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Result: Western Open All Age Championship

Location: Reno, Nevada

Post Date: Apr 21, 2021

Submitted By: Jared Tappero

The 2021 renewal represented the 48th running of what became the Western Open All-Age Championship. From the stake's inception in 1973, through 1996, it was known as the Duke Cecil Open All-Age Classic, which in 1997 became the championship stake.

From L to R:  Marty Middleton (Judge), Art Hoffart, Mark McLean, Alex Rickert, Jason Staley with Touch's Malcolm Story, Jarry Walton, Sean Kelly with Rocking J's Amy, Hunter Grundmeyer, Nard Bailey, Marc Cuneo, Brad LaVerne, John Keel (Judge)

Held in California from 1973 to 1994, the Duke Cecil was moved to Lemon Valley, Nev., in 1995, where it was run for two consecutive years. In 1997 the stake was moved to Red Rock, where it was run for the first time as the Western Open Championship. The stake has been run annually since then, except during the 2020 season due to COVID restrictions.

Braces for the Western Open Championship were drawn Friday, April 16, on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field trial grounds, in conjunction with the drawings for the AFTCA National Amateur Chukar Shooting Dog, Pacific Coast Derby, and Western Open Shooting Dog Championships.

An impressive field of 32 entrants was drawn for the Open All-Age Championship, all of which started. The field of starters included 26 pointers and 6 setters, which competed in this National Championship qualifier, Purina Points, and Purina Handler of the Year Points stake.

Among those drawn for the 2021 Western Championship were 2020 National Champion Miller's Speed Dial, and four dogs which ran in the 2021 National Championship at Ames: Ch. Lester's Jazz Man, S F Stetson, Ch. Touch's Blackout, and Ch. Touch's Malcolm Story.

Dogs drawn that are qualified thus far to run in the 2022 National Championship included: Ch. Kelly's I B Butler, Ch. Kelly's Rebel Louie, Ch. Sleepless In Sacramento, Ch. Touch's Malcolm Story, Ch. Touch's Blackout, and Touch's Fire Away. Others with championship laurels included Ch. Idaho's Lucky Duramax, Ch. Southwind Joy's Resurgence, Ch. Janee's American Rebel, and Ch. Twer's Heartbreak Ridge.

The Red Rock grounds are located in mountainous high desert terrain, with open brush-covered slopes and grassy basins interspersed with stands of juniper and rock piles, deep ravines and gullies. The base elevation is approximately 5,500-feet. Game birds commonly found in the area include chukar partridge and Valley quail; this year, liberated chukar and bobwhite quail supplemented the local gamebird population.

Weather for this year's running was typical of the Intermountain West in the spring, and as always made things interesting. Over the span of the four-day running, competitors experienced cool mornings with temperatures in the mid-30s (ice having formed on some water buckets); afternoon conditions were variable and windy; warming to about 70 Wednesday and Friday afternoons (70 may not sound all that warm, but in the high desert at ground-level, the temperature can be significantly higher). Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning were cooler and overcast; by the end of the stake Saturday the wind had picked up and it was raining.


Running in the 15th brace and declared champion was Touch's Malcolm Story, five-year-old white and orange pointer dog owned by Alex Rickert of Bozeman, Mont., and handled by Mark McLean.

Touch's Malcolm Story Winner of the Western Open All-Age Championship

From the 16th brace and taking runner-up honors was Rocking J's Amy, four-year-old white and liver marked pointer bitch owned and handled by Jarry Walton of Reno, Nev. Both dogs have had prior placements at Red Rock; Touch's Malcolm Story with a runner-up in the 2018 Pacific Coast Derby Championship, and Amy with a championship placement in the 2019 Region 11 Amateur All-Age Championship.

Both dogs were consistently forward in their application, pushed the all-age standard, and had lapses in contact resulting in them being seen to the front. In covering the ground, both did so directly, with purpose, and were attractive going through the country, with Story seen at greater distance and using up a little more country than Amy. Story's find on bobwhite was more of the limb variety than Amy's find on chukar, but both stood loftily and were rigid as the birds left them.

Judges for the 2021 renewal were John Keel of Fresno, Cal., and Marty Middleton of Herriman, Utah. Both men are familiar with the high desert country, know what a class dog looks like as it applies itself, and on its game, and know what it takes for a dog to meet the all-age standard. We thank them for their long days in the saddle and for giving all dogs the attention they deserved. Their decision was well received.


This year's renewal began after noon on Wednesday, April 21, at the conclusion of the Western Open Shooting Dog Championship, and wrapped-up mid-morning the following Saturday. Of the 32 starters, fourteen finished the stake (eleven of which had sufficient birdwork); six were lost, and twelve were picked up for various reasons.

Miller's Justifiable (Jay McKenzie, owner/Randy Anderson, handler) and Twer's Heartbreak Ridge (Todd Schaaf, owner-handler) were off from camp Wednesday afternoon. Initially both dogs were to the left fading up into the basin, but swung to the front and were through the junipers and onto the big meadow, both carrying high tails and stylish in their ground coverage. They showed to the front nicely across the flats and into the big canyon, Ridge with a little more range than Justifiable. Across the south slope Justifiable showed at moderate range but was consistently forward. Ridge made a couple nice moves then had a lapse in contact, but regained the front in the middle of the rocks, both dogs finishing their hour birdless near the gate.

Touch's Blackout (John and Jackie Harkins, swners/R. Anderson, Handler) and S F Hardfork (Larry Smith, owner/Jason Staley, handler) were cast off from the base of the Petersen's. Both dogs were at moderate range initially then made big moves to the front, through the rocks and around to the junipers. The retrieval unit was requested for Blackout at 28. Hardfork was seen distantly in the junipers then had a lapse in contact and was recovered at the top of the big basin. Hardfork showed nicely past the hawk's nest and to the big ravine where time was called, finishing his hour birdless.

Lester's Jazz Man (Dan Hensley, owner/R. Anderson, handler) and Highground Abra Ca Dabra (Charles and Kara Kunde. owners/Brad LaVerne, handler) were off from camp Thursday morning, Jazz Man making a big move initially with a lapse in contact. The retrieval device was pulled for Dabra at 15 when she hadn't been seen after being cut loose. Jazz Man was then distant and forward to the big ravine and to the back meadow. At the bottom of the narrow ravine point was called for Jazz Man but nothing produced. Jazz Man was then high and over the top of the big face. After a nice lapse in contact, Jazzman was watered and sent on. At 57 Jazz Man pointed on the hillside above the junipers where a small covey of running chukar was produced, all in order at flush and shot. Jazz Man then looped around and then forward, finishing his hour with a nice move toward Brittany Road.

Sleepless In Sacramento (Jim Wolthuis, owner/Sheldon Twer, handler) and Foxtrot Whiskey Tango (Anne Tyson, owner/M. Eades, handler). Sleepless moved left toward the rocks, and Tango to the right towards the lower cattle guard. Tango was recovered and sent to the front. Point was called for Sleepless at 10 uphill in the rocks; all in order at flush and shot. Tango was found pointing at a lower rock pile with high head and tail, the setter standing nicely as his bird left. Sleepless then made a wide move across the top of the junipers where she showed again, from the side, above the big basin. After his find Tango was uphill ahead, then gone; the retrieval unit pulled at 47. Sleepless made a nice move across the front to the junipers near the back canyon where she stood with high style at 55. All was in order at flush and shot. Sleepless finished at moderate range going away near the back trough.

Brock Force (Pat Taylor, owner/S. Twer, handler) and Neely's Standing Ovation (Butch Houston, owner/R. Anderson, handler) were cast off from camp. Force was found standing at 5 near a single juniper off the road. After a short flushing attempt Force was relocated and quickly stacked up again, but moved on Twer's second flushing attempt and was picked up. Ovation was picked up shortly there-after as well.

Far West Cowboy Slim (Wilkin, owner/handler) and Shagtime Ole Red (Chris Cagle, Jr., owner/R. Anderson, handler) were brought to the line at camp. Red, getting a feel for the country, worked at more moderate range than Slim. Slim with a short lapse in contact as he moved through the junipers was gathered up and watered near the edge of the big meadow. Red, stylish on the ground, handled at moderate range from the big meadow to the grassy pasture on the backside, where both dogs were watered. Slim faded to the front and was found standing with high style at 40 on the contour before the south face, but nothing was produced. Red went low through the basins and was found standing in the junipers near Brittany Road, with Slim backing.The setter stood boldly for the flush and shot as a single chukar was flushed for him. Both dogs finished their hour to the back of the rocks near the gate.

Janee's Unphiltered (J. Staley, owner/handler) and Kelly's IB Butler (S. Kelly, owner/handler) were off from the base of the Petersen's. Butler made a big initial move across the fenceline and into the rocks. After a short lapse in contact, both Unphiltered and Butler were found standing high in the rocks at 10. Both handlers flushing, Unphiltered went with the birds and Butler stood tight for the shot. Through the deep ravine Butler was watered at the Brittany trough. Butler was then high and forward across the top and was next seen distantly near the camp trough, where he crossed into the junipers. Across the big meadow Butler was wide right in the bottoms and going forward. On the edge of the big ravine at 50 Butler was found pointing near a juniper, his style not typical form. After a short flushing attempt and relocation, Butler was sent on. Through the buttonhook Butler was in and out of contact and finished his hour near the narrow ravine.

Bonner's Bulletproof (Dr. Chris Cornman, owner/R. Anderson, handler) and Kelly's Rebel Louie (S. Kelly, owner/handler) were off from camp after lunch, conditions overcast and windy. Louie made a big initial move through the junipers, Bulletproof was more constrained at first then began widening his race. At 9 Bulletproof had a barren stand adjacent to the junipers. Bulletproof continued through the big meadow and around the buttonhook, showing nicely but not reaching the limits. The retrieval device was requested for Louie at 30. Bulletproof pointed nicely at 37 at the back of the grassy meadow, showing high style at flush and shot. Through the narrow ravine and up onto the bluff Bulletproof continued forward, finishing his hour near Brittany Road.

S F Saltwater (L. Smith, owner/handler) and Erin's Red Rose (Jim Emerson, owner/T. Smedley, handler) were first off from camp Friday morning; weather cool with a slight breeze. Rose was forward at good range initially, Saltwater more constrained in his race. At 18 Saltwater was picked up near the hawks nest. Rose showed nicely across the big meadow to the back junipers, but wasn't pushing the limits. Through the back meadow and into the narrow ravine Rose was forward covering the ground stylishly. After topping the bluff, Rose was picked at 45 on the contour above the junipers.

Booneville Explorer (Marc Cuneo, owner-handler) and S F Stetson (L. Smith, owner/handler) both with big initial casts, were fast through the junipers, showing nicely on the ridgeline. Both dogs were forward at good range across the big meadow, Stetson wide left, Explorer was the more forward of the two. Both were found standing at 18, near the edge of the big ravine, after a nice lapse in contact; Stetson taking a back, all was in order at flush and shot. Both dogs were at moderate range at the grassy meadow, then forward towards the narrow ravine. At the bottom of the ravine a mishap in birdwork, and judge-handler misunderstanding, resulted in both dogs being picked up.

Touch's Fire Away (Dr. Greg and Carmen Adams, owners/R. Anderson, handler) and Idaho's Lucky Duramax (Rich McReynolds, owner/R. Heaton, handler). From cast-off, both dogs were forward and pushed the limit. At the edge of the big meadow both dogs were seen distantly to the front near the edge of the big ravine. In the middle of the grassy meadow Fire Away pointed-up with high style; Anderson showing his athleticism in putting up a pair of Valley quail for the staunch pointer. Through the narrow ravine and up onto the contour Duramax was running big and forward, Fire Away was wide at times; both dogs hitting some high points. Fire Away was watered at Brittany Road then sent on into a stiff headwind at the deep ravine. Fire Away finished his hour at nice range in the flats below the rocks; the unit was requested to recover Duramax.

Dixon's Rolling Stone (Kevin Dixon, owner/R. Anderson, handler) and Seahawk's Bam Bam Kam (Phil Spencer, owner/T. Smedley, handler) were cast off from the Petersen's with Kam making a big initial move to the rocks; Stone was at more moderate range. Stone was watered at Brittany Road then sent on, Kam after a nice lapse in contact was watered as well. Kam showed distantly several times between Brittany Road and the hawk's nest. Stone was picked up near the south face. Kam showed distantly on the far side of the big ravine and worked his way to the ridge adjacent to the grassy meadow, where he was watered. Kam then made a nice move up the antelope ravine and over the top where he finished his hour birdless.

Miller's Speed Dial (Gary Lester, owner/R. Anderson, handler) and Janee's American Rebel (J. Staley, owner/handler) were off from camp after lunch. Both dogs initially getting a feel for the country, were at moderate range from the line. At 3 Rebel was standing with high style on the edge of the junipers; a running chukar being flown for the stylish dog; all was in order at flush and shot. Across the big meadow and past the hawk's nest, both dogs were forward but not pushing the limits. At 12 and 16 Rebel stood for two piles of feathers. Both dogs showed stylish around the back and then opened up their races after the narrow ravine. Speed Dial showed momentarily on top then made a big move through the junipers and into the lower basin, showing distantly in the open country. Rebel was found standing stylishly at 45 on the south face after a big move over the top; a chukar was put to wing for the lofty dog. Speed Dial was next seen coming off the top above the Brittany trough, Rebel coming from the bottom through the junipers. Both dogs were watered at the Brittany trough. At the deep ravine Speed Dial made a nice move onto the ridge into the rocks and Rebel swung lower into the bottom. Speed Dial showed distantly to the front mid-way through the rocks and was hitting the right objectives when he finished his hour. Rebel was low in the bottoms making a wide swing to the front at time.

T's Quadrunner (T. Smedley, owner-handler) and Miller's Select Call (Don Stroble, owner/R. Anderson, handler) were cut loose from the base of the Petersen's in the last brace Friday afternoon, Quadrunner making a nice move high into the rocks, Select Call on the contour going forward toward the gate; both dogs stylish on the ground. Midway through the rocks Quadrunner came off the top and showed distantly. Select call swung low at the deep ravine, was watered at the Brittany trough and put in the harness. Quadrunner was seen for the last time swinging though the junipers distantly on the south face. Smedley requested the retrieval unit at 50.

Kelly's Uptown (Terry Scott, owner/L. Steinshouer, handler) and Touch's Malcolm Story (Alex Rickert, owner/M. McLean, handler) were cast off from camp Saturday morning under cool, breezy, and overcast conditions. Story ran the edge of the junipers, dug in, and was next seen on the ridgeline, where he was collected and sent on. Uptown made a move to the left in the lower basin, crossing the hillside, and into the junipers. After a lapse in contact both dogs were seen in the upper portion of the big meadow moving to the front. At 13 Story was found pointing near the edge of the meadow; a single running bobwhite put to flight; all in order for the stylish dog. Past the hawk's nest, Uptown was to the left and running the contour, Story edged the junipers and crossed distantly into the big ravine. At 26 Uptown was found standing in the brush near the grassy meadow; head and tail high, all in order at flush and shot. Both dogs showed nicely on the big face above the narrow ravine, Story going forward through the junction and onto the plateau, Uptown was up the antelope ravine and over the top. Story showed next on the south face of the big ridge after a nice lapse in contact, then made his way to the low country where he showed distantly and was swung to the front. Uptown got behind and recovered the front near the rocks where at 55 she was found standing; all in order as three chukar were flushed. Both dogs finished their hour high in the rocks and moving forward.

Rocking J's Amy (J. Walton, owner-handler) and Southwind Joy's Resurgence (M. Eades, owner-handler) left the base of the Petersen's in the last brace of the stake. Both were forward and fast into the rock piles. Point called for Resurgence at 5 uphill and before the gate, the setter standing loftily for the flush; all in order at the shot. Through the gate at 10 on the hillside, Amy was found standing on a rock pile with high style; all in order at flush and shot. At 15, low in the rocks, Resurgence was again pointing with high head and tail; the birds milling around on the rocks in front of her. Three chukar were put up, all in order. Through the deep ravine and on past Brittany Road both dogs were forward and showing well, Resurgence was low and wide below the junipers, Amy was high on the south face moving across the contour. Amy was then seen distantly going into the junipers before the big basin and wasn't seen again until she showed to the front on the edge of the bluff. Past the hawk's nest both dogs were ahead. Amy was found standing with high style on the edge of the big ravine at 50. After a short flushing attempt Amy was relocated; nothing being produced. Resurgence was wide at the big ravine and found the front at the grassy meadow. Into a steady head-wind, with a little rain, both dogs were forward and high on the face above the narrow ravine; Resurgence going over the top and Amy continuing forward. Time was called at the bottom of the narrow ravine, both dogs were recovered on the bluff above the draw.

Reno, Nev., April 21

Judges: John Keel and Marty Middleton


[One-Hour Heats] -- 26 Pointers and 6 Setters

Winner--TOUCH'S MALCOLM STORY, 1675103, pointer male, by Touch's Knight Rider--Blackhawk's Sunflower. Alex Rickert, owner; Mark McLean, handler.

Runner-Up--ROCKIN J'S AMY, 1676205, pointer female, by Smaks Lemon Express--Cache Creek's Most Wanted. Jarry Walton, owner and handler.


In 2017 Pendy's Good Grace and Touch's Mega Mike came cross-country with handlers Luke Eisenhart and Ike Todd, respectively, to compete in the Pacific Coast Derby Championship. Both dogs were in a tight race for the Purina Top Derby that season. Grace won the Derby Championship and finished her season as Purina's Top All-Age Derby.

* * *
This year the stakes were a little higher, as Red Rock would become the deciding opportunity for both Handler of the Year and Top Dog honors. Mark McLean (McLean Farms) of Doerun, Ga., and Randy Anderson (Cross Country Kennels) of Vinita, Okla., were in contention for Handler Award points, each handler running a dog in contention for Top Dog; McLean handling Touch's Malcolm Story for Alex Rickert, Anderson handling Lester's Speed Dial for owner Gary Lester of Graey, Ky.

Prior to the stakes being run at Red Rock, Gary Lester was at the top of the Handler list with 1,420 points; Speed Dial was in second place for Top Dog with 1,185 points. Randy Anderson came to Red Rock with 1,256 Handler points under his belt, and a number of dogs which with a win could have lead him to the top of the handlers' list; a win with Speed Dial could have put both at the top.

Randy led World Class Bootlegger, owned by Michael Marietta of Pittsburg, Kan., to runner-up in the Pacific Coast Derby Championship and gained himself another 48 points toward the handler's green jacket; his points total jumped to 1,304; 116 points under Gary Lester. Anderson needed a win in the Open All-Age Championship to secure the Handler title.

Mark McLean arrived with 1,321 handler points and needed a win with Alex Rickert's "Big" dog to secure both Handler and Top Dog points; a feet he succeeded in doing. McLean winning the 32 dog stake with Touch's Malcolm Story pushed him to 1481 handler points and finished Big's season at 1405; surpassing Coldwater Thunder's points total of 1,218 by 187 points. Owners, handlers, and dogs, all showed guts and grit in a spectacular race for points which in the end could only be attained by one man and one dog.

What a phenomenal end to a great season for all who participated, not just at Red Rock, but across the country!


Members of the Bay Area Bird Dog Club would like to thank both Nestl -Purina (Purina) and SportDog for their contributions and continued support of the Western Championships. Purina provides Pro Plan Sport dog feed for the winners, covers the advertisement with the American Field, and co-hosts the Wednesday night barbecue banquet; this year 33 guests attended the mid-week banquet that was, once again, prepared by Andy's BBQ & Beans, and served-up by Mel Belding. All who attended enjoyed an amazing meal that included ample helpings of bbq-smoked beef tri tip accompanied by chili beans, a cole slaw and tossed-green artichoke salad, fresh sourdough biscuits, soft-drinks and other refreshments.

Continued support by SportDog, which generously provided both training and bark collars as prizes for our stakes, is much appreciated. Jim Morehouse, representing both Purina and SportDog, was on the grounds for the mid-week banquet and spent several days with us riding shotgun in the dog truck and visiting with folks on the grounds. The support provided by Purina and SportDog representatives Greg Blair and Jim Morehouse is unsurpassed.

Clear Creek Outfitters of Chico, Cal., provided us with the chukar, and Irwin Family Farm of Oroville, Cal., supplied the bobwhite quail for this renewal. Lori Steinshouer graciously allowed us to utilize her well for dog and horse water throughout the events.

Thanks also go to Bradley LaVerne who manned the dog truck, kept bird bags full, and wrangled horses again this year. The Bay Area Bird Dog Club would also like to thank all those who helped out around camp and on the course as needed; Hunter Grundmeyer, Bill Owen, Glenn and Vicki Johnson, Rich Heaton, Mike Wilkin, George Gover and Steve Grundmeyer.

In addition, thanks go out to all of the owners who send and bring their dogs, and the handlers who show up to run them, both amateur and professional. All that show make this a great season-ending event. Good luck over the summer and train hard.