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Game Winner Wins 73rd Running

Grand National Grouse Futurity

By Thor Kain | Jan 04, 2018
Game Winner First in the Grand National Grouse Futurity

Gladwin, Mich. — The process of getting to the Futurity starts as soon as the dam is bred  when the breeder nominates her for this Futurity. When born, the litter is nominated by the breeder and once the pups go to owners they are nominated again.

The first Grand National Grouse Futurity event they are eligible for is the Puppy Classic held each spring following the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational. Many of this year’s Futurity competitors were entered in last spring’s Puppy Classic.

The Futurity is a breeders’ stake and without their support of the Grouse Futurity the Puppy Classic and Futurity would not be possible. We are thankful for the strong support we receive from breeders in many different regions.

No trial can be held without the help of many. I would first like to thank Tom Fruchey. Tom went above and beyond to have things in order for the Futurity and made my job as secretary easy even though I live ten hours away.

Thank you to the Beaverton Grouse Dog Club for providing marshals, cooking lunches and moving cars.

Thank you to Carl McRae, Rich Hollister, Ken Moss, Denise Peters and all who lent a hand wherever needed.

Sake manager extraordinaire Bryan Wood announced every brace with wit and humor and kept things moving.

Thank you Joe Dahl for paying for everyone’s lunch in honor of last year’s Futurity winner Magic Mist Sydni. Thank you to Purina and our rep Dean Reinke for their continued support of the Grouse Futurity.

Judges for this year’s Futurity were Mike Brown of Flint, Mich., and Craig Merlington of Cedar Springs, Mich. Both were positive and extremely attentive to every dog.

Following the Futurity, Craig won this year’s 75th Anniversary Grand National Grouse Championship with his setter female Call Me Maggie. Quite the accomplishment for handler and dog.

At 7:40 a. m. under cloudy skies and cool damp air, Stake Manager Bryan Wood called, “Get ’em on the line.” Shortly after, the 73rd Grand National Grouse Futurity was under way.

THE RUNNING

D J’s Fire Inside (SF/Hollister) and Double Deuce Sage (PF/McMillen) charged away, Sage being the wider of the two during the half hour and Fire Inside hitting the cover with speed and flash. Two grouse were heard leaving  to the right of the course in a patch of scrub oak  at 8, Sage coming through the area and making a brief pointing effort shortly after. At 20 Fire Inside had a woodcock contact and Hollister’s first shot of the stake rang out. Both finished going strong with no other bird contacts.

Setter male Dun Roven Grumpy was first on the board with a grouse at 7 with Randi Hollister firing, a nice piece of Derby work. Setter male Doodle Ridge Huckleberry had his running shoes on and Hughes had to work to get him around. He was fast and wide at times but kept contact with his handler. At 17 Grumpy’s bell stopped to the right of the course and Judge Brown and Randi went in for a look. A grouse was heard leaving and Randi spied Grumpy standing with high style and her blank gun barked. Grumpy continued on in sync with his handler and going to every likely bird cover on the course. At 23 a grouse came towering over out of a side hill cut and Huckleberry was in hot pursuit. At time Grumpy was convinced there were more birds he needed to get pointed. He kept in contact with Randi but was not going on the leash until he completed his mission. Randi’s pleading with Grumpy to come to her brought a good laugh in the gallery and shortly after Grumpy pointed his third grouse, although after time. Randi’s proud father Rich was smiling as she finally got him on the leash. Randi and her brother Ricky both compete in field trials and know how to get a dog around a course. It’s very encouraging for our sport to see youth involved and enjoying themselves. Kudos to Rich and his wife for raising them in the outdoors.

A Distant Spec (PF/Hughes) took a couple minutes to get adjusted to the Michigan woods but once she did she applied herself well. Moss Meadow Crusader (SM/Moss) is a good sized strong male which ran with speed and determination. He stopped at 17 and 24, both likely looking spots but no birds were home. This reporter missed Spec’s second half but Judge Merlington commented that she swung through the country with ease and finished well.

Full Breeze (SF)/Brenneman) and Shady Hills Thor (SM)/Forman) were off like bolts of lightning, Thor settling in at the edge of bell range swinging through likely cover. Breeze checked in a few times making sure she was doing what her handler wanted then laid out to the front more consistently as the brace progressed. Forman had to work to show his big-going charge; when he did Thor was going full speed on a mission through the cover. A grouse was seen at 10 but both dogs finished the half hour with no contacts.

Setter male Oscar Robinson (Hughes) roared to front. Grouse River Princess Star (SF/Forman) took a minute or two to get in sync with her handler as Oscar swung through the cover and handled making big moves from the start. Star got going and ran a big race with speed and snap. She made her handler work at times and pushed the limits of the course but showed to the front consistently. At 17 a bird left near the course and Star came in and pointed but none of the original birds counterparts were home. Oscar stopped at 28, stood tall and proud but no bird could be produced for all his hard work and both dogs finished with plenty left in the tank. At the road Star’s owner Bryan Wood asked how his dog did and received the reply, “Just how you like them, Bryan.” Anyone who knows Bryan knows he likes them fast, fancy and they better cover some ground.

Duck Hook (PM/Hughes) and McRae’s Boris (SM/Hollister) shot to the front. Boris’ bell could be heard faintly the first couple minutes then faded away. Duck Hook was neither seen nor heard after breakaway and the retrieval unit was called for at the halfway point. Boris showed at 15 and did his best to find a bird but none could be produced.

McRae’s Natasha (SF/Hollister) and Shady Hills Zeena (PF/Forman) did their best to hunt and show during the first 15 of this course. The cover on both sides of the path spells “grouse” but the briars and thick cover on both sides made it hard on the dogs. Zeena stopped to the right of the course at 11 with breath-taking style. Her nose was pointed toward the sky, tail 12 o’clock and straight, every muscle in her body as tight as a banjo string. All who witnessed had their fingers crossed that a bird would come roaring out as Forman flushed but it was not to be and she was sent on. “Tasha” swung through both sides of the cover with enthusiasm and when the course opened up she showed well. At 25 a grouse got up in the path, feet from handler Hollister; had he been nominated for the Futurity he may have been in the money as he showed great composure and style. The brace ended with both dogs still searching hard.

Flycast Rollie Fingers (SM/Chaffee) and Mak’s Cadillac Jack (SM/Hughes) sped off and seconds later a grouse lifted close to the gallery. At 4 Chaffee commented that he thought his bell stopped and he better take a look. As he, Judge Brown and this reporter made our way in the cover a grouse was heard leaving. Shortly after Rollie was spotted, Chaffee’s gun fired and all was in order with good Derby manners. Both dogs were seen going up a hill at 8 and they were off their bells. It took some work from both handlers but they both showed to the front. Cadillac Jack ran to the limits but he always was hunting and looking for bird cover in doing so. Both dogs ran with speed and power and when time was called they were still going hard.

Grouse River Sampson (SM/Forman) headed to the far reaches of the course. Warrior Zeke (PM/Hughes) wasn’t feeling himself this day and never got in the groove. Sampson made big swings through the course, on and off the bell but showing when asked to. At 22 as we were coming through a cut Zeke and Sampson stopped and a grouse roared out, both handlers firing. As time was called Sampson took a little reeling in but eventually came to his handler.

Game Winner (SM/Brenneman and Double Deuce Zeke (PM/McMillen). As handlers unhooked their leashes both dogs took off like shot from a cannon. Zeke was big and wide early but McMillen showed him. Game Winner is a big strong male that ran with scorching speed and a high cracking tail. He ripped off a few huge casts then would show to the front. His bell stopped at 6 ahead on course, grouse heard lifting by gallery as they approached. Game Winner was spotted standing high and proud as another bird was heard leaving. Brenneman fired his .32 and Game Winner stayed steady, not even moving so much as an eyelash. Zeke got bigger and wider while Game Winner continued to make big casts and every few minutes he’d show across the front charging hard. At 20 McMillen called for the retrieval unit as Zeke hadn’t showed in awhile. Game Winner ran bigger the longer the brace went on and as time was called he was way to the front on a big cast. No doubt a performance that would be hard to beat.

Braggabull (PF/Hughes) was on a mission from the breakaway and tore the course up in search of birds. Setter female Dunrovens Super Sophie was in perfect tune with her handler, young Ricky Hollister, and she hunted with speed and enthusiasm, always going to likely bird cover with very little handling from Ricky. At 28 Ricky’s gun was heard firing, not witnessed by this reporter but the judges reported a grouse contact. Both dogs finished going away, Braggabull charging hard with her high cracking tail and Sophie with her speed and bird cover on her mind.

Fireside Hy Sun Whisper (SF/Chaffee) took off wide and big. Hellbent Zoey (SF/Hughes) was trying to figure out the Michigan cover and took awhile to start digging in and swinging through the country. This young female is a speedster and has plenty of running style to spare. Whisper ran big the entire brace making Chaffee work at times but never too rough. Both finished without bird work but not without effort.

The judges deliberated and the stake manager announced that the judges had asked to see Grouse River Princess Star in the birdfield. Scott Forman was summoned and he cut Star loose. She sped off only to stop sharply as she caught wind of a nearby quail. She stood with exceptional style and manners as Scott flushed and shot. That concluded,  participants and onlookers headed to Alibi Hall for the announcement.

After thank-yous to the judges, stake manager, marshals and host club a moment of silence was held in memory of our friend George Johnson who passed away unexpectedly a couple days before the Futurity. He was active as Futurity secretary up until last year when he handed off the position to this reporter. I received the Futurity in excellent financial shape and well supported by breeders and owners. George took pride in the Grouse Futurity and its success. We lost a good man, friend and asset to the Grand National Grouse organization. We will miss you, George.

The judges handed Stake Manager Bryan Wood  a slip and in short order announced the winners. In fourth place was Dun Roven Grumpy, bred and owned by Richard Hollister of Roscommon, Mich, and handled by Randi Hollister. Third was Grouse River Princess Star, bred by Mike and Brenda Groy of Annville, Pa., owned by Bryan Wood of Pinckney, Mich.,  and handled by Scott Forman. Second place went to Flycast Rollie Fingers, bred by Dr. Mary Beth Esser of Oconomowoc, Wis., owned by Dr. Robert Haraden of Libertyville, Ill., and handled by Scott Chaffee.

Game Winner, bred by Dave D’Hulster of North Street, Mich., owned and handled by Richard Brenneman of Port Matilda, Pa., was named winner of the Seventy-Third Grand National Grouse Futurity.

Game Winner’s sire, Full Blast, was  the winner of the 2015 Grand National Grouse Championship and produced the winner of the 2015 Grand National Grouse Futurity along with first, second, third place dogs in the 2017 Grand National  Puppy Classic, and first, third and fourth place dogs in the 2015 Grand National Puppy Classic. His progeny are doing well in Grand National events.

From the look of this year’s crop of Derbies, there are many future champions in the making. Hope to see everyone in the spring at the Puppy Classic as we start the process again.

Gladwin, Mich., November 4

Judges: Mike Brown and Craig Merlington

SEVENTY-THIRD GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE FUTURITY —

7 Pointers and 17 Setters

1st—GAME WINNER, 1672473, setter male, by Full Blast—Springfield’s Showgirl. Richard Brenneman, owner and handler.

2d—FLYCAST ROLLIE FINGERS, 1667526, setter male, by Jetwood—Fireside Drama Queen. Dr. Robert Haraden, owner; Scott Chaffee, handler.

3d—GROUSE RIVER PRINCESS STAR, 1667422, setter female, by Hunter’s Pale Face—Blue Sky Lillybelle. Bryan Wood, Sr. & Grouse River Kennels, owners; Scott Forman, handler.

4th—DUN ROVEN GRUMPY, 1669506, setter male, by Hypointe Left Turn—Centerfold Teacup. Richard Hollister, owner and hander.

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