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Field Trial Report

American Brittany Club Chukar Championship

By Jim Hammett | Jun 07, 2019
The Winners. From left: Joe Gower, Paul Doiron with Spanish Coral’s Sundance Kid, Tom White, Dan Doiron with S R’s Blew By Typhoon, R. J. Marquart, judge; Margaret Horstmeyer and Jim Cochran, judge.

Marsing, Ida. — Wild chukar, those grey ghosts that haunt the rocks, cliffs, and steep slopes of the arid mountains of the interior West, are either hunted once and never again, or to some, including this describer, are addicting.

It is not so much the birds, tough and noble that they are, but rather their habitat that makes them special. No bird in the vest goes unpaid for by dog or hunter. The currency is sweat, sore muscles, dented and splintered shotguns, aching joints, torn pads, occasional face-plant in rocks or crusty snow. The solitude, incredible vistas, cold crisp air, and simply the wildness of chukar habitat will, for some, make hunting any other game bird seem lame by comparison.

It is fitting that ABC’s Chukar stake has hopefully found a permanent home in Idaho’s beautiful Owyhee Mountains. Native chukar and Huns are plentiful here. The course runs parallel to, but distant from, milepost 9 and milepost 7 of U.S. Highway 95 and is located in the high terrain between Marsing, Ida., and Jordan Valley, Ore. It is a thin-air and often windy place where good scouts and tough horses are needed. Down low on the course, a good dog can earn a placement by staying forward and being seen only occasionally in the rolling terrain. But the dog that usually wins is the one that is naturally drawn to the rocks, cliffs and vertical slopes high above the horse track to the southeast. When a judge’s horse gives out trying to reach one of these classic finds, and he or she must dismount and trudge upward afoot, or watch the flush from 200 vertical feet below, that judge will usually not forget the dog and the point!

Judges R. J. Marquart of Moses Lake, Wash., and Jim Cochran of Fall City, Wash., are seasoned pros. They missed little, put in long days negotiating rough terrain, gave scouts and handlers appropriate amounts of freedom to show their dogs, and knew what they were seeing.

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 these trial grounds. They demonstrated their commitment to public use by extending the Idaho Brittany Club’s permit to enable us to also run a one-hour shooting dog stake after the weekend trial and before this stake.

Tom White and Margaret Horstmeyer led the Championship’s Idaho Brittany Club support team with the planning, food, transportation, bird planting, and logistical support. The team put on a flawless event, with memorable lunches, dinners, laughter, and camaraderie.

The weather also behaved. Though windy, the skies were blue and the May sun provided the radiant energy needed to moderate frigid morning temperatures. After a wet early Northwest spring trial season, the wind was a small price to pay for sunshine and dry ground.

This year’s winner, ten-year-old Spanish Corral’s Sundance Kid (Sonny), is now a three-time repeat winner of this Championship. One of the greatest dogs in the West for both accomplishment and progeny, he was memorably and fittingly handled by Paul Doiron, his initial trainer, and scouted by his owner and Paul’s sidekick, Joe Gower of Auburn, Cal. When Joe and Paul quit squabbling, this duo is very hard to beat. Few runs stick with you for long. Sonny’s 2019 run will for me for the quality shown by both dog and handler. The scout did not have to do much, but I am sure he will also remember the show!

The runner-up, not surprisingly, was one of Sonny’s sons, S R’s Blew By Typhoon, four-year-old male owned by Dan Doiron of Ynez, Cal., and also handled by Paul and scouted by Joe.

The Running

The temperature the first day started out downright frigid, with blue skies, in the mid- to upper-20s with a moderate southerly breeze.

K Nine Finale’s Way to Go (Allie/ Paul Doiron) and Wild Wild Willie (Steve Cosgriff) broke away strongly to the front. Willie was not seen until he materialized laterally streaking down the hill toward his handler at 10. At 19 he was discovered standing on course with great intensity. All was in order at the flush. Willie continued to demonstrate his remarkable ability to find first-brace birds with a total of four finds down low and one unproductive. He finished strong, forward and low on the hill in the bowl past the gravel road. Allie was at times erratic, came from behind twice, but showed great enthusiasm and ground speed. She finished strong but birdless.

Both Rusty Ridge Where U Been (Doiron) and Zip’s Count Me In (Tally/Dr. Patti Van De Coevering) had a quick sprint straight toward the high ground at the breakaway. Been headed high and forward quickly, with Tally spending time thoroughly searching the first draw before going forward. Been came down from the ozone at the pond at 20 and quickly had three successive finds. However, the third find at 30 was one too many and resulted in a break and he was picked up by Paul. Tally continued an up-and-down strong forward run, ending in the rocks above camp. She ran and finished big, but birdless.

Scout Upland Trail Blazer elected to stay relatively low throughout the brace but Ed Tillson pushed him forward and he scored one find at 45. Tequila Tyler on Fire (Vic Rutherford) was on fire at the breakaway, disappeared and was found up near the ridge top by the scout and sent down to handler at 18. Tyler went on to have two good finds at 30 and 50 and an unproductive at 22.

S S Rig’s Colorado Gun Runner (Tillson) and Cedar Creek Hawkeye (Hank/ Joe Waitman) initially ran a shooting dog race, with Hank clocking a nice find down low at 20. At approximately the same time, Riggs decided west looked best and headed out to explore the rolling grassland. After he disappeared over a far ridge, Ed pulled the retrieval unit at 25. Hank had another nice find at 30 but never got the all-age juice flowing and Joe picked him up at 52.

Spanish Corral’s Sundance Kid (Sonny/Doiron) and Fire Starter’s Crossed the Line (Ty/Tillson). At breakaway Sonny shot forward, disappeared and was not seen until 7 where he was watered and sent forward again. He remained ahead running strong and mostly out of sight. At 16 he was found standing intensely, a bird was produced, all in order. Ty, meanwhile, began to warm up into a nice up-the-hill forward run. Though not particularly fast, he was a long way up moving forward and powerfully. He had a find at 43. Sonny continued forward, got into an argument with Paul over whether he really needed water at 42, then rolled forward again and was found standing fifty yards south of the fence at 48. Paul, looking like a younger more flexible self, rolled under the barbed wire, trotted forward and produced the bird. From there Sonny was cast west toward the finish line, but he had other ideas and headed north, disappearing over a ridge, with Joe, his scout, trailing him. Paul, meanwhile, just rode his long-striding bald-faced horse westward at a confident clip. At 58 Sonny’s scout rolled over the ridge gesturing up high and forward. Paul made sure the judge saw the white dot that was Sonny heading west, high in the bowl. Time was called. Ty, meanwhile, ended in the far western portion of the bowl with an unproductive. This was a fun brace with two great senior dogs doing it right.

High Lonesome Sage (Jim Hammett) and Tequila Scorcher (Lincoln/Tillson). Sometimes it is difficult to write positive things about a brace. It was efficient and brief. At breakaway both dogs sprinted toward the high hills. With handlers still fumbling with stirrups and whistles, both dogs were just visible running together out about 350 yards and were crossing a small wetland more suited to snipe than chukar.  A planted bird was encountered, ripped, chased, and sent to higher more suitable habitat by both dogs. This ended the first day.

Temperatures were cold, but perhaps 5° warmer on day No. 2. The wind was light and variable but became moderate from the southeast by the afternoon.

Spanish Corral’s Big Iron (Colt/ Gower) and M T B Louree’s Let’s Have a Feesta (Tom White) broke away strongly forward and up the mountain. At 8 Colt came in from above. Feesta apparently continued southeast exploring the vast country in that direction on her own. Colt then headed to the flat country toward the west, showing his ground speed as he made an extended loop out and forward. At 15 Joe watered Colt and got him reoriented to the more chukar-like terrain to the southeast. At June’s rock, at 19, Colt had his first find up the hill. He was intense and stylish through flush. At 23 Colt had a find far forward in a patch of sage with handler and judges back perhaps 300 yards. It took some time to get to Colt but he stood staunchly through the approach. At 42 above the pond Colt had a third find. From there, Colt went far up the hill and was difficult to spot, as we were looking into the bright morning sun. At 52 Colt had a fourth find above the beehive rock near the fence. Colt finished high in the bowl to conclude an impressive run.

S R’s Blew By Typhoon (Ty/Doiron) and Almaden’s Under Lock And Key (Oudi/Tillson). At 2 Ty went on point near the fence below beehive rock. No bird was produced after a relocation. Ty then went up on the hill and had a nice chukar find at 7. Subsequently, Oudi stayed low, and Ty stayed high, above the old pointer trail, and went on point by a large rock outcrop. It was a classic wild chukar find on a planted bird. Paul produced the bird and Ty stood firm. At 19 a goofy antelope headed up the hill above Oudi and toward Ty. Miraculously, this did not create a problem for either dog. Oudi, meanwhile, was staying low working the foothill. At 21 the scout brought Oudi forward after an extended foray to the west. At 36 Oudi had a find down low and all was in order. Ty continued to gravitate toward the ridge top and stayed in the rocks most of the brace. At 51 Paul watered Ty and sent him high toward the ridge top, dragging the scout with him. Ty stayed high and out of sight until 57 when he showed forward and coming down to Paul. Trying hard, Paul just could not get Ty to charge forward and he finished weakly, the only hole in a great race. Oudi also finished visibly tired but trying.

Spanish Corral’s Sonny Patch (Gower) and Arrow’s Tequila Rustler (Tillson) initially went far west in the flats of the gun dog course. It took a while to get them back. “Rusty” came in first and went up the hill, somewhat enchanted by the abundance of ground squirrels that were enjoying the morning sun. At 14 Patch decided to join the party and showed up from the front. After Joe watered him, Patch must have remembered something good on the flats so he took off again to the west and flat ground. Rusty stayed on the hill for awhile, then joined Patch on the west side of the road. At 27 at the pond Rusty appeared gassed but kept forward. Rusty was picked up at 48. Patch stayed on the flats and finished birdless in the bowl.

Blew Me Away (Bud/Doiron) and Alar’s Dirty Dancer (Dani/Tillson) broke away very strongly and aggressively, heading high. At 17 Bud was standing well up the hill near the pointer trail. Paul produced the bird and all was well. Bud stayed high, while Dani was working the lower hillside. At 25 Bud put up a bird and Dani had her first find. At 37 Dani had a nice find well up the hill above the gun dog course. She stood rigid and intense through the flush. At 41 Dani had the third find, probably on the same bird, but down course. Dani continued forward strongly and finished way out front, disappearing over the low ridge on the all-age course. Time was called with the judges waiting to see Dani at the end. Both scout and handler worked hard for eight minutes searching for Dani, which was finally found and shown with one minute to spare.

J T Copper Buckaroo (Buck/Doiron) and Rev’n Gunrunner’s Tilly (Tillson). It was a short run for Tilly. She disappeared to the west and Ed pulled his retrieval unit at 15. Buck had a forward big shooting dog race and a bird-finding extravaganza. He had six nice finds, and one unproductive on a hawk kill, finishing on the hill north of the starting line in great style. The entire gallery could watch him working scent on his final bird, finally nailing it right at time.

Spanish Corral’s Wild Bill (Doiron)  and Hoochie Coochie Man (Karl/Tillson). At 5 Karl found two birds shading up at the lone juniper. All was in order with the flush. Bill went up on the side of the hill and stayed to the front nicely. At 10 Karl was not pleasing the handler and was picked up. Bill continued forward and was not seen again. Evidently the handler, scout and judges rode past him on point, Bill hidden in the shade of a large rock. He was found later with the retrieval unit still on point.

M T B Louree’s V O Two Max (White) was gone from the start, disappearing from the starting line with his extreme forward speed. Tom eventually returned to camp with Max in tow.

Marsing, Ida., May 1

Judges: Jim Cochran and R. J. Marquart

AMERICAN BRITTANY CLUB CHUKAR CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats] — 25 Brittanys

Winner—SPANISH CORRAL’S SUNDANCE KID, 1614050, male, by San Dee’s Blazing Shane—Stevix Bulletproof Jill. Joe Gower, owner; Paul Doiron, handler.

Runner-Up—S R’S BLEW BY TYPHOON, 1668018, male, by Spanish Corral’s Sundance Kid—Blew By Yet. Daniel Doiron, owner; Paul Doiron, handler.

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