Result: Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship
Location: Oxford, New York
Post Date: Jul 18, 2022
Submitted By: Joe Cammisa, GNG Invitational Secretary
Oxford, N. Y.- The 31st Annual Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship was held April 13-15 at the famous Flanagan Farm, home to Grouse Ridge Kennels of Oxford, N.Y., hosted by the New York Grouse Trial Club and sponsored by Purina and Garmin. The grounds were purchased around 1950, by Dr. Thomas Flanagan after he started raising setters and opened the world famous Grouse Ridge Kennels. Peter Flanagan, Dr. Tom's son along with friends and family manage roughly 2000 acres of classic New England grouse cover. This area used to be rich in grouse trials and across a few streams and over a few hills the Prestigious Grand National Grouse Championship was run at Pharsalia WMA every third year until 1977. In 1973 the GNG Championship callback was run on the Flanagan farm after low bird numbers in Pharsalia.
This venue has been home to many field trials over the years and has welcomed the NY Grouse Championship for the past two. It is often said that this venue is one of the best to show a dog's abilities. Fields and old stone walls surround old farmland being reclaimed back to earth with vast hardwoods and young forests is prime habitat for grouse and woodcock. As the only grouse trial venue left in New York I would like to thank the Flanagan family for continuing to allow its use, and management for field trials. On Tuesday evening, April 12, the festivities began with a light dinner and snacks at the, "White House." This remodeled house is a central hub of the field trail that is a perfect gathering spot for all when field trials are in town. Joe Cammisa provided a light dinner along with baked goods from Suzie Cammisa. After social hour and dinner Joe Cammisa executed the draw with the utmost diligence and attention to detail.
The Judges for this year's event were Scott Forman of Prattsburg, N. Y., and Russ Richardson of Guys Mills, Pa. Both men are experienced in trials, and training of dogs and have a plethora of knowledge between the two on what to look for in the top contenders for the prestigious event. The Invitees: The Invitational Championship is often referred to as the, " best fourteen coverdogs in the country" but some of the invitees who were originally slated to compete unfortunately had to decline. The selection is based off a points system and if a dog declines the next in line gets a shot at the title. The fourteen dogs who accepted and were drawn to compete were; Ponderosa Mac, owned by Steve Snyder and handled by Scott Chaffee; Hi Fives Powerline, owned by Ben Batey and handled by Bruce Minard; Snyders Pioneer Scout, owned by Steve Snyder and handled by Scott Chaffee; Hi Fives Top Shelf, owned by Ben Batey and handled by Bruce Minard; Shady Hills Zeena, owned by Deb Nihart and handled by Marc Forman; Wild Apple Siri, owned by Eric Rizza and handled by Bruce Minard; Fox Brook Poker Face, owned and handled by Chad Wheeler; Chasehill Poison Ivy, owned by Alan Riano and handled by John Stolgitis; Over the Hill Patty, owned and handled by Rod Lein; A Distant Spec, owned by Mike Husenits and handled by Mark Hughes; BK Rolling Dice, owned by Bill Siemer and handled by Bruce Minard; Bear River Victory, owned by Chris Clarke and handled by Bob Little; Snyders Full Rage, owned by Steve Snyder and handled by Scott Chaffee; Chasehill Little Spec, owned by Harley McClung and handled by John Stolgitis.
The 2022 grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Champion named was BK Rolling Dice, owned by Bill Siemer and handled by Bruce Minard. Dice is a three-year-old black and white pointer female. Dice won the North Country Championship in Wisconsin. Dice's first day showed her stamina but also her ability to find and handle game. Her second day showed amazing ground speed in tough conditions. She never showed any let down for the whole hour and finished with a back. It was obvious the bar was set very high with those performances from the previous two days. The call back on day three showed just how strong this dog really is. She hunted the whole hour and finished with as much energy as when she broke away. This performance would be nearly impossible to beat. Runner-up was awarded to Chasehill Poison Ivy, owned by Alan Riano and handled by John Stolgitis. Ivy is a liver and white pointer and is still a derby age female. Ivy was named Champion of the Northeast Open Grouse Championship as a fall derby and went on to win the Grouse Futurity. Ivy is stylish and determined on her game and her ground speed and size makes her very adaptable to any cover she encounters. Ivy was fast and forward on day one with day two becoming her time to shine. Ivy had the course to herself early on the brace of day two but she did not falter and had a consistent race along with a beautiful woodcock find with time running out. This for sure caught the judges eye.
DAY NO. ONE The day began at 730 on the dot with Fox Brook Poker Face (Wheeler) and Shady Hill's Zeena (M Forman). Both dogs broke away and began to search the briar filled woods with determination. The dogs continued to make forward casts while transitioning to the hardwoods. Both dogs ranged well and handled nearing the first half of the course. At 25 Forman reported his bell had fallen silent just ahead in some cover off the trail. Poker Face had returned to check in and had stopped for a back while handlers were just heading into the cover. Forman flushed and nothing was put up. Wheeler elected to move his dog on while Forman sent Zeena on for a careful relocation. Shortly after Zeena was standing staunch again and despite a valiant attempt nothing was put up and she was sent on. (it was reported that a grouse crossed the trail about 80 yards to the front of where Zeena was pointing.) Both dogs finished the hour with no contact on game. Two grouse were moved on course one.
Braced on course two was Full Rage (Chaffee) and BK Rolling Dice (Minard). Dogs broke away across a field and after a short round up headed for the cover. At 6 with the handlers, judges, and gallery all bunched up on a narrow logging road Dice stopped just to the front and a woodcock lifted for all to see. A shot was fired with all in order. And all continued on. The dogs were covering some great cover on both sides of the course when Minard reported his bell silent again at 13. Chaffee reported his bell silent as well and elected to enter the cover. Both dogs were found standing and a grouse was put up with two shots fired, all in order with the judges recording a divided find. Both dogs continued on and at 27 Minards bell was silent. After a brief flushing attempt a woodcock was put up with all in order. At 29 to the front Chaffee reported his bell silent and a woodcock was put up with proper manners as well. At around the 42 minute mark both dogs took different paths and handlers had to work to get them back on course but they continued to the front searching for game and handling well. At 57 Minard reported his bell silent again and a woodcock was flushed with a shot fired and all in order (Judge Forman) reported a grouse in the area flushed wild and a woodcock was recorded for the find. Both dogs finished the hour.
Course three broke away with Snyders Pioneer Scout (Chaffee) and Hi Fives Powerline (Minard) on the search for game. Right off the bat at 5 Chaffee reported his bell silent and a woodcock was put up with all in order. Both dogs moved through the cover at warp speed and raced to the front. After dropping off the mountain into the old orchard at a steady pace and still 15 minutes to go, both dogs were sent out across open fields with old overgrown stone walls only not something many non new yorkers are accustomed to. While crossing the first field a few tom turkeys announced their presence by gobbling to the sound of handlers and bells heading their way but quickly retreated before anything came that way. Both dogs dropped into an alder patch in a depression in the field and at 57 a woodcock was put up with Minard firing his gun with all in order. When Minard went to retrieve his dog due to the thickness he realized it was Scout. Both handlers laughed it off and continued on. Both dogs finished the hour with 2 woodcock and a wild grouse flushed.
Course 4 was a new course and braced together was Highfive's Top Shelf (Minard) and A Distant Spec (Hughes). Both dogs were away and began to reach out for the first 20 minutes. Nearing the turn at 20 Minard reported his bell silent off the powerline trail. Top Shelf was found standing with Spec backing. Nothing was put up and both dogs continued on. At 38 Specs' bell had stopped and a grouse was put to flight with a slight bit of temptation for Spec and she had moved with the bird. Both dogs continued their search for game and at 45 Top shelf was found pointing again with Spec present with a back. Nothing was put up and both dogs finished the hour.
Over the Hill Patty (Lein) and Ponderosa Mac (Chaffee) Broke away after lunch with both dogs searching every possible objective. Both dogs handled and ranged well when at 59 Chaffee reported Macs' bell silent. After a brief flushing attempt a woodcock was put to flight with all in order. Both dogs finished the hour with one woodcock being moved.
Chasehill Little Spec (Stolgitis) and Bear River Victory (Little) were braced on course six. Both dogs had a consistent race throughout but at time nothing was pointed. A few birds were heard drumming throughout the hour by the gallery.
Last Brace of the day was Chasehill Poison Ivy (Stolgitis) and Wild Apple Siri (Minard). Both dogs broke away and immediately headed into the cover. Both dogs were covering ground at a quick pace until the course dropped down into an old creek bottom orchard. Both dogs began to hunt carefully leaving no objective uncovered. At 43 both handlers reported their bells silent in an alder patch ahead. Both dogs were found standing and both handlers flushed but no game was put up. After the dogs were sent on Minard reported his bell silent again at 48. After an extensive search nothing was put up and Siri was sent on. Both dogs finished the hour. After a long and tough day everyone gathered at Fred's Inn for the Purina Dinner.
It was a great evening for socializing, and great food was served. "DAY DOG" was announced by Mr. Cammisa with BK Rolling Dice being named for her performance earlier in the day. DAY NO. TWO Day number two started again at 7:30 am on course one. Braced together was Hi Five's Top Shelf (Minard) and Ponderosa Mac (Chaffee). Both dogs were away making big casts through the hardwoods when the course turned into some birdy cover a grouse had flushed with both dogs being in the area. Both dogs stopped and a stop to flush was credited to both dogs. This bird has been in this area throughout day one with no dogs being able to point this old drummer. Both dogs continued on and hunted the rest of the hour without any further contact with birds.
Braced on course two, yesterday's "Hot" course was Over the Hill Patty (Lein) and Chasehill Little Spec (Stolgitis). Both dogs broke away across the field and got right to work. Around the 15 minute mark Stolgitis reported his bell silent and after a extensive flushing attempt nothis was put and and he continued on. At 25 Patty's bell was silent and after a quick search a woodcock was put up with all in order. Both dogs continued strong throughout the duration of the course when time was called.
Braced on course three was Bear River Victory (Little) and Chasehill Poison Ivy (Stolgitis). Both dogs broke away strong and to the front. At 10 minutes Little reported his bell silent and a grouse was put up with his dog moving on at the flush. A moment later up ahead was almost a repeat of the last encounter with a grouse and Little decided to leash his dog. Ivy continued on without a bracemate and was always forward searching great looking objectives. At 45 Ivy dropped down into an old apple orchard when her bell fell silent. After an extensive flushing attempt Stolgitis sent Ivy on for a relocation when her bell fell silent a few seconds later. A woodcock was put up with all in order. Ivy finished the hour strong and forward always was in tune with her handler. Wild Apple Siri (Minard) and Fox Brook Poker Face (Wheeler) broke away on course four with both dogs getting right to work. At the half both dogs were seen to the front searching away. Around 38 Minard elected to leash his dog after her race began to slow. Wheeler continued on and at 40 he reported his bell silent. Poker Face was senn standing and a grouse was quickly put up with all in order. A short time later, her bell was silent again. After a search of the area no one was home and she finished the hour.
After lunch on course five was Zeena (Forman) and Snyders Full Rage (Chaffee). Both dogs were away with rain in the forecast. Both dogs were to the front when hunting when a grouse flushed right off course but no dogs were in the area. At around the 35 minute mark it began to rain steadily with both dogs still searching ahead. At 49 Forman reported his bell silent and after a brief search of the area Zeena was located standing with a woodcock put up and all in order. Nearing the finish Rage was seen making a strong cast uphill and moving to the front. Her finish the day before was not as strong, but today she was showing her stamina. Both dogs finished the hour.
Course six broke away with BK Rolling Dice (Minard) and Snyders Pioneer Scout (Chaffee) with a steady rain falling. Both dogs were making big casts with Dice climbing a giant hardwood hill and swinging to the front a short time later with ease. At the 35 minute mark both handlers reported not hearing their bells and elected to search off the powerline. After an extensive search of the area Minard reported his dog backing in some very thick cover. Once Chaffee arrived nothing was put up and Minard moved on. Chaffee relocated his dog when Scout's bell fell silent again. A grouse was put up with all in order. At the 52 minute mark Chaffee had reached the front and Minard reported to Chaffee that Scout's bell was stopped off to the left of course. Chaffea and the Judge went searching and a shot was heard near time with a grouse being reported with all in order. Both dogs finished the hour.
For course seven Minard had scratched Hi Fives Powerline so running on her own was A Distant Spec (Hughes). Spec broke away with the course to herself and immediately headed for cover. For the first half she was seen moving to the front consistently. After dropping down the powerline and into the old creekbed orchard she stopped at 38. After a lengthy flushing attempt she was sent on for a relocation with her bell silent again. A search of the area found her next to a drumming log but Mr. Drummer wasn't home. After nearing the hill after the creek crossing Hughes reported his bell silent again. Spec was found standing and a trio of woodcock put to flight with all in order. Spec finished the hour with plenty of gas in the tank. After a long and wet day we retired to the White House for dinner. A Special thanks to John Stolgitis for preparing a shepherd's pie for dinner and another special thanks to Christy Helms for her hard work in preparing meals as well. "Day Dog '' was awarded to Chasehill Poison Ivy. After dinner Joe Cammissa announced the call back dogs for day three. Per the judges request: course one with B K Rolling Dice and Fox Brook Poker Face, course two with Snyders Full Rage and Chasehill Poison Ivy, and in reserve Over the Hill Patty and A Distant Spec.
DAY NO. THREE Day three started on course one with BK Rolling Dice (Minard) and Fox Brook Poker Face (Wheeler). Both dogs were away at 730 with moving right into the cover. Both dogs were making big forward casts. As the course turned off the old bulldozed road Dice made a big cast to the right and Minard worked to get her to the front. Up front Poker Face was still searching all the right places but began to slow up a bit. Dice had shown up to the front without her handler but Minard was not far behind. After reaching the front Dice continued to make big powerful forward casts and as we reached the field she took the far edge. Minard called and got her heading the right direction, and with pure beauty hunting the edge she showed her gas tank was still full. Time was called and both dogs finished the hour without birds.
After the finish we loaded horses and moved across the road. On the line was Chashill Poison Ivy (Stolgitis) and Snyder's Full Rage (Chaffee). Both dogs broke away across the field and headed for cover. This course had been consistent for the past two days with birdwork and the gallery was plentiful on this brace. Both dogs moved forward for the first half checking all the birdy cover but no one was home. At the powerline crossing Ivy continued forward with Rage casting to the left. Chaffee was reported not hearing his bell so he went looking. Rage was on course in cover just over the hill so it was difficult to hear her but all was in order. At the turn heading towards the lower powerline crossing both dogs were making big casts on the field edge checking the old overgrown stone walls. Both handlers finally got their dogs heading in the right direction. At the crossing both dogs were forward in an old hardwood cut and within a span of about 100 yards four grouse were moved with no dog present. Both dogs were still showing great drive and stamina at the 40 minute mark. After dropping into the creek bottom and back up the other side Rage was starting to slow but still forward and searching. At the top of the hill both dogs were seen heading into an old orchard. Both handlers reported their bells silent. Both handlers sent out a scout and moments later at the top of the hill just inside the woods point was called. Both handlers arrived to find Rage standing with Ivy backing. After a flushing attempt and nothing put up both handlers elected to move on. With about a minute left both dogs were sent away. Time was called with no birds pointed. After this brace the judges reported to Mr. Cammisa that they had made a decision and to gather everyone for the announcement at the white house. Joe Cammisa began by thanking everyone for attending this prestigious event. He thanked all the owners and handlers for their hard work.
A special thanks to Purina and Garmin for supporting these events.
Another thanks was given to Liam Ballin for his assistance throughout the trial. Joe then announced the moment everyone was waiting for. He first announced the 2022 GNG Invitational Runner Up Champion, Chasehill Poison Ivy. Then the champion who we were all but sure of was announced. 2022 GNG Invitational Champion, B K Rolling Dice. An honorable mention was also given to Snyders Full Rage. Congratulations to all!! It is no easy event to be invited to and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to report such a prestigious event.
"This has been one of the most seamless Invitational Championships. The Grand National Grouse and Woodcock would like to thank Pete and Katie Flanagan, The New York Grouse Club for hosting and to Bill Ballin, The Reporter. Pete and/or Bill marshalled each and every brace for the entire three days and they are sincerely appreciated. Additionally we would like to thank Greg Blair and Purina for their life blood support of this game we all love."
Oxford, N. Y., April 13
Judges: Scott Forman and Russ Richardson
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE AND WOODCOCK INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats on Consecutive days; One-Hour Finals] -- 11 Pointers and 3 Setters
Winner-B K ROLLING DICE, 1685683, pointer female, by Railhew Explorer-Railhew Mrs. Magoo. William S. Siemer, owner; Bruce Minard, handler.
Runner Up-CHASEHILL POISON IVY, 1694453, pointer female, by Panola Bacon-Chasehill Little Izzy. Alan Raiano owner, John Stolgitis handler.
Winners. From left, front row: Robert Little with Bear River Victory, Marc Forman with Shady Hills Zeena, Chad Wheeler with Fox Brook Poker Face, Jeff Forsberg with Snyder's Full Rage, Scott Chaffee and Ponderosa Mac, Steve Snyder and Snyders Scout, Melodye Batey and High Fives Powerline, Ben Batey and High Fives Top Shelf, Bruce Minard with the Champion B K Rolling Dice, Eric Rizza and Wild Apple Siri. Second row, from left: Mark Hughes and A Distant Spec, John Stolgitis and Chasehill Little Spec, Allen Raiano and The Runner-up Champion Chasehill Poison Ivy, Rod Lein and Over The Hill Patty, GNG Invitational Secretary Joe Cammisa, Judge Russ Richardson and Judge Scott Forman.