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Gator Done Named Champion; Sleepless in Sacramento is Runner-Up

Western Open All-Age Championship

By Jared Tappero | Jul 11, 2017
Championship Winners. From left: Brad LaVerne, Todd Schaaf, Jarry Walton with Gator Done, Rich Heaton, judge; Jim Wolthuis with Sleepless In Sacramento, Sheldon Twer and Sean Kelly, judge.

Reno, Nev. — The 2017 renewal represented the 45th consecutive running of what is now the Western Open All-Age Championship. From its inception in 1973 through 1996, the stake was known as the Duke Cecil Open All-Age Classic, which in 1997 became the Western Open Championship.

Held in California from 1973 to 1994, the Duke Cecil was moved to Lemon Valley, Nev., in 1995 where it was run for two consecutive years. In 1997 the stake was moved to Red Rock where it was held for the first time as a championship.

The braces for the Western Open Championship were drawn Thursday, April 20, at the Bonanza Casino in Reno in conjunction with the drawings for the AFTCA National Amateur Chukar Shooting Dog, Pacific Coast Derby, and Western Open Shooting Dog Championships. As in past years, prior to the drawing appetizers and a no-host bar were provided by the Bay Area Bird Dog Club.

This year’s renewal of the All-Age Championship kicked off after noon Tuesday, April 25, and concluded just after noon the following Thursday. An impressive field of 24 entrants was drawn, 22 of which started. The field of starters included 15 pointers, 6 setters and 1 German Shorthair which competed in this National Championship, Purina Points, and Purina Handler of the Year Points qualifier. Of the 22 starters thirteen dog finished the stake, seven with sufficient bird work, five were lost, and four were picked up for unmannerly conduct on their game.

Weather conditions for this year’s running were typical for the intermountain west and, as always, kept things interesting. Over the course of the two-day running, competitors experienced cool and blustery conditions that included high winds and a bit of rain; the highest peaks got a skiff of snow.

Temperatures ranged from the low 30s in the morning to the low 60s after noon. All competitors showed grit and were prepared, in good spirits, and welcomed the challenges as they came.

THE WINNERS

Declared winner was Gator Done, stylish white and orange pointer dog owned and handled by Todd Schaaf of Woodland, Wash. Gator’s race was consistently forward and showed the range necessary to meet the standard as he went through the country with style and determination. Gator’s bird work was mannerly and stylish. High on both ends, the stylist showed intensity through flush and shot.

Taking runner-up honors was Sleepless In Sacramento, athletic white and orange pointer bitch owned by Jim and Cami Wolthuis of Sacramento, Cal., and handled by Sheldon Twer. “Meg” went through the country nicely but required a little more handling and was a bit wider at times than the winner. Meg’s bird work was mannerly and stylish, rigid at flush and shot.

Judges for this renewal were Sean Kelly of Loomis, Cal., and Rich Heaton of Boise, Ida. Both men have trained and handled their own dogs and know what it takes to meet the all-age standard. Their decision was well received.

THE RUNNING

Nite’s White Jay (Twer) and Scent Seeker (Dixon) were off from camp Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 running into the wind. Seeker was wide right into the junipers initially, Jay a little handier. At the juniper basin Seeker still had not been seen. At the tank on Brittany road Seeker was back in the fight. At 25 Jay was given the hook; his race was a little too constrained and not meeting the standard. Seeker had not been seen since Brittany road; the retrieval unit was requested at 40.

Lostak’s Flynn Ryder (Lostak) and Tekoa Mountain Bulldog (Gellhaus) got started from the bluff above the middle road. Bulldog was to the right and distant in short order. Flynn was forward but his race somewhat hemmed-in. At phlox hill Flynn was watered and sent on. Bulldog had not been seen since shortly after castoff and the retrieval unit was requested at 25 near the upper spring. From the lower spring and back toward the Petersen’s Flynn started reaching out, then shortened up a bit at the base of the Petersen’s and onto the plateau. Flynn was found standing near the big rock pile but lacked staunchness and was moved on. After a short distance he pointed and birds were flushed, all in order at shot. Flynn finished his hour to the front in the rocks.

Cache Creek’s Most Wanted (Shuman) and Rikki’s Rockin Rav (Twer) were cast off from camp at 8:00 a. m. Wednesday morning. Conditions were cool with a slight breeze coming from the north, the dogs running into the wind. Most Wanted was handy initially. Rav was a bit wide right, then to the front. At 15 point was called for Most Wanted near the big ditch; she stood high on both ends and showed 12 o’clock style. A chukar was flushed for the white and liver  stylist, all in order. At 20 Most Wanted was again found standing with style high in the rocks. All was in order as another chukar was flushed for her. Through the gate and on to the plateau both dogs were forward at moderate range. In the big basin, Most Wanted was distant, with Rav at moderate range. Rav was watered at the spring. At this time Most Wanted had not been seen for awhile. At time Rav was fairly handy. The retrieval unit was requested for Most Wanted.

Highground Chalk Talk (Kunde) and Storm’s Timeline (Gellhaus) left the line from below the back cattle guard. Timeline was under a bird shortly after cast-off and got the hook. Chalk made some nice moves along the base of the Petersen’s and showed some distance down through the big basin. After a nice lapse in contact Chalk was found standing at 20 near phlox hill. After self-relocating Chalk stood again and was then relocated after a short flushing attempt. Chalk pointed and had his bird put to air. Upon the flush Chalk took a few steps and the judges had seen enough.

Rikki’s Rockin Flash (Twer) and Gator Done (Schaaf) were off from camp into the wind. Gator was wide initially and moving forward in the grassy basin. Flash’s race was a little more constrained. Through the big ditch and into the rocks Gator was high on the ridge working through the rock piles. Flash was still a bit handy. Through the rocks Gator continued his high forward race. Through the fence Gator was found standing, after a short lapse in contact, with high style. The white and orange stylist was motionless as his birds were put to air. All was in order at the shot. At this time Flash got the hook; his race was not meeting the standard. At 30 Gator was found standing at the big rock pile. This stand was barren and he was moved on after being relocated once. Gator made a nice move across the big plateau and onto phlox hill where he was found standing at the second bluff. After an aggressive flushing attempt birds were put to air for the stylish pointer. In the big basin Gator was to the front and distant, disappearing for short intervals. His finish was distant and going away.

Champ (Hale) and Daniels Creek Whitehawk (Gellhaus) left the line from below the back cattleguard. Champ made some nice moves to the front along the Petersen’s and down to phlox hill. The white and black stylist was found stacked up at 20 near the bluffs but came unglued at the flush and was picked up. Whitehawk made a big move to the front and disappeared. The retrieval unit was requested at 25. Shortly thereafter the stylish dog was found pointed on course.

Far West Ridge Runner (Wilkin) and Wenaha Code Red (Twer) were off and distant in short order, both showing distantly in the junipers over the first rise from camp. Runner “Aldo” was seen crossing the little saddle above the juniper basin heading toward Brittany road, then was high on the ridge above the rock piles. Red “Cody” had not been in contact since the junipers. At 20 Aldo stacked up at a rock pile; the stand was barren. Cody at this time was back in the game and moving on. Both dogs were collected at the plateau, watered and sent on. Aldo made a wide swing from the plateau to the edge of the Petersen’s then continued forward across the basin toward the lower spring where he was wrangled by the scout and sent back to the front. At 50 Twer requested the retrieval unit for Cody. Aldo finished his hour to the front and going away near the fenceline.

Touch’s J Class (Twer) and Knight’s White Lady (Gellhaus), both in season, were through the fence and above the upper spring in short order. Lady took a little prompting to get off the ridge and to the front. From the spring and into the big basin both were forward and moving on distantly. Collected and watered at the plateau, both bitches were then sent on. Both dogs dipped to the right and hunted the rocks well. At 40 near the big rock pile Lady was found pointed, the stylish bitch mannerly at flush and shot. At 45 J Class pointed at a rock pile just beyond Lady’s stand; a covey flushed for the white and orange stylist, all in order at the shot. The two were distant through the rocks and across the big ditch. Past Brittany road Lady was low in the junipers and J Class was high on the contour, both moving forward and showing at nice range. Lady finished her hour to the front and distantly in the back basin. J Class was missing at time but showed soon after.

Highground Abra Ca Dabra (L. Steinshouer) and Far West Cowboy Slim (Wilkin) were off Thursday morning peeling to the right. Slim came back to the front and was on course toward the little basin, then was hard left toward the lower cattle guard, the scout in hot pursuit. Slim made his way to the front and was watered at Brittany road then cut loose again; he motored through the big ditch then was seen casting high in the rocks along the ridge. Abra was brought to the front at 15. Through the rocks both dogs were hitting objectives as they made their way across the landscape. At 25 Abra was seen pointed at the rock pile just before the gate; all was in order at flush and shot for the stylish setter. At 28 just through the gate both dogs stacked up at the same rock pile for a divided find. Slim on the uphill side, Abra on the downhill. Stylish on point, both were mannerly at flush and shot as a covey of birds blew from the pile. After being cut loose they were onto the plateau in short order. Abra was then to the right of the plateau working through the rock piles. At 47, after about a 15-minute lapse, Wilkin asked for the retrieval device, Slim miraculously showing up at that instant. Abra was then collected at the lower spring after a lapse and sent on. Time was called in the back basin and shortly thereafter the setter was found pointed to the front. After some digging a pair of valley’s were flushed for her.

Set Up Man (Twer) and Lonetree Showbiz (Gellhaus) broke away from the backside. Man was under a bird at 7 near the upper spring and was “hooked”. Showbiz was deep in the big basin then made a nice move on the contour of the Petersen’s. Past phlox hill Showbiz showed distantly between the plateau and the Petersen’s. Mid-way down the plateau Showbiz was collected, watered and sent on. At 40 near the big rock pile Showbiz stopped to flush, all in order at the shot. Through the rocks Showbiz covered some country and was next seen at the water tank. Showbiz was low through the junipers and finished at excellent range above camp.

Lewey (Blum) and Sleepless In Sacramento (Twer) were off from camp. Lewey was initially to the left leaving the line. Sleepless “Meg” was seen hooking it to the right. Meg was next seen going to the front at distance above the junipers. Both dogs were next seen up on the contour, Meg going to the front and Lewey going back toward the junipers. At 10 Meg stacked up on the little saddle, showing high style on both ends. All was in order at flush and shot for the stylish bitch. Both dogs were through the big ditch simultaneously and moving forward. At 20 Lewey pointed at the rock pile near the bluff where a covey of chukar was flushed for him, all in order at the shot. Meg was not seen going through the rocks. Through the gate at 25 Meg was found at a rock pile standing with high style. Lewey was seen coming in from below for a back. A single chukar was flushed for the white and orange stylist, both dogs mannerly at the shot. Both were watered then sent on. At 31 Lewey again pointed at the rock pile near the edge of the bluff, all in order as a covey was flushed for the staunch GSP. At 40 Lewey stood again near the first bluff at phlox hill. After a short flushing attempt, Lewey was relocated and hunted on. Past phlox hill Meg made a big move into the basin and faded to the front. At 50 Lewey had a find at the top of the big basin, all in order for the mannerly dog at flush and shot. Meg was next seen crossing the front at this time after a nice lapse in contact. At time both dogs were to the front in the back basin.

Reno, Nev., April 25

Judges: Rich Heaton and Sean Kelly

WESTERN OPEN ALL-AGE CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] —

16 Pointers, 7 Setters and 1 German Shorthair

Winner—GATOR DONE, 1616472, pointer male, by Kelly Talk’n Smak—Wells Fargo Mollie. Todd & Amanda Schaaf, owners; Todd Schaaf, handler.

Runner-Up—SLEEPLESS IN SACRAMENTO, 1653065, pointer female, by I B Iron Horse—Super Express Nash Begone. Jim & Cami Wolthuis, owners; Sheldon Twer, handler.

 

A Postscript

Nestlé Purina and SportDog sponsored this stake.

Members of the Bay Area Bird Dog Club thank both companies for their contributions and continued support of our trials held at Red Rock.

Purina provides dog food for the winners, covers the advertisement in The American Field, and hosts the Wednesday night barbecue banquet. Twenty-five field trialers attended this year’s banquet that was, once again, prepared by Andy’s Fire Pit Barbecue, and served by Mel Belding. All enjoyed the wonderful meal that included ample helpings of beef tri tip, chicken, and pork spare ribs accompanied by chili beans, a green salad, and fresh sourdough bread.

Continued support by SportDog, which generously provided training collars as prizes for our stakes, is much appreciated. K&L Gamebirds of Oroville, Cal., provided us with healthy and lively chukar again this renewal.

The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nevada generously loaned their water trailer. And Doug and Lori Steinshouer graciously allowed us to utilize their well for water throughout the event.

Thanks also go to Bradley LaVerne who manned the dog truck, kept bird bags full, and wrangled horses again this year.

The Bay Area Bird Dog Club thanks all those who helped out and contributed to the cause. In addition, thanks go out to all of the competitors that show up each renewal and make this such a great season-ending stake.

Without the participation of our club members and the trialers that travel from across the western United States and Canada it would be hard to put on such a quality event.

Have a good summer and train hard for next season.

J. T.

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