American Field

Field Trial Report

Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club

By Thor Kain | May 10, 2018
All On First in the National Grouse Derby Classic

Marienville, Pa. — Winter held its grip on much of Pennsylvania and the Northeast this spring. Despite a long winter, there was enough melting of snow to have this club’s spring trial in its traditional location of Marienville, Pa. The shady areas of the woods held crusty snow; the areas receiving sunlight had little to none.

Despite cold temperatures, handlers and bird dog enthusiasts came from all over, even as far as North Carolina, to run their dogs. A total of 76 dogs ran between three stakes with countless laughs, smiles and a good time had by all making for a successful trial.

Birds were seen on most courses, but particularly hard to get pointed for this event. Marienville is tough due to open pole timber with small pockets of cover. A dog can really roll but getting the birds pinned, especially in the spring with all the cover down, is challenging for even the most experienced wild bird dogs.

Pennsylvania Club directors were on hand to marshal, move cars, and help out the newcomers. They included Tom Mains, Scott Forman, Mike Spotts, Joe Cammisa, Dave Hughes, Dick Brenneman and this reporter. Helen Brenneman is the club secretary and she had everything organized, running smoothly and kept attendees well fed.

The Brennemans are the backbone of the Pennsylvania Club and the amount of time and effort they put into running a trial should be commended.

A special thanks to George Tinkerhoff who is a car mover/road guard extraordinaire. He always has a good story to share and is quick to wish all participants good luck on their way to the line.


The Open All-Age began on Friday, March 23. With cold temperatures for three days it proved to be a challenging assignment for Terri Propst of Edinboro, Pa., and Dr. Bruce Mueller of Everett, Pa. They were up to the challenge and both were attentive to every dog that ran and positive in their judging. On behalf of all Pennsylvania Club members I’d like to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to judge.

Capturing the blue ribbon this spring was a dog that is no stranger to the winners’ circle, Straight Forward, setter female handled by this reporter. She is straight from the heart of the Watts/ Brenneman breeding program and was developed by and recorded many titles and wins under the whistle of Dave Hughes. “Cracker” shot forward at the breakaway and drifted to the left side of the course. At 10 she stopped in an area of downed trees; no bird could be produced. As she was sent on she seemed convinced a bird was in the area and stopped 200 yards down the course. This time as handler approached a grouse blew out followed by another at the report of the shot. With a grouse find to her credit, Cracker was determined to find another and five minutes later her bell fell silent again. This time a single grouse flushed as handler was still approaching; a shot was fired and all in order. She continued on, not yet done in her bird-finding effort. Minutes after her last find she was stopped again and another grouse was put to wing, shot fired, all with exceptional manners. She hammered on the bell swinging through the country for the rest of her hour and finished with a big cast through a nice piece of cover. No doubt one of the special grouse dogs of recent years.

Winning the red ribbon was Magic Mist Sydni, setter female handled by Joe Dahl. Joe might spend a lot of time in North Carolina these days but he’s a true “Mainah”, complete with the accent and an endless supply of classic hunting and fishing stories. Sydni was loosed on course No. 1 Lamonaville on Saturday morning. She ran with speed and desire and her tail cracking classy way of going kept the judges up in the saddle. She took in big pieces of country in her search for birds, but they weren’t home this day. She was called back to the birdfield on Sunday and showed good manners on her bird before being awarded second place.

Blast Off, setter male owned by Justin Evans and handled by Marc Forman, shot forward like out of a cannon when he broke away on course No. 1 Sunday morning. “Sam” was consistently forward, and the countless hours Marc has spent working him on wild birds showed in his search of all likely cover. Sam was big when the cover allowed but always handled when Marc wanted to gather him up, handler and dog on the same page for the hour. His strong finish coupled with the rest of his hour got him called back to the birdfield on Sunday where he showed polished manners and took home third place.

As Doug McMillen put it, the National Grouse Derby Classic is the jewel of the Pennsylvania Club spring trial. It’s held in memory of Dick Shear and the winner receives a beautiful rotating trophy in his honor. This year’s crop of Derbies has proved they have what it takes but this stake puts that to the test for an hour to give a glimpse of what’s in store when they move up to all- age stakes in the fall.

Judging this year’s Derby Classic were Tim Tufts of Ontario, Canada and Dave Duell of Sheffield, Pa. Both judges gave every minute of their time in the saddle to watching the dogs in front of them and although they’d never met before both complimented each other on the pleasure it was to judge together.

All On, handled by this reporter, took home first place. From the judges’ notes, “Trixie took in huge chunks of country with a fast fancy way of going. She took the whole valley on the right of course No. 2 Loleta, her bell faint at times but staying with handler and showing across the front at the big left turn. She continued on hunting any likely cover and impressing by rimming a big select cut and showing way out crossing the front. Her extreme ground race along with her ability to remain in contact with her handler and showing when needed earned her a trip to the birdfield where she showed polished manners and earned the blue ribbon.”

Double Deuce Sage, pointer female, was big and fancy in her application while staying in tune with  handler Dave Hughes. She too was on course No. 2 Loleta and knew to blow through the pole timber and hunt the cover when she came to it. Sage is owned by Doug McMillen and is from Doug’s breeding program out of his winning male Double Deuce Peter. Anyone who reads The Field has seen the success Doug has had with his dogs and Sage is no exception. She showed polished manners in the birdfield and took home second place.

Full Breeze, setter female handled by Dick Brenneman, took a few minutes to get going off the breakaway. Once she got through the newer cut and in more familiar country she started laying out there and putting down a solid effort. Those who are familiar with the M&M course know it can be tricky to show a dog on it but Brenneman did an excellent job of doing it where he could. Breeze has a smooth powerful gait, with a high cracking tail that is synonymous with a Watts/Brenneman charge. She hunted all likely cover and finished strong going away. In the birdfield she showed polished manners to earn third.

Carlos Escalante of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Mike Oxenrider of Millerstown, Pa., accepted the judging assignment for the Open Puppy. Both were attentive, and their decisions well received.

Knob Mountain Monarch, setter male handled by Mike Spotts, caught the judges’ eyes early with his smooth ground covering gait. He ran big and powerful showing to the front when handler called on him. He took home the blue for his exceptional display.

Joe Dahl made it back to the winners’ circle with his setter female Magic Mist Carolina. Joe seems to always have a pup with scorching speed and class to spare; this one is no exception. Grouse Trails Wild Tango, pointer female handled by John McKellop, placed third with a powerful forward race. She was in tune with McKellop and seemed to know the perfect spots to show.

Thank you to all the owners, handlers and attendees who supported this trial.

This report would be incomplete without mention of Purina and our rep Dean Reinke’s support. They provided the winners with generous supplies of Pro Plan. We are thankful for their continued support and interest in cover dog trials.

Marienville, Pa., March 23

Judges: Dave Duell and Tim Tufts

NATIONAL GROUSE DERBY CLASSIC [One-Hour Heats] — 8 Pointers and 11 Setters

1st—ALL ON, 1669114, pointer female, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Grouse Hill Dixie. Thor Kain, owner and handler.

2d—DOUBLE DEUCE SAGE, 1673986, pointer female, by Double Deuce Peter—Funseeker’s Holiday. Douglas E. McMillen, Jr., owner; Dave Hughes, handler.

3d—FULL BREEZE, 1667989, pointer female, by Full Blast—Straight Forward. Richard Brenneman, owner and handler.

Judges: Dr. Bruce Mueller and Teri Propst

OPEN ALL-AGE [One-Hour Heats] — 15 Pointers and 21 Setters

1st—STRAIGHT FORWARD, 1614876, setter female, by Keystone’s Red Rage—Quixstar. Richard Brenneman, owner; Thor Kain, handler.

2d—MAGIC MIST SYDNI, 1659946, setter female, by Star’s Southern Idol—Black Face Miner. Joe Dahl, owner and handler.

3d—BLAST OFF, 1657342, setter male, by Full Blast—Moss Meadow Rose. Justin Evans, owner; Marc Forman, handler.

Judges: Carlos Escalante and Michael Oxenrider

OPEN PUPPY — 10 Pointers and 11 Setter

1st—KNOB MOUNTAIN MONARCH, 1674678, setter male, by Erin’s Hidden Shamrock—Bo’s After Party. Michael Spotts, owner and handler.

2d—MAGIC MIST CAROLINA, 1671497, setter female, by Backstep Rudy—Fernwood Cove’s Bella. Joe Dahl, owner and handler.

3d—GROUSE TRAILS WILD TANGO, 1674645, pointer female, by Grouse Trails Cracker Jack—Grouse Trails Pride. John McKellop III, owner and handler.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.