Bluegrass Walking Shooting Dog Club trial results

Bluegrass Walking Shooting Dog Club, Amateur Shooting Dog ([email protected]) winners. From L to R: Jaxson Mulvaney, Tim Mulvaney with 3rd place Pisto Patch Annie, Judge Gary Vitali, Dave Gillilan with 2nd place Unlisted Bullet, Judge Brian French, Marty Staker with 1st place Jaike Junior, and Bluegrass club President Joe Hopkins.

The Bluegrass Walking Shooting Dog club held its inaugural field trial November 16th and 17th at the coveted Miller Welch – Central Kentucky Wildlife Management Area in Berea, Kentucky. The venue for the club’s maiden voyage was immaculately groomed to say the least and expertly laid out giving plentiful opportunities to showcase classy running dogs. With an abundance of feed strips, field lines, brushy cover, and birdy objectives; the amount of man and machine hours was very evident. Through the collaborative work of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in part with Mr. Bill Brown of Berea, Kentucky and the Kentucky Field Trial Association, 37 total entries and 16 handlers from four different states enjoyed picturesque grounds on two beautiful November days.

The trial was graciously enhanced with the judicial duties of Crouse Kennels’ Mrs. Mary Sue Schalk of Dixon, Kentucky and Mr. Rich Meadows of Somerset, Kentucky. Mr. Meadows cordially accepted the assignment the evening before the running due to unforeseen circumstances rendering original judge Mr. Bill Hoover of Felicity, Ohio unable to attend. Each judge’s resume speaks for itself with years of experience in the saddle judging, handling, training, hunting, and consuming thousands of braces of dogs in all facets of the game from All-Age and Shooting Dog Horseback stakes to Walking Championships. The club is very much indebted to their service and the undivided attention given to each dog. To memorialize their obligations at this inaugural event, the judges were gifted two beautiful dog leads customized with their respective names along with the club name on a brass plate.

To some trial goers, maybe one the most important elements of a trial is lunch! It was never with any doubt that with Marie Vitali presiding over this department that the participants would go unsatisfied. With a vat of hot and delectable chicken tortilla soup and various other side items and sandwiches followed by two choices of pie; no wonder some handlers inquired about and were even caught catching a quick nap before resuming the trial.

Proceedings started on the frosty Saturday morning with opening statements from club President Joe Hopkins thanking all the participants, volunteers, spectators, and sponsors such as Purina Pro Plan, Garmin, Gun Dog Supply, and Mule Brand Gear & Apparel. A moment was also taken to remember and reflect on the life and career of longtime NBHA, KFTA, Long Run Bird Dog Club President, and Kentucky field trial patron Mr. Jim Duncan who passed away last December. Jim’s passing was in legendary and very fitting fashion doing exactly what he loved, handling his beloved big running pointer male Duncan’s War Chief in Oklahoma at the 2018 NBHA National Amateur Invitational Championship. Jim’s deeply rooted passion for field trials and bird dogs in the state of Kentucky was as vibrant as the sun was shining that morning of the running and his impact on the sport and his friends will never be forgotten.

Nine dogs came to line in the Open Shooting Dog Stake. A frosty coating on the ground made scenting conditions an arduous task for the competitors however, the dogs drawn for the stake were seasoned gladiators and it would require much more than frost to stop them from finding birds. Taking top honors in the stake was seasoned setter male veteran, two time champion, and 2017 Kentucky Walking Shooting Dog of the Year French’s Wizard of Oz tallying two faultless finds along with a forwardly placed, reaching ground race with exquisite application to likely coverts all while requiring minimal handling. Ozzie is arguably the most consistent shooting dog in the region always seemingly staking a claim in any competition he is entered. Second place was awarded from the first brace of the stake in the form of Gary Vitali’s setter male homebred Vitali’s Grouseringer Tony. Tony, faced with less than ideal ground conditions, never wavered from his task pushing himself further onto the course until his quarry was located right before pick-up on a tightly sitting single after a well-executed relocation effort. Mr. Vitali also enjoyed third place respects once again with another male setter in the form of Vitali’s Grouseringer Zippo. The young Zippo handled like the consummate professional always staying in touch with his handler while pushing the boundaries running a large casting race showing his budding class when the opportunity afforded itself to stake his claim on the podium.

The Amateur Shooting Dog Stake immediately followed with six dogs drawn to run. Once again, Brian French’s French’s Wizard of Oz was undoubtedly the blue ribbon recipient running stronger than the stake before. Ozzie afforded spectators with “find of the trial” when Brett Francis raised his hat and expertly scouted Ozzie well at the reaches of the course standing a running covey in which Brian was able to lift for Judge Rich Meadows with exquisite manners. Second place honors were handed to Craig Hiatt of Edgerton, MO and his ultra-classy pointer female Craig’s Runnin’ Roxie who was the 2017-2018 Kansas Field Trial Clubs Association Derby of the Year Runner-Up. Roxie and Craig share an obvious symbiotic relationship with Craig trusting his dog at every juncture of the course to either show to front or be found standing. Roxie’s bracemate and Joe Hopkins’ 2018-2019 Kentucky Walking Shooting Dog of the Year All Out garnered third place accreditation with a fast and snappy run having to run relatively soon after his bid in open company earlier. Nick, fresh off the coverdog circuit and competing in the Grand National Grouse Championship in Berlin, New Hampshire, is an extremely fast setter male who couldn’t connect with birds in his bid, but convinced the judges with his hasty forward race that he was indeed worthy of placement.

Open Derby company rounded off the action packed first day’s running with Joe Hopkins’ setter male Seven of Diamonds emphatically earning top honors. The uniquely liver and chestnut masked son of Erin’s Hidden Shamrock cruised through the course recording four finds, a back, and a stop to flush putting on a show for those in the gallery finishing the half hour ready to go around again. Vitali’s Grouseringer Justify, also known as T and also a son of Shamrock, braced with the aforementioned winner, took second place finding his share of game while running a mature and biddable ground race adding to an exciting foray of young derby prospects. Then it was Bill Siemer of Hamersville, OH and his puppy aged pointer female BK’s Rolling Dice taking third place. At a distance with her running style, application, and very limited need for handling, one would think Dice to be a seven year old matron. However, the young pointer moved and hunted beyond her years with a very memorable find just before pick-up with the setting sun on the horizon solidifying her efforts to the judges.

Presiding over the Open Puppy stake the following Sunday was Mr. Brian French and Mr. Joe Hopkins on another fabulous November Fall morning with sunshine and perfect cool temperatures. The stake proved to be a very tight and competitive affair with a plethora of well-bred and good running puppies with loads of potential on display. After taking third in Open Derby company the day before, Bill Siemer’s BK’s Rolling Dice convinced the judges she was the best of the puppy class on offer as well. Handling effortlessly for her owner/handler and always to the front, Dice once again proved her potential going forward with her independent and intelligent run always being seen hitting a line and/or birdy objectives. A close second was Gary Vitali’s prized setter pup Vitali’s Grouseringer Pappy. The son of the open shooting dog second placed Tony, Pappy was seen rimming numerous edges with upmost confidence while pushing to the front with a high cracking tail. Rounding out the placements in third was Terry Boatwright’s Blue, a setter female also by Vitali’s Grouseringer Tony. This super quick, heavy ticked tri-color female setter blazed down the various lines of the puppy course with an uncanny exuberance and lazer sharp style putting a smile on her handler’s face reminding him of what the future will hold for his homebred.

Concluding the two days running was the Amateur Shooting Dog Stake with judgement ceasing at flush or commonly referred to as, Gun Dog Stakes. Six seasoned challengers vied for honors in this stake, a stake somewhat unique to this region but very much appreciated by the contestants with competition being as heated and contentious as the others. Jaike Junior from the string of Marty Staker of Cincinnati, OH reaped first place nobilities after showing the gallery and judges Mr. Gary Vitali and Mr. Brian French a bird finding exposition consummating the definition and pleasure of having a good gun dog. Next on the podium was Dave Gillilan’s refined looking liver and white pointer male Unlisted Bullet. Bullet stood his birds with spine tingling class with a high head and tail making memorable stances in his brace with the winner. The third and final brace produced the third place gun dog in the form of Tim Mulvaney’s pointer female Pistol Patch Annie. With good friend and hunting buddy Dave, Tim travels the country hunting and exposing his Annie to various species and terrain proving self-evident in her display in the final stake of the brace. Traveling and lending a hand to Tim and Dave was Tim’s grandson Jaxson. Jaxson was interviewed and quoted as saying he had, “come bird-dawggin’” with his Papaw. It was at this moment the realization struck the writer that passing this field trial tradition down to the incumbent generations was critical and will be forever personified in the mind of writer in the form of Jaxson’s presence and spirit.

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