American Field

Atlantic Open Woodcock Classic

Atlantic Sportsman’s Club

By Ian Corbett | Nov 18, 2020
Atlantic Open Woodcock Classic Winners. From left: Robert Little with Cairds Little Macy Mae and Ian Corbett with Ponhook’s Sassy Pants.

West Caledonia, Nova Scotia, Canada — On Saturday, September 12, 2020 HISTORY WAS MADE!

With an opening statement like that you would think the headlines would continue with news of a disaster OR a second wave of the COVID-19 sweeping the country OR some political crisis.

Twenty Twenty will go in the history books as one horrific bad year with unprecedented events and we still have three and a half months left going into this new decade year! This story will never make the national news or even be commonly spoke or cared about by the average person. BUT for the select FEW who love bird dogs and can’t get enough of watching a dog punish relentlessly through heavy cover in their quest to search out woodcock and grouse.

For those FEW who dream of a dog taking the edge and disappearing into an alder run at full speed. Even those FEW who enjoy and appreciate just walking through trails connecting old farmsteads dating back to the mid-1800s. For these people history was indeed made. It was the first time in Queens County for a wild bird field trial and the first trial for the newly formed Atlantic Sportsman’s Club.

A small community of farmers who settled in the early 1800s made a life for themselves carving from the forests a living in North Queens Nova Scotia.Their hard work was abandoned and forgotten leaving Nature to reclaim. What is left is overgrown fields with lovely openings, edges and fertile soils.

Back 25 years or so ago these areas were clear cut, leaving these hilltop farmsteads generally entacted with huge white ash trees, immense stone walls and foundations. The forests were allowed to grow in naturally providing perfect habitat for woodcock and grouse.

Back a year and a half ago I started thinking about ways to incorporate these farmsteads using existing trails and hauling roads into courses. The final results were well received by those who attended and suggestion for improvements are welcomed and noted.

I wanted to lead the report with a little background before entering into the running. Without further delay! Dogs were released promptly at 8:00 a.m. under ideal conditions with sunny skies and cool temperatures.


In the opening brace on course No. 1, Cairds Little Macy Mae, handled by pro trainer Robert Little, laid out the performance of the day. Her bell stopped hard at 11 minutes, found shortly on point flushing a woodcock with all in order. She was released and again promptly stopped at 15 minutes. She was little anxious but everything in order while Robert flushed her grouse. She was promptly released and at 19 minutes talled a beautiful woodcock find looking intense and tight. Again all in order.

Macy Mae She continued searching covering both sides of the course and before entering the hill on the left her bell stopped at 38 minutes within 25 yards of the trail. Bob with Judges Lester Turner and Bruce Brownell in tow found her standing and shortly flushed a grouse. She finished her time searching with more steam in the kettle.

From my perspective she handled well and was in the pocket most of the time and was very deserving to be named the winner of the Atlantic Open Woodcock Classic. I found her performance exciting to watch and I am super happy she tallied two woodcock and two grouse rather nicely spaced in the very first brace.

In the third brace of the day, Ponhook’s Sassy Pants, diminutive pointer female owned and handled by myself, Ian Corbett, was released in brace No. 3. She immedately got to work diving in both sides of the course without handling. The course swings to the left with a step rise to a over grown farmstead. She switched gears into overdrive and covered all the likely spots giving her handler a hairy ride. She talled a beautiful tight woodcock find on the left exiting a downward trail from the field. Gun was fired and all in order.

She continued on strong and forward, having a stop to flush an a grouse near the course trail. It appeared to me the grouse was sitting on a large rock and lifted in front of her. I don’t think she scented it and cautioned a whoa. She remained high and tight and I fired the gun. She finished her time on a wide road which distracted from a strong race. Both judges felt her conditioning bested the field.

I’m not getting into details with the other braces but only one dog went birdless and we moved 25 woodcock and grouse. That’s good numbers for only six braces of dogs! The judges were carrying four dogs in total with acceptable performances.

The Open Shooting Dog on Sunday broke away at 8:00 a.m. The courses were shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes under the guidance of Donald Cluney.

Lester Turner couldn’t fullfill judging duties on Sunday from a knee injury sustained the day before. I scratched my entry and swung into the role.

For some reason birds were limited and the dogs that had finds either got lost or required the retrieval device, one unfortunately was evolved with a porcupine. Temperature and humidity were higher than the day before too.

Only one dog was awarded, Sweet Southern Bell a beautiful setter female owned and handled by Jonathan Wilkins. She handled well and hunted all the likely spots and was rewarded with a woodcock find. I didn’t see the find but Judge Brian Sauliner reported in the detail her find. Her bell went silent and was found standing as they approached. She self relocated and pinned the woodcock with everything in order.

The Open Derby in a two brace stake only talled one find in the first brace at 15 minutes. Ginger Tree Emma, a very stylish setter female showed off her finished manners high headed and tight. Her run was searching and close but very pleasing.

Some of the highlights of the weekend was Donald Cluney’s steak barbecue serving the best local beef available in Nova Scotia. You could cut the steak with your fork and plenty of it available. Lots of returns for seconds says it all! Friday night was the Toasting of the Woodcock. Christopher Clarke did an excellent job giving the toast with some very “interesting” insights. Thanks, Chris! Everyone enjoyed.

Lunches were organized by Christopher Clarke and prepared by E-J’s Grill & General Store and provided at the grounds. Saturday night's meal was prepared by the Milford House dining hall with a selection of meals to choose from. All was tasty!

Saturday night after the dinner the announcement was made at the Heron Cottage (Club headquarters). Our sponsors this year stepped up to the plate with gifts for everyone. The keeper trophies for the winners of the Classic were provided by Donegal Masonry Limited, a firm owned by Lester Turner. Thanks, Lester for judging and providing the funds for these. They are beautiful!

SportDog provided the Classic winners each with there latest e-collars. A huge thank you to SportDog!!

Inukshuk professional dog food provided several sample boxes of their product along with caps and large dog food bags. Many of the trialers use their product and reports are very favorable. Thank you, Inukshuk!

Last but absolutely not the least was Remington Arms. They provided everyone hats, bags, cases of shells for judges' gifts. Local Rep Tim Hemming was even there Saturday afternoon walking braces! A huge thank you, Tim! Everyone, I’m sure, will enjoy the gifts.

Finally I want to thank all the trialers who made the effort to come to our trial. I’m thinking this brought some normalize back to out daily lives meeting up with old friends and making new! Let hope we can do a repeat sometime in the future. This trial would not be possible without Robert Little entering his string of wonderful dogs and bringing his fellow trial friends from New Brunswick. Thank you all!

West Caledonia, Nova Scotia, Canada, September 12

Judges: Bruce Brownell and Lester Turner


Winner—CAIRDS LITTLE MACY MAE, 1656016, setter female, by Chasehill Little Bud—Richfield Stella. Robert Little, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—PONHOOK’S SASSY PANTS, 1684902, pointer female, by Vanidestine’s Mickette—D C’s Sadie. Ian Corbett, owner and handler.

Judges: Ian Corbett and Jonathan Wilkins

OPEN DERBY — 2 Pointers and 2 Setters

1st—GINGER TREE EMMA, 1685850, setter female, by Stokely’s Frankie B—Ralphy’s Bella. Tom Wilkins, owner and handler.

Judges: Ian Corbett and Brian Sauliner

OPEN (WILD BIRD) SHOOTING DOG — 5 Pointers, 3 Setters, 2 Brittanys

and 1 German Shorthair

1st—SWEET SOUTHERN BELLE, 1682836, setter female, by Erin’s Hidden Shamrock—Bo’s After Party. Jonathan Wilkins, owner and handler.




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