Event: Chasehill Poison Ivy Named Champion; B K Rolling Dice, Runner-Up
Result: Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Championship
Location: Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
Post Date: Jun 15, 2023
Submitted By: Bob Watts
Grand National Grouse & Woodcock Invitational Championship Winners (front, l-r): Allen Raiano, John Stolgitis (GNG director) with Chasehill Poison Ivy, and Bruce Minard (GNG director) with B K Rolling Dice. (Behind): Mark Hughes, Scott Forman, Christy Helms, Mary Moss, Brian Ralph (GNG secretary), Tammy Chaffee, Dick Brenneman (GNG director), Joe Cammisa (GNG Invitational secretary), Marc Forman (judge), Bill Siemer, Jennie Minard, Deb Nihart, and Helen Brenneman. (Third row, l-r): Mike Flewelling, Dave Hughes (GNG director), Jeff Keller, Ken Moss, Russell Ogilvie, Scott Chaffee (GNG director), Dave Duell (GNG director), John Stegman, Bob Watts (reporter), Dr. Bruce Mueller (judge), Ed Graddy, and Greg Johnson.
The 32nd Annual Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship was held April 12-14 at Black Moshannon State Forest, hosted by the Black Moshannon Grouse Trial Club and sponsored by Purina and Garmin. The grounds were new to the Mid-Atlantic Region after Jeff Keller, Dick Brenneman, and Rob Boos finished the work that Jeff Keller first took on by himself. They worked hard and made nine courses, a Puppy and a Derby course. The area comprises approximately 6,500 acres. This area holds a good number of birds, making the trial a great success.
The venue was a good one to show off running, hunting, and bird-finding abilities. The venue is an oak surrounded by short timber, young cuts, and mountain laurel. The area was well suited for trialing with nearby accommodations of bed and breakfasts, Airbnb, hotels, and restaurants. Nearby State College offers the finishing touches.
An upfront thank you goes to Allen Raiano, owner of Chasehill Poison Ivy, who provided appetizers for the drawing in honor of last year's runner-up championship placement. Additionally, to Bill Siemer, who provided lunches both days for the running in honor of his championship win last year. Helen Brenneman and Suzie Cammisa came with baked goods for the morning breaks and lunch desserts.
The drawing was held Tuesday, April 11, at RJ's Pub in Philipsburg, and after social hour, Invitational Secretary Joe Cammisa started the draw. The list included the top 14 cover dogs in the country, with two of the originally nominated invitees declining to run, allowing the next two acceptances to get the nod. The 14 dogs who accepted and were drawn to compete were: B K Rolling Dice, owned by Bill Siemer and handled by Bruce Minard; Chasehill Poison Ivy, owned by Allen Raiano and handled by John Stolgitis; Spring Brook Maximus, owned and handled by Russell Ogilvie; Moss Meadow Seeker, owned and handled by Ken Moss; Snyder's Fireside Ed, owned by Steve Snyder and handled by Tammy Chaffee; Sterlingworth Jack, owned by Jim Millet and handled by Robert Ecker; Braggabull, owned and handled by Mark Hughes; Duck Hook, owned by Dick Straub and Mike Flewelling and handled by Mike Flewelling; Daddy's Little Boy Butch, owned by Paul Scott and handled by John Stolgitis; Neo owned by David Theroux and handled by Adam Dubriske; Northwoods Atlas, owned and handled by Greg Johnson; North Slopes Allie, owned and handled by Ed Graddy; Full Breeze, owned by Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts; Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella, owned by Marty Festa and handled by Dave Hughes.
The judges for this year's event were Marc Forman of Prattsburgh, N. Y., and Dr. Bruce Mueller of Bedford, Pa. Both judges are highly knowledgeable in bird dog raising, training, trialing, and sitting in the judicial saddle. The two are outstanding sportsmen and bring a lot to the table. The reporter was Bob Watts of Lewisburg, Pa.
The morning meeting place was The Black Moshannon Boat Launch parking lot. All three days started there with a parade of cars lined up traveling to the start of the first brace, additionally the callbacks.
Day 1--Wednesday, April 12
(Brace No. 1, Course 8) After meeting at the boat mooring #1 site, the field trial participants moved to the start of Course 8 for the first brace featuring Snyder's Fireside Ed (Tammy Chaffee) and Sterlingworth Jack (Robert Ecker) off at 8 a.m. under sunny skies and a temperature of 57 degrees. Both were strong at the start, laying well forward. Ed, with his size and high carriage, makes one follow his every move through the woods. Jack was the wider running dog. He's a swift and attractive dog in motion. It took some calling for Jack to come around from his casts. He occasionally checked in with his handler. Both dogs were consistently driving throughout the hour. The temperature was rising fast and was near 70 degrees as the time for the brace to finish approached. Both dogs slowed a bit in the final minutes as they were ahead well in hand at the finish. No birds were pointed by either dog.
(Brace No. 2, Course 7) B K Rolling Dice (Bruce Minard) and Northwoods Atlas (Ed Graddy) broke away with the temperature continuing to rise on this exceptionally warm day for early April, and dogs that spent the winter in their northern home state like Wisconsin (Atlas) had a major adjustment to make to the conditions. A significant snowstorm had hit the upper Midwest just days earlier, making it even tougher to prepare these dogs. Atlas, the tri-color setter, is owned by Greg Johnson. He was attractive in motion. Light on his feet, he was fleet through the woods. At 10, he stopped, but the stand proved barren, and he quickly moved on. Meanwhile, Dice was put on a clinic for what a hard-running dog could do in search of game. She laid out wide throughout the heat. She was in and out of bell range as Minard called to her and sang to let her know the direction the course was taking. A pair of grouse flushed wild at 30. At 40, Dice gave us a good look at her determined effort as she raced across an open field, pushing herself hard to the front. Atlas was putting forth a mature, moderate-ranged, serious hunting effort. He pointed in a likely spot. After a flushing attempt, Atlas was sent to relocate, and a close-by, tight-sitting woodcock was bumped, with Atlas stopping sharply to honor the flight. He was steady for the shot. At 55, both dogs were stopped. It was determined that Dice had the bird and Atlas was backing. Both dogs stood tall and steady as the woodcock was flushed and shot over.
(Brace No. 3, Course 6) Seventy-degree temps greeted Braggabull (Mark Hughes) and Neo (Adam Dubriske). In this late morning brace, Neo was off to a strong start demonstrating strong drive and speed. A leggy setter with a high tail carriage that was very straight, he demanded the gallery's attention as he flew to the front. Braggabull, the pointer, checked in early with Hughes and settled into a medium-range hunting effort. She's an exceptionally classy dog. Flashy, running with a cracking tail and animated gait, she applied herself diligently throughout the heat. Her pace was consistent, and her pattern was forward right to the end. Neo was in and out of bell range in the first half of the heat. He was scouted a couple of times when he did not return promptly. At the halfway point, he seemed to get turned around and went back toward the breakaway, where he was picked up.
Brace No. 4 paired Full Breeze (Dave Hughes) and Daddy's Little Boy Butch (John Stolgitis). Temperatures were in the 70s at 12:45 p.m. as this brace broke away on Course 2. Butch went out strong and was laying out wide at the start. He's a powerful, smooth running male. Back in hand at 5, he was athletic, gliding through the heavy cover that characterizes this course. Bree, co-owned by your reporter, took right to hunting in a mature fashion for Hughes. She was a bit lateral in her pattern at times. At 20, Bree reached out over 100 yards to an inviting cut and then hunted this cut forward to its end. This demonstrated her determination and savvy. Both dogs tore the dense cover apart. Bree stopped at 26 off the path but moved on without a flushing attempt. Butch had point called for him at 33, 30 yards off the path. Bree was also hunting on the same side of the course, and her bell stopped another 20 yards farther into the cover in this same area. Hughes flushed and fired as a woodcock erupted in front of Bree, who stood with super style and intensity. Meanwhile, Butch had let down his pointing style a bit as the woodcock Bree had nailed had apparently run away from his point. Stolgitis correctly fired over his dog, and the judges declared this a divided find. At 45, Butch had point called for him 30 yards from the path. Judge and handler fought their way through the dense underbrush and spied Butch standing with a level tail as a grouse blew out in front of his stand. Both dogs finished at a moderate pace as the clock wound down to conclude the hour.
(Brace No. 5, Course 3) After lunch at the roadside, the veteran Duck Hook (John Stolgitis) and North Slopes Allie (Craig Johnson) were off at 2:40 p.m. A brief shower over lunch did little to improve the hot conditions as temps were now in the mid-70s with full sun. Hook is co-owned by Mike Flewelling and the recently deceased Dick Straub, a bird dog enthusiast for more than 50 years. While he organized and ran local quail trials in his home area of southeast Pennsylvania, his first love was for grouse hunting and grouse trialing. Dick grew up in the center of grouse territory, and he and his brother returned to these roots to hunt virtually every season. Dick owned 20 cover dog champions, with Duck Hook most recently the winner of the coveted Pennsylvania Grouse Championship. Dick was highly respected and loved by the many friends made through grouse dogs and cover dog trialing. At the trial banquet, the prayer over dinner thanked God for the life and contributions of friend and fellow bird dog lover Dick Straub. Hook acquitted himself well on the ground. Remember, each of these 14 competitors is an elite among cover dogs. Hook hunted like the veteran he is, with Mike Flewelling on hand to scout. At 23, he stood tall, but the flushing effort proved unproductive. Meanwhile, Allie made a good impression on the judges as she ran hard and with great appeal. She's a classy moving girl, very snappy. She stopped at 8, but nothing could be produced. She swung with the handler as the course had some twists and turns designed to take advantage of good coverts worth hunting. Hook got a little rammy and was gone for a while at the 40-minute mark, but he was back in hand by 50. Allie continued driving on the ground, and her efforts took her in and out of bell range as she smartly sought out likely cover to hunt.
Both dogs finished strong. (Brace No. 6, Course 3) Chasehill Poison Ivy (John Stolgitis) and Moss Meadow Seeker (Ken Moss). At 4:05 p.m., this pair would break away. Amateur Ken Moss guided his big, tri-colored male to the front. Seeker ran hard and carried himself with athleticism not commonly seen in a dog of his size. Through the middle of the course, Seeker came from a side cast and swung hard to the front. As Seeker made this move, he made a most indelible impression of what a big striding cover dog should look like. At times Seeker seemed to rely on his handler for direction as the territory was new to him. Ivy, a pointer female, was a thrill to watch in action. She's lithe and quickly moves over the ground. At times she seems to fly despite rocky footing and thick alder cover. How a dog can navigate under these conditions is often a wonder, and Ivy is a master at it. She was most consistent through the first half of the hour, responding well to her handler when he needed her to turn or come on. There's a clear connection and respect between Stolgitis and Ivy forged through many training sessions, hunting trips, and field trials. At 45, Ivy's bell stopped ringing, and soon the handler and scout were out looking for her. Seeker, too, was in that area, and after some minutes, his bell also stopped, and eventually, the handlers located their dogs with Ivy pointing and Seeker backing-a picture to thrill any bird dog owner. Both dogs stood steady for the wing and shot as the woodcock took flight. From here, both dogs went on to finish with plenty left in the tank.
(Brace No. 7, Course 5) The last brace of the day featured Spring Brook Maximus with Russ Ogilvie and Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella (Robert Ecker). Harper put down a class performance. She can flat-out move over the ground with drive and determination. Flashy would describe her appearance in motion. Ecker had her hunting forward and in the pocket for the most part. At 8, Harper stood ahead with arresting style. She had a woodcock perfectly located, and all was proper for the flush and shot. Near the midway point of the course, Harper seemed to let down for just a couple of minutes. She quickly regained her form and continued with determination. At 56, she had an honest stop-to-flush. After being shot over, Harper finished going strong. She was given serious consideration for "Day Dog," with that very short letdown in the middle being a deciding factor. Meanwhile, Max got off to a powerful start. He had his running shoes on this day. He was rough handling. At times he got behind, and it was tough to get him forward. His handler had his hands full, and at one point, Max was gone for 25 minutes, according to the judges' records.
Day 2--April 13
(Brace No. 1) The same courses were followed in the same order on day two as on day one of the running. Full Breeze (Dave Hughes) and Duck Hook (Mike Flewelling). Mike, co-owner, took the reins of Duck Hook today, relieving John Stolgitis; John scouted. An overnight shower helped quiet the walking on day two. Bree started and continued in a businesslike fashion. A 20, Bree made a 150-yard cast to an inviting cut. When she did not emerge for a while, Mark Hughes was dispatched to scout for her. He reported she had a woodcock pointed, and the bird flushed before he could get the judges' attention. This action was not under official judgment. Bree continued to hunt through this cut and showed to the front an impressive swing. Dick Brenneman took over the reins for his dog briefly until Dave Hughes caught up to the gallery. Hook ran with authority in the opening twenty minutes of this brace. His intelligence and experience showed as he picked objectives and traveled from one to the other. A grouse flushed wild at 10. At 55, Hook handled a woodcock with 10 o'clock pointing style, and he was steady to the wing and shot. Both dogs finished at moderate range, still moving with good drive.
Brace No. 2 paired North Slopes Allie (Ed Graddy) and Chasehill Poison Ivy (John Stolgitis). Right off the breakaway, both dogs were in a briar patch where they encountered a porcupine. Both had quills in their nose. Handlers tended to their dogs in fairly short order; they were clear and on their way. Both dogs may have been thrown off their balance for over the next 10 minutes or so; they were a little less than their usual selves. Both continued to pick up steam as they went along, and soon, the porcupine and its quill were forgotten. Allie was fancy and snappy for Graddy. She was in and out so far as her pattern on day two. She hunted hard at times in the cuts, then would ease off and come back in. Then out again and hunting hard, flying through the thickets. Ivy, too, fell back into her forward-searching, busy pattern. As the temps warmed up, she only got stronger. Perhaps she wasn't as spectacular as she was on day one when she was named Day Dog, but it was still a quality effort by the classy female. At 55, Allie pointed in a cut. Standing on a logging road, the gallery had a good look at her intense 11:30 style. Graddy flushed a woodcock with Allie mannerly for the shot and then took a step to mark the bird. The step was not a detraction. Allie finished hunting, but her efforts on day one may have taken some of her strength away. She is one of the dogs from up north who had a challenge getting ready for this event. Ivy finished giving it a good effort but wasn't as strong as on day one.
Brace No. 3 paired Moss Meadow Seeker (Ken Moss) and Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella (Robert Ecker). Two big running dogs dashed to the front at the break. They were on the edge of bell range for a while. Seeker drifted out, and it took several minutes to get him rounded up and back on track. At times he struggled to stay in front. The agile female, Harper, pounded the ground, handling well for such a hard-running dog. At 30, point was called for Seeker. He was handsome, standing there with high intense style. As Moss flushed, a young woodcock was spotted by the gallery running from the point. Moss started after it, and it took off running even farther from the dog. Seeker lost some pointing intensity as the bird was now 30 yards from the original stand when it finally took to the air. At 50, Harper pointed. After Ecker gave a thorough flushing effort, she was sent to relocate. While she was engaged in this relocation, Ecker walked up a woodcock. From here, both dogs impressed with their strong finish.
Brace No. 4 paired Spring Brook Maximus (Russ Ogilvie) and Sterlingworth Jack. A front went through about mid-day with some light rain beginning and the temps falling into the 40s. Max ran a well-patterned, forward race, in contrast to his rough handling and more erratic pattern on day one. Strong and focused on finding birds, he made a lasting impression. At 32, he pointed, and a woodcock was produced, manners appropriate. At 55, he again handled a woodcock with perfect manners. On both pieces of bird work, his tail was relatively low. Had he pointed with more style, he may well have been a Day Dog. Jack was more powerful on the ground today in comparison to day one. He got sticky in some likely coverts and occasionally fell behind as the handler continued ahead. At 40, Jack had a legitimate stop-to-flush on a grouse. Jack and Max both finished ahead, hunting enthusiastically.
Brace No. 5 paired Snyder's Fireside Ed (Tammy Chaffee) and B K Rolling Dice (Bruce Minard). Ed went forward at the break and was not seen for a few minutes until he came slashing across the front, giving the gallery a good look at his smooth, ground devouring gait. He's a beauty in motion. From here, he charged through the open woods reaching for more likely cover beyond. Dice was giving the gallery more of the same that she demonstrated on day one, more hard and fast hunting to the limits of bell range and sometimes beyond bell range. She knows what she's out here for, and nothing is going to get in her way. Just when you think that she's been lost, she will show up and go to the front. She and Bruce clearly have a rapport. He sings to her, and she's listening to his singing, swinging from one cover to another. At times she could have been more forward. At 33, Dice had a woodcock pointed with style and handled with ideal manners. Ed properly backed this stance. As we went on, Ed's bell stopped in thick cover at the 45 mark. When Tammy found Ed, he was in a twisted, low pointing stance with the woodcock close by. Dice was there as well, backing. All in order for the shot. Both continued in the final minutes hunting some of the thicker and most attractive covers of the course.
Brace No. 6 paired Northwoods Atlas (Ed Johnson) and Braggabull (Mark Hughes). Atlas took off at a fast pace, headed to the front. He was forward throughout his hour of hunting. The longer the hour wore on, the stronger Atlas became. He's a powerful dog, and at the same time, he exudes class. Driving hard, especially in the second half of the hour, Atlas could be described as fancy and, with that, had the gallery riveted on his performance. At 55, Atlas pointed, and his bracemate honored his stand. Unfortunately, no bird could be produced despite this being an inviting habitat. Braggabull hunted at a moderate pace. She was mature in her searching and stretched out on some casts. She was very attractive running. Snappy, light on her feet, and cracky-tailed, she backed Atlas properly at 55 but couldn't turn up a bird of her own today.
Brace No. 7 paired Neo (Adam Dubriske) and Daddy's Little Boy Butch (John Stolgitis). Butch ran to the limits on this day. He was powerful on the ground. Neo gave a solid effort with a more measured pace than on day one. He made a series of 4-5-minute casts aimed at good cover and objectives. Neo seemed to be paying more attention to his handler. The judges noticed a tendency to stop and start, apparently looking to his handler for direction. The dogs continued on, and at 48, Butch's scout reported that he was found pointing a grouse. By the time the judges arrived, the grouse was reported to have left. Stolgitis flushed in front of Butch, hoping another grouse had stuck around, but no bird was produced, and the officials could not credit Butch with a find as they had not seen the grouse flush. At the boat mooring that evening, a dinner of tasty leftovers was served, and B K Rolling Dice was named Day Dog for day two. Also, the judges announced that they wanted to see four dogs on day three, with two more dogs in reserve. In the first brace of day three, they wanted to see the two female day dogs--Chasehill Poison Ivy and B K Rolling Dice. In the second brace on day three, they wanted to see Full Breeze and Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella. The reserve dogs were Moss Meadows Seeker and North Slopes Allie.
Day 3--Friday, April 14
Brace No. 1 paired Chasehill Poison Ivy (John Stolgitis) and B K Rolling Dice (Bruce Minard). Both owners of the contenders were on hand; Allen Raiano for Ivy and William Siemer for Dice. Both owners had followed the running closely throughout the event. At 8 a.m., the first brace was released on Course 5. From the start, both dogs were giving their best as if they had saved it for day three. They were also both true to their former hunting strategies. Dice ran to the limits with Bruce Minard singing to her as a guide as to where the course was going. She would be seen only occasionally before heading out searching. Ivy was also hard driving with a traditional pattern which found her crossing in front and almost always within bell range. Ivy again ran with pretty style and a quick, smooth gait. Dice is also an attractive moving girl. At 5, Ivy had a neatly handled woodcock pointed directly in front of the gallery. She had high style and intensity throughout the flush and shot. Dice continued as the wider running of the twosome. On a turn, Dice fell behind, and she independently found a woodcock and handled it with sharp style and correct manners. At 20, Dice and Minard caught up to the forward party, and then she lit out, as is her independent manner, firing on all cylinders. At 30, Ivy impressed as she reached out in more open pole timber. Fast and furious, she reached forward and pointed ahead some 200 yards. Stolgitis got to her and produced a woodcock in short order. Dice again joined up with Ivy at 40. It took some smart handling by Minard to keep her on track, but the two of them are a team, and they work their strategy well. As time expired, Dice was back out in front, still driving, still hunting. Stolgitis was looking for Ivy, and at the 58-minute mark, she was spotted standing. Stolgitis went to Ivy, and Judge Mark Forman followed to observe the action. Forman heard a grouse take off as they approached the scene, and Stolgitis shot over his charge to conclude the running--a perfect conclusion to a terrific performance by Ivy.
Brace No. 2 paired Full Breeze (Dave Hughes) and Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella (Ecker). Bob Watts and Dick Brenneman, co-owners of Full Breeze, were on hand to see Bree run, and owner Marty Festa was there to scout his pointer female. Full Breeze, the only setter to run on day three, went off with plenty of jump and surprising energy. She crisscrossed the front a few times in the opening 10 minutes. Then she got a bit in her teeth and was a bit rough handling. Hughes stopped, calling for her, and worked to get her ahead. Ecker, handling Harper for owner Marty Festa who was scouting, moved on. The two handlers became separated and never rejoined. Harper was rolling and exhibiting a good forward pattern executed with the same appealing style she'd shown on the previous day's running. Harper held nothing back, running with speed and plenty of eye appeal. We continued and, at 35, came to an opening in the woods where we were met with Full Breeze standing majestically 150 yards ahead on the edge of a weedy section. Mark Hughes took charge of flushing in Dave's absence. All was in order as a woodcock took flight 30 feet in front of Bree. At this point, Hughes chose to pick up Bree. Harper continued and attacked the thick cover that dominated the last 15 minutes of the course. This looked to be prime cover, but no birds were home today, and Harper's diligent effort went unrewarded. She finished charging hard in the open woods in the final minutes. The field trial party drove to a clearing near where the companion Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic was beginning. The judges and reporter were thanked for their work. The announcement was then made by Cammisa, Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship Secretary, that the champion was Chasehill Poison Ivy. The worthy runner-up champion was B K Rolling Dice. Thank you to our sponsors, Purina and Garmin, for their support in making the field trial dream come true.
The Purina banquet was held in Sandy Creek, Pa., at Saint Paul's Methodist Church, and a special thanks go out to the church and its members for their consideration and opening their facility to us.
A special thank you to Forrester Brian Salvato and Forrester Zak Miller for their help and continued support in acquiring the grounds. Additionally, thank you to all who moved cars and to all who helped make this Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship a huge success. Next year the Championship is in Michigan; see you there!
Philipsburg, Pa., April 12
Judges: Marc Forman and Dr. Bruce Mueller
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE AND WOODCOCK INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats on Consecutive days; One-Hour Finals] - 6 Pointers and 8 Setters
Winner--CHASEHILL POISON IVY, 1694453, pointer female, by Panola Bacon-Chasehill Little Izzy. Allen Raiano, owner; John Stolgitis, handler.
Runner-Up--B K ROLLING DICE, 1685683, pointer female, by Railhew Explorer-Railhew Mrs. McGoo. Bill Siemer, owner; Bruce Minard, handler.