American Field

Go West, young man, go West!

By David Grubb | Jun 24, 2019
David Grubb

For seventeen years I made an annual trek to the West Coast trials and thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the time.

It all started with Jim Wherry, who owned 6x champion Elhew Quick Draw. Jim kept asking me to come out there, and finally I gave in and flew out with six dogs. It was exciting right from the start. Jim met me at the airport in Seattle and he had a horse trailer on behind.

We left the airport well over the speed limit, and I asked Jim if he had pulled a horse trailer much. He said, “This is the first time.” So I told him he better slow down as it is hard to get them stopped. Well, Jim didn’t and not five minutes later ran into the back of a school bus. That was my introduction to the West Coast.

Jim was a real character, and loved to tell stories. One day he called and said he had a great time at Bob Wehle’s hunting birds and he had shot over fifteen birds the day before with Bob. As luck would have it, Bob called me the next day to discuss the dogs he had in training with me. I told Bob how much Jim Wherry had enjoyed his hunt with him. Bob replied, “David, I have not seen Jim Wherry since the day he bought Quick Draw.”

A few days later Jim called for his usual one-hour call and I told him I was quite busy as I had just shot a grizzly bear behind my house and had to dress it out. That was the last of Jim’s “stories” for quite awhile.

I ran out there for two years and did not win anything. So I started driving out there. I would leave Selma, Ala., with five horses and 21 dogs and it was 7,200 miles from Selma to the West Coast and then back home to Michigan. The trip out there alone would wear you out attending to all the dogs and working them, too. During those trips several humorous things happened.

I had a bearing go out on my trailer just outside of Dallas, Tex., one year. As I was under the trailer fixing it, this guy walked up and said, “Are you Mr. Grubb?” When I replied he said, “I want to shake your hand, as the only man I know of that won a championship with a lost dog.” I had won the Illinois Championship with Elhew Quick Draw and lost him with 15 minutes to go and did not find him for three hours. It was a new rule that was passed, but rescinded after my win.

One year I left to fly West from the All-America Quail Championship and had a great effort from 7x Ch. Shalimar. Well, they used to have one course where you had to put the horses in a trailer and drive a mile to the next course. Everyone said Shalimar had it won and I thought so too. I let one of the judges put his horse in my trailer. I explained to him I was leaving in a half hour to fly to the West Coast and wondered where my dog stood. He said, “David, it’s close, but right now we are carrying your dog as runner-up.” The dog he said was winning it was terrible, so I very nicely stopped my truck, and asked him to get his horse out and ride it to the next starting point. The interesting thing was they named a dog runner-up that had run before Shalimar.

I met a lot of great people when I went out West. Jim and Minnie Casciaro, Louis Tippett, Ron Masters, George Thomas, Ron Bader, Dr. Charlie Hjerpe, Glenna and Ike Anderson, Inez Thompson, Mike Burgwin, Jean Cousins, and Margaret and Warren Smith, to name a few, plus all the trainers out there.

I went one year to the California Championship in the rice fields. I ran thirteen dogs in the All-Age, and unbelievably lost seven of them and had to round them up. Jim Casciaro, who owned Ch. Frank Pierson, was a big help, and would do anything I asked of him. Well, one of the dogs, Ch. Allegan Class owned by Ray Grace, was gone all day and a lady called saying she had found him about four miles away. Since I had to run a dog in the last brace of the day, I asked him to go get the dog, and he took my truck.

Well, when the running was done, I sat around for about two hours waiting for Jim but he didn’t show up. I decided he must have gone to the motel, so I got a ride in, and Jim still did not show up. I was really getting worried when Jim showed up with the dog, but no truck. He cussed me out for not waiting for him, and said the truck ran out of gas. All Jim had to do was push the button to the other tank, but he did not know that. So the woman that had found the dog drove him back to the field trial grounds, and then had to drive him to the motel.

I had the first brace the next morning, so we had to get up well before daylight to go get the dog. When we got there the woman was still in bed, so I proceeded to start the truck. Well Jim had run it so low I could not get it started. I saw her husband had a diesel truck, and might have some diesel to prime it. They did and we got the truck to finally start. I asked Jim if he had some cash I could pay her for all her troubles. He said he’d left his billfold in his truck, and the lowest amount I had was $50 bills. So when I went to thank her, I gave her one of the calendars I had, and she felt quite happy with that.

On the way back Jim said, “Well, that was nice of you to give her a calendar.” When I told him the calendar was from about five years earlier, Jim had a fit.

While at the California trial I didn’t have anyone to scout for me. A young man with a long pony-tail showed up and asked if I had a scout. When I said no, he said, “I’d be glad to do it.” If I had a horse for him. I asked him if he had ridden much. When he said yes, I let him take, shall I say, a little frisky horse. Well, we turned loose and I heard this big commotion behind me. The horse had thrown him high enough he should have taken some Dramamine.

Right after lunch, the young man came over and asked if he could help again, and I assured him the horse was probably tired from being tied to the trailer so long. I was fixing to run 3x champion Scottish Soldier. Things started off well when Soldier disappeared to the far right. I yelled, “Pony-tail, take a look over there!” When he started to look he gave the horse a kick, and the last thing I saw was him screaming across the far fields with that pony-tail flying behind him.

It was late afternoon when he showed up walking the horse from foot and no saddle. I asked him what happened. He said, “Mr. Grubb, I couldn’t stop him and he ran into this woods and knocked me off and then somehow lost your saddle.”

I looked at Jim Casciaro and he said, “David the only place I know of any woods around here is about two miles from here.” Sure enough we drove the two miles and found the saddle wrapped around a tree. Yet, pony-tail’s attempt at being a good scout was much appreciated.

At another California trial, my two sisters came to visit. They flew in and then took a bus to California City. I sat in the greyhound bus station for over an hour and this gentleman started talking to me. I told him I was waiting for two “hookers” coming in from Nevada. A lot of people heard me and when my sisters got off the bus they all stared at them. My sisters asked, “What are all those people looking at?” And I just laughed. Well, they found out somehow what I had told this gentleman and the next evening at the large motel/restaurant their speaker came out with “Mr. Grubb, your two hookers are ready for dinner.” Then all the field trialers were giving them the eye.

Another time my sisters flew out to the chukar trials in Prosser, Wash. When they got off the plane they did not realize how far apart the towns were, and had to use the bathroom so bad they couldn’t stand it. I told them I would pull over and they could get behind the horse trailers and no one could see them. I looked in the mirror and the minute they dropped their pants, I pulled away leaving them exposed to all who drove by. I caught hell for that.

I truly enjoyed the trials and Prosser, the National Chukar Championship. Ike and Glenna Anderson were such gracious hosts. When I showed up early, Ike would let me work the dogs on his 85,000 acres. We became close friends but unfortunately he died in a plane crash on his place.

One year, they had a snowstorm up on the mountain, and when those grounds get wet the roads are like they put pig crap on them, almost impossible to drive on. Most of the people stay up there in campers. Ed Sten was with me. I told Ed, “Don’t worry, I know how we can get out of there.”

I took dog chains and wrapped them around my dual wheels. We did some sliding, but made it out. When I went to take the chains off the fenders, made of fiberglass, looked like rats had been chewing on them. They were all tore up.

Another year, it stormed that morning, and we were in the first brace. There was no way we could go the last five miles on the greasy two-track. They sent somebody down to let me know they were going to start at the designated time. I put 5x Ch. Little John Boy on the saddle and rode the five miles to the breakaway in blinding snow. Shortly after I got there they called the running off until noon.

Yes, I have many great memories of running out there, and won a lot too. My best year, I won the Championship with Ch. Shalimar and got runner-up with Fast Astro Boy, got runner-up in the Pacific Coast Derby Championship and won all three placements in the All-Age.

Yet, one of the best wins I had was when I won the Pacific Coast Derby Championship with my good friend Jim Casciaro’s dog. Jim had been in field trials for over forty years, and when they named Frank Pierson the champion Jim and his wife both cried like babies. It was the first championship Jim had ever won. That alone was worth all the work and many miles I had traveled.

I had a lot of great times on the West Coast, and enough memories to last me a lifetime.

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