Result: American Brittany Club Chukar Classic
Location: Marsing, Idaho
Post Date: Jul 20, 2022
Submitted By: As seen by Jim Hammett
From left: Judge Derrick Olsen, Paul Doiron with M V P Game On, Joe Gower with H V K's Kid Chance, Judge Art Cox, Jim and Pattie Hammett with High Lonesome Boulden Hills.
In the arid mountain West, if you find hills, canyons, rocks, sage, bunch grass, few people, and annual precipitation below about 15 inches, you'll probably find chukar. But if one were to pinpoint the center of the best chukar habitat in the United States, it would be close to Mile Post 9 along US-95 between Marsing, Ida., and Jordan Valley, Oreg. This is, of course, the current home of the Chukar Classic. The out-and-back course contains an essential aspect of chukar habitat--that third dimension of verticality, and some big cliffs and rock outcrops thrown in to challenge dogs, handlers, horses, and judges.
The Idaho Brittany Club has been hosting the Classic in recent years, with Tom White and Dr. Margaret Horstmeyer as lead organizers of this special event. We are grateful for their willingness to continue to take it on. It also would be impossible to put on such a classy Classic without a group of committed Idaho Brittany Club members to run the dog and horse transport, salt and plant the course, and do all the things necessary to keep things running. The help of Steve Ball, Frank and Sandy Bright, Larry Sandusky, Casey and Lacie Precht, Sharon Millspaugh and Ron Dunnagan was invaluable.
This year's judges, Art Cox from Lehi, Utah, and Derrick Olsen from Harper, Oreg., missed little, put in hard days negotiating rough terrain, gave scouts and handlers an appropriate amount of freedom to show their dogs, and remained positive, allowing dogs a chance for redemption after minor infractions.
Purina and Garmin both generously supported this championship with dog food and electronic gear. Their support is both valued and needed. Another valued partner is the U. S. Bureau of Land Management that manages our public land in much of the West and provides a special use permit to run on these trial grounds.
Spring of 2022 experienced one of the coldest and wettest Aprils on record in the Pacific Northwest. Those of us on the Northwest Brittany trial circuit kept waiting for a nice warm day to run dogs, but I cannot recall experiencing one. But I will remember fogged glasses, numb fingers, cold wet feet, and the simple comfort of heat after hours in the saddle.
Day 1. As luck would have it, a cold rain started at 6 A.M. and it was predicted to turn to showers later in the afternoon. The planned 9 AM start was delayed until 10 A.M. due to clouds and fog obscuring the upper reaches of the course.
Brace 1. With the rain falling and a cold wind blowing from the south, Brace 1 got underway at approximately 10:10 AM. M V P Game On (Joe-Paul Doiron) was braced with High Lonesome Sage (Sage-Jim Hammett). Both dogs took off forward and disappeared over the first hill. When the handlers and judges topped the hill, initially there were no dogs visible. Eventually, one showed forward, out maybe 400 yards. But in the flat light and pelting rain and with both dogs of similar stature (brothers), it remained a mystery for quite a while as to which dog it was. It turned out to be Sage, and it was another five minutes before Joe joined him, coming from who knows where. Both dogs continued strong, impressive, forward, and uphill runs until about 53 when Joe finally found a wet chukar above black rock spring. Sage, however, had no such luck and finished well forward in the final bowl, but birdless. Both dogs, looking like drowned, shivering rats, welcomed a dry towel and a crate for the trip back to camp. Looking at both in a state of hypothermia, you must admire the Brittany drive and heart that was needed to put in that kind of performance in those conditions.
Brace 2. By now the rain was abating somewhat and heading back to camp meant the wind was more of a tailwind than a headwind. M T B Louree's V O 2 Max (Max-Tom White) was braced with Spanish Corral's Big Iron (Colt-Joe Gower). After a fast and furious breakaway, at 9, both dogs were on point on separate birds - Max to the east beneath a large rock, Colt to the west about 400 yards at the head of the bowl. These two points both turned sour, with Max taking out the bird as Tom approached, and Colt going down at the flush. Colt was left down; Max was picked up. Colt continued with a good forward run, having a brief encounter with a coyote at 50, but never redeemed himself with another find. He finished well forward at the top end of the all-age course.
Brace 3. With showers and wind continuing, High Lonesome Owyhee Storm (Storm-Jim Hammett) was braced with Blew Me Away (Bud-Paul Doiron). Storm evidently did not study the map supplied by his handler, and took off to the north, towards US 95, necessitating a fast gathering-up by his handler to get him back on course. Bud never got going and was picked up by Paul at about 15. Storm, meanwhile, after his gathering-up, headed for the south ridge, disappearing forward towards the top and exploring the upper reaches of the course well above the pointer trail. Finally, he remembered the map, and showed forward before the pond and fenced-in spring area. From there, he continued well forward and was spotted periodically on the side of the bowl. Unfortunately for Storm, he never found the bird planter's contour and finished across the road birdless, right before the judge and handler put to flight a lone sage grouse (Oh, what could have been!).
Brace 4. With skies beginning to clear, the last brace of the day was H V K's Kid Chance (Chance-Joe Gower) and J T Copper Buckeroo (Buck-Jeff Minch). Both dogs had a big breakaway into the bowl. At about 12, Chance was on point on the sidehill. When the bird was flushed, it flew down and forward, and unfortunately right over Buck. The temptation was too much, and Buck pursued, thus ending his run before it really got going. Chance, meanwhile, continued forward with a very impressive forward run and two more finds at 18 and 23. On the flush at 23, Chance took a forward jump, but held. He finished well forward and uphill in the sage on the hillside above the all-age course.
Day 2. The second day began with better weather. The sky was partly cloudy, and a few snowflakes fell, but the vegetation was dry and the wind not as strong out of the south.
Brace 5. We broke away at 9 AM sharp. High Lonesome Bowden Hills (Bo) was the top dog, handled by Jim Hammett, and S R's Blew By Typhoon (Ty) was the bottom dog, handled by Paul Doiron. Both dogs broke strong to the front, with Bo and his handler taking an uphill line, Ty and Paul staying lower. At 12, Bo was standing above a rock outcrop. The bird proved to be a challenge to get in the air, but finally got airborne, taking a flightline a foot or so above Bo's head. Bo reacted by ducking down in a not-so-pretty fashion. The judge, being kind and positive, told the handler to leave him down and see if he could redeem himself. Bo continued with three more finds at 20, 27, and 51 - all of which he handled well, staying high and tight. Ty, meanwhile, had a nice forward run, typical of this great dog, and at 50 pointed in the rocks south of the fence above the black rock spring. This, however, turned out to be a nonproductive and Ty never connected again, unfortunately finishing birdless.
Brace 6. For this return-to-camp brace, Christe's Westwind Jazzman (Jazz)-Steve
Ball) was braced with Dynamitemakeit (Dyna-Paul Doiron). Dyna had a nice uphill run with a find at 11 well up the hill, with all in order. Jazz took a big tour of the flat to the west for an extended period but got forward and uphill before the pond with the fenced spring. At 19, Dyna ran over a couple of energetic chukar or possibly Huns, which simultaneously flushed, causing Dyna to pursue, thus ending a nice run. Jazz, meanwhile, discovered that ground squirrels were beginning to awaken and spent some time and energy exploring their domiciles. At 34, Jazz pointing a deceased chukar, but at 38 found a live one at June's rock with all in order. At 48, Jazz had a find up the hill, but at flush, two birds got up and Jazz momentarily forgot his manners and took too many steps forward and was picked up.
Brace 7. Mr. Staley (Doc-Dan Campbell) was braced with MTB Let's Have a Fee Esta (Esta-Tom White). This started as an exciting brace with some big forward casts by Doc and perhaps the biggest forward run of the Classic by Esta. However, both dogs ran into trouble mid-brace, with Doc breaking at flush on a gorgeous point at 20, and Esta seen in pursuit of a bird at 27.
Marsing, Ida., April 26
Judges: Art Cox and Derrick Olsen
AMERICAN BRITTANY CLUB CHUKAR CLASSIC [One-Hour Heats] - 14 Brittanys
Winner-M V P GAME ON, 1681710, male, by Spanish Corral's Sundance Kid-Blew By Yet. Karen Nelsen, owner; Paul Doiron, handler.
Runner-Up-H V K'S KID CHANCE, unreg., male, by Spanish Corral's Sundance Kid-Blew By Yet. Cary Jellison, owner; Joe Gower, handler.