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Result: U. S. Complete Great Lakes Regional Open Walking Shooting Dog Championship

Location: Milford, Michigan

Post Date: Jul 3, 2023

Submitted By: David A. Fletcher

great lakes s23

U. S. Complete Great Lakes Regional Open Walking Shooting Dog Championship Winners (l-r): Tom Vanecek (judge), Robert Ecker with Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella, Doug McMillen, Jr., Mark Hughes, Sarah Gomes with Double Deuce Sage, Jim Cipponeri, and John Hall (judge).

The Grand Valley Bird Dog Club hosted the U. S. Complete Great Lakes Regional Walking Shooting Dog Championship over fine grounds at the Highland Recreation Area, near Milford, Mich., April 29-30. This was the tenth occasion on which the Grand Valley Club acted as host to this Championship. An entry of 20 in the Championship and 6 in the Open Derby completed the program.

The weather was coolish, with morning breakaways both Saturday and Sunday and temperature in the 40s, but sunny skies warmed things by mid-day. A few brief light showers did not hinder the running. The spring cover on the grounds was ideal. The snow had flattened the heavier grass areas, and spring leaves had not yet appeared on the brushy areas, so the dogs had ample places to search without difficulty, and bird finding was excellent.

Supporting this Championship were professionals Mark Hughes and Robert Ecker, with amateurs Sarah Gomes, Doug McMillen, Jr., and Paul Tutro also with entries. Dave Hughes was not present, having been hospitalized two days before the event but was back home resting; nothing serious. Trial workers were headed by Grand Valley Club president Jim Cipponeri, aided by his wife Connie at the drawing. Jim was present every moment, making things go smoothly and also looking after putting out the water tubs on the course. Another huge appreciation goes to Paul Tutro for planting birds for two full days and using his horses to do so. Dave Fletcher did the reporting, wrote the judges' books, and took the pictures. Brian Wood announced each brace at the breakaways.

The judges were two local veteran Michigan trialers in the persons of John Hall and Tom Vanecek. Both have been down the road many miles in terms of bird hunting, dog training, and field trialing. They looked at the Championship contenders with experienced eyes.
We also thank Greg Blair and Purina for their support.

The Winners and Others
This was a quality field of 20 starters, with no difficulty for the judges to name a champion and a runner-up. Several were challenged for the titles bestowed. Blue Ribbon's Harper Bella, handled by Robert Ecker, was certainly the star of the show with a very stylish way of going, beautifully gaited. Her cast was wide and purposeful, and she swung to the course route on her own. Her lone find was spectacular, standing regally on a hillside as far as you could see her right in front. Her quail was well located, flushed 10 feet right in front, and the superb style on point and manners at flush could not have been accomplished in better form. This was the second title win for Harper, having won the Northern New England Woodcock Championship in 2022. She was also the 2020 USC Derby of the year and has been invited to the USC National Amateur Invitational and the Grouse and Woodcock Invitational. Her owner Marty Festa has won a host of stakes with her in Amateur competition.

Runner-up was Double Deuce Sage, a 7-year-old Pointer female handled by Mark Hughes for owner Doug McMillen, Jr. Sage had three great finds in her hour, all stylish and mannerly. She was not a contender to soar on the far rim of course; she was more interested in picking out some good cover to hunt and go there and hunt every bit of cover that could hold a quail. Not that she was short in range. After leaving her cover, she hunted thoroughly. She raced ahead on some great casts and hunted another good-looking spot thoroughly. It would be hard to find a harder-hunting bird dog than Sage. That was her hallmark. Sage won runner-up at the USC Invitational, placed second in the one-hour Lee Classic, and won another second in the National Grouse Derby. Sage has won a handful of placements in her field trial career.
Notables that performed in a fashion that might have won them a title on another occasion were Backwoods Wildfire, handled by Hughes, Cal Peak Hundredth Meridian, handled by Gomes, and Attitude's True Grit, handled by Ecker.

The Running
Believing that a championship should carry a brief brace-by-brace account of what each pair of dogs accomplished, here it is.

Day One
Saturday's breakaway was foggy and overcast, with the temperature at 47 degrees, but the sun came on at mid-day to improve conditions.
Miller's Special Upgrade (Hughes) and Glassilaun War Paint (Ecker). They were wide and speedy underfoot, reaching in their casts. Upgrade went birdless, War Paint with a woodcock find, not an overly regal stand this time down.

Double Deuce Oscar (Hughes) and Dun Rovens Midnite Ike (Ecker). Both hunted hard, Oscar lost to judgment at 20 and Ike with a nice find at 35 but took some steps at flush.

Foxy Lady Sadie (Fox) and Double Ridge Elroy (Hughes). Lady, a red setter was scratched. Elroy's search for birds was very well conducted, with a find at 22, and he finished well.

Bo of Piney Woods (Ecker) and Backwoods Wildfire (Hughes). Bo was defending his 2022 title, owner Richard Warters walking a portion of the brace. Bo was hitting the far edges enthusiastically but was lost to judgment late in the hour. Wildfire was a pleasure to watch, stylish in motion, and beautifully gaited, with a nice find at 59. The dog was carried for a placement much of the stake.

Suemac's Sashay (Hughes) and Ramapo Mountain Doc (Ecker). Sashay had a creditable effort, backed bracemate, and finished well. Doc was wide in his hunting but was lost to judgment.

Blue Ribbon's Harper (Ecker) and A Distant Spec (Hughes). Harper was named champion. Breakaway at 3:30, it was sunny and a bit warmer. Harper was a classy pointer female hitting the far edges of the course. She handled well, made all the course turns, and had a spectacular cast near the end of the hour. Swapping ends to point on the hillside, it was a long ride to get to her beautiful, mannerly stand where a quail was produced right in front. Spec was also hunting widely, had a quail nicely at 14, but was gone from judgment near the close of the hour.

Cal Peak Hundredth Meridian (Gomes) and Wayward Flyin Tomato (Hughes). Peak was another stylish, hard-driving contender with nice finds at 16 and 22. Judges carried this dog for a placement much of the stake. Tomato backed bracemate at 15 but was not totally mannerly during this incident and was taken up thereafter.

Day Two
The temperature at 41 and steady rain falling at the morning start did not appear favorable. The rain stopped as the initial brace went down and was gone most of the day except for a few light rain intervals.
Miss Penn Star (Ecker) and Double Deuce Zeke (Hughes). Zeke was runner-up in this Championship last season. Zeke logged a find, a back, and an unproductive, and to his credit, the hunting effort was superb, forward, and hard going. Penn Star hunted beautifully, worked forwardly, and had a find at 45. At flush, Penn Star made a jump and was leashed.

I'll Be Back (Hughes) and Double Deuce Jack (Ecker). Back hunted from the breakaway in good form, had an unproductive in some very thick cover, and was taken up near time. Jack made some good forward moves, logged an unproductive, and was also leashed.

Attitude's True Grit (Ecker) and Double Deuce Sage (Hughes). The latter was named runner-up. This attractive pointer female logged three immaculate finds and hunted as hard as this scribe has seen in many a day. Her tactic, when the objectives were many in a small locale, hunted them all enthusiastically before a reaching cast would take her to the next promising place. Grit was very impressive in his hunting--stylish in motion, gifted gait-wise, and really something to look at on the course. Grit was lost for 30 minutes and found pointing, but the dog was out of judgment. Handler took a video of the point, but it was too late. Judges voiced that the dog could have placed had he not been lost.

Red Run Rose (Hughes) hunted and made some pretty casts but was taken up short of the hour.

Milford, Mich., Apr 29, 30, 2023
Judges: Tom Vanecek and John Hall
U. S. COMPLETE GREAT LAKES REGIONAL OPEN WALKING SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 14 Pointers and 6 Setters

Winner--BLUE RIBBON'S HARPER BELLA, 1682768, pointer female, by Bud of Piney Woods-Blue Ribbon Bella. Marty Festa, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.
Runner-Up--DOUBLE DEUCE SAGE, 1673986, pointer female, by Double Deuce Peter-Funseeker's Holiday. Douglas McMillen, Jr., owner; Mark Hughes, handler.

OPEN DERBY
A clean sweep by handler Ecker. Tug, first, and Rambo, second, had great derby bird work and hunted well. Buck, third, was impressive in his hunting.

Judges: Jim Cipponeri and Ron Sposita
OPEN DERBY - 5 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st--ASH CREEKTUG, 1700419, setter male, by Ash Creek Domino-Ash Creek Cloe. Jerry Burke, owner; Robert Ecker, handler
2d--GROUSE HILL RAMBO, 1696375, pointer male, by Bo of Piney Woods-Grouse Hill Prima. John Capocci, owner; Robert Ecker, handler.
3d--BUCK OF PINEY WOODS, 1696648, pointer male, by Bo of Piney Woods-Grouse Hill Prima. Richard Warters & Dr. George Najor, owners; Robert Ecker, handler.