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Result: Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship

Location: Marienville, Pennsylvania

Post Date: Dec 28, 2021

Submitted By: Joe Cammisa

Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship

Championship Winners. From left to right: Mark Hughes with A Distant Spec, Judge Al Fazenbaker, Secretary Dave Duell, Dick Brenneman with Full Breeze, and Judge Bruce Mueller.

In 1950, Reporter Marc J. DeBerti wrote of the Pennsylvania Championship.

"The standards are high and any dog fortunate enough and good enough to win this crown has truly earned the glory that goes with such distinction. We know that the principles and standards as set forth back in 1919 will always be followed religiously and this event will continue to grow in importance.

"Just to give readers some idea what is required in a grouse dog of championship caliber, let me quote a chapter of the Pennsylvania Clubs Standards. Bear in mind this is only in part but will suffice in that one will at least obtain some idea of just how good a dog must be to win this crown. I quote: 'A high class grouse dog is one whose every action denotes great interest in his work, which is full of animation, and which is at all times searching for birds in an independent and intelligent manner. He should be under such control that he will do his work with a minimum of effort, handling by either voice or whistle. He should keep the course and hunt within reasonable distance a fast, snappy manner, and work out all the likely cover in front o the handler. He should not cut back but should continue his speed by working out his ground on each side of the course taken by the handler. He should never seek the 'easy footing' by passing up briars and likely cover. He should accurately locate and point his birds. and be perfectly staunch to wing and shot. He must back at sight, and not approach a pointing dog close enough to interfere with his work'

"This will give readers some idea of just how rigid are the standards of this club. Any dog living up to the qualifications can truly be classed great.

"The Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club is the oldest grouse dog club in the United States, and until 1948 sponsored the National Grouse Dog Championship. This National title was relinquished with the thought in mind that a Grand National organization would be much more catholic in scope. However, the Pennsylvania Championship Club did not give up the ideals and traditions that made it one of the finest and best organized grouse clubs in the country when it graciously turned over the title to the Grand National. It was a move to create better understanding and complete harmony between all the grouse trial clubs."

Continuing with the tradition, the Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship held its 2021 fall renewal on October 26 at the famed Allegheny National Forest Lolita and Lamonaville grounds near Marienville, Pa. Club Secretary Dave Duell drew 25 contenders for this year's event. The courses were well groomed, having been done so by members of the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Clubs all summer and fall.

Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship


A Distant Spec, black marked five-year-old female pointer owned by Mike Husenits of West Lebanon, Pa., trained by Dave and Mark Hughes of Hughes View Kennels and handled by Mark Hughes, is the 2021 Pennsylvania Grouse Champion.

Mike Husenits and Dave Hughes bred Spec's dam, Brave Heart Cassie to multiple champion Erin's War Creek, resulting in a litter of eleven puppies that were whelped by the late George Johnson and spouse Shirley Johnson at their kennel in Bradford, Pa. After the pups were weaned, three puppies were selected and were to be raised by Mike Husenits as potential keepers. Mark Hughes picked out Spec as his favorite and one of the three. After a couple months of puppy walks and introduction to birds it became obvious that Spec was outstanding, showing plenty of potential.

When Spec was about five months old, Mark and Mike agreed to ownership by Mike with Mark as a partner. Later that first summer, Spec was placed in the hands of Dave and Mark Hughes for higher training and soon developed advanced skills that has taken her to the winners' circle several times in open shooting dog competition in trials held at Dubois, Beaver Valley, Greensburg, Grand Valley, and the Marienville grouse woods. She was named Michigan U. S. Complete Open Shooting Dog of the Year for the 2020-2021 seasons and is one of the top twelve contestants invited to compete in the upcoming U. S. Complete National Invitational Championship.

Spec is relentless in her mission to find and point birds and always gives her all to do so no matter the conditions. Spec's kind is hard to find, a true Champion!

Interesting to note that so far Spec's litter has produced two champions, one runner-up champion plus three other winners in field trial competition.

Full Breeze, white, orange and ticked setter female owned by Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts was named runner-up. "Bree" comes by talent honestly as she was bred in the purple. Her dam Straight Forward (Cracker) was bred to Full Blast (Jeb) and she was whelped in January 2016. Coincidentally, the parents earned a combined fifteen championship and runner-up titles.

Typically, as are all the Brenneman-Watts team dogs, Bree was started as a puppy by Bob. Thor Kain had her for a while as a summer puppy and then over to Dick for a trip to Texas and formal Derby training.

She started her winning ways by taking the blue at the Grand National Puppy Classic. Dick continued and handled her through her Derby season, with her most important win being a placement in The National Derby Classic. She has several wins to her credit, including placements at Nittany Valley, Venango Grouse Trial, and Dubois Open Shooting Dog.

She was sent to Dave Hughes in the fall of 2018 for more comprehensive training where she took to training well. Dave is credited or building her staunchness and with further developing her natural bird-finding abilities as time went on.

The Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Championship was held at the famed Allegheny National Forest Lolita and Lamonaville grounds near Marienville, Pa., starting on October 26. The courses were well groomed, having been done so by members of the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Clubs all summer and fall.

In the judicial saddles for the Championship were Bruce Mueller of Bedford, Pa., and Al Fazenbaker of Kingsville, Ohio. Both campaign, handle, and train championship caliber dogs. Both have a very good eye for class and performance, and we thank them for their attention and decisive manners.

Thank you to the marshals on hand that assist with the braces, Dick Brenneman, Dave Duell, John McKellop and Tom Mains.

Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship


The first braces of the trial got off to a start shortly after the crack of dawn, despite torrential downpours and steady rain that lasted throughout the entire first day. Although birds were seen, none were successfully pointed on day No. 1. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the trial was put on a necessary delay for day two and the trial was picked back up on day No. 3.

Pistol Grip with Mark Hughes and Shiner with Dr. Jim Stiteler. Shiner was classy and forward while Pistol Grip hunted the cover forward and efficiently and at 52 made a big forward cast to the long pines on the right as the rain continued to fall.

Braggabull (Hughes) and Grouse Trails Firestorm (McKellop). Braggabull, with cracking tail, ran forward and showed class. Firestorm was classy and fast on the ground but had some navigation problems in the sharp turns of the M&M.

I'll Be Back (Hughes) and Beaver Meadow Boo (Blakley). Boo was flashy and covered ground but was picked up by handler at 55. "Mickey," fancy and far forward, was lost to judgment.

Sumac's Sashay (Hughes) was fast and responsive for the hour while Pine Swamp Woody (Blakeley) ran larger and wider as the hour progressed, becoming difficult to track, then he was then lost to judgment.

Double Deuce Sage (Hughes) and Grouse Trails Crackerjack (McKellop) were hard workers, Jack moving strongly with a nice gait but a little lateral and Sage staying in the pocket covering with good application.

West Wing Big Jake (Hughes) and Wildland Warrior (Munden). Jake, a big strong moving dog ran forward but was lost to judgment at 25 when he ended up getting caught behind a fence that was constructed to protect a recent cutting. "Lola," working diligently, continued moving well and hunting hard but suffered unproductives at 49 and 52 in likely looking grouse places.

Caliber Peak Storm Warning (Hughes) and Runnin On Duncan (Boos). Storm Warning glided forward through the course working all the cover well while Duncan and his high cracking tail hunted, both to no avail.

Double Duece Zeke (Hughes) ran his usual high quality strong and big race while Game Winner (Brenneman) was in the pocket, forward, classy and hard working. A grouse was moved at 53 with no bird pointed.

Wayward Flying Tomato (Hughes), or "Cooper," made some nice casts and was wide while Stokeley's B Annie (Ralph), without breaking stride at 25, ran across a large cluster of downed trees. Judges noted, "Making a move only a gymnast could make."

Jar Way Leroy (Hughes) was lost to judgment at 12. A grouse was moved earlier at 8. Drawn bracemate Super Hawk (Boos) was scratched.

Warrior Zeke (Hughes) and Deciding Point, Brenneman. Zeke covered the ground forward, suffered an unproductive at 30 that the bird left earlier seen by handlers. Deciding Point, always forward, efficient moving and by time was at the end of bell range. Two grouse and one woodcock were moved.

A Distant Spec (Hughes) and Grouse Trails Warrior Cat (McKellop) were off on the Lamonaville course five. Both were deep to start. Spec hunted hard while driving to likely covers. Both complemented each other hunting hard and forward. Spec showed signs of game and hit a grouse hard at 27 with Warrior Cat coming in and holding a nice back. With all in order, both dogs were loosed again, Spec covering the ground with speed and grace. As the hour progressed, Spec settled in and stayed just where you would want her, showing just when you wanted to see her. The hour ended with Spec having put down a very fancy, fast, forward and classy race.

In this final brace, Full Breeze, as a bye, was fast and flashy and covered the ground ahead and was rewarded a woodcock at 33 for her fine efforts. The shot was fired, all in order, she was moved again, her finishing the hour strong. She was consistent throughout, stayed forward the whole time, not running terribly big, but outstanding in her application of the grounds.

Pennsylvania Grouse Dog Championship

Marienville, Pa., October 26

Judges: Al Fazenbaker and Dr. Bruce Mueller


[One-Hour Heats] -- 25 Entries

Winner--A DISTANT SPEC, 1668665, pointer female, by Erin's War Creek--Brave Heart Cassie. Mike Husenits, owner; Mark Hughes, handler.

Runner-Up--FULL BREEZE, 1667989, setter female, by Full Blast--Straight Forward. Richard Brenneman & Robert Watts, owners; Richard Brenneman, handler.


The Open Derby was hotly contended. Dave Duell of Sheffield and John McKellop of Guys Mills, Pa., rode in the judicial saddles. Eleven youngsters took the field and vied for the Blue, Red and Yellow.

Taking first place and easily identified by the judges was Hypointe Railway Express, setter male owned by Lucas Poloff and handled by Nick Mellon, ran far forward, classy, and objectively. Second was Miller's Special Upgrade, "Penny," owned by Carlos Escalante and handled by Mark Hughes. This pointer female was classy and forward, giving the judges something to ponder. Third and close was Al Fazenbaker's phenom, Conneaut Creek Scenic River. This very fancy Red Setter handled easily and showed all the style in the world.

The judges noted that most of the time during the Derby, there was a driving, heavy rain with wind that greatly affected many of the dogs. Bells were very tough to hear at times, and dogs, equally, were having a tough time staying connected with their handlers. There were good looking Derbies that were ultimately lost to judgment due to the terrible weather conditions.

A special thank you goes out to Greg Blair of Purina. Greg and Purina have long been grand supporters of grouse trial clubs across the country and in particular The Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club. We are deeply indebted to them for all that they do, making it possible for us to continue in this field trial sport that we all love so much.

Thank you to all who helped move cars, run for supplies, Helen Brenneman for lunches, Suzie Cammisa for the mobile bakery, Dave Duell for morning coffee, R.B. and David Powell for the Nittany Valley Trail Ride Horses.

Judges: Dave Duell and John McKellop

OPEN DERBY -- 11 Entries

1st--HYPOINTE RAILWAY EXPRESS, 1696717, setter male, by Ponderosa Mac--Grouse River Woodcock Annie. Lucas Poloff, owner; Nick Mellon, handler.

2d--MILLER'S SPECIAL UPGRADE, 1695107, pointer female, by Miller's Upgraded Version--Miller's Special Edition. Carlos Escalanate, owner; Mark Hughes, handler.

3d--CONNEAUT CREEK SCENIC RIVER, 1693481, Irish setter male, by Cedar Creek Talon--Cedar Creek's Skyline Belle. Al Fazenbaker & Ed Liermann, owners; Al Fazenbaker, handler.