Event: Full Breeze named Champion, A Distant Spec, Runner-Up
Result: Ontario Grouse Dog Championship
Location: Marienville, Pennsylvania
Post Date: Jul 7, 2022
Submitted By: David A. Fletcher
Ontario Grouse Championsh
Ontario Grouse Championship Winners. From left: Dave Hughes, Mark Hughes with Full Breeze, Judge Jim Winnen, Deb Nihart with A Distant Spec, judge Carlos Escalante and Joe Cammisa.
The Ontario Grouse Dog Championship in it's 28th renewal, held forth over the Allegheny National Forest venue near Marienville, Pa. March 30-31. The Loleta and Lamonaville courses were used to give opportunity to 30 entrants, the field consisting of 17 pointers and 13 setters.
Winner was Full Breeze, 6 year old setter female owned by Dick Brenneman of Port Matilda, Pa., handled by Dave Hughes. Runner-up was A Distant Spec, 6 year old pointer female owned by Mike Husenits of West Lebanon, Pa., handled by Mark Hughes. For a complete report on their performances please go to the "Winners and Others" section of this report.
Weather brought us a surprise Wednesday, the first morning with sleet and ice over windshields nearing a quarter inch thick, but temperatures moderated after lunch and a late afternoon sun brought some warmth...into the fifties. Thursday was a touch warmer on but still bitter to begin the day, but rain squalls, some quite heavy, were a deterring factor to the day's session. The ice, snow, sleet and hard rain at intervals made the scene a tough environment for bird dogs to find, point and locate Grouse and Woodcock.
Judging the event were two seasoned dog men in the persons of Jim Winnen of Wattsburg, Pa. and Carlos Escalante of Pittsburgh, Pa. Jim Winnen trains dogs professionaly, mainly Britts; with a few Shorthairs and Pointers in the mix. He is actively trialing at present, taking home some silverware with his string and has been doing this for many years. His uncle took him bird hunting over a pointing dog as a teenager beginning the love of pointing dogs for him. Jim still birdhunts, but loves the competition of field trials over all else. He has judged extensively, Championships, Classics and Futurities and has a great reserve of experience in the judicial saddle. Jim also furnished a pair of good saddle horses for the judges.
Judging with Jim was Carlos Escalante. Carlos is a 20 year veteran of the Grouse Dog field trial game. In the beginning he was taken bird hunting by friends and later went along to field trials in Pa., N.Y. and Michigan with them. Later Carlos sought out Dave Hughes to train some of his trial dogs. His dogs have won considerably, including Championships. His judging experience started with AKC and Amateur events and this is his first judicial assignment in a Championship. His pair of winning Derbies presently are leaving their mark. Miller's Special Upgrade and Miller's Hopped Upffman Version are in competition, the former winning two Futurities and Derby Classics.
The Ontario Grouse Championship was conceived by a trio of Grouse Dog enthusiasts in Ontario with a first meeting to discuss the possibility of holding a trial on Ruffed Grouse. Jack Clark, Dan Mansell, and Bill McLure met at the Conroy Hotel in Toronto in 1981. The initial trial came at the Copeland Forest near Barrie, Ontario that year. The Ontario Bird Dog Association had held trials since the 1930's on liberated Pheasants in the southern part of Ontario, but this was the first step at having Grouse events. In the early years the club roster consisted of Tim Tufts as secretary/treasurer, along with Mike and Donna Wilshire, Dave Kraisoski, Wayne Rogers, Nick Ellis, Henry Walsh, Wayne Adair, Dave Kerr, Joe and John Palladino, and Dave Fletcher, a Michigander who was raised in Ontario and active in the Ontario Bird Dog Association. In 1983 the Club was granted Classic status after running events for several years and scribe on behalf of the Club petitioned Bill Brown in his office on a Saturday at 222 West Adams to help achieve this goal. After three years of running Classics the Ontario Grouse Championship was born. Tim Tufts has been the cog in all this club's endeavor, steering events for almost 40 years. The Copeland Forest grounds were eventually over hunted by pubic hunting and the supporting cast waned, so Tim went to his Pa. friends for a site to run this Championship. The current Directorate consists of Tim Tufts, Secretary/Treasurer, Dave Fletcher, President, and Directors are Joe Cammisa and Dr. Tim Perschke. The Pa. trialers were overly helpful and the event has had a great home in Pa. for many years. Medical problems forced Tim to be absent from this year's running. Joe Cammisa picked up the reins, and after a host of duties, has nursed this event through it's 2022 renewal. This includes a change of grounds from the Black Ash site to Marienville, and he also provided facilities for judges and reporter at his Marienville cabin and presided over just about all the managerial functions related to this Championship.
Help on the roadsides and during the running came from stalwarts such as Dick Brenneman, Norm Meeder and Dave Duell. They helped move the cars up, brought lunches to the tailgate and looked after many chores. An evening Club sponsored meal at Bettina's in Marienville took place on Wednesday evening attended by the judges, Club officials the Minards and the Hughes father and son duo.
The Winners and Others
Full Breeze, Championship winner, was drawn in the first brace, cold morning in the twenties, with a coating of ice on everything, slippery underfoot. Breeze paid little attention to conditions and went hunting with a passion. She hunted this icy hour full bore, to good cover and she never let down a step all the way. Breeze had a broke, well mannered find on Woodcock to set an early mark in the running. Her efforts held up all the way to the announcement of her Championship. Bred by Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts she has competed only in Grouse trials. The Ontario is the first Championship for Breeze. She has also won Runner-Up in the 2021 Pa. Championship and winner of the Pa. All-Age this spring. If my stats are correct she is the third generation of Ontario Grouse Championship winners beginning with grandsire Pennstar, sire Full Blast, and now Breeze.
A Distant Spec, Runner-Up ran in heavy rain the second day and performed admirably despite the chill of an icy rain that became a downpour part of the hour. A good hunting effort despite conditions, a sure and steady find on Grouse, and a back on Woodcock, with perfect manners on display earned this placement for Spec. This was Spec's first Championship, having been named Runner-Up at the Pa Grouse Championship and the Rich Tuttle Grouse Dog Classic both in 2021.In addition she has a Runner-Up win at Pa Grouse Club All-Age and in Shooting Dog circles wins at Greensburg, Dubois and Beaver Valley as well as being named Association of Michigan Field Trial Clubs Shooting Dog of the Year in 2021.
Four dogs stood out in this Championship stake with sterling but birdless performances. The first two were bracemates in the sixth brace, Hifive's Powerline handled by Bruce Minard and Double Deuce Sage, handled by Dave Hughes. In the 8th brace, Blast Off, handled by Scott Forman, and in the final brace Anna Lake Samantha, handled by Dave Hughes paired with Lightning Flash Billie, handled by Scott Forman had great hunting efforts but were also birdless.
The start came Wednesday morning sleeting slightly, a chilly wet morning. Conditions improved later in the day, the rain ended, and temperatures rose to the fifties.
Full Breeze (Dave Hughes)-Leslie's Cisco Kid. (Scott Forman). They went away with some nice opening casts. At 15 a Woodcock came up ahead on course, a moment or two before we espied Breeze standing, Kid backed, but nothing more could be flushed. Breeze pointed again on relocation and Kid moving and searching nearby may have stirred this bird to flight. Breeze was steady and sure. Another Woodcock flew in front and Hughes fired over her. Kid was up The hour was full of creditable hunting, Breeze finishing with determined hunting and ample energy, despite ice underfoot and sleet conditions.
Shady Hills Zena (Marc Forman)-Sumac's Sashay (Mark Hughes). A great breakaway and early energy in hunting. We heard a Grouse get up at 6 minutes no dog in view. We rode to see Sashay pointing nicely, then another Grouse got up, Sashay standing securely for both flushes. Both dogs hunted the hour with purpose and stamina, Zena birdless.
B K Rolling Dice (Minard)-Grouse Trail's Firestorm (McKellop). Stylish and hard driving, it was an eye treating start. In the early minutes both dogs hunted widely apart yet both swung to the course. Firestorm was a bit of an everywhere dog but she hunted every stride. Dice had an unproductive in a grassy woods opening standing near a ditch, looking good, but nothing flushed. Both dogs finished in great form, still going hard.
Baker River's Mountain Man (Marc Forman)-I'll Be Back (Mark Hughes). Another stylish pair turned loose to hunt. Man hunted down a steep bank in the early going pointing along a small stream. Nothing was flushed and on relocation Man went ahead. Coming back up the slope to the horses, a Grouse got up nearby. Perhaps a bit of bad luck for Man not to have this bird located and flushed to his point. I'll Be Back hunted the hour well, finished in good form but went birdless.
French's Grouse Ringer Woody (Marc Forman)-Warrior Zeke (Mark Hughes). Good breakaways, good forward hunting, and they we pleasing to the eye in their gait and carriage. Both finished well. A wild flushing Woodcock was the only bird moved.
Hifive's Powerline (Minard)-Double Deuce Sage (Dave Hughes). Perhaps the two best hunting and handling dogs thus far in the stake. They were hard driving, came around very regularly and stayed in the front of course with a minimum of handling. Neither found a bird for the hour. Powerline logged an unproductive.
Hifive's Top Shelf (Minard)-Braggabull (Mark Hughes). The final brace of Wednesday brought us another pair of hard hunting dogs with great appeal. They hit the front of course aggressively, had some wide moments but handled extremely well. They were both as attractive in motion as bird dogs get. No bird moved this brace.
Thursday was another day of rain. There were some very hard rain squalls at times, most certainly severely impairing bird finding.
Double Deuce Zeke (Mark Hughes)-Blast Off (Marc Forman). Zeke started well, hunted hard but his hunting could have been a bit more forward. Blast Off ranged nicely, not hugely, but his efforts were impressive.... good looking places where he hunted, and showing his desire to hunt such good looking cover. Birdless, a proper find would have taken this dog near the top level of this stake.
Stokley B Annie (Ralph)-Kendal Hills Dawson Creek (Mark Hughes}. Annie was wide, very forward and finished the hour going well, but the hour was birdless. Dawson Creek hit the far places early and was lost to judgment.
Leslie's Jipster (Scott Forman)-A Distant Spec (Mark Hughes). A light rain fell as they went away. It became a downpour much of the hour. They hunted early along a ridge, coming to a long opening where both took the edge nicely. They were a wide, hard driving pair. Spec pointed at far end of opening along the timber edge and Jipster backed. A bird came up in the timber in front but the rain impaired both hearing and sight. It was regarded as a Grouse. Both were steady, to the flush, and both handlers fired although officials regarded it as Spec's bird. Fifteen minutes later well in front of the horses both were standing. Judges credited Jipster with the point. Spec with the back. Both were steady for the shot but no extremely lofty tails this time around. It was raining pretty hard. Both finished driving to the front.
Grouse Hill Smokey (Marc Forman)-Pistol Grip (Mark Hughes). If anything the rain squall heightened as this brace went away. Judges called it the Noah's Arc brace. Both dogs handled the downpour well, hunting hard in good cover. and they poured it on near time when blue skies appeared. No birds moved this hour.
Grouse Trails Cracker Jack (McKellop)-Game Winner (Dave Hughes). Cracker Jack made some spectacular casts, went deeper at times, but his returns to sight, and rounding to course was not always as you expected it to be. Take nothing away from his desire to hunt and find birds. He worked hard at that task. Game Winner was more in sight, hitting the forward cover nicely and he finished the hour full of energy Both dogs were birdless. A lone Grouse wild flushed during the hour.
Wayward Flying Tomato (MarkHughes)-Shady Hills Whisky Bonfire (Scott Forman).A move to the Loleta side of the courses was made for the brace. The course had some very open stretches where both dogs widened their casts in great form, yet still working birdy looking edges. They were both attractive in motion and finished the hour hitting the front. No birds moved this hour.
Wild Apple Siri (Minard)-Doodle Ridge Elroy (Mark Hughes). Siri was very fast afoot, kept to the front of course every minute and was eye pleasing as she went.. Elroy hunted hard, was always searching where you would expect a bird to be, but his chosen places to hunt were to the side and not often well to the front. Neither dog found birds, nor were there any wild flushes during the hour.
Anna Lake Samantha (Dave Hughes)-Lightning Flash Billie Sue (Mark Forman). Another cold morning with snow and sleet coming down. We began the final brace on the Lamonaville side at our regular time. This pair of dogs were among the best hunting efforts we saw during the stake. With birdwork both could likely be standing in the winners' circle, but no birds came. They were a great duo wrapping up this Championship.
Marienville, Pa., March 29
Judges: Jim Winnen and Carlos Escalante
ONTARIO GROUSE DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 17 Pointers and 13 Setters
Winner- FULL BREEZE, 1667989, setter female by Full Blast -Straight Forward. Richard Brenneman, owner; Dave Hughes, handler.
Runner-Up-A DISTANT SPEC, 1668665, pointer female by Erin's War Creek-Brave Heart Cassie. Mike Husenits, owner; Mark Hughes, handler.
Bettina's great sandwiches at the tailgate for luncheons. From left, John McKellop, Joe Cammisa, judges Jim Winnen and Carlos Escalante and Mike Husenits.