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Event: Clover Valley's Millie Wins Don Didcoct Memorial Memorial Classic
Result: Chippewa Valley Grouse Dog Association

Location: Augusta, Wisconsin

Post Date: May 9, 2024

Submitted By: Roger King with help from Brent Sittlow

No Image Results

We checked all the boxes for a Spring field trial--5 inches of snow the night before, windy conditions, and finally, sun and warm weather. Mother Nature has her way of messing with and challenging us.

Most will agree that securing qualified, experienced judges is the essence of holding a successful field trial. In the cover dog world, this is at the top of the list with one additional ingredient--good legs. Most days, the judges walk 12-15 miles in challenging terrain. We were blessed to have six outstanding judges with loads of knowledge, campaigning winning dogs, and having experience in the woods.

The weekend started on Thursday with Brent Sittlow and Lindsey Saetre charged with looking at 29 open shooting dogs in two days. Judges Sittlow and Saetre would have their hands full looking over all the contestants on eight one-hour courses. Conditions on day one were clear and cold, with fresh snow to start the stake. Moving through the morning, the snow melted and proved perfect conditions for finding migrating woodcock and resident grouse. Day two was clear and sunny, drying out in the afternoon. Fourteen dogs would finish with bird work, and about half would finish with multiple finds. It was a very good stake, with many worthy dogs. Woodcock would dominate the scoreboard, but quite a few grouse were seen and heard but not readily found by our contestants.

First place was awarded to Northwoods Atlas (Greg Johnson), a veteran setter male who tore up the Horse Creek course from start to finish. Johnson worked hard on the twisting front half of the course to keep Atlas on track. But both settled in on the back half with a more comfortable handle. Atlas was searching the whole way, charging through cover and sparkled doing it. He suffered an unproductive at 8 but secured two picture-perfect dug-up woodcock finds in the second half. The birdwork exemplified confidence and style.
Second place went to Birdogn True Confidence Sadie (Jordan Pharris), an up-and-coming pointer female. "Sadie" was the smoothest running dog in the stake. She floated from covert to covert with an effortless gait. She made game off the breakaway, and point was called at 5, at some distance from the path, down in a swampy draw. As handler left the path and approached the dog, he called, "Grouse!" However, it was not seen by the judge. Undeterred, Pharris collared his charge from the area and sent her on a mission to find another. Sadie made good on that challenge and was rewarded with a no-doubt grouse near the end of the Wilson Park course. Sadie stopped once more at time, but handler elected not to flush and preserved the scorecard.
Third place was awarded to Over The Hill Morgan (Rod Lein). Morgan, a pointer female, ran on the Crash course (named Crash because of the countless dogs that were unable to negotiate cleanly through the hour in prior years). She pounded out a nice ground race through some heavy cover and was rewarded with two perfect woodcock finds to go along with a nifty stop to flush. Her second find was dug up in a newly harvested poplar cut, which needed expert scouting. Her style and composure on game were top-notch.

Bright and early Saturday morning, the 31st annual running of the Don Didcoct Amateur Classic started. The trial is run in the Eau Claire County Forest and is known as one of the best cover dog trial grounds around the country. The plan was to run seven braces on Saturday and six on Sunday over the eight-course venue. Chippewa Valley Grouse Dog Association officials decided to use all eight courses continuously to find the best, most consistent six for the upcoming fall championships and the Grand in November. We had a large draw of 29 fine bird dogs to look at. With this being such a large stake and running concurrent with a large derby draw, there was a lot of work to be done by all members of the CVGDA club, the Moose Junction Grouse Dog Club, and the Minnesota Grouse Dog Association. All the clubs came together and made this trial one to remember.

It was a tale of two different days, as it is often in the Northwoods. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with many competitors in their t-shirts. The rain and wind came in Sunday, making it hard for the handlers and the dogs. We moved birds on almost every brace, but ruffed grouse contacts were hard to come by. Thank goodness woodcock were moving through to give us some much-needed bird work.

Bill Frahm, a past two-time winner of the Didcoct, and Jordan Pharris, a professional dog trainer and winner of several Cover Dog trials just this spring, judged the Don Didcoct Classic. Both are avid bird dog guys who have seen many dogs run over the years.
First place went to Jerry Furnish and Clover Valley's Millie. She had a very strong forward race that was appealing to the eye. Millie ran in the first brace of the stake starting at 7:30 a.m. on Wilson Park course No. 1. She carried the first-place nod for 13 braces--a remarkable performance. She had two evenly spaced woodcock finds to garner her first place.
Second place went to Ed Graddy and Northern Slopes Star, the 2021 winner of the Didcoct. Star made large moves the whole hour and pointed a woodcock on the Culvert course in a fresh-cut Aspen stand near the end of the brace.
Third place went to Jeff Sullivan and Jewett's Creek Beauty. Jeff and Beauty were braced with Ed Graddy and Star, which made for a very exciting hour to witness. Beauty also made big moves and a strong forward race. She went on point just before time was called. Jeff's scout, Jeremy Moore, found Beauty standing the bird; Jeff flushed the woodcock, and the dog's manners were great. Make note that Beauty is just 25 months old, so get ready for more from her and Jeff to come in the future.

The following is a quote from Jordan Pharris: "There are many people we need to thank, and I am sure I will miss some important names. First, we would like to thank Roger King for all his hard work and dedication to this trial. Without him, none of this could happen. We would also like to thank Bert Benshoof for marshaling all the braces. He walked every brace the whole weekend, even the Open Shooting Dog stakes. He helped guide the judges and competitors around the courses with great knowledge of the grounds. Other names that should be recognized are Rod Lein, Jim Kleve, Brent Sittlow, Larry Davidson, Tim and Debbie Callahan, Colin Peterson, Jeff Sullivan, Denny Baumann, Scott King, Mike Rosario, and many more."

Running 55 shooting dogs in one-hour braces over four days forced us to run derbies on a single course. It was not the desired option, but pending weather coming Sunday confirmed it was the only option. As was mentioned earlier, we had an excellent panel of judges. Both Derby judges, Tim Kaufman and Ed Graddy, are previous winners of the Didcoct Classic. In addition to that, they both are accomplished grouse hunters and spend a great deal of time in the woods.

Many will say that judging derbies is a demanding task requiring skill to look at the future potential of the next generation of cover dogs.
First place was Blind Faith ("CeCe") from Jordan Pharris's string, handled by Jerry Furnish. CeCe, a pointer female, was characterized by the judges using three "Fs"--fast, fancy, and forward--in addition to thoroughly covering the most likely bird cover of the course. Second place was Goodgoing Tickety Boo, a pointer female owned and handled by Brett Edstrom. After a several-year hiatus, it is great to see Brett back in the cover dog world. "Tick" ran a more controlled mature race, including contact with a woodcock. Tim's Setter Meg, a female setter owned and handled by Tim Callahan, is yet to reach her first birthday. Meg ran a 10-2 race in a very athletic, fancy style. The judges remarked that there were six other dogs that, on any given day, could have been rewarded with a placement.

Another successful Didcoct is in the books. The good news is that the number of entrants is up, and cooperation from all that attended was at an all-time high. The future looks bright! See you next year!

Augusta, Wis., April 4
Judges: Lindsey Saetre and Brent Sittlow
OPEN SHOOTING DOG [One-Hour Heats] - 8 Pointers, 20 Setters, and 1 German Shorthair

1st-NORTHWOODS ATLAS, 1674557, setter male, by Northwoods Grits-Northwoods Nickel. Greg Johnson, owner and handler.
2d-BIRDOGN TRUE CONFIDENCE, 1693417, pointer female, by True Confidence-Elli Elhew Birdogn. Ben Fleischacker, owner; Jordan Pharris, handler.
3d-OVER THE HILL MORGAN, 1699010, pointer female, by J T H Scion-Over The Hill Patty. Robert Zielke, owner; Rod Lein, handler.

Judges: Bill Frahm and Jordan Pharris
DON DIDCOCT MEMORIAL AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG [One-Hour Heats] - 4 Pointers and 22 Setters

1st-CLOVER VALLEY'S MILLIE, 1696614, setter female, by Clover Valleys Ace-Clover Valley's Willow. Jerry Furnish, owner and handler.
2d-NORTHERN SLOPES STAR, 1666090, setter female, by Keystone's Red Recession-Abigale. James E. Graddy, owner and handler.
3d-JEWETT'S CREEK BEAUTY, 1703337, pointer female, by Toth's Tornado Reloaded-Grouse Trails Warrior Cat. Jeff Sullivan, owner and handler.

Judges: Ed Graddy and Tim Kaufman
OPEN DERBY - 11 Pointers and 20 Setters

1st-BLIND FAITH, 1706568, pointer female, by Miller's Blindsider-Nine To Five Nation. Ben Fleischacker, owner and handler.
2d-GOODGOING TICKETY BOO, 1704883, pointer female, by Kinni Creek Fyn-Goodgoing Northern Latte. Brett Edstrom, owner and handler.
3d-TIM'S SETTER MEG, 1705309, setter female, by Rebellious Fearless Fred-Lake Effect Ali. Tim & Deb Callahan, owners; Tim Callahan, handler.