Champion Grousewood’s Tea-Peter Labella
The 2022 International Amateur Woodcock Champion came out of the 7th brace. Grousewood’s Tea (PF) owned and handled by Peter Labella was braced with Springbrook Maximus (Ogilvie). With the dogs at the line on Pine Top on this cool morning, the judges gave the “turnem loose” command and the second day of the trial was started. Daisy, a sleek and fancy going pointer charged out of the gate with Max at her side. The bells faded into the distance as it seemed for a moment that they may not return. In short order, the bells returned and both dogs peeled off and went to work. Daisy took the field edge at the first turn and Max went down to the right of the course. Daisy’s bell fell silent first at 5:00 on the edge of the field. Labella was unable to move a bird for her and took her on. Max would have the next stop at 10:00 in a green briar tangle. A lengthy flushing attempt led to the first find of the brace. With the dogs back on course and headed down the hill, Daisy seems to float through the cover with Max driving hard. Max’s bell fell silent again at 26:00 with Daisy coming in to honor. After all, were ready, Ogilvie walked into the young pines and sent a woodcock fluttering out. The dogs were returned to the course and sent on. Just before the lower field, both dogs entered the left edge and their bells fell silent. Daisy, standing like a statue was located first with Max a little deeper in at 37:00. As both handlers flush, Labella sent the woodcock into the air first and a divided find was recorded. Both dogs were collard and let loose across the field going hard. With time ticking down, Daisy sailed through the open woods working the front. Both dogs would cap off a great run with Daisy’s bell stopping deep to the front at 57:00 and Max’s stopping just after. As Ogilvie searched for Max, he located Daisy on the edge of the pines, head cranked, tail poker straight, and sucking scent. Max was located to the right by his scout. At the report of the guns, time was called the judges knew Daisy had set the bar high and would be tough to beat.
The runner-up champion came out of the 3rd brace on the bridge course. Little Miss Margarete owned and handled by Tim Cavanaugh was braced with Brae Val Glillie (McCluskey). The young pointer and setter tore off down the trail. Maggie, a classy going pointer, has developed quickly through the combination of quality breeding and Cavanaugh’s dedication to the sport. Both dogs burned up some excess energy early. As we made the turn back along the river, Ghillie was the first to stop at 13:00 in the open. As McCluskey approached, Ghillie first looked unsure and the tightened upon his arrival. The handler stepped in front and the woodcock fluttered away. Maggie, moving forward, settled in and hunted hard. Both dogs' bells fell silent at 20:00. Maggie was on one side of a group of young pines and Ghillie on the other side. With both handlers flushing, McCluskey was able to get the bird into the air and record his second find. With both dogs rolling along, the handlers quickly crossed the road and headed for the second part of the course. Nothing was produced near the wet holes or at the beginning on the field. Maggie, running out of time, dove into the right of the field just before the road and slammed on point at 52:00 for all to see. With the bird lifting in front of her nose, she never twitched even a hair. Both dogs went across the road and finished going away.
I know I have mentioned this in the past, probably every time I report a trial that I run in Arcadia, but I firmly believe that it has to be one of the best places to run a spring wild bird cover dog trial. With the numbers of migrating woodcock, in excess of 40+ seen in two days of running, the dogs had opportunities. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have to work. Dogs have to adapt to the bird cover and be willing to plow through green briar if needed. As with any championship, the top dogs do. With the
Brace 1: Chasehill Poison Ivy (Raiano) and Springbrook Sweet T (Ogilvie) broke away at Pine Top to start the championship with a strong gallery in tow. With migrating woodcock, a number of things have to fall into place to have significant numbers. With just 5 minutes in, T stopped at the first turn with Ivy coming in just after. The first woodcock was walked up in the path. When the dogs were found, T had let up but Ivy still was tight and the bird was flown of her noise. The dogs were returned to the course. Ivy would quickly stop again at 6:00 near the stone wall but nothing could be produced. Both dogs cruised through the course and down the hill. Ivy would take another unproductive at 30:00. Ivy and T scored at 34:00 with another find. T would suffer unproductive at 48:00 and 50:00.by the South County Field Trail club. At the end of Saturday's running, Jill Stolgitis opened up her home and provided dinner. A task that just a “thank you” is never enough. Even with the challenging economy, amateurs came from far and wide to get a shot at a championship of this caliber. The support from Pro trainers such as Bob Little and John Stolgitis goes to show how important this championship is and the history that goes with it. Of course, everyone wants to thank the judges, Adam Dubriske and Billy Bonnetti for their careful consideration of every brace. They had several long conversations after the time was called. A final thanks to all involved, it is really appreciated.
Brace 1: Chasehill Poison Ivy (Raiano) and Springbrook Sweet T (Ogilvie) broke away at Pine Top to start the championship with a strong gallery in tow. With migrating woodcock, a number of things have to fall into place to have significant numbers. With just 5 minutes in, T stopped at the first turn with Ivy coming in just after. The first woodcock was walked up in the path. When the dogs were found, T had let up but Ivy still was tight and the bird was flown of her noise. The dogs were returned to the course. Ivy would quickly stop again at 6:00 near the stone wall but nothing could be produced. Both dogs cruised through the course and down the hill. Ivy would take another unproductive at 30:00. Ivy and T scored at 34:00 with another find. T would suffer unproductive at 48:00 and 50:00.
Brace 2: Cairds Little Macey (Henderson) and Snuff Mill Riley (Dellinger) had the first go around on Cemetery. Both dogs worked through the green briar and rhododendron but could not dig up a bird. Riley stopped at 35:00 with Macey honoring but nothing could be produced.
Brace 3: Previously Mentioned
Brace 4: Shirley Saratoga Britt (Shirley) and Duckhook (Flewelling) had the second go-around on Pine Top. Toga went to work quickly with a stop at 4:00. Shirley quickly produced a pair of birds for his dog. Toga was returned to the course and stopped at 6:00. Shirley plowed through the briars to flush the woodcock right off the dog’s nose. While this was all going on, Brute was gliding through the cover in search of his own birds. Brute’s bell fell silent at 23:00 with Toga coming in for the back. Flewelling sent the bird skyward and he had his first find of the trial. Toga went back to work and stopped at 31:00 with another find. This brit knows how to find birds as he nailed another at 35:00. Brute got back into the mix again when he and Toga stopped at 43:00 with a divided find. Brute would finish his hour strong and Toga hustled to the end.
Brace 5 Long gone Hatfield (Kennedy) and Elmers Always Been Crazy (Henderson) took off to the briars. Both dogs did not have any luck on the field edges. They swung back through the rhododendrons and
Hatty dove down to the left and her bell stopped at 15:00. Kennedy located her dog in a seep near the road and was able to produce a bird with all in order. Both dogs would cross the road and Hatty would stop to the right. Kennedy was unable to produce a bird this time. Elmer moved forward and was rewarded two times just before the cemetery. He had a bird at 34:00 and another at 41:00. Elmer would finish with a moderate race.
Brace 6: The last brace of the day ended on the Bridge course. Wizard’s Cas Dubh (Hathaway) shared the course with Blue Creek Pearl (Raiano). Both dogs ran well and covered a lot of ground but both went birdless.
Brace 7: Mentioned Earlier
Brace 8: The morning run of Cemetery included Sweet Southern Belle (Henderson) and Witch City Charlie (Hathaway). Belle is owned by Jonathan Wilkins of New Brunswick. Charlie is owned by Steve Levesque. Henderson and Hathaway turned the dogs loose. Belle stopped quickly at 4:00 for Henderson on the edge of the course in a nasty briar tangle. Henderson, also from New Brunswick, attempted to get a bird up but the thrashing of briars was too much for Belle and she took some steps which ended her day. Charlie would have the course to himself. He hunted well and was rewarded with a find at 39:00. However, not having a brace mate may have hindered his run, and was picked up at the cemetery.
Brace 9: Little Miss Bella (Cavanaugh) and Brae Val Bearcat Laddie (McCluskey) had another go at the bridge course. Both dogs made it to the turn. Bella bells stopped at 14:00 near the stream but Cavanaugh could not produce a bird. Laddie went forward and had a stop near some young pines at 14:00 and started up before the handler could reach him. Bella was making her way to the front when the sound of Laddie’s bell was lost. Bella crossed the course and stopped right before a bird got up. The scout stood by Bella as the handler made his way up. McCluskey and his scout continued to search for Laddie but were having trouble. After Cavanaugh fired and was taking Bella back to the course, the second judge noticed a bit of color and after closer investigation, Laddie was found buried in the brush behind a blowdown. McCluskey fired and both dogs were credited with a find at 31:00. Both dogs went forward and across the road, Bella had her second unproductive at 33:00 and then a find on a pair of woodcock at 50:00. Both dogs were picked up at the road.
Brace 10: The final brace of the championship was between Harwich Indian Creek Buck (Olfson) and Boomer of Blackwater (Flewelling). Buck covered his course but went birdless. Boomer, ran strong and hunted well but he too went birdless.
The Nova Scotia Pointing Dog Club hosted the International Amateur Walking Wild Pheasant Classic in Annapolis Valley on November 12th, 2021 International Amateur Pheasant Classic winner Cairds You're So Vain owned by Kyle and Liz Price and handled by Donald Henderson. From Left to Right Christopher Clarke Austin Parsons ( Judge ) Julie Towers (Judge) Donald Henderson Donald Cluney Jonathan Wilkins Doug Forgrave
The Winner. From left: Judge Lester Turner, Doug Forgrave with Kelly's Rainey Stormy Knight, and Judge Ian Corbett.
A HUGE thank you to all the trialers who attended the inaugural running of the Irish Settlers Open Wild Bird Classic on November 13-14 2021 and a special thank you to pro trainer Craig Doherty and his wife Katie who drove up from New Hampshire, crossing the border with all the COVID red tape, not to mention the twelve-hour drive and a two-hour ferry crossing from St. John, N.B.
Also, a special thank you to pro trainer Robert Little from New Brunswick who faithfully supports our trials.
The winner, Kelly's Rainey Stormy Knight, a German shorthair pointer male owned by Doug Forgrave of New Brunswick, carded a solid grouse find just off the trail to the left near the Menchan Farmstead in fancy style. He ran a fast-paced race from the beginning to the end. At 45 he stopped again just off the trail to the left, but no bird was moved carding an unproductive. He gave Doug a workout reaching past his bell at times but finished his hour with steam in the boiler.
He was presented Sunday with $1,000 in cash, Limited Edition Irish Whisky glass and Irish Classic Cap. His bracemate commented to me later that Rainey's performance "embarrassed" his dog's run. It was a fun a brace to watch!
We saw a lot of great races, but unfortunately their dogs either had bad luck where birds were moved by their bracemate or flushed wild or finishing their hour birdless. Some were picked up for taking a few steps or moving up while flushing.
It's a different game this late in season, the cover is basically down allowing dogs to see the grouse or woodcock adding to the temptation to chase or move up. Many of dogs were hunted hard guiding and were not as polished for competition. Hard luck dogs like Champion Bear River Victory, owned by Christopher Clarke and handled by Robert Little. She was laying down a nice ground race along with multiple grouse finds only to make a mistake at the end.
There were other dogs like Cairds Dreaming Jeanie which was laying down a fantastic race only to go with a woodcock early in the brace. Cairds Cracklin Rosie had multiple grouse finds and a nice race. After discussion with the fellow judge Lester Turner there were two incidents. One of moving up while attempting to flush that I didn't see or the handler and another were a grouse was heard by Judge Lester Turner with Rosie in pursuit.
Craig Doherty had several dogs that were not in the right place at the right time where grouse was moved just minutes after their hour. Mooselook Texas Star, owned by Jack McNulty and handled by Craig Doherty, was laying out a fast race only to, unfortunately, encounter a woodcock on McBride Hill right on the trail flushing wild and Tex continued the chase. These are just a few of the hard-luck stories.
New trialer Donald Henderson handling Elmer's Always Been Crazy had a nice grouse find close to the trail only to make a jump on a woodcock just a few inches from his nose. Most definitely a tired flight bird. As a judge, I personally feel for the handlers when bad luck occurs. We want to see dogs render solid efforts.
Gathering at the tent. From left: Johnathan Wilkins, Doug Forgrave, Christopher Clarke, Bruce Brownwell, Robert Little, Katie Doherty, and Donald Henderson.
The Irish Settlers Open Wild Bird Classic is a tribute to the Irish who emigrated from Ireland to Nova Scotia in 1826 and made a life in North Queens, Nova Scotia. The small community of Caledonia was named after the vessel that brought them from St John's, Newfoundland after they were fooled by a sea captain telling them they'd arrived in St. John New Brunswick. Sea captain and local businessman Patrick Cought heard of their situation while in Newfoundland and brought them to Liverpool in the fall of 1826 where they stayed with local families. Not a small undertaking considering eighty in total needed room and board.
These families arrived in West Caledonia the following spring cutting a farm out of the forests and building a new life over many years. It's these old farmsteads where our trial courses wind through passing old stone walls, wells, and foundations, reminders of the past!
Considering November 13th is late for woodcock we did move four in total on two of the courses. The star of the weekend was the ruffed grouse. Every course grouse was seen with numbers nearing 25 being flushed wild by the gallery or pointed by the dogs. There was enough to give every dog an opportunity to be shown on a bird. I personally would prefer mid-October to take advantage of our strong woodcock flights; however, between upland guiding and bird hunting the consensus is entries would be reduced and it's the entry that needed to be successful.
I arrived early Saturday morning to check on the cows making sure they didn't arrive back to our base field, the Donnellan Farmstead. Club member and reporter Bruce Brownell arrived helping me set up the tent and get the coffee and lunches organized.
At noon we arrived back to a homemade Irish stew prepared by my wife Shauna who is an excellent cook! There wasn't a drop left and it was a huge pot! I'm thinking next year she'll have to do the same! Saturday night we had a wonderful time at the Whiskey Teller Pub in Annapolis Royal. Great conversation and tasty meals were the highlights of the evening.
Craig Doherty and Katie were presented for the farthest distance traveled award a Bottle of Famous Grouse Smokey, limited edition Irish Settlers Whisky Glass, and some imports from Ireland.
To finish off, I Thank Lester Turner, club president, for his work helping organize and judging again this year. We are both stepping away from judging this coming year to hopefully run our dogs in the future event.
We have exciting news to share in the coming months along with new arrangements for local lodging reducing the daily traveling time to the grounds and meals along with banquet on site.
Another big thank you goes out to the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship committee for including us in their points circuit.
Finally, but certainly, not least I thank John Foley and his daughter Rebecca for allowing us to use the Donnellan Farmstead for courses one, sixt, and "base camp" for our trial.
The winners today for the Open Shooting Dog Judges Ian Corbett and Lester Turner winner You're So Vain Robert Lyttle on Course 3 with a Grouse at 20 min Woodcock at 40 min and a Woodcock at 44 minutes. She had a forward race and handled nicely.
Second place was Elmer's Always Been Crazy owned and Handled by new comer Donald Henderson sticking a woodcock in fancy style
The heavy rain the day before reduced the bird numbers in the morning. The dogs that had birdwork either were lost on point or went missing requiring the tracking unit. The hard luck dog of the day was Bear River Victory owned by Christopher Clarke pointing a woodcock at 10 minutes in fancy style. Bell went silent again at 15 deep on Number 1 course right off the trail. A valiant effort was made by handler and scout with out success. The tracking unit was called and was found standing a woodcock out 200 yards. Honorable mention goes to Sweet Southern Belle with a fancy race but came up empty handed.
The Open Derby Stake judged by Ian Corbett and Bruce Brownell. First Place was awarded to Southern Child owned by Donald Henderson and Handled by Robert Lyttle . He laid down a powerful ground race hitting all the likely spots and handled well most of the time. He reached to the edge of his bell on several casts. Second place was Real Mccoy. He's a well built male that glided through the cover with ease. He handled nicely with forward race and reaching at times.
Our third placement was Rip It Up handled by Robert little, he did indeed cover all the likely spots. He wasn't quite as exciting to watch but was in the mix.
We both enjoyed watching a young GSP Live Action's Gone Rogue owned and handled by new comer Matthew Brideau Murphy. Courtney Lawton This young female has a bright future. Her ground race was exciting to watch with nice casts at times. Very athletic and fast! Tagging her bracemate took away from her performance but I'm sure with some maturity she'll be in the winning circle.
Thank you all who entered and hopefully next year we will be holding this trial again
Atlantic Open Woodcock Classic and Open Shooting /Derby Stakes
On Saturday September 12th 2020 HISTORY WAS MADE! With an opening statement like that you would think the headlines would continue with another mass shooting OR second wave of the covid 19 sweeping the country OR some political crisis. TWENTY TWENTY will go in the history books as one horrific bad year with unprecedented events and WE still have three and a half months left going into this new decade year! This story will never make the National News or even be commonly spoke or cared about by the average person. BUT for the select FEW who love bird dogs and can't get enough of watching a dog punish relentlessly through heavy cover in their quest to search out woodcock and grouse. For those FEW who dream of a dog taking the edge and disappearing into an alder run at full speed. Even those FEW who enjoy and appreciate just walking through trails connecting old farmsteads dating back to the mid 1800s. For these people history was indeed made. It was the first time in Queens County for a Wild Bird Field Trial and the first trial for the newly formed Atlantic Sportsman's Club.
A small community of farmers who settled in the early 1800s made a life for themselves carving from the forests a living in North Queens Nova Scotia.Their hard work was abandoned and forgotten leaving nature to reclaim. What is left is overgrown fields with lovely openings,edges and fertile soils. Back 25 years or so ago these areas were clear cut leaving these hilltop farmsteads generally entacted with huge White Ash trees, immense stone walls and foundations. The forests were allowed to grow in naturally providing perfect habitat for Woodcock and grouse.
Back a year and a half ago I started thinking about ways to incorporate these farmsteads using existing trails and hauling roads into courses. The final results were well received by those who attended and suggestion for improvements are welcomed and noted.
I wanted to lead the report with a little background before entering into the running. Without further delay! Dogs were released promptly at 8:00 AM under ideal conditions with sunny skies and cool temperatures. On the opening brace on course 1 Cairds Little Macy Mae handled by Pro trainer Robert Little layed out the performance of the day. Her bell stopped hard at 11 minutes and found shortly on point flushing a woodcock with all in order. She was released and again promptly stopped at 15 minutes. She was little anxious but everything in order while Robert flushed her grouse. she was promptly released and at 19 minutes talled a beautiful woodcock find looking intense and tight. Again all in order. She continued searching covering both sides of the course and before entering the hill on the left her bell stopped at 38 minutes within 25 yards of the trail. Bob with Judges Lester Turner and Bruce Brownell in tow found her standing and shortly flushed a grouse. She finished her time searching with more steam in the kettle. From my perspective she handled well and was in the pocket most of the time and was very deserving to be named the WINNER of the Atlantic Open Woodcock Classic. I found her performance exciting to watch and I am super happy she talled 2 woodcock and 2 grouse rather nicely spaced in the very first brace.
On the third brace of the day Ponhook's Sassy Pants a small-ish Pointer female owned and handled by myself Ian Corbett was released on brace 3. She immedately got to work diving in both sides of the course without handling. The course swings to the left with a step rise to a over grown farmstead. She switched gears into overdrive and covered all the likely spots giving her handler a hairy ride. She talled a beautiful tight woodcock find on the left exiting a downward trail from the field. Gun was fired and all in order. She continued on strong and forward having a stop to flush an a grouse near the course trail. It appeared to me the grouse was sitting on a large rock and lifted in front of her. I don't think she scented it and cautioned a whoa. She remained high and tight and I fired the gun. She finished her time on a wide road which distracted from a strong race. Both judges felt her conditioning bested the field.
I'm not getting into details with the other braces but only one dog went birdless and we moved 25 woodcock and grouse. That's good numbers for only 6 braces of dogs! The judges were carrying 4 dogs in total with acceptable performaces.
The Open Shooting Dog on Sunday broke away at 8:00 AM. The courses were shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes under the guidance of Donald Cluney. Lester Turner couldn't fullfill judging duties on Sunday from a knee injury he had the day before. I scratched my entry and swinged into the role. For some reason birds were limited and the dogs that had finds either got lost or required the Tracker, one unfortuantely was evolved with a porcupine. Temps and humility was higher than the day before too. Only one dog was awarded, Sweet Southern Bell a beautiful Setter Female owned and handled by Jonathan Wilkins. She handled well and hunted all the likely spots and was rewarded with a woodcock find. I didn't see the find but Judge Brian Sauliner reported in the detail her find. Her bell went silent and was found standing as they approached. She self relocated and pinned the woodcock with everything in order.
The Open Derby in a two brace stake only talled one find in the first brace at 15 minutes. Ginger Tree Emma a very stylish Setter Female showed off her finished manners high headed and tight. Her run was searching and close but very pleasing.
Some of the highlights of the weekend was Donald Cluney's Steak BBQ providing the best local beef available in Nova Scotia. You could cut the steak with your fork and plenty of it available. Lots of returns for seconds says it all! Friday Night was the Toasting of the Woodcock. Christopher Clarke did an excellent job giving the toast with some very "interesting" insights. Thanks Chris! Everyone enjoyed.
Lunches were organized by Christopher Clarke and prepared by E-J's Grill & General Store and provided at the grounds. Saturday Night meal was prepared by the Milford House dining hall with a selection of meals to choose from. All was tasty!
Saturday night after the dinner the announcement was made at the Heron Cottage ( Club Headquarters). Our sponsors this year stepped up to the plate with gifts for everyone. The keeper trophies for the winners of the Classic were provided by Donegal Masonry Limited a firm owned by Lester Turner, Thanks Lester for judging and providing the funds for these. They are beautiful! Sportdog provided the Classic winners each with there latest Ecollars. A HUGE THANK YOU TO SPORTDOG! Inukshuk Professional Dog Food provided several sample boxes of their product along with caps and large dog food bags. Many of the trialers use their product and reports are very favorable. THANK YOU INUKSHUK! Last but absolutely not the least was Remington Arms. They provided everyone hats, bags, cases of shells for judges gifts. Local Rep Tim Hemming was even there Saturday afternoon walking braces! A HUGE THANK YOU TIM! Everyone I'm sure will enjoy the gifts.
Finally I want to Thank all the trialers who made the effort to come to our trial. I'm thinking this brought some normalize back to out daily lives meeting up with old friends and making new! Let hope we can do a repeat sometime in the future. This trial would not be possible without Robert Little entering his string of wonderful dogs and bringing his fellow trial friends from New Brunswick. THANK YOU ALL!
Jonathan Wilkins with Belle Winner Open Shooting Dog
Tom Wilkins with Emma Winner of Open Derby Dog
Otter Cottage at the Milford House
Robert Litt'e on Course # 3
Breakaway at Course #2 Robert Little and Doug Forgrave
Judges Lester Turner (Left) and Bruce Brunnell ( Next to Fireplace) chatting with Christopher Clarke at the Milford House Sept 2020