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Event: Sterlingworth Jack Wins 78th Annual Running of the
Result: Lake States Grouse Championship

Location: Meredith, Michigan

Post Date: Jan 12, 2023

Submitted By: Rich Hollister and Tammy Chaffee

Lake States Grouse ChF22

Championship Winners (from left): Stake Manager Bryan Wood, Judge Brent Peters, Sterlingworth Jack with handler R. J. Ecker Jr., Reporters Tammy Chaffee and Richard Hollister, Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire with handler Scott Forman, Judge Doug McMillen, and Christy Helmes.

The 2022 Lake States Championship commenced Tuesday, October 25th on the grounds of the Gladwin Game Refuge near the small village of Meredith, Mich. Judges Brent Peters of Gladwin, Mich., and Doug McMillen of DuBois, Pa., presided over an entry of 36 setters, 11 pointers and one red setter. Topping the field was Sterlingworth Jack, a male setter owned by Jim Millett, and handled by Pennsylvania pro trainer Robert Ecker of Midnight Kennel. The judge's choice for runner-up was Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire, owned and handled by pro trainer Scott Forman. Both dogs were braced together on courses 15-16 on the third day of the Championship and they made for a very memorable hour.

The Lake States Club's history is bound to the Gladwin Game Refuge. The refuge was established in 1916 with the Lake State's Club created in 1945 as a consolidation of grouse and quail trial clubs from around the state, several of them having already held competitions at the refuge. The inaugural Lakes State Championship was held December 3, 1945. The date of December 3 was chosen so as not to interfere with the Grand National Grouse Championship. With the late date, the weather conditions for the inaugural run were rather cold and snowy.

According to Fred Leggett the reporter, "Enough birds were raised but under conditions as bad as they were it was a miracle we saw any." This year's event was a mixed bag of weather. As is often the case in northern Michigan, the weather was ever changing and challenging, with temperatures on day one a balmy mid-sixties, followed by a fast moving Canadian cold front bringing a cold, windy and rainy day two. The final days were nearly perfect with partly cloudy skies and temperatures at or below freezing early, warming to highs in the forties and fifties. The rain from Monday evening into Tuesday brought some much needed moisture to the dry, sandy grounds. Unlike the 1945 running of this event, the bird counts were as good for this year's event as has ever been recorded, with 55 grouse and 49 woodcock noted throughout the championship. Every brace held birds, which is a testament to the habitat management by the Gladwin Area DNR and its head biologist Bruce Barlow. We here in Michigan are very blessed to have such a wonderful field trial area in which to hold our events.

To get the championship off to a great start, Lake States Club president Mike Brown and his lovely bride Christine hosted a walleye dinner at Alibi Hall on Monday evening. Those in attendance enjoyed great food, and swapped stories about past field trial feats. For those that have not had the pleasure of spending some time at Alibi Hall, it is a veritable museum of past Michigan cover dog competitors through the many dozens of pictures and plaques that adorn the walls. Mike and Deb Singleton hosted lunches throughout the week, as the braces were suspended for lunch at Alibi each day of the contest, culminating with a wonderful fried chicken dinner with cheesy potatoes on Friday, reminiscent of past meals held at Alibi Hall.

In addition to the meals provided by the Browns and the Singletons, many who were in attendance assisted with the countless duties of running a smooth event. At the end of the Championship with the announcement of the winners, field trial chairman Bryan Wood thanked them all. We would be remiss if we did not mention the horse wranglers, Rich and Jenny Hollister. Many times the comment is heard about how special these horses really are. They make it possible for judges to do their job without having to be expert horsemen. And last, but certainly not least, a huge shout out to Purina and Greg Blair for their support of the cover dog field trials. Purina provided the winners with bags of Pro Plan Sport and the club with the cost of the ad for the trial.

This year's entry was an impressive lineup of 15 previous championship winners and/or runner-ups, making for a tough competition and some great races for judges and gallery alike to witness. These two judges bring decades of grouse and woodcock hunting and trialing experience. Brent Peters has been involved in field trialing since 2005, when he campaigned his first setter, Baxter's Captain Jack. In recent years he has competed with his beloved setter Baxter's Apache John (AJ) to many placements. Brent has sat in the judges saddle many times, most recently for the 2021 Grand National Grouse Championship held in Marienville, Pa. Doug McMillen has been a tough competitor on the field trial circuit, owning and handling multiple champions, the most recent of which is his National Champion Double Deuce Zeke. Doug has also judged the Wisconsin Cover Dog Championship and the Michigan Woodcock Championship in past years, in addition to this year's Lake States Championship.

This year's winner was sired by Shadow Oak Bo in 2014. His previous wins include a runner-up placement at the 2020 Pennsylvania Grouse Championship and he has garnered invitations to the U. S. Complete and the Southern Bird Hunter's Open Invitationals on the walking quail trial circuit. Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire, also a wise 8-year-old, has also graced the podium, placing as runner-up in the 2017 Pennsylvania Grouse Championship and winning the 2018 Michigan Woodcock Championship. His pedigree comes from the Forman brother's highly successful Shady Hills Kennel lineup of competitors.

The winner's courses are a mixture of bigger woods, turning into a more recent cutting, with a mixture of popple and scrubby oaks, then a couple more turns through mature trees and a long stretch of thick, young popples. The hour-long brace has no real opportunity for water, so the dogs must show their perseverance though high, dry ground. The weather was cooperating, with temperatures in the low 50s. Both dogs dug into the cover right away, swinging big casts and showing fast and flashy. Jack was moving in a forward manner crossing to the front. Whiskey moved nicely with a little more lateral charge. Jack stopped in the cover to the right of the course just before we crossed over to course 16. He was found standing high and proud in an open area and as Robert approached a big grouse launched in the clearing in front of Jack, flying out with gusto. As Robert continued to make his way to Jack another grouse thundered off to the right with all in order and Robert brought Jack back to course to restart. Both dogs moved along the road at the course crossing as Whiskey stopped, followed by Jack. As we advanced toward them, we found the dogs standing close together with a grouse flushed in front of Whiskey, soaring across the road. As the shot fired, another grouse could be seen running in front of Jack. It burst into flight, thundering right over our heads as a shot was then fired for Jack. Both dogs finished their hour hunting in true championship quality.
Day 1 The first day dawned bright and warm, with temperatures in the 40s, peaking into the balmy 60s.
Brace 1, Setter Ridge Flash Forward (ESF/Scott Chaffee) and Upper Ammonoosuc Ivy (PF/Scott Forman) on courses 1 and 2. Both dogs went to work right away, Ivy being a little wider and deeper while Flash moved a little more conservatively. Both dogs sped through the open pole timber, working their way down into the scrub oak cut. Flash went right towards Joy Road and stopped at 22. Handler and judge proceeded to the dog. Chaffee flushed but could not produce a bird. Flash was allowed to relocate and stopped again, still no bird found. Flash was sent to relocate again and pinned a grouse between the cover and Joy Road, all good. Moving forward, Ivy went deep and was thought to be on point but could not be located. Flash continued with a woodcock find at 28 on the left side of course all in good order. Flash struck again after crossing through the bird field with another woodcock on the edge of the field just into the woods at 48. Ivy was leashed at the road crossing on to course 2, while Flash finished her hour and was a likely contender to start the championship.

Brace 2, Singleton's Lady Kati (ESF/Mike Singleton) and Pinestraw Fat Bottom Girl (ESF/Dale Ash) on courses 3 and 4. Both dogs ran course 3 like it should be run, the dogs stayed out and were forward and wide. Crossing the tubes to Course 4, Girl slowed, but continued to bust through the cover, while Kati proceeded to stay fast and hard running. Kati had woodcock finds at 34 and 42 but neither dog were able to pin a grouse.

Brace 3, Flambeau River Meg (ESF/Joe Colglazier) and Springpond Rockin Sidney (ESF/Tammy Chaffee) on courses 5 and 6. Both dogs started immediately hunting the cover on both sides of the course crossing in good style. Coming down the hill before the heart attack climb, Meg stopped in a likely spot, but handler was unable to produce a bird. Meg moved forward and had another stop at 25 with Sidney backing. But handler was unable to produce a bird here either. Sidney stopped on the right of the course at 36 with an irresistible grouse at her nose and that unfortunately ended her bid. Meg continued onward, slowing to work bird scent in the open bowl. She unfortunately got herself too close to an uncooperative grouse and the encounter ended her bid.

Brace 4, Hifives Ruff Runner (PM/Bruce Minard) and Blue Ribbon Harper (PF/Robert Ecker). Both dogs put forth a very good effort running hard and forward. Neither dog was able to connect with a bird.
Following the brace, participants and gallery headed into Alibi Hall for lunch, prepared by Mike and Deb.
Brace 5, Rebellious Fearless Fred (ESM/Mike Leubke) and Snyder's Fireside Ed (ESM/Tammy Chaffee) on courses 9 and 10. Each dog flew ahead into the thick popple cover of course nine. Ed struck first, having 5 woodcock finds in his first 20 minutes on the first half of 9 in the heavy cover. The fifth proved to be his undoing. Fred covered all of the course in good fashion and suffered an unproductive at the end of 9, with another stop at the beginning of course 10. Fred was moved on to relocate and was rewarded with a woodcock find at 45. He continued his hour with woodcock finds at 52 and again at time.

Brace 6, Cedar Creek Spec (ESF/Robert Ecker) and BK Rolling Dice (PF/Bruce Minard) on courses 11 and 12. Dice took one big cast and the tracker was called for. Speck diligently hunted the sparse cover of course 11, suffering two unproductives and was up at the half way point.

Day 2
Wednesday began cold, rainy and blustery. Good for dogs, not so great for humans!

Brace 7, Dun Rovens Zip (ESM/Rich Hollister) and Oscar Robinson (ESM/Scott Forman) on courses 13 and 14. The dogs broke away quickly, moving forward. At 5 both bells stopped off of course on the right side. As handlers and judges approached the dogs, they found Zip backing Oscar. Forman flushed, but no bird was present. Both dogs continued moving up the course, when Oscar stopped on the left side of the course, but again no bird was present. Forman was not happy with Oscar's performance and picked him up. Hollister moved forward and also was not happy with Zip's response to him, and he elected to pick up too.

Brace 8, Ramapo Mt. Doc (PM/Robert Ecker) and Faith's Maximum Justice (PM/Ken DeLong) on courses 15 and 16. Both dogs started searching the scrub oak cover on course 15 with Justice making his normal fast and reaching moves. Coming to the beginning of Course 16, Robert elected to pick up Doc and Justice continued forward slowing his pace as they reached the end of their time. No birds were contacted by either dog.

Brace 9, Meredith Grade Corky (ESM/Tammy Chaffee) and Sutter's Backwoods Rumble (ESM/Rich Hollister) on courses 1 and 2. Both dogs worked the pole timber in an adequate fashion moving through the winding trail into the scrub oak cover on course 1. Arriving in the cover, Rumble was found standing at 20 with Corky backing. Hollister flushed a low flying woodcock and at shot Rumble moved up and was leashed. Corky continued forward and had an unfortunate altercation with a woodcock which caused him to be leashed as well.

Brace 10, Thornapple Cody (ESM/Bruce Minard) and Rowling's Star (ESF/Scott Forman) on courses 3 and 4. These dogs hit the course with purpose and flash as both owners were present to watch their charges run. Course 3's resident grouse got up wild with no dog contact. Star had her running shoes on and was last seen on the wrong side of the river and was up at half. Cody continued on to course 4 and was rewarded with a woodcock find at 39, scouted up by his proud owner Bob Leet. At 45, a pair of woodcock and a single grouse lifted. At 52, Cody struck again on a woodcock with good manners. Unfortunately a flighty woodcock at 53 proved to be Cody's undoing and he was leashed, ending his bid.

After lunch at Alibi Hall, we proceeded to the final two braces of the day. The weather had begun to moderate, although the winds were still fairly brisk.

Brace 11, Emert's Grouse Ringer T (ESM/Zac Erne) and Dun Roven's Midnight Ike (ESM/Robert Ecker) on courses 5 and 6. Both dogs covered course 5 with moderate range and hit all the likely spots. At the crossover between course 5 and 6, T was seen underneath a grouse and was picked up. Into course 6, Ike connected with a woodcock, displaying finished manners. At the turn into the cut along the tote road of course 6, Ike hit point on the right side of the course and a triple of grouse rose to the air. Ike was perfect through wing and shot. Unproductives at 14 and 49 may have hurt his chances to make the winners podium.

Brace 12, Moss Meadow Seeker (ESM/Ken Moss) and Flycast Rollie Fingers (ESM/Scott Chaffee) on courses 7 and 8. Seeker struck first at 3 with a nice woodcock find. At 13, Rollie stuck a grouse along the course at the top of the hill before the turn into the pole timber. Both dogs continued through the thick popple cover of course 7, moving hard and fast and continuing with a wider reach through the pole timber and swamp. Both dogs continued their far reaching search onto course 7, where Seeker again stood on a woodcock at 54 near the tote road crossing.

Day 3
Thursday began cold, but sunshine promised for an improvement of conditions from the previous day.

Brace 13, Kalamity Cinder (RSF/Bruce Minard) and Fireside Sally Forth (ESF/Tammy Chaffee) on courses 9 and 10. This morning proved to be our coldest start, with the temperature in the high 20's. Both dogs took advantage of the nice cover on the right of Course 9 right away with Sally scoring on a woodcock find at 3, then another well located woodcock find at 10. Cinder also stuck a woodcock at 16. Both dogs ran well but were unable to locate a grouse.

Brace 14, Travel Alert (ESM/Harold Holmes) and One Acre Wood Lucky (PF/Trey Rector) on courses 11 and 12. This proved to be a very exciting brace to watch, as both dogs fired up Course 11. Travel Alert pointed deep in the cover on course 11 to the left at 10 and after an extensive search, a shot was fired over him. Alert came to another stop at 30 which did not produce a bird and again at 31, also with no bird. Alert had a woodcock find at 40, had an altercation with a woodcock at 44, and was leashed. Lucky moved forward with speed and agility and was rewarded with a woodcock on course 12 at 55.

Brace 15, Grouse Hill Pepper (PF/Scott Chaffee) and Northview's Dixie Storm (ESF/Bruce Minard) on courses 13 and 14. These dogs broke away hunting the scrub oak cover on course 13 with Dixie getting right to work sticking a grouse right off of the course at 1 minute 30 seconds, displaying perfect manners. Crossing the tote road, Pepper was working scent when she pointed left of course, but Chaffee was unable to raise a bird for her. Chaffee elected to pick Pepper up at 20. Dixie moved forward hunting all available cover with high head and classy style.

Brace 16, Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire and Sterlingworth Jack's efforts were described previously.

At the conclusion of brace 16, a much appreciated lunch at Alibi Hall was served.

Brace 17, Kit's Whiskey River Patsy (ESF/Scott Chaffee) and Grouse Ridge Mags (ESF/Scott Forman) on courses 1 and 2. Both dogs commenced their hour moving well. Patsy could be heard tracking scent forward into the oak scrub along Joy road, when she came to a stop. Chaffee with judge in tow headed to the dog and produced a woodcock, with all in order. As both dogs headed to the half hour crossing, Forman elected to pick Mags up as she was not pleasing him. Shortly thereafter, Patsy was also leashed.

Brace 18, Glassilaun Parabellum (ESF/Robert Ecker) and Thornapple Casey (ESM/Bruce Minard) on courses 3 and 4. Ecker chose to make a late scratch, leaving Casey the course to himself. Casey proceeded through course 3, but at a limited range and Bruce elected to end his bid at 20.

Day 4
A day with weather much like the previous one, but a bit warmer.

Brace 19, Dun Roven's Soozee (ESF/Rich Hollister) and Ponderosa's Copper Penny (ESF/Rob Ellis) on courses 5 and 6. Both dogs started to hunt the cover provided on both sides of the course. At 28 Penny stopped on the right in the scrub oaks and a grouse was flushed with all in order. Penny was restarted and at 34 Soozee reached deep to the front and her bell went silent. Hollister found her standing and a grouse flushed from a distance with a shot to follow. Penny then came in and pointed with a grouse flushed for her as well. Both dogs continued moving forward with Soozee reaching deep to the front with another stop. Hollister flushed to no avail. During the relocation effort a woodcock lifted, which ended Soozee's bid. Penny finished her brace big and forward.

Brace 20, One Acre Wood Bandit (ESF/Trey Rector) and Vitali's Grouse Ringer Pappy (ESM/Scott Forman on courses 7 and 8. Both dogs raced from the start through the heavy cover at the beginning of course 7. At the road crossing, Bandit was at a distance towards the east gate and could be heard barking. She didn't rejoin her handler until the gallery was well into course 8, where she commenced her hunting efforts and was rewarded with a woodcock find. Pappy continued on to 8, working the popple cuts. At 48, Pappy halted on point in front of Scott along the trail, pointing the right side of the course in likely cover. After a short flushing attempt, Scott released his charge to relocate and a grouse immediately lifted behind the dog. An unfortunate example of a wily, running grouse ended Pappy's bid. Bandit finished her hour with no additional bird contacts.

Brace 21, Bundy's Buckeye Molly (ESF/Zac Erne) and Snyder's Sadie (ESF/Tammy Chaffee) on courses 9 and 10. Both dogs shot out of the gate on a mission. After a lengthy first cast, both returned to point separate woodcock on the hillside of course 9, all in order. Sadie was proving to be a handful, while Molly covered the entire course and had 3 more sterling woodcock finds. Near the road crossing at the end of course 9, Sadie's bell stopped and as she started up again, a pair of grouse were heard to blow out, ending her run. At the half Erne elected to pick Molly up, as she was bleeding profusely from a stick through her lip.

Brace 22, Bo of Piney Woods (PM/Robert Ecker) and Grouse Ridge Larry (ESM/Rich Hollister) on courses 11 and 12. Both dogs took off with a whistle and covered the scrub oak at the course beginning their quest with well-placed casts. Larry was checking in often and while Bo reached deeper into the cover. Larry stopped at 22 with Bo stopping nearby. Hollister flushed a grouse and shots were fired, with all in order. Both handlers elected to pick up at the half as neither dog was performing to expectations.

Brace 23, Grouse Hill Bullet Proof (ESM/Scott Forman) and Hifive's Power Line (PM/Bruce Minard) on courses 13 and 14. Both dogs hunted the cover diligently through 13. After an extended absence, Forman called for his tracker and picked up Proof at 28. Powerline now had the course to himself and hunted nicely with a grouse find in the thick cover at 34 with multiple birds leaving the area. Powerline was then released to hunt the rest of the course, but went with a grouse at 38.

Brace 24, Back Creek Lucy (ESF/Rich Hollister) and Hifive's Top Shelf (PF/Bruce Minard) on courses 15 and 16. Right from the breakaway both dogs were searching hard for the king of game birds, when Lucy's Bell stopped at 4 on the right of the bend to the course. Topshelf came in but failed to back and was leashed. Hollister flushed a grouse for Lucy and went on. Lucy wasn't reaching very well but was able to pin another grouse at 25, with all in order. Hollister was disappointed in Lucy's performance and picked up at the road crossing.
Meredith, Mich., October 25
Judges: Doug McMillen and Brent Peters
LAKE STATES GROUSE DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 11 Pointers, 36 Setters and 1 Irish Setter

Winner-STERLINGWORTH JACK, 1655602, setter male, by Shadow Oak Bo-Hunter Run's Dawn. Jim Millett, owner; R. J. Ecker, Jr., handler.
Runner-Up-SHADY HILLS WHISKEY BONFIRE, 1662697, setter male, by Shady Hills Billie Too-Shady Hills Beanie. Shady Hills Kennel, owner; Scott Forman, handler.
Companion Stakes
Open Derby
In the open derby stake, judges Trey Rector and Joe Colglazier liked Big Chungus, a male setter owned and handled by Travis Burnett. Chungus coupled a good ground performance with a flash point on a quickly flushing grouse followed by a solid point on a grouse, securing 1st place. Second went to Meredith Grade Penny, a female setter, owned by Dennis Keysor and handled by Scott Chaffee. Penny ran with extreme style and grace with a good ground performance for her 30 minutes, staying forward and handling great. Third was O'Callaghan's Luna Eclipse, a female Brittany, owned and handled by Stephen McKalko. Luna had a hard driving run and handled well.

Lake States ODF22

Open Derby Winners (from left): Big Chungus with owner/handler Travis Burnett, Judges Trey Rector and Joe Colglazier, and O'Callaghan's Luna Eclipse with owner/handler Steve McKalko.

Judges: Joe Colglazier and Trey Rector
OPEN DERBY - 7 Pointers, 7 Setters and 1 Brittany

1st-BIG CHUNGUS, 1700011, setter male, by Caladen's Davinci-Kasida. Travis Burnett, owner and handler.
2d-MEREDITH GRADE PENNY, 1694628, setter female, by Ponderosa Mac-Eldridge's Beauty and Beast. Dennis Keysor, owner; Scott Chaffee, handler.
3d-O'CALLAGHAN'S LUNA ECLIPSE, 1699850, Brittany female, by Walt Longmire O'Call-O'Shallaghan's Run Around Sue. Stephen A. McKalko, owner and handler.
Open Puppy
Judges Mike Lareau and Chris Wasserman looked at 8 future contenders. First was Grouse Hill Princess, female English setter, owned by John Capocci and handled by Scott Forman. Princess put down an excellent ground performance showing the ability to move to the next level. Second was Dun Rovens Hillbilly Hattie, a female setter owned by Harold Holmes and Rich Hollister and handled by Harold Holmes. Hattie ran a good forward and fast race, also showing the ability to advance to the next level. Third was Scottland Country Boy Too, owned by Scott Johnston and handled by Scott Forman. "Sam" ran a good race, hunting in the all the right spots.

Lake States OPF22

Open Puppy Winners (from left): Grouse Hill Princess with Christy Helmes, Richard Hollister and Harold Holmes (co-owners) of Dunroven Hillbilly Hattie with handler Harold Holmes; and Scottland Country Boy Too with handler Scott Forman.

Judges: Mike Lareau and Chriss Wasserman
OPEN PUPPY - 1 Pointer and 7 Setters

1st-GROUSE HILL PRINCESS, 1702135, setter female, by Grouse Hill Bullet Proof-Spata Setters Sally. Giovanni Capocci, owner; Scott Forman, handler.
2d-DUNROVEN BILLBILLY HATTIE, 1702221, setter female, by Dun Rovens Drifter-Back Creek Lucy. Richard Hollister & Harold Holmes, owners; Harold Holmes, handler.
3d-SCOTTLAND COUNTRY BOY TOO, 1699777, setter male, by Long Hair Country Boy-Scottland Winnie Too. Scott Johnston, owner; Scott Forman, handler.

Lake States LunchesF22-

Lunches. Bringing back tradition, we held a handlers walleye dinner the night before the stake in the Alibi hall. President Mike Brown and his wife, Christine, hosted the dinner. We ventured back to the Alibi for lunch daily, something we had not done since COVID struck.

Lake States The GalleryF22

The Gallery. Unusually warmer climate for the Lake States Championship. This, the beginning of Course 7, shows the many participants enjoying the weather and wearing braces.