds and handling them with adult manners is testimony to the opportunity of wild birds at Thor’s and to his dog training skills.
“Finn” has been on a field trial dominant tear recently. In the weeks leading up to the Futurity, he won both the PA Grouse Trial Open Derby and the Venango Open Derby with Dick Brenneman at the helm. At this point, “Finn” leads in the points accumulated for the Flanagan Award which goes to the top English setter derby for the year.
Blast Zone, our 3-year old male, won the National Amateur Grouse Championship on October 29, 2017. Thor Kain expertly handled “Strike” to this , his first championship win. This championship comes as a well-deserved recognition of “Strike’s” becoming well-known and remarkable wild bird finding ability. “Strike” as a puppy/derby found, pointed and was steady on wild birds of four game bird species like no dog we have owned in our combined 100 years of field trial dog development.
Grouse were scarce as 40 contenders from across the cover dog geographic spectrum gathered in the Allegheny National Forest to compete their dogs over the 7 one-hour courses. In the 16th brace, “Strike” lit out from the start searching the nearby and distant objectives for the quarry. Driving forward throughout, “Strike” was found ahead on point by Thor with the arresting intensity and high pointing style he consistently exhibits. The grouse lifted quickly with “Strike” staying high and tight as the bird flew out of sight. He continued driving hard, reaching and searching until the end. After the thrilling find, it was clear to all that “Strike” only needed to not make a mistake as he had done enough to win at that point. Thor could have kept “Strike” close to finish but with confidence he let him roll on out and hunt as he’d done throughout the earlier part of his hour. “Strike” responded and went on to finish going as strong as when he’d started. A thrilling climax to an exceptional performance.
While “Strike” is now in the string of Dave Hughes, “Strike’s” early development and finishing on game is the work of Thor Kain.
Dave has added polish.
Blast Zone, our 3-year old male, hunted over the historic cover dog grounds in the Allegheny National Forest in this year’s premiere amateur grouse dog stake held in the east. “Strike” hunted with enthusiasm, determination and style as he scoured the thirty minute course to which he was assigned. Under the whistle of Thor Kain, “Strike” laid to the front, going to where he needed to find the relatively scarce and elusive grouse. He scored a thrilling find with his bird sharply located. Standing steady with classic high style and intensity, “Strike’s” effort bested a field of 16.
In the first open stakes of the fall season here in PA, our derbies are scoring some high quality wins. Game Winner (Full Blast ex Springfield Show Girl) has won both the Venango Grouse Trial Open Derby and also the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Open Derby, “Finn”, black and white speedster, has been not only applying himself in hard driving fashion but doing it with the jump, snap and crack that we have come to insist the dogs we own and campaign must have. His straight up pointing style has also captured the judges’ attention. Both stakes had double digit entrants that represent the best in our region and beyond.
Only a step behind “Finn” and placing second in the PA Open Derby was our Full Breeze (Full Blast ex Electra). She too was handled by Dick. Recall “Bree” won the Grand National Puppy Classic last spring and she continues to impress on the ground and especially on her game. Credit for “Bree’s” early development goes to our friend Thor Kain. We should hear much more from this pair going forward.
Steve Snyder’s female, Snyder’s Full Rage. continues her winning from last spring as she won Runner-Up Champion at both the Michigan Woodcock Championship and the Lake States Grouse Championship. “Libby” currently leads in the Seminatore rankings. The Snyder Team includes her trainers/handlers Scott and Tammy Chaffee.
“Libby” started her career here, whelped from our mating of Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Tilt to the sire, Keystone’s Red Rage. We liked what we got from Red Rage the first time we bred to him (Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Ch. Straight Forward) and we decided on using him again. It worked. As a pup “Libby” was a naturally skilled bird finder. I recall her digging up some finds on wild birds late in the season when even the veterans were having a hard time. She always gave her best and was happy doing it. Snappy, determined application, loving the work and looking good doing it (straight tail on point) are my recollections of her. The Snyder Team have taken her well beyond where she was when she joined their team. Congrats to the Team with more big wins to come from this young dog. We are proud of “Libby” and her wins are celebrated here as if we’d won ourselves!
Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Tilt had an especially strong spring. Or better stated, “Callie’s” offspring scored a bunch of significant field trial wins that made her feel great as she celebrated her 13th birthday in June. All of “Callie’s” pups are now grown into shooting dog/all-age competition.
In Michigan, Snyder’s Full Rage (sired by Keystone’s Red Rage) scored several wins for owner Steve Snyder in grouse trials at Gladwin in good sized stakes. “Libby” has established herself an elite bird finder in Scott and Tammy Chaffee’s string. Tom Fruchey’s, Ghost Train Cody (sired by Lilley Hills Secret Stash) continued to add to his string of all-age grouse trial wins in the Michigan spring season. Tom, along with his Dad Wayne, have done all the work in bringing “Cody” to his high competitive level. Marty Stoker scored in one of the last trials of the season in New York with his favorite female, Full Impact (sired by Impact Player). Again, Marty and his Dad (Gardner) have done all the work and training with her. Topping off the list of “Callie’s’ winners this spring is All In (sired by Lilley Hills Secret Stash). Thor Kain has done all the work in bringing “Chance”, Thor’s first field trial dog, to his zenith and that was more than enough to win the Region 2 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship!
So, life’s good here in retirement says “Callie” and she’s proud to have passed along genes that can win with the best. Also, “Callie” is pretty proud of this her Facebook photo that got 45 ‘likes’!
In his first quail trial start in more than a year and a half, Blast Zone, our 3 year old setter male, won the Chemung County FTC Open Shooting Dog, May 14, 2017. “Strike” recorded six sharp finds with arresting style to claim the blue ribbon. Our friend, Thor Kain, was the handler. “Strike” and Thor go way back as Thor took “Strike” at just over a year of age and had him handling wild birds of all varieties steady to wing and shot in just a couple of months. It’s “Strike’s” ability with finding and coolly and calmly handling wild birds that sets him above all the dogs we have owned in this critical category of bird dog skills. Since late in his derby year “Strike” has been trained and campaigned principally by Dave Hughes.
We generally don’t run our dogs in quail trials but sometimes when, as has been the case recently in PA, wild birds are scarce in grouse trials, we feel that a dog needs to find and handle some birds in field trial settings. Thus, “Strike” was entered in his first quail trial since placing in the DuBois ‘qualifier’ in August, 2016. We are pleased with the results.