American Field

Field Trial Report

Highland Field Trial Club

By David A. Fletcher | May 19, 2017
Amateur Walking Shooting Dog Winners. From left: Mike Lareau with Hifive’s Rock Solid, Rich Hollister, judge; Ricki Hollister, Mark Beniak with Double Tap, Jim Cipponeri, Bill Nelson and Craig Merlington with Call Me Maggie.

Highland, Mich. — Snow, snow and more snow. The Highland Field Trial Club held its spring trial the weekend of March 18-19, despite treacherous snowstorms both Friday night, much of the day Saturday and again early Sunday.

It was a serious storm when you consider the road conditions for driving to the event. Scribe turned back Friday night after driving a few miles to test the treachery of the roads, made it to the grounds Saturday morning despite heavy snows and the storm came on strong again early Sunday morning but cleared to a sunny afternoon.

Greg Hilla lives 100 miles north of the grounds. He entered a dog, but the driving conditions kept him home.

Conditions for bird release were perplexing, quail weakening rather quickly when placed in the snow-covered edges, and quail mortality was a bit common.

Despite these negatives, the club had a good entry, the dogs regularly got quail pointed and deserving dogs earned placements.

The grounds are part of the Michigan DNR’s “prairie grass restoration program”, and this clearing is abetted by work days put in by all the field trial clubs using the venue — a progression of clearing, brush removal and burning.

The Highland Club traditionally, for every event they stage, has on hand its founders to put on a great trial. President Ron Sposita co-ordinated all the effort and got tasks assigned. He runs dogs, brings quail, cooks lunch and looks after a myriad of things, all a personal great effort.

Other founders present and working hard were Mark Beniak, Bob Wheelock and Tom Vanecek filling bird bags, liberating same from horseback. Founder Dave Fletcher, secretary-treasurer, managed the drawing, collected entry fees, paid purses and took winners’ pictures and looked after The American Field report.

It was a team effort in the snow. Rich Hollister, who furnished his fine string of gaited horses for the judges, also judged, handled dogs and showed us how skilled his kids are becoming as handlers and getting placements with their dogs. Scott and Tammy Chaffee were there and their dogs gained several placements, as did Tom Vanecek and Carl McRae.

The Saturday luncheon sponsored by the club was again a Ron and Maria Sposita specialty, great food prepared, consisting of pulled pork, corn bread, delicious side dishes, and Diane Wheelock’s famed carrot cake was again there and consumed rapidly.

Judges were Mark Beniak, Bob Wheelock, Richard Wyatt, John Crisenbery, Bill Nelson, Rich Hollister and Bill Darr.


In the Open Puppy, Carl McRae’s Borris was the winner with lots of boldness in pattern and a mature approach to hunting the cover. Carl McRae scored again, second with Tasha. Handler Rich Hollister scored third with Grumpy, a step behind the other two placed dogs.

Ontario handler David Miotto placed his Northern Gold first in the Open Shooting Dog with a strong forward hunt, high and stylish points and a good finish. Second was Out Of The Shadows, handled by Bob Wheelock. This is a stylish dog on point, three finds, one divided, all in the front of course. Shadow was a bit short of the winner in the scope of her ground effort. Third was Bad  River Rutherford, a good forward effort with two solid and stylish finds, but again the scope of the ground race was below that of the first and second placed dogs.

Open Derby winner was Autumn Echo, handled by Tammy Chaffee. Echo hunted on a limb, lots of deep swings to the front of course, yet handled well. Second was Bad River Beauregard, callname Brody. He had a pair of good finds, a strong forward hunting effort and his bird work was solid and well to the front. Third was Highbank’s Back’N’Black, pointer male owned by Bill Nelson, handled by Scott Chaffee. Black had two good finds and was very close in performance to Brody.

In the Amateur Shooting Dog, Mike Lareau handled his Rock Solid to the top spot with two deep in the course well mannered finds and an unproductive. He was forward and deep in the course every minute. Double Tap was second for Mark Beniak. A little pressure at 12 on his first find, then two more near the end with great manners and his hunting effort was consistent and ideal for a shooting dog. Craig Merlington nabbed third with Maggie logging two finds, the first on a dead bird, but this veteran campaigner went to good objectives and looked good doing it.

Highland, Mich., March 18

Judges: Mark Beniak and Bob Wheelock

OPEN PUPPY — 8 Setters

1st—McRAE’S BORRIS, 1668105, male, by Hunter’s Pale Face—McRae’s Gypsie Belle. Carl McRae, owner and handler.

2d—MCRAE’S NATASHA, 1668142, female, by Hunter’s Pale Face—McRae’s Gypsie Belle. Carl McRae, owner and handler.

3d—DUN ROVEN GRUMPY, 1669506, male, by Hypointe Left Turn—Centerfold Teacup. Randi Hollister & Jack Harang, owners; Rich Hollister, handler.

Judges: Richard Wyatt and John Crisenbery

OPEN SHOOTING DOG — 2 Pointers and 18 Setters

1st—CANADIAN NORTHERN GOLD, 1650226, setter male, by Pinehill Elhew Damascus—Pinehill Elhew Pretty Girl. David Miotto, owner and handler.

2d—OUT OF THE SHADOWS, 1650996, setter female, by Nobody’s Shadow—Ramblin Ruby Lou. Bob & Diane Wheelock owners; Bob Wheelock, handler.

3d—BAD RIVER RUTHERFORD, 1641535, setter male, by Emmy’s Apple Jack—Quail  Trap Kate. Tom Vanecek, owner and handler.

Judges: Richard Wyatt and John Crisenbery

OPEN DERBY — 8 Setters and 2 Pointers

1st—AUTUMN ECHO, 1668025, pointer male, by Autumn Snow—Pinehill Silent Echo. Clay Alsip & Tammy Chaffee, owners; Tammy Chaffee, handler.

2d—BAD RIVER BEAUREGARD, 1665144, setter male, by T’s Nickleback—Straight Up Skydancing Lady. Tom Vanecek, owner and handler.

3d—HIGHBANK’S BACK’N’BLACK, 1664098, pointer male, by Nelson’s Van Max—Hifive’s Peddle Pusher. Bill Nelson, owner; Scott Chaffee, handler.

Judges: Bill Nelson and Rich Hollister

AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG — 2 Pointers, 11 Setters and

1 German Shorthair

1st—HIFIVE’S ROCK SOLID, 1608971, pointer male, by Elhew Sinbad—Hifive’s Wrangler. Mike Lareau, owner and handler.

2d—DOUBLE TAP, 1630241, setter male, by Shadow Oak Bo—Quail Trap Sadie. Mark Beniak, owner and handler.

3d—CALL ME MAGGIE, 1629871, setter female, by Lilleyhill’s Secret Stash—Call Me Kate. Craig Merlington, owner and handler.


This was an interesting stake with some good performances which enabled the winners to gain entry in future stakes.

Judges: Bill Darr and Bob Wheelock

OPEN SHOOTING DOG QUALIFIER — 2 Pointers and 6 Setters

1st—AUTUMN ECHO, 1668025, pointer male, by Autumn Snow—Pinehill Silent Echo. Clay Alsip & Tammy Chaffee, owners, Tammy Chaffee, handler.

2d—JOHN’S RIVER BREEZE, 1645854, setter female, by Shadow Oak Bo—Mischief  Maker. John Crisenbery, owner and handler.

3d—SNYDER’S FULL RAGE, 1655749, setter female, by Keystone’s Red Rage—Full Tilt. Steven Snyder, owner; Scott Chaffee, handler


Tom Vanecek’s Rutherford was the top dog in the stake with a hard searching hunting effort and a trio of well mannered finds. Joan Jett, handled by Ron Sposita, took second with a spectacular hedgerow find and lots of good hunting moves. Third was Rusty Nail, handled by Bill Darr for deceased trial stalwart Lloyd Wylie. Nail had one good find but did not reach the hunting scope of the dogs placed above him.

Judges: Bob Wheelock and Rich Hollister

OPEN SHOOTING DOG — 2 Pointers and 6 Setters

1st—BAD RIVER RUTHERFORD, 1641535, setter male, by Emmy’s Apple Jack—Quail Trap Kate. Tom Vanecek, owner and handler.

2d—DUKE’S JOAN JETT, 1628807, pointer female, by Erin’s Stoney River—Duke’s Bella Dancer. Ron Sposita, owner and handler.

3d—RUSTY NAIL, 1651755, pointer male, by Independence Day Sam—Hytest Silver Bell. Lloyd Wylie, owner; Bill Darr, handler.

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