Result: Region 4 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship
Location: Ionia, Michigan
Post Date: Feb 7, 2023
Submitted By: Jim Cipponeri
The first attempt of a Pheasant release at the Ionia Field Trial area in over 45 years was a resounding success. With entries coming from across the Great Lakes Region (Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ontario) participants endorsed the locale as a affirmed "Pheasant Venue". Members of the Ionia Grounds Association manicured the courses this summer to promote acceptable cover and feed in the hopes of establishing a sustainable pheasant population during and after the field trial season.
For over 30 years Jeff Haggis has sponsored numerous pheasant championships in Canada and has been a frequent visitor to these grounds. He should know a thing or two about this resplendent and magnificent game bird and what is required to have a successful trial. Jeff pointed out "how refreshing it was to see bird work in so many different locations compared to the usual throw down bob whites that every one seems to know where there at". Hopefully, events of this stature will become more common at Ionia soon.
Mark Johnson entered 2 dogs, all with the Erin's namesake and all 3 were solid contenders.
Mark is a true gentleman and ambassador of our sport. one that stood out above all was the eventual champion Erin's Wild Rum. The black and white pointer male has been knocking on the door of his first championship with several classic and 1 hour wins acquired from Erin's Kennels as a derby and spending some time on the disabled list with a tick born disease he was eventually developed by Mark with summer trips to Nebraska and northern Wisconsin. Pete was also campaigned by Andy Daugherty for a short time.
The first hours rain let up briefly but Mark must have brought the winds of Chicago with him as they were evident at breakaway atop Oak Tree Hill? Pete traveled along riverside drive while bracemate Jack's Rockin Rocco roamed the Crossbow Fields. They both traded huge forward casts either along the south tree line bordering Fletchers Pond or north along the Boundary fence near the old State Infirmary. Pete progressed smoothly through the aged apple orchard while Rocco established a iffy point at the end of the Shotgun Range area. No bird flushed but a likely area for a incessant running rooster.
Mark stopped to water Pete in front of the course 2 parking lot and then headed toward the Sessions Creek Crossing. He was spied rimming the distant sorghum strips toward the Christmas Tree fields while Rocco rimmed the edges along the horse bridle paths. Rocco decided to follow the equestrian trails rather than the Field Trial course and Cipp decided to call for the tracker as Pete would continue his championship performance on his own.
At the 24 minute the big black and white pointer was found standing just before Tibbets Creek where a Big Rooster flushed as handler and judge approached (has anyone ever flushed a small rooster?) All in order. During the next 15 minutes Johnsons attractive charged flowed effortlessly across the lush green pastures bordering Tuttle Hill and The Looney Bin while approaching the last 20 minutes of the brace. He worked the tree lines and swamp edges in superb fashion before entering Hires field. He was seen along the Ainsworth road looking as strong and fluid as he did at breakaway. Scout Brian Sheehan who always does a splendid job scouting for those that ask kept a keen eye on the winner. Ultimately, Petes rapport with his handler was evident throughout the brace and influenced the decision making by judges Guzman and Rizzo. Soon after the judges called "Pick em up" Pete slammed into point on a large covey of bobs that have been hanging around all fall. Nice find but not in time to register in the Score Card.
Sean Patrick Derrig has attended many trials here at Ionia since he was a young teenager, usually riding his beloved Palamino while kibitzing and chaffing with his sister Maeve in typical good natured brother/sister bantering. Erin's Country Rebel decisively earned his runner-up title while running in the 5th brace Saturday with Mike Duvalls Thumpers Anything But.
Breaking away from the Horse Barn both dogs hit what we call the "Milk Route" the duo took the edges all the way to the end before searching intently near the duck ponds. Rebel traveled along the woods edge on the southeast corner of the Hires holdings and was rewarded with a covey find at the 12 minute mark. He then showed well for the next 10 minutes in the hay fields adjacent to the Old Headquarters Building and was viewed by the gallery slamming onto point just before the Dog Leg. Another bevy of birds put to flight. The pair of pointers hit the fields below Logans Lookout as both dogs ran with purpose and intent in the Show Me fields along Riverside drive. They were rewarded with a divided find across from the Sheriffs Posse Station. The third and final contact for Runner up Rebel.
Judge Joe Guzman has been a officer of the Michigan Shooting Dog Championship for many years and after retirement has relocated to northern Michigan where he spends most of his time fishing and hunting along the Lake Huron coast. He makes a annual pilgrimage to the prairies of western Canada for 2 weeks every September before hitting the trial circuit back home. Blake Rizzo and the Rizzo name is synonimis with bird dogs and field rials as Blakes late father Dr. Vince Rizzo was a mainstay in the German short hair world for over 50 years. These men know a good performance whether it be a all-age, shooting dog or walking dog.
I must thank Ron Williams for manning the dog wagon and keeping everyone entertained. Ron never misses a beat and always has the dogs where they need to be at the various pick up and breakaway spots. Dick Lipski, who primarily is involved with the Brittany clubs always finds time to join us for our Pointer championships where his sense of humor is almost as valuable as the bird planting he does every morning from his Razor side by side. Jeff and Matt Haggis helped organize this event and assisted in bird planting and clean up.
It was encouraging to see so many out of staters here enjoying the warm but extremely windy weather. Many a story was fabricated or embellished a bit around the clubhouse on Saturday night. Joining fellow Michiganders Sandy Mclean and Bill Branham were past Region 4 president Mike Jackson who came in from Battleground, Indiana, Tim Mcclurg from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mike and Sue Duvall, and Brian and Jill Sheehan. We should never take for granted the continued support Purina provides. Without there contributions it would be difficult to put on these championships. Region 4 secretary Mary Sue Schalk couldn't attend this year but the beautifully engraved plaques for the winners were well received.
Ionia, Mich., November 5
Judges: Joe Guzman and Blake Rizzo
REGION 4 AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 16 Pointers and 1 Setter
Winner-ERIN'S WILD RUM, 1660750, pointer male, by Erin's Redrum-Erin's Wild Fox. Mark Johnson, owner and handler.
Runner-Up-ERIN'S COUNTRY REBEL, 1684352, pointer male, by Dominator's Rebel Heir-Erin's Miss Faye. Sean Derrig, owner; Sean Patrick Derrig, handler.
Region 4 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship Winners (from left): Bill Branham, Ron Williams, Blake Rizzo, Mark Johnson with Erin's Wild Rum, Mike Duvall, Joe Guzman, Jeff Haggis, Jim Cipponeri, Brian Sheehan with Erin's Country Rebel, and Jill Sheehan.