American Field

Don Didcoct Memorial Classic

Chippewa Valley Field Trial Club

By Roger King | Nov 20, 2019
Don Didcoct Amateur Shooting Dog Classic Winners. From left: Moss Meadow Rambler with Ken Moss and Tim’s Setter Clare with Tim Callahan.

Augusta, Wis. — The 29th running of the Don Didcoct Memorial trial is in the books. It will be a year to remember, or forget, depending on one’s perspective.

If you were to review generations of write-ups of this Classic and other trials run at the Eau Claire County Forest grounds, one thing is consistent — lots of birds — both grouse and woodcock.

Not this year! The grouse should be close to their cyclical high but this was not the case. It could be a combination of poor brood success the last two years, a new phenomenon West Nile Virus in birds. Nevertheless, very few grouse were moved. In addition, local woodcock numbers seem to be down and the much anticipated “flight” had yet to arrive in West Central Wisconsin.

Many years the report would confirm moving greater than 100 birds during the trial with two full days of running.

The weather also played a factor on Saturday. As I walked braces through the usual beautiful colored fall forest along the pristine Eau Claire River I thought, this is miserable! Unseasonable amounts of rain since late summer turned normal dry courses into mucky, wet, slippery, perilous trails arduous for judges, handlers and gallery to negotiate. Nevertheless, the show must go on, and it did.

Apologies in advance for not reporting brace by brace but this writer was three weeks out of surgery and wasn’t able to walk all the braces.

The Winners

The esteemed Don Didcoct traveling trophy, a beautiful bronze statue of a drumming grouse, housed in a very unique birds eye maple case and stand, will be going to Michigan with Ken Moss and his five-year-old setter male  Moss Meadow Rambler.

Ken is a first-timer at the Didcoct, however, his dogs have participated and won at these grounds under the excellent guidance of Scott Chaffee.

Rambler ran the Crash Course, so named because in past years the number of birds at times made it difficult for dogs to finish without some blemish in their bird work. Rambler carded two woodcock finds and was excellent on the ground; the judges were very happy with the total package.

Second place came out of the very last brace, again on the Crash Course. Tim’s Setter Clare, three-year-old good looking setter female owned by Tim Callahan of Catawba, Wis. If you are looking at a map you’ll have a hard time finding Catawba in Northern Wisconsin; however, if you are a grouse hunter you know that it is in the heart of Price County, the self-proclaimed “Grouse Capital of the World.”

Clare had a divided find on a woodcock and a great find on a grouse just before pickup.

Third place went to a Brittany owned by Mike Dalley of Appleton, Wis. Mike always brings competitive dogs to the woods and he recognized that it’s hard to win against the setters and pointers.

[Side note. M J’s Sweet Sugar Magnolia would go on to win the National Brittany Grouse Championship the following weekend on the same grounds.]

“Maggie” had a nice race and one grouse find on Hamilton Falls Course.

The judges made mention of one other dog, Jack, John McKellop’s pointer male. Running in the 6th brace in the pouring rain, Jack had two superb grouse finds and then encountered a weary old crafty grouse in the open timber. Unfortunately the grouse won this encounter and it put an end to Jack’s bid to win the Didcoct for John who won the Didcoct in 2017.

Logging 12-14 miles per day in the woods is demanding and selecting judges who can weather the physical demands and also have a keen knowledge of birds and what a great grouse dog looks like is hard to find. We were blessed to have two outstanding gentlemen arbitrate the Didcoct this year.

Jason Gooding of Baldwin, Wis., who makes his living raising and competing hunting dogs, is an excellent judge and a pleasure to be around. Jack Storer of Hudson, Wis., is a retired airline pilot who has campaigned and won with his grouse dogs in the Midwest for some forty years. Jack has won on the Didcoct courses, so he knows what it takes to win. Thank you so much to both as the weather conditions and the bird count certainly challenged the perseverance of even the diehard grouse dog lover.

All attendees appreciate the products and the support Purina gives our trial. Without their support our trials would not be the quality they are.

It takes a village to raise a child and likewise many hands are needed to host a successful trial.

Thanks go to our cooks Denny Baumann, Tom Goltz and Scott King. Tasty hot beef sandwiches on Saturday and pork tenderloin on Sunday satisfied everyone.

At native bird trials we don’t need bird planters but a huge thank you to those who put aside valuable training time to cut and mark over twelve miles of trails through the Eau Claire County Forest. This team consisted of: Brent Sittlow, Rod Lein, Mike Luebke, Jeff Forsberg, Bert Benshoof, Tom Goltz, Roger King and I’m sure I forgot a few — sorry!

Last and certainly not least, a big thank you to Josh Pederson who’s in charge of the Eau Claire County Forest. He and his team do an outstanding job of managing this great property which is a huge benefit to all who enjoy chasing grouse and woodcock.

See you next year!

Augusta, Wis., October 5

Judges: Jason Gooding and Jack Storer


SHOOTING DOG CLASSIC [One-Hour Heats] — 5 Pointers, 14 Setters

and 5 Brittanys

1st—MOSS MEADOW RAMBLER, 1657951, setter male, by Moss Meadow Traveler—Pine Ridge Daisy. Ken Moss, owner and handler.

2d—TIM’S SETTER CLARE, 1666503, setter female, by Keystone’s Red Recession—Tim’s Setter Rosie. Tim Callahan, owner and handler.

3d—M J’S SWEET SUGAR MAGNOLIA, 1649788, Brittany female, by Sweetwater Billy Tucker—Vande Hei’s Kentucky Tiki. Mike Dally, owner and handler.

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