American Field

Caliber Peak Gunslinger Wins Featured Grouse Derby Classic

Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club

By Thor Kain | Jun 11, 2019
Caliber Peak Gunslinger First in the National Grouse Derby Classic

Marienville, Pa. — After a long winter, cover dog enthusiasts gathered in the Allegheny National Forest, Marienville, Pa., for the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club’s annual spring event the weekend of March 30-31. Open Puppy, Open Derby and Open All-Age Stakes were on the agenda.

Highlight of this trial is always the National Grouse Derby Classic in memory of Richard C. (Dick) Shear. This one-hour stake showcases all the tools Derbies have and is a proving ground for what they will be when they move up to all-age ranks in the fall.

In the National Grouse Derby Classic, Marty Stoker of Williamsport, Pa., and Mike Oxenrider of Millerstown, Pa., accepted the important assignment of judging this stake. Marty is a longtime grouse dog enthusiast who has bred and developed many great dogs. Mike has been coming to trials for a few years and competing and judging when asked. You’d be hard pressed to find two men who are more attentive and honest when judging. Cold, damp weather prevailed for the weekend with a light dusting of snow Sunday morning but overall conditions weren’t bad for the time of year.


Topping the field of 23 competitors was Caliber Peak Gunslinger, white and lemon pointer male owned by Sarah and Jesse Gomes of Wellandport, Ontario and handled by Mark Hughes. “Triggs” is from the heart of Doug McMillen’s breeding program, out of his champion pointer female Double Deuce Molly. Doug has been producing champion caliber dogs for years including several he owns and campaigns.

Triggs was cut loose on course No. 2 Loleta and quickly got to work. He stretched to all likely bird spots with attractive high tail running style and forward application. He remained in sync with what Hughes wanted him to do for the entire hour, a testament to the long hours Mark spent developing Trigg, preparing for a performance like he was putting down this day.

As Triggs crossed to the front in a cut, his bell went silent. Handler and judge approached, a grouse was walking and then jumped up on a log, letting all know he was King of the Woods. Hughes flushed and put the bird to wing, Triggs looking like a bull with high style through flush and shot. He finished the hour with the same drive and enthusiasm he started with and all who witnessed his performance knew he had set the bar high.

Taking home the red ribbon was Double Deuce Oscar, white and orange  pointer male owned and handled by Doug McMillen. Oscar is a littermate to Triggs and another rising star from the McMillen program. Oscar showed everything the judges wanted to see, running style, application and a strong hour. He was summoned to the birdfield after the running where he showed exceptional manners and style to earn his placement.

Grouse Hill Bud, bred and owned by longtime successful field trialer John Capocci and handled by Scott Forman, rounded out the placements. Bud also showed all the judges were looking for in an one-hour performance. He was exceptionally stylish in the birdfield and a worthy recipient of his placement.

Many dogs that have won or placed in this stake have gone on to win championships and do great things in their careers. The future is bright for the three that earned a spot on the podium in 2019.

Marienville, Pa., March 30

Judges: Mike Oxenrider and Marty Stoker

NATIONAL GROUSE DERBY CLASSIC [One-Hour Heats] — 10 Pointers and 13 Setters

1st—CALIBER PEAK GUNSLINGER, 1677296, pointer male, by Cover Charge Search Engine—Double Deuce Molly. Sarah & Jesse Gomes, owners; Mark Hughes, handler.

2d—DOUBLE DEUCE OSCAR, 1677854, pointer male, by Cover Charge Search Engine—Double Deuce Molly. Douglas McMillen, Jr., owner and handler.

3d—GROUSE HILL BUD, 1675218, pointer male, by Daddy’s Little Boy Butch—Grouse Hill Dixie. John Capocci, owner; Scott Forman, handler.


For the Open All-Age, Jarrod Specht and George Hetrik accepted the honor of judging this stake. Both are longtime bird dog enthusiasts who have had great success in running their own dogs and are sought after judges for their keen eye and positive approach.

Birds were seen and heard but Marienville is a challenging set of grounds and would not give up a pointed bird in the All-Age Stake this weekend. Pole timber with small pockets of cover that grouse call home require a dog to have a big, scorching race to have a chance to get on a bird fast enough and point it. Birds are often seen blowing out the other end of cover while the dog has just entered, long before he has a chance to smell it.

There are those who love the grounds in Marienville and those who don’t but there is value in a dog that can do it right there. When a huge race is complimented with a touchy grouse handled properly it is a sight you won’t see anywhere else. All three placements were called back to the birdfield for their ground efforts.

Blast Off, owned by Justin Evans and handled by Marc Forman, took home the blue ribbon. Sam, as he is called, is a fancy, strong running dog that is no stranger to the winner’s spot with two titles on wild birds in front of his name.

Second was Double Deuce Dexter, owned by Doug McMillen and handled by Hall of Fame trainer-handler Dave Hughes. Dexter is yet another champion produced out of Doug’s program that has several titles in front of his name.

Taking home the final spot was Single Shot Barley, setter female owned by Paula Giulitto and handled by Dave Hughes. Paula is the wife of the late Larry Sutter who was a longtime supporter and competitor in grouse trials. She has started competing herself and is carrying on the same passion Larry had with his dogs. I’m sure Larry was looking down and smiling, proud of the job Paula and Dave have done with Barley.

Six enthusiastic youngsters were drawn for the Open Puppy. French’s Grouseringer Woody, owned by Brian French and handled by Deb Nihart, stood out from the rest to earn top honors. Lance Bressler’s charge, Hunter’s Ruffneck, wasn’t far behind the top spot in the judges’ eyes and that earned him the red ribbon. Sarah Gomes stepped in for John Capocci and ran his fancy pointer male Grouse Hill Smokey to earn the yellow ribbon.

Dick and Helen Brenneman do the bulk of the work for this trial. Helen, as club secretary, takes entries, does the drawing, makes food, and fills in where needed. Dick has always been a big part of the club whether it be cleaning courses, marshalling, or moving cars, you can always find Dick doing something at the trial. For their years of hard work and dedication the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club can’t thank Dick and Helen enough. Also thank you to all of the board and club members who lent a hand in order to make this trial run smoothly and be a success.

Purina and representative Dean Reinke supported the trial with generous amounts of Pro Plan for the winners. We are very thankful for Purina’s support and Dean’s willingness to help.

Hope to see you at the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship this fall.

Judges: George Hetrick and Jarrod Specht

OPEN ALL-AGE [One-Hour Heats] — 14 Pointers and 15 Setters

1st—BLAST OFF, 1657342, setter male, by Full Blast—Moss Meadow Rose. Justin Evans, owner; Marc Forman, handler.

2d—DOUBLE DEUCE DEXTER, 1642527, pointer male, by Cover Charge—Double Deuce Casey. Douglas McMillen, Jr., owner; Dave Hughes, handler.

3d—SINGLE SHOT BARLEY, 1656073, setter female, by Full Blast—Ruffwing Destiny. Paula Giulitto, owner; Dave Hughes, handler.

Judges: Nick Blakley and Dave Duell

OPEN PUPPY — 1 Pointer and 5 Setters

1st—FRENCH’S GROUSERINGER WOODY, 1679375, setter male, by Ponderosa Mac—Grouse River Woodcock Annie. Brian French, owner; Deb Nihart, handler.

2d—HUNTER’S RUFFNECK, 1683792, setter male, by Hunter’s Pale Face—Hunter’s Blinger. Beth Bressler, owner; Lance Bressler, handler.

3d—GROUSE HILL SMOKEY, 1683013, pointer male, by Silver Kokane Ty—Smoke’m Up Jill. John Capocci, owner; Sarah Gomes, handler.

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