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Brae Val Bearcat Laddie Wins 42nd Running; Stoke’s Willie B is Runner-Up

International Amateur Woodcock Championship

By Russell Ogilvie | May 08, 2019
The Winner. From left: Judge Steve Forrest, Gregor McCluskey with Brae Val Bearcat Laddie and Judge Leonard Sinclair.

Exeter, R. I. — The 2019 International Amateur Woodcock Champion came out of the eighth brace on the Cemetery Course.

Brae Val Bearcat Laddie, red setter owned and handled by Gregor McCluskey of Harwinton, Conn., was braced with Chasehill Baby Bella (Mike Flewelling). Both Laddie and Bella broke away and headed straight for the green briar. Bella stopped shortly after the breakaway but Flewelling got her moving forward when her bell started.

Both dogs hammered the cover as they worked through the green briars and rhododendron. Laddie was first to get on the board. As the handlers worked their way out of the rhododendron, Laddie swung up hill and dove into the briars and stopped at 20. McCluskey fought his way into the tangles and having trouble finding his dog, he called for a scout. The dark red of the setter was difficult to see in the briars but was finally located.

Laddie was standing proud as McCluskey walked in front and produced the woodcock. With battle wounds from the briars, McCluskey took his dog back to the course. As McCluskey worked his way out of the tangle, Bella, which was out ahead, cut up hill and went into the briars. She stopped just past the fallen down building at 24. Flewelling and the judge quickly found her and the woodcock was sent skyward. Both dogs got back to the course and headed for the open timber.

Laddie stopped in a seep at 29 but nothing was home. After being released Laddie raced to the front and never let up. The red setter glided through the open hardwoods handling with ease. Bella got a little lateral as she headed up over the hill. McCluskey and Laddie kept up a strong pace and moved down along the river and toward the road.

With time running out, Laddie stopped in the wet hole right before the road for everyone to see. McCluskey walked in front and the timberdoodle shot out of his hide. With the shot, the brace was done and a new standard was set.

This is not the first major placement for McCluskey and Laddie. Laddie has a blue ribbon in a horseback open shooting dog championship, a runner-up placement, as well as a second in the National Red Setter Futurity.

Runner-up Stoke’s Willie B came out of the tenth brace. Willie, a handsome white and orange ticked setter male, caught everyone’s eye early. Willie is owned by Tony and Marie Bly of Milan, N. H., and handled by Jamie Leitch. Willie’s bracemate was Cairds Lefty (Bill Bonnetti).

Action started quickly on Pine Top. Lefty stopped just on the other side of a stone wall at 4 and Willie came in and backed. Bonnetti could not produce a bird and both dogs were sent on. Willie stopped at 8 just off the right side of the course with Lefty honoring. Willie, standing high and tight for everyone to see, stood solid as Leitch walked in front and produced the bird. Both dogs were sent on and as Lefty crossed over from left to right, up popped a woodcock and Lefty put the brakes on at 10.

With the flurry of activity complete on the top of the hill, both dogs stretched their legs and headed down the hill. With the dogs coming in and out of bell range, the handlers, judges and gallery worked their way to the bottom. Once we got to the bottom, there wasn’t a bell to be heard. After a little searching, Lefty was found tucked in a brushy island with Willie backing at 20. Bonnetti worked his way through the tangle trying to get a bird to fly but nothing was home. Both dogs continued on. Willie steadily worked the course and handled well for the Leitch. When time was called, the judges convened and Willie took over the runner-up spot.

This was Jamie’s first championship placement but not Willie’s. Willie took the runner-up honors in the Northern New England Woodcock Championship in 2018.

For the first time in 42 runnings, the International Amateur Woodcock Championship came across the New Brunswick border. The tradition and pride that goes with this Championship is well known with some of the best cover dogs in North America going to the line. What would be more fitting than running on migrating woodcock of which many would probably end up in New Brunswick.

For those who are not familiar with the Arcadia grounds, they are a mix of green briar tangles, river bottoms, field edges and open hardwoods.

One of the benefits for running this trial in Arcadia in the spring is the ability for handlers, judges, and the gallery to see much more of the dog work as they cover the country. The gallery can often see the dogs on point, the flush attempt, and the exiting of a woodcock.

The migrating woodcock are naturally found in the seeps, bottoms, and the green briar patches but on any given year when the flights are right, birds can be found in great numbers just about any place on the courses. This year was a typical year where each course had birds but the dogs had to work for them. The prestige of this Championship drew 31 entries that would run on three courses. While most entries were relatively local, we did have dogs that came from as far away as Michigan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

It takes a small army to make a trial of this caliber happen and there can never be enough thanks extended. Our first goes out to Will Walker of the Forestry Division for approving our use permit.

Of course, what would a field trial be without the ongoing support from Purina and Garmin. They not only covered the cost of the ad, but provided the winners with food and collars to go along with the sculpted plaques provided by Bruce Fox.

A thank you goes to the judges, Leonard Sinclair of Bocabec, N. B., and Steve Forrest of Hampden, Me. Both judges put down tracks and went into the briars without hesitation to make sure nothing was missed.

At the end of the day, the Stolgitis family, owners of Chasehill Kennel, opened up their home for handlers to stake dogs out and for everyone involved in the trial to fill their bellies.

Heading up this trial was chairman Tim Kisieleski. He had the vision to try and take the IAWC in a new direction.

Last but by far not least, a thank you to the owners of the dogs and the handlers who turned them loose. They make the IAWC what it is. As a thank you, Tim Kisieleski handed each handler a one of a kind IAWC Flewelling bell.

The Running

The first brace broke away on Friday, March 29, on Pine Top — Wild Apple White Lightning (Rizza) and Stokely’s Frankie B (Murray). Frankie had a quick stop at 2 and “Mikey” came in and failed to back. After rounding up Mikey, Frankie went forward where he got under a bird at 6.

Guardian (Flewelling) and Springbrook Maximus (Ogilvie) charged out of the gate on Cemetery. Both dogs made it through the first pass of the green briar without any action. After passing through the rhododendron thicket, Max stopped at a seep on the edge of the thorn tangle at 18. Nothing could be produced. “Chip” swung out ahead and cut into the green briars and stopped at 20. Flewelling kicked the woodcock out with all in order. Both dogs crossed the road where Max stopped in the briars on the right side at 24. Another vacant stop for Max. Chip and Max would glide through the hardwoods but nothing else was produced before time was called.

Faith’s Maximum Justice (DeLong) broke away with Chasehill Little Thudd (Wheeler) on the Bridge Course. Both dogs shot out of the gate with Justice settling in first. Justice made the first turn back along the stream with ease. Thudd, with a little coaxing, made the turn as well. Justice stopped on the edge of the stream at 13. Justice, standing in the wide open, allowed for the whole gallery to see the woodcock take flight when DeLong stepped in front. Thudd had the next stop at 15 but Wheeler could not produce a bird. Just before they crossed the road Thudd stopped again at 28. Justice, after having a very nice race going, failed to back to end his run. Wheeler got the bird to fly and took Thudd on. With the course to themselves, handler and dog crossed the road. Wheeler worked to get Thudd around the final turn and headed toward the field. The field was Thudd’s demise as he took a bird out at 44.

Pine Top Course. Long Gone Mersadies (Murray) got right to work at 4 with Hog Hill Kissamee Ace (Cavanaugh) backing. Murray flushed the doodle with all in order. Both dogs hunted the top without any more action. Ace and “Sadie” stopped at 44. When both handlers got to the dogs, Murray thought his dog was backing so he chose not to flush. After some thought

Cavanaugh chose to send his dog on as well. Sadie stopped again at 48 with Ace backing. As Murray was flushing, Ace decided to take a step forward. Cavanaugh picked him up. Murray could not produce a bird. Sadie had another stop at 55 and was picked up after Murray could not produce a bird.

Cemetery Course. Ruff Grouse Lilly (Christopher), a very good handling and flashy setter, cut left of the course and headed toward the road where she stopped at 5. Christopher, judge, and scout battled the briars to find Lilly standing on the edge of the field. Unfortunately, Lilly moved on the shot and she was done. Wynot Atom (Robbins) stopped shortly after in a seep at 7. Robbins verbally sent him on but Atom would not move. Robbins flushed but could not produce a bird. Atom was sent on and he stopped again, looking much more confident. Robbins still could not produce the bird. Robbins took Atom on and made the corner easily. Atom hunted the briars but could not find a bird. Robbins took him through the hardwoods where he handled with ease. However, Robbins wasn’t happy how Atom was moving and picked him up at 57.

Wild Apple Spot On (Wheeler) and Stokely B Jack (Leitch) raced down the trail and looked strong. Jack returned to Leitch and settled in. Spot showed strong legs early but checked in when needed. The dogs and handlers worked along the stream without activity until Jack had a stop to flush at 34. Spot crossed the road and stopped on the other side at 38. Wheeler got the bird to fly with all in order. Jack and Spot shot up along the stream and made the turn back toward the field. Jack, coming from the hardwood hill on the left, stopped on the edge of the field at 42. As Leitch was making his way to his dog, Spot stopped on the right edge of the field at 43. Leitch walked to his dog and flew the woodcock over Jack’s head. Jack marked the bird with his head but stayed put. Wheeler looked for Spot and found him buried in the briars. A woodcock quickly took flight. Spot, looking tired, was sent on but faded even more at the end. Jack had a nice race and worked hard for Leitch but there wasn’t any more bird work.

Beginning the second day were Higby Rilo (Ogilvie) and Long Gone Juicy (Murray) on Pine Top. Both dogs hunted and handled well early. When both bells were lost just before the field, a long search ensued by both handlers. Neither dog could be located and the retrieval units were called for. Apparently the cover dogs turned to race track dogs and they were found at the bottom of the hill.

Chasehill Baby Bella and Brae Val Bearcat Laddie were reported earlier.

Wild Apple Calvados (Dellinger) and Little Miss Bella (Cavanaugh) had the first crack on the Bridge Course. Both ran well without any action. “Brandy” was picked up at 55. Bella finished but she could not come up with a bird.

Cairds Lefty and Stoke’s Willie B were reported earlier.

Snuff Mill Atalanta (Dellinger) shared the Cemetery Course with Wild Apple Samantha (Keddy). They headed right for the briars. Their bells chimed as they worked their way through the thicket. “Sam’s” bell stopped and the gallery could see her collar through the tangle. “Allie” continued to work in search of a bird. As Keddy battled his way to Sam, she became unsure and moved on. Keddy fought his way back out and the dogs were moved forward. Allie and Sam made their way through the rhododendron and back to the briars without any action. Sam checked the green briars after they crossed the road but nothing was home. Allie took to the hardwoods with style but nothing was pointed.

Daddy’s Little Boy Butch (Flewelling) reached out early burning up some extra energy. Wizard’s Albannach Drummer (Hathaway) checked in and hunted as we worked down the trail. Flewelling brought Butch forward at the turn and both dogs moved up along the stream. Drummer stopped first to the right of the course near a softwood clump at 27. Hathaway flushed the woodcock, all in order. Butch stopped shortly after at 30 with Drummer honoring. Flewelling had a long flushing attempt and even tried to move Butch on but he wouldn’t budge. Butch had everyone convinced he had a bird but try as he might Flewelling could not produce a bird. Both dogs headed for the crossing. Drummer stopped short of the crossing at 37 with Butch backing. Hathaway could not get a bird to fly so he sent Drummer on. Drummer moved up and stopped quickly. Hathaway, not thinking the bird was pinned, sent Drummer on and the woodcock popped to end his run. Butch was taken across the road where he covered the ground. However, the birds were not home at the field and time was called without any bird work.

Day No. 3 of the trial started warm.

D C’s Sadie (Cluney) and Long Gone Porky (Murray) hunted the thickets at the top without any luck. Both dogs headed down the hill, Porky stopping in the pine island at 22, Sadie backing. Murray flushed all around but nothing was moved. Both handlers sent their dogs on and Porky headed up the hill where he briefly stopped. Murray went to him and seeing the dog was unsure, he whistled him on. Porky briefly stopped again but continued on. A woodcock was seen leaving the tangle farther up the hill as Porky was headed in the opposite direction. Murray picked up at 35. Cluney and Sadie continued along the stream with hopes of a doodle. The almost white pointer was snappy and worked her way along the course. At 40 she stopped; while the judges thought she looked confident, Cluney knew his dog and sent her on. Sadie hunted but could not locate a bird for her efforts.

Wild Apple Polka Dot (Dellinger) was braced with Woodcock Haven Stella (Ogilvie). Both dogs hit the Cemetery Course in fine fashion heading for the briars. Dottie and Stella made the sweep on the other side of the rock wall. Both dogs moved to the front and cut across the left side of the course along the field edge. Dottie came out of the section and headed forward. Stella started out of the section then locked up at 7 within sight of the course. Ogilvie walked in front and the woodcock flipped forward with all in order. Stella was taken back to the course and sent on. Dottie and Stella worked their way along the course and back into the briars without any excitement. The dogs crossed the road and started through the hardwoods. Dottie swung hard to the right and Dellinger had a hard time bringing her around. Dottie was picked up at the half. Stella ran the course but her legs weren’t with her on this warm day. After getting a drink of water and a pat on the head by a hiker, she continued on. Time was called just before the road.

Bridge Course. Witch City Fred (Murray) was scratched due to injury which allowed Chasehill Hailey (Flewelling) to move up. Ain’t My Fault (Malone) was braced with Chasehill Hailey which stretched her legs from the get go. “Ben” ran a moderate race and handled well. Flewelling had to work harder for Hailey to make the corner back along the stream. Neither dog made game up to the crossing. Malone, not liking his dog’s run, picked up at the half. Hailey continued on coming in and out of bell range. After Flewelling made the turn and was headed to the field, Hailey came in and got birdy. She would start and stop but never really locked up. She ended up getting too close to the bird and it popped at 48 ending her bid.

Exeter, R. I., March 29

Judges: Steve Forrest and Leonard Sinclair

INTERNATIONAL AMATEUR WOODCOCK CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats] — 31 Entries

Winner—BRAE VAL BEARCAT LADDIE, 1652401, Irish setter male, by Justified—Redstone. Gregor McCluskey, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—STOKE’S WILLIE B, 1658710, setter male, by Quail Trap Will—Quail Trap Abby. Tony & Marie Bly, owners; Jamie Leitch, handler.

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