Event: Irish Open Wild Bird Classic 2023
Result: Atlantic Sportsman's Club
Location: Nova Scotia
Post Date: Sep 12, 2023
Submitted By: Ian Corbett
Back row (l-r): Donald Henderson, Ian Corbett, Dale Hackett. Front row (l-r): Robert Little with Cairds Cracklin Rosie, Austin Parsons with Old Glory Ben, and Jack McNulty.
The Irish Open Wild Bird Classic was cancelled last fall due to an increase of deer hunters on the grounds forcing us to decide to schedule our Classic to August 19, 2023. It was a difficult decision mainly because it's the time slot for our Wild Bird Season Opener, leaving us with only one trial for 2023. Our Spring Wild Bird Trial was canceled this year because of snow cover, extremely muddy roads, along with a nasty weekend forecast. To say the least, it is discouraging. The Atlantic Sportsman's Club, however, pushed forward with planning the August Classic, which normally is a one-hour stake, but unfortunately, we decided to shorten it to 45 minutes with heat concerns and a potential lack of water on the grounds. The one-hour courses are nearly impossible to shorten without extensive work; the nature of routes as they wind through the Old Irish Farmsteads adds a 15-minute journey at the end of each brace. A later date is challenging considering the month of September is booked solid with the New England/New Brunswick Wild Bird Championship Circuit. At this point, I'm thinking we will continue securing our present date and, throughout the winter/spring, explore route changes to better accommodate a 45-minute venue. We are fortunate to again have support from Jack McNulty, pro trainer Robert Little, and Donald Henderson; without their entries, a trial in Nova Scotia would not happen. This year, unfortunately, pro trainer Adam Dubriske and David Theroux had to cancel, and hopefully, they will include us in their plans next year. Over the last number of years, our local trialers have been disappearing from the roster. Some because of health, while others time constraints and work commitments. I'm not sure what the solution is, if any, and we are not alone. Clubs are struggling with entries, workers, and filling judging duties. I do know as a group, if we don't band together, trialing will come to a rapid end. My challenge to the community is to pitch in and help in any capacity. If you can't devote enough time to ready a dog, then attend a trial and help marshal, move cars, course work, judge, or any number of things to help move a trial along smoothly.
On the second brace of the day, two dogs were let loose--Cairds Cracklin Rosie, a pointer female owned and handled by pro trainer Robert Little, and Old Glory Ben, a setter male owned and handled by amateur Austin Parsons. Both dogs rocketed off the line, with Benny diving to the right and Rosie disappearing to the left through a piece of birdy cover. The damp conditions from the heavy rain through the night seemed to hinder the carriage of both dogs' bells. It was evident early in the brace with both handlers struggling to hear their dogs. At the 10-minute mark, Rosie was forward, heading along an old stone wall leading towards an opening that was cut several years ago and a prime location for grouse to hold. Benny was behind at this point, but coming up fast with Austin and Judge came Dale Hackett in tow. At this point, Rosie's bell went silent maybe 200 yards ahead, Robert and his scout Donald Henderson weren't sure if she continued forward or was stopped to the right along a sloped thicket. Robert continued forward, listening for any signal of her location. Benny's bell continued closing in and went silent at 15, approximately 50 yards behind us. I called back to Austin, telling him Benny was standing to the right of the trail. Robert stopped and immediately started heading backward to his location. We both figured Benny might be backing Rosie. When we arrived, Judge Dale Hackett was surveying the situation and concluded it was a divided find. Just as Robert and I arrived, both dogs were standing with Rosie down the far side of the slope; two grouse lifted just to the side of both dogs. Guns were fired, and the dogs were collared back to the course. Benny and Rosie both attacked the cover working ahead and along the edges of the cuts. As we started the climb up McBride Hill, Benny headed up the right side past the old farmstead where birds can be found. Rosie headed to the left down past the bear blind and was rewarded with a beautiful woodcock find at 42. These performances were our benchmark for the balance of the day, with Cairds Cracklin Rosie the winner and Old Glory Ben securing the runner-up.
(* indicates course run in reverse)
1.1 Donnellan Farmstead--Cairds Remi (PF/Robert Little). Remi ran a blistering race but went missing early. The tracker was requested, and Remi was found with a woodcock at 30.
1.2 Donnellan Farmstead--Mooselook Mac (ESM/Jack McNulty). Mac ran a medium race and was behind at times. He proved he was a bird finder by carding a woodcock at 12 and another at 15.
2.1 and 2.2 Boyle Farmstead reported.
3.1 Menchan Farmstead--Kelly's Blitz'n Wheel Hank (PM/Robert Little). Hank started off strong, but the tracker was called at 15, and he was later found with a bird.
3.2 Menchan Farmstead--Elmer's Always Been Crazy (BRIT M/Donald Henderson). Elmer started with a close race and opened up after his first of three woodcock finds. His last bird lifted in his face, and Elmer couldn't resist a few steps. He was crowned with the most birds pointed on Saturday, proving you don't need a big running dog to find birds.
4.1 Donnellan Farmstead*--Cairds Rip it Up (PM/Robert Little). Rip's a beautiful pointer and impressed early. Unfortunately, as he headed down a steep thicket, a woodcock lifted, and he stopped momentarily and continued to chase. Picked up at 12.
4.2 Donnellan Farmstead*--Mooselook Fionn Maccool (ESM/Jack McNulty). Finn was the heartbreak dog of the day, hitting all the likely spots and showing forward with each cast. A strong powerful race, and had enough in reserve to easily complete an hour in the high humidity of the day. As we passed the deer blind, the heavy rain from the night before filled the hollow with deep water. Finn was seen swimming to the other side to reach a birdy section. He carded an unproductive at 30 and continued searching.
5.1 Boyle Farmstead*--Mooselook Texas Star (PM/Jack McNulty). Tex ran a beautiful forward race and handled it well with little encouragement from Jack. It's like he was on autopilot going about his casts. Very snappy in the woods and a treat to watch.
5.2 Boyle Farmstead*--Cairds Little Macy Mae (PF/Robert Little). Macy had a strong race but went birdless. She's soon marking her 10th birthday.
6.1 Menchan Farmstead*--Cairds Southern Child (PM/Robert Little). Rory started off covering both sides of the road heading to the farmstead and carding a woodcock at 10 just to the side of the field. He stopped again at 15, and no bird was moved. He continued his bid looking great.
The trialers this year were very fortunate Austin and Christine Parsons opened their home in Clementsport for meals and lodging on Friday and Saturday nights. I heard everyone had a great time and were treated with fantastic Maritime hospitality. Thank you, Austin and Christine! I contacted Dale Hackett several weeks ago and asked if he would judge the Classic with me. He accepted and arrived Friday evening to a roasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings. We judged the North American Woodcock Championship back a couple of years and thought it would be a great opportunity to reconnect and watch some bird dogs. I know we both enjoyed the assignment, and I'm sure we will do it again. Saturday noon time the BBQ and stove were made ready, and everyone enjoyed sausages on the bun along with donuts and muffins. It was indeed a welcome meal after walking three hours or so. Our banquet was held this year at my cottage on Ponhook Lake, and my lovely wife Shauna prepared a wonderful meal of her version of an Irish Stew along with homemade bread pudding! It was fantastic!
Well, I thank all those who attended this year's running of the Irish Open Wild Bird Classic, and everyone concluded it was a great time. I was personally disappointed with the entry, but what's important is we all had fun. There were birds on all the courses this year, and yes, the numbers were down from previous years, but I attribute that to the heavy rainfall the day before and night. Something like two inches of rain fell and just cleared up a few hours before the breakaway. I send a HUGE thank you to our landowners, John and Rebecca Foley, for allowing us to use their property. We are so very fortunate! Final note: If you used to trial or have an interest in trialing, please go to your local organization and pitch in; they will appreciate it.
Nova Scotia, Canada, August 19
Judges: Ian Corbett and Dale Hackett
IRISH OPEN WILD BIRD CLASSIC - 7 Pointers, 3 Setters, and 1 Brittany
Winner-CAIRDS CRACKLIN ROSIE, 1680683, pointer female, by Daddy's Little Boy Butch-Porter Meadow Bette. Robert Little, owner and handler.
Runner-Up-OLD GLORY BEN, 1676245, setter male, by Long Gone Studly-Phillips Half Moon. Austin Parsons, owner and handler.