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Result: Southern New England Open Woodcock Championship

Location: Arcadia, Rhode Island

Post Date: May 8, 2019

Submitted By: Lloyd B. Murray, Jr.


Championship Winners. From left: Judge Adam Dubriske, Daddy's Little Boy Butch with John Stolgitis, Erin Stolgitis, Spring Brook Maximus with Russell Ogilvie and Judge Chad Wheeler.
ARCADIA, R. I. -- The South County Field Trial Club hosted another successful renewal the thirty-fifth) of this Championship with a quality entry of 31 dogs, well over half of which are titled bird dogs!

The weather was cool in the mornings with a lot of sun each day, but temperatures were never above 65 . Due to timber harvesting on the Barbour Farm course, we were down to three courses, Pine Top, the Cemetery and the Bridge Course. All three had adequate numbers of woodcock.

This Woodcock Championship is actually the first woodcock championship in the continental United States. The first, the North American, ran in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada and named its first champion in 1972, pointer female Venus Warhoop Lady, handled by New Hampshire professional Joe Gardner. In 1984 The American Field granted titular status to this stake.

For many years it ran on Labor Day weekend but native woodcock were scarce. It was felt trying to catch flight birds in the spring migration would produce more birds. This has worked, as the cover is not native woodcock cover, but spring flight cover.

The grounds are the 14,000-acre Arcadia Management Area near Exeter, R. I. The courses consist of some mature timber and softwood stands, old farm fields and bull briars. The woodcock can be virtually anywhere but seem to favor the same spots year after year.

When we drive to the Pine Top course we drive over Eschog Hill Road, site of the first grouse trial in New England, held by the Setter Club of New England in 1924. The old stone walls and ancient grape vines are still visible today.

The club is indebted to club members Bob Fleury and Sarah Conyngham for pitching in all three days. Bob does a great job handling all the finances, helps with lunches and moves vehicles.

Sarah does all of that also, plus adds her wonderful presence of encouraging all handlers. Sarah is a top-shelf trainer in her own right, and has won many wild bird championships.

Another "Diamond" in the South County crew is Johnny's wonderful bride, Jill Stolgitis, who has a smile that can light up a room! Her demeanor is so positive and her patience is unbelievable putting up with house loads of thirty bird dog folks. We love you Jill!

Johnny wore many hats in this trial, including many hours of course cleaning over the winter, preparing and serving lunches all three days, cooking and serving dinner at his house every night for all the trial officials. Plus any and all folks at the event before the nightly bonfire complete with liberal amounts of libations and some VERY tall tales!

Johnny also made what is known in New England walking wild bird trials (our judges are NOT mounted) as "The Speech", which basically is, walk at a gentleman's hunting pace, don't burn up the course and be courteous.

Paul Fuller was also here filming for his popular show "Bird Dogs Afield" as Paul really likes to focus on wild birds and he got some great footage. The long distance award goes to Ken DeLong and his lovely travelling companion Kristy Helms, both from Michigan.

Nestl Purina again had our backs, supporting us with advertising help and product support. I honestly do not know of any program in the woods that does not feed Pro Plan, and this in large part is due to the hard work of Dean Reinke, the affable wild bird representative from Purina. Thank you Deano and Purina!

Returning judge this year was Adam Dubriske of Troy, N. H. Adam has hunted woodcock and grouse since childhood. He operates "West Hill Outfitters", a full time guiding and training facility. Our other judge was Chad Wheeler of Riner, Va., who also has hunted with pointing bird dogs since childhood. My phone told me on day No. 1 we walked over fifteen miles. So to both men, a big thank you for your considerable efforts.

The Winners

Daddy's Little Boy Butch, five-year-old white and liver pointer male, ran in the last brace, drawn as a bye on the Pine Top Course. Butch started hunting sensibly in the good bird cover at the start. Butch pointed at 4 where Mr. Woodcock is usually home and the dog looked sure. Johnny flushed everywhere then sent him on. Butch stopped shortly after this under apple tree before the course turns right and this bird was there all week, including this morning, all good for the flush and shot. As we proceeded down the course and the big hill (the former ski area) Butch's bell was last heard on the deep left. Handler kept going along the course and as we approached the next known bird spot, there stood Butch looking very handsome on point. Johnny flushed the woodcock and fired, Butch holding his ground.

Butch continued hunting on the left along the course as birds are usually in this piece before we cross the big field. Butch's bell stopped and as handler approached the large hen bird lifted followed by the sharp report of Johnny's 32. We now crossed the field and went into the section affectionately called "The Rockpile" and proceeded along the swamp and mature timber with Butch hunting forward and strong, his range and pace for the hour exceptionable. Butch has had an outstanding career so far, with the Grand National Grouse Championship in Kilkenny as the apex at this point.

Butch has been developed and trained by Johnny Stolgitis his whole career. It should be mentioned, his first batch of puppies looks very promising and they are winning. Butch is sired by Johnnys' great multiple champion Chasehill Little Bud, also a former winner of this stake. He is owned by Paul Scott of Wallingford, Conn.

Runner-up Spring Brook Maximus, white and liver pointer male, ran in the fourth brace on the Cemetery Course braced with New Hampshire professional Craig Doherty's Wild Apple Calvados, attractive pointer female. Calvados suffered a heavy bleeding ear cut in bull briars early in her hour and handler elected to terminate her bid.

"Max" hunted forward and strong on the front end of this course, and it takes a strong dog to do this as this part of the course, before the first road crossing, is simply an almost impenetrable growth of bull briars, but that is why the woodcock are there, safe from avian predators (hawks, owls, etc.). Max stopped deep on the left at 17 in a tangle of bull briars. He looked magnificent on point as handler flushed; the tired flight bird just blooped up and down adding even more temptation at the flush and shot, but Max held firm. Max ran the rest of the course of mature hardwood with purpose and drive, not extreme but sensible in range and pace.

Max finished the hour with plenty of reserve and one got the impression watching him, that if brought to the next breakaway, he could do it again!

Max is a rugged specimen and a handsome dog. His owner, Russell Ogilvie of Maine, also won a wild bird championship with him last fall. The future looks bright indeed for Spring Brook Maximus.

The Running

The first brace was away at 7:55 a. m. under sunny skies, although it was cool with ice still on the puddles.

Stokely's B Jack (Bly), strongly built setter male, was running a logical forward race here on the Pine Top course. Jack suffered two unproductives in likely spots and handler elected to pick up. Wild Apple White Lightning (Doherty), quick footed pointer male, was running a forward race with good animation and pace but was caught scooping a woodcock at 27 and was up.

Mooselook Fionn MacCool (Little) and Wynot Atom (Stolgitis). Brace No. 2 found us on the Cemetery Course. MacCool is a good size setter male under the whistle of New Brunswick pro Bob Little. MacCool ran an industrious and purposeful race. He pointed briefly in open hardwood at 31 on the left when a jumpy woodcock popped and his day was ended. Wynot Atom is a short coupled pointer male that is a real eyeful. Atom looks good running and on point. He stopped at 8 almost on the course but this proved unproductive. He came back and logged a good find at 28 on the left in the briar patch. Atom hunted at sensible range with good pace and finished fine. This was a nice performance.

Chasehill Little Izzy (PF/Stolgitis) was turned loose on the Bridge Course. Izzy was running fast and fancy. She had a back and a good find before handler picked up at the bridge. Mooselook Mac (Little), hard charging setter male, logged an unproductive then was in on Izzy's find by the bridge. Little stood next to his dog like he was accepting a back; however, at the flush he shot like it was a divided find. Mac also logged a good stop to flush on the other side of the road and finished strong and forward.

Pine Top Course. Faith's Maximum Justice (DeLong), good looking pointer male, came all the way from Michigan, and did not disappoint, scoring a good woodcock find and an unproductive. Long Gone Porky (Murray) logged two unproductives on splash before the big field crossing, handler electing to pick up.

We had a leisurely lunch next to the breakaway to the Cemetery Course before we turned loose No. 5 with the eventual runner-up, Spring Brook Maximus, and Wild Apple Calvados, which has been reported.

The last brace of the day was on the Bridge Course -- Chasehill Baby Bella (Stolgitis) and Chasehill Little Thudd. Bella is a former winner of this stake. She was running a good race and her bell stopped almost next to the bridge, with a woodcock right there, all good for the flush and shot. Handler lost Bella's bell and called for the retrieval unit at 51, which showed us she was standing, and almost right next to us. Thudd, handsome pointer male, was the defending champion (with Stolgitis handling last year). Thudd had a good race going. His bell stopped also at the bridge, and it looked like Thudd was backing, handler standing next to his charge and no shot being fired at the flush. Thudd scored a good find on woodcock at 51 where four birds were flushed within this small area. Thudd finished in good form.

Day No. 2 found us back on Pine Top to turn loose brace No. 7 -- Wizard's Albannach Drummer (SM/Hathaway) and Higby Rilo (PF/Stolgitis). Drummer nailed a woodcock with good style at 22 on the left of the course then pointed again along the swamp. Jim went in so deep flushing that he lost both of his boots in the process. Drummer finished fine. Rilo ran a good race, forward and moving well. Unfortunately she did not score on birds this day.

Cemetery Course. Duck Hook (PM/Stolgitis) didn't seem to want to bust the cover the first half but hung in there and hunted his way around the course and finished in good shape. Stoke's Willie B (SM/Bly) ran forward and hard, was scouted at 19 and found on a woodcock in the briar patch to the right of the course. While we were looking for him, we walked up two more woodcock. Willie finished his hour hunting fine. We almost made it to the bridge, which is the same bridge all the birds are around for the "Bridge Course", or as some call it, "The Birdfield".

No. 9 -- Stokely's Frankie B (Bly) and Brae Val Bearcat Laddie (ISM/McCluskey) -- on the Bridge Course. Frankie, veteran good size setter male, was comfortably forward when he pointed along the river at 16. Tony was flushing when Laddie came into the area, refused to honor and was ordered up. This work was unproductive. Frankie kept working up the course. We walked up a hen bird right next to the course, then Frankie pointed a woodcock at 38 in the birdfield area by the bridge, but Frankie logged a second unproductive and handler elected to pick up. Irish setter Laddie was running big and forward when he failed to back at 16.

Back on Pine Top with Cairds Little Macy Mae (Little) and Stokely's Little Ricky B (Bly). A battle of the "Littles", Little Macy Mae, Little Ricky B and Bob Little! Macy Mae started fast, fancy and forward then pointed a woodcock very attractively at 25. Macy Mae then went down along the rock pile and along the swamp and seemed to lose a step the last 10 minutes or so. Well built setter male Ricky gave a good account of himself on the ground but he did not connect with any woodcock.

Cemetery Course. Witch City Fred (Levesque) and Wild Apple Jonathan (Doherty). Fred, good size setter male, logged a good find just to the left of the course in the briar patch. Fred seemed to cramp up after the road crossing and handler elected to pick up. Jonathan, good looking pointer male, was running fine through the first half but when we got to the second road crossing, with scant chance of birds after this, Craig picked up.

Bridge Course. Long Gone Juicy (Murray) and Gretna Crest Anticipation (SF/Frame). Juju, in season, smallish setter female, was scouted twice in her hour. The first time she was found by handler and Judge Dubriske pointing near the bridge with woodcock directly in front of her. The second time was at 52 where again she had been stopped awhile, this time two woodcock in front of her. Juju finished at the edge of bell. Crest was running a wide but forward race, pointed at the bridge, almost up by the vehicles, but had movement at the shot and was ordered up. Speaking of vehicles, the club is discussing not parking basically on the course but driving past this bird-laden area (the birdfield) and picking up where we end anyway, up the road, away from running dogs and birds.

Day No. 3, brace No. 13 -- Panola Bacon (PM/Stolgitis) and Cairds Lefty (PM/Little). Bacon ran a very nice race, forward, fast and hunting. Unfortunately he did not get a bird pointed this morning. Lefty suffered the same fate, after running an outstanding race too. But an unproductive at 22 on the right was his only mark in the book.

Cemetery Course. Wild Apple Spot On (Doherty), good size pointer female, ran a sensible forward hunting race. Her running style is attractive. Handler terminated the effort deep in the hour. Long Gone Mersadies (SF/Murray) pointed in the same spot as Maximus did on day No. 1, with the same result, the tired woodcock just blooped in the briar patch, up and down, all good for the shot. "Sadie" was not heard much after this and handler called for the retrieval unit at 35.

Bridge Course. Wild Apple Polka Dot (Doherty), strongly built pointer female, was running a good race of range and pace. A confusing situation developed by the bridge, not sure if she was pointing or backing. Ruff Grouse Lilly (SF/Christopher) was running her usual snappy race, tail cracking, moving lightly. Lilly was involved with the situation unfolding at the bridge and both handlers elected to pick up. Her owner- handler is simply known as "The Colonel", because he is one!

Brace No. 16, back on Pine Top, with Daddy's Little Boy Butch as a bye, was reported.

Arcadia, R. I., March 26

Judges: Adam Dubriske and Chad Wheeler


[One-Hour Heats] -- 31 Entries

Winner--DADDY'S LITTLE BOY BUTCH, 1655649, pointer male, by Chasehill Little Bud--Richfield Stella. Paul Scott, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.

Runner-Up--SPRING BROOK MAXIMUS, 1657296, pointer male, by Chasehill Little Bud--Riley's Rowdy Shadow. Russell Ogilvie, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.


Goal of the Joe Collier Memorial Open Derby Classic is to identify and glorify young dogs which can come back some day as adult dogs and win wild bird championships at a national level.

This stake is dedicated to the memory of Rhode Island sportsman, the late Joel Collier, who was a bird dog man through and through, as a hunter of renown, a field trial judge and simply a great human being. We all miss Joel.

The club secured the services of two respected and experienced field trial judges. Bill Bonnetti from Massachusetts and Tim Cavanaugh from Connecticut. Both men have placed many winners over the years, and as a result of this personal success, have both been asked to judge several wild and liberated bird championships. Both know what it takes, because they have done it. It is almost impossible to judge what you have never accomplished yourself. Both gentlemen did a lot of walking, in the heat, and all the participants extend to you both a big thank you.

Chasehill I'm Oscar (Stolgitis), white and liver pointer male, ran a very good race. (I was braced with him.) Oscar backed his bracemate at 16 then was found pointing on the edge of a small field at 20, with stunning style and broke manners at the flush and shot. Oscar ran strong and forward, yet handled. It was a class performance and moving into the ranks of adults will be easy.

Panola Bacon, white and liver pointer male, has many similar attributes as Oscar. He is also broke, hunts hard yet runs forward. Johnny also trains and handles Bacon. I'm sure we will hear from both youngsters in the future.

This is not to say it was just a two-dog contest. We had a good entry and there were many good Derby performances. Many of these Derbies would have won shooting dog stakes with the performances they rendered in the Joel Collier Classic.

Judges: Bill Bonnetti and Tim Cavanaugh

JOEL COLLIER DERBY CLASSIC -- 10 Pointers and 4 Setters

Winner--CHASEHILL I'M OSCAR, 1673001, pointer male, by Daddy's Little Boy Butch--Porter Meadow Bette. Elias Richardson & Erin Stolgitis, owners; John Stolgitis, handler.

Runner-Up--PANOLA BACON, 1675813, pointer male, by Daddy's Little Boy Butch--Richfield Rose. Mac Stidham, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.


Joel Collier Derby Winners. From left: John Stolgitis with Chasehill I'm Oscar, Paul Scott and Russell Ogilvie with Panola Bacon.