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Field Trial Report

National Amateur Grouse Championship

By Richard Hollister and Bob Wheelock | Dec 03, 2021
Championship Winners. From left to right: Judge Joe Cammisa, Chuck Rowling and Rowling's Star, Diane Wheelock, Bob Wheelock with Nobody's Shadow, and Judge Dave TerHaar.

Meredith, Mich. — The 44th running of the National Amateur Grouse Championship returned to its birthplace, the Gladwin Field Trial Area.

The first Championship was hosted in 1978 by the Michigan Ruffed Grouse Club. The late Dale Hernden was a principal in the birth of this trial. That initial event was won by Pleasant Valley Clyde, owned and handled by Dr. Jim Stiteler of DuBois, Pa. Kumari Elhew Suzie, owned and handled by the late Vic Christopherson of Lansing, Mich., was named runner-up champion.

The following year, in convincing fashion at Gladwin, Kumari Elhew Suzie was named champion. The Championship ran for the next two years at Gladwin and then began to rotate through the various regions on the cover dog circuit. Today the Championship rotates yearly through Wisconsin/Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and the East Coast.

The trials at Gladwin are successful due the hard and dedicated work of the various host field trial clubs. In Michigan, the Michigan Amateur Club is named as the host club, but the turnout to work extends through the entire Gladwin community. Five separate clubs hold trials at Gladwin; members of these clubs work year around to keep the trial grounds and courses in top shape. Trimming and marking courses, rerouting courses as logging takes place, maintaining the Alibi Hall headquarters for all trials.

For this Championship the entire Gladwin community was on hand to lend help where needed. Trucks and handlers need to be moved through the 5,000 acres, two marshals for every brace, donut and coffee breaks, lunches, dinners and cleanups at the end.

This Championship, and all the trials at Gladwin, have fantastic support from Purina and Greg Blair. Purina provides a great deal of product and financial support for these stakes. On Saturday, following the running and the announcements Purina sponsored a full steak dinner for all attendees, family and friends. There was great weather and a very nice turnout.

Garmin provides the winners with the latest training collars as gifts. The AFTCA gave a beautiful and finely crafted pocket knife for the judges and the reporters.

Each day after the second brace we put out a spread of baked goods provided by Suzie Cammisa, Cowboy cookies, Collen Johnson, blueberry and banana nut muffins and Diane Wheelock’s Blue Ribbon carrot cake.

Judges for this renewal were Joe Cammisa of Butler, Pa., and Dave TerHaar, Michigan. Both men are well known in the cover dog world and field trials in general. Joe has been involved just about forever with the Grand National Grouse Club, the Pennsylvania Grouse Club and other clubs in the region. He has owned multiple champion dogs, judged extensively in walking and horseback trials. He is sought after as a judge, a mentor. He is well respected.

Dave TerHaar, at this point, has stepped away from actively campaigning dogs in the woods, but is well known for his three most prominent champions: TerHaar’s Rocko, TerHaar’s Elvis and TerHaar’s Rouge. Dave has won championships and runners-up in every open grouse championship on our circuit save one, the Pennsylvania. Both men, when we called to request they judge, accepted before we could finish the invitation.

Birds were plentiful during this trial; 48 grouse and 32 woodcock seen or heard by the reporter's eyes and ears and I am sure there were more birds others may have seen or heard. The playing field was equal with birds on each brace.

Unfortunately, we did not have the best weather for a typical grouse trial; conditions were very warm, dry and sunny, making scenting difficult. However, even though we did not have the greatest conditions we finished with thirteen clean and useable dogs.

THE WINNERS

Judges Cammisa and TerHaar named the 2021 National Amateur Grouse Champion, Nobody’s Shadow, callname Mickey, ten-year-old white and orange setter male by Shadow Oak Bo ex Quail Trap Sadie, owned by Bob and Diane Wheelock of Northville, Mich., handled by Bob, scouted by Diane.

Mickey is no stranger to the winners' circle with multiple wins in the grouse woods and the quail fields. Nor is this his first title! Mickey was named 2018 National Amateur Grouse champion and was the 2016 runner-up champion at the ABHA National Championship.

Mickey is a  nicely built setter male that has all the power and hunt that one would want in grouse dog along with a very strong nose and outstanding composure on point. During this renewal, Mickey bested a field of 31 other top-notch grouse dogs, quite an accomplishment at his age.

Brace No. 8, course 7-8 (Both winners ran course 7-8 on different days.)

Nobody’s Shadow, “Mickey,” with Moss Meadow Seeker with Ken Moss.

Both dogs hit the heavy cover right away Mickey going deep right away. Seeker worked the cover a little tighter and had a point at 15, Ken proceeded to flush, a grouse lifted, Seeker advanced and was leashed. Mickey rimming the cover at bell's edge going in and out of hearing range, but forward and crossing when cover required. Mickey’s bell went silent at 23 where the course comes close to the old deer pens and Super Scout Diane Wheelock was sent to find the dog. Point was called and Mickey was found standing tall and proud. Bob flushed and put a woodcock to wing, all good.

Mickey was brought back to course and sent forward. Mickey had another stop on the left of the course at 32 where Bob flushed a single grouse. Mickey tore to the front hunting the cover hard. Mickey went deep to the left of the course on the edge of an old swamp and stopped again. Judge TerHaar and Bob located Mickey quickly and a pair of grouse were flushed. Mickey continued in the same fashion as he started hunting deep and forward handling easy showing a good rapport with handler.

Runner-up was Rowling's Star, four-year-old white and black setter female by Long Gone Studly ex Rowling’s Nike, owned and handled by Chuck Rowling of North Street, Mich. Star is also no stranger to winning as well, with multiple placements. She is known for her hard hunting and big range. She is a fast and very animated dog.

Brace No. 4, course 7-8. Rowling's Star with Ghost Train Sassy (Tom Fruchey).

Both Dogs launched to the front quickly, Star reaching fast and far ahead. Star ran very big and was on her agenda to find a bird. She hit all the spots that she needed to and was beautiful in motion. At times she was at or beyond bell range but would always present herself when needed. Sassy worked right in the pocket and at 12 minutes she stopped course right on a slight incline, Fruchey flushed and put a woodcock to flight. Sassy looked good moving forward and was fast and animated. At 15 Star's bell disappeared deep into the cut on the right. Handler and judge went to locate Star but her bell started up ahead on the course.

Both dogs moved hard through the pole timber and into the cover on the second half. Star stopped at 58 and Chuck flushed a grouse all in order. Sassy stopped at 59 Fruchey tried to flush, no bird, he released Sassy to relocate and she went ten yards and had a stop to flush on a woodcock.

[In addition to the winners, the judges named closest to the winners in no order: Grouse Ridge Larry with Paula Giulitto; Tupelo Honey with Bob Wheelock; Warrior's Zeke with Eric Munden, and Magnum's Hot Shot with Ken DeLong.

THE RUNNING

Brace No.1: Wayward Flying Tomato with Doug McMillen and Warrior's Zeke with Eric Munden moved quickly to the front. After the first 5 minutes a grouse flushed from the trees course right. At 9 another grouse flushed from course right neither dog involved with the birds. Both dogs running well through the top part of the course and into the scrub oaks where, at 22, Zeke stopped. Wayward Tomato came in for the back, Eric flushed a woodcock, all in order, The dogs moved to the front and hunted the cover well. Moving through the half at 51 Zeke stopped again; as Eric moved in to flush Tomato came in for  back during flush Judge Camissa called grouse, both handlers shot and moved forward. At 58 another woodcock wild flushed as the gallery moved forward. Both dogs finished well.

Both Runnin on Duncan (Robert Boos) and Thornapple Cody (Bob Leet) ran hard through the first half of the course, moving forward and hunting the available cover. Crossing the “tubes” into the thick cut right away Cody caught course left and stopped deep in the cover. Duncan moved forward. Bob sent scout and we went to search for the dog. While searching we moved three woodcock but still no sign of the dog. This reporter came back to the course and heard a slight tinkle of the bell forward to the right. Bob came out and moved ahead to find Cody standing as beautifully as a dog can stand. Bob flushed and put a woodcock to flight. Cody moved forward and went deep again after extensive search, the retrieval unit was called for. Duncan finished with a woodcock find and a good forward run. One other grouse wild flushed in this brace.

Springpond Rockin Gibby (Lonnie Rademacher) and Vitali’s Grouse Ringer (Gary Vitali) started strong and went through the open field at the breakaway looking for cover. Once they reached cover, they searched forward and fast. Gibby stood at 15, 20 and 25, each time Lonnie put a woodcock to flight. On the second stand Vitali's dog backed but went with the bird at flush. Gibby stood tall. At 50 Gibby stopped again; a grouse flew and so did Gibby.

Brace No. 4 had the runner-up champion covered above.

No. 5. At the breakaway, both Braggabull (Doug McMillen) and Wild Apple Siri (Eric Rizza) dug deep in the aspen cut to the right, working forward and steady. Siri stopped early, Eric went straight to her and put a grouse and a woodcock to flight. Siri stood tall. He brought her back near the path and released. She tore forward. At 21 Siri stopped, two woodcock flew It was too much for Siri; she went with the birds. Meanwhile Braggabull was working the cover forward of the bracemate stopping at 29 and 43 with woodcock at each stand. Braggabull ran strong and hard, finishing her hour.

Tupelo Honey (Bertie/Bob Wheelock) and Super Hawk (Robert Boos) started well. Right away, at 4, Hawk stopped. Boos flushed a woodcock and Hawk advanced with the bird. Bertie stopped at 5; Wheelock flushed but no bird. Moving forward Bertie stopped again at 48 where Wheelock flushed a grouse. Honey worked the cover and even though it was hot and dry, she finished well.

Double Deuce Sage  (Doug McMillen) and Faith's Maximum Justice (Ken Delong) tore off to the front and within a minute we heard a grouse flush off course right. Sage stopped course right at 24; grouse was flushed. Both dogs moved forward through the course. Justice's Bell faded at 27. Ken and Judge Joe went looking for him but could not find him. Justice showed up at 48. Sage stopped at 57; Doug flushed but could not find a bird. Three woodcock were moved by gallery during this brace.

Brace No. 8  featured the winner, and covered above.

Grouse Ridge Larry (Paula Giulitto) and Travel Alert (Harold Holmes). Travel Alert broke away to the right, working the cut fast and deep, while Larry worked more forward and to the left on the swamp edge. At 4 Travel Alert's bell went silent deep in the cut and Harold and Judge Cammisa proceeded to search for him. Larry stopped on the left of the course at 6 . Paula flushed a woodcock that didn’t fly very far. Larry continued with no sign of Travel Alert. Larry had a very nice woodcock find at 16 and additional woodcock finds at 24, 34, 47 and 52. Paula emptied her gun on this brace.

Baxter’s Pale Rider (Brent Peters) had a woodcock find on the right of the course at 3. Pale Rider had an incident at 11 involving a woodcock which ended his bid. At 12 Caliber Peak Storm Warning (Sarah Gomes) stood just off the course where a grouse had just left, credited with a stop to flush. Caliber rendered a nice consistent race.

Very warm at the beginning of this brace. Both Single Shot Barley (Paula Giulitto) and Vitali’s Grousering Justify (Gary Vitali) ran very hard but slowed too much for the handlers. Both picked up at the half.

In No. 12, Wildland Warrior (Eric Munden) and Chasehill Mighty May (Bill Nelson) broke away nicely and headed in the right direction. After crossing the "tubes," May stopped in the cut on the left at 39. Bill flushed but could not get a bird to fly. Warrior had a woodcock find at 45. Both dogs finished

Double Deuce Zeke  (Doug McMillen) and Eagle Hot Shot Magnum (Ken Delong). Hot Shot took off at breakaway and hit the cover to the right at a good pace to start. Zeke hit forward and was in and out of bell range from the start. At 7 Doug sent scout to look for Zeke which returned and had a woodcock find at 25, and was leashed at 30. Hot Shot stopped at 27 with a woodcock find. Hot stopped at 38 with handler flushing grouse. Hot shot had another stop at 50 with another woodcock.

Another warm start but both Dun Roven’s Soozee (Ron Badley) and A Distant Spec (Eric Munden) hunted very well for the first half. Soo stopped at 15 but no bird found. Soo stopped again at 37 Ron flushed but was unable to find a bird. Spec disappeared at 50; Eric went to find him. Spec started on his own.

Out of the Shadows (Bob Wheelock) and Sutter's Backwoods Rumble (Paula Giulitto) ran well through the beginning of the course and hunted all available cover. "Maddie" stopped at 31 and Wheelock flushed but no bird was available. Rumble stopped at 40; Paula flushed but was unable to locate the bird.

Brace No. 16: Cal Peak Hundreth Meridian (Sarah Gomes) and Angel's Envy (Bob Wheelock) ran nicely through the beginning of the course, Angel’s Envy (Charlie) making some nice moves up front, showing great speed and range but handling gently for Bob. Peak stopped at 31; Sarah flushed, no bird flew. Charlie stopped at 34. Peak approached, ran around Charlie failing to back. Bob flushed but could not produce a bird. Charlie stopped again at 40 and 45, pointing a woodcock on each and finishing strongly to the front.

Meredith, Mich., September 30

Judges: Joe Cammisa and Dave TerHaar

NATIONAL AMATEUR GROUSE CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats] — 11 Pointers, 20 Setters and 1 Brittany

Winner—NOBODY’S SHADOW, 1641863, setter male, by Shadow Oak Bo—Quail Trap Sadie. Bob & Diane Wheelock, owners; Bob Wheelock, handler.

Runner-Up—ROWLING’S STAR, 1675772, setter female, by Long Gone Studly—Rowling’s Nike. Chuck Rowling, owner and handler.

MICHIGAN AMATEUR FIELD TRIAL CLUB

Judges: Richard Hollister, Sr. and Richard hollister, Jr.

AMATEUR DERBY — 7 Pointers and 6 Setters

1st—BUND’S BUCKEYE MOLLY, 1694731, Llewellin setter female, by Chaseaway Bondhu—Earlywines Bomber Lynds. Chris Sellers, owner and handler.

2d—PONDEROSA’S COPPER PENNY, 1690593, setter female, by Ponderosa Mac—Eldridge’s Beauty and Beast. Robert Ellis, owner and handler.

3d—MEREDITH GRADE KATI, 1692672, setter female, by Jetwood—I’m Blue Who. Dennis Keysor, owner; Mike Singleton, handler.

Judges: Paula Giulitto and Mike LaRue

AMATEUR PUPPY — 1 Pointer, 5 Setters, 1 Brittany

and 1 German Shorthair

1st—MEREDITH GRADE PENNY, 1694628, setter female, by Ponderosa Mac—Eldridge’s Beauty and Beast. Dennis Keysor, owner; Mike Singleton, handler.

2d—ONE ACRE WOOD SMOKEY, 1694022, setter female, by Sunrise Star—Lucy Two Star. Trey Rector, owner and handler.

3d—ONE ACRE WOOD BANDIT, 1694021, setter female, by Sunrise Star—Lucy Two Star. Trey Rector, owner and handler.

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