Result: Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship
Location: Meredith, Michigan
Post Date: Nov 28, 2023
Submitted By: Tom Fruchey
Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship Winners (l-r): Rich Hollister with Dun Rovens Soozee, Chris Jaeger, and Dave Heavlin. (judge). (Center): Marlene and Wayne Fruchey (club founders), Bryan Wood, Scott Forman with Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire, Bert Benshoof (judge), and Christy Forman.
The Beaverton Grouse Dog Club conducted the 14th running of the prestigious Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship on the premier field trial grounds in Meredith, Michigan.
The trial started on Tuesday, October 17, and concluded on Sunday, October 22. Six-year-old Dun Rovens Soozee, owned by Chris Jaeger and handled by local pro Richard Hollister, captured the championship title. Close on the heels of the champion was 9-year-old setter male, Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire, owned by Shady Hills Kennel and handled by New York pro Scott Forman who took home the runner-up laurels.
The Beaverton Club is comprised and organized of many longtime field trailers who put in tireless efforts all week to conduct a premium, well-run event. President Shane Haskins is capably assisted by directors Ken Moss, Bryan Wood, Harold Holmes, Tammy Chaffee, Jeff Sweet, Dennis Keysor, Tom and Wayne Fruchey with marshaling, seeing that cars are moved, and directing people to where they need to be. The Club took on the challenge of running an extra 30- 30-minute Open Shooting Dog stake making it a little tougher to get all the dogs run by Sunday evening, but they accomplished it without a hitch.
Horses for the judges were provided by Rich and Jenny Hollister, and we were able to count on them to have the mounts ready to go on time and in the right place, which also helped in getting such a large trial completed. Dennis Keysor took over the new role as our coffee and donut provider and he did a fantastic job of making sure we were all filled with sweets and beverages during the early morning breaks. Our long-standing field trial chairman, Bryan Wood, made sure the dogs were to the line and ready to go when the judges called for them--another function that, if not done correctly, would leave us short on time come Sunday.
We were more than blessed to have two very fine gentlemen to judge the 64 entries of the Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship. Bert Benshoof of Roseville, Minnesota, made the 12-hour drive to Michigan to perform the task. Bert has judged many prestigious cover dog events, and his experience in the field qualifies him as one of the top officials of the game. He prefers to walk instead of riding a horse, which he did, logging 32 hours on the ground. The other half of the panel was David Heavlin of Grayling. He, too, has judged many grouse trial events and was so very attentive to all the entrants from the time they were loosed till they were put onto the lead. Many thanks go out to these two gentlemen for their selfless use of time to watch over a very large field of contenders and come to a very well-received decision.
Dun Rovens Soozee broke away on course 1, the third brace, Thursday morning. She wasted no time getting to work, and at 10, handler Hollister heard her stop off to the left side of the course. Handler and judge found her standing after a short flushing effort. The handler called the flight of a grouse, and the judge concurred, shot was fired, all in order. Once released, you could tell Soozee was on a mission to find birds. She hunted hard and fast with each stride she took, and at 15, she made a deep cast to our right. Hollister could not hear her bell anymore, so handler and judge went out to look for her. As they were looking, the two got a little separated, and the handler finally spied Soozee standing; however, when he called point to the judge, the bird lifted and was not seen by the judge. Hollister shot for the dog's sake, collared her, and then moved on. Soozee sped away, and again at 30, her bell stopped off to our right. She was found in short order, and the handler put a beautiful woodcock to flight.
The shot was made with perfect manners displayed by the dog. Released once again at 34, she stopped to the left of the course but did not look too sure. Hollister made a short flushing attempt to no avail. Once back on course, she made a huge deep cast off to our left, well out of bell range. After a short while, the girl not returning, Hollister made the tough decision to go look for her, as by her absence, she must be standing somewhere. As luck would have it, her bracemate had went deep in the same direction, so both handlers went out in search of them. After a lengthy search, both dogs were found standing at about the 45-minute mark. A woodcock was flushed in front of both dogs, and the judges recorded it as a divided find. Both dogs were brought back to the course and released. At 53, Soozee's bell stopped again to our left. Hollister went in to check and found her standing high and tight. A short flushing effort put a huge thunderbird into the air, shot was fired--all again with perfect manners. She was brought back to the course, released, and finished the hour still hunting, moving fast and furious to the front. This was truly a spectacular performance and well deserving of the championship title!
Shady Hills Whiskey Bonfire, handled by Scott Forman, broke away on Wednesday afternoon on courses 7 and 8. Whiskey is a very hard-driving setter and no stranger to the winners' circle. For a 9-year-old, he has not lost a step, runs hard and to the front, but shows where and when he is supposed to. Shortly after the breakaway at the 10-minute mark, he slammed into a beautiful point. Handler wasted no time in putting a pair of grouse to flight over this stand, with the veteran staying high and tight throughout the flush and shot! He continued driving hard and fast, and at 40, he was found standing again high and tall on a timberdoodle. The shot was fired at the flush, all in order. He finished the hour without further bird contacts but filled up his course with a hard-driving, far-reaching performance.
Meredith, Mich., October 17
Judges: Bert Benshoof and Dave Heavlin
NORTHERN MICHIGAN COVER DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 22 Pointers, 41 Setters and 1 Irish Setter
Winner-DUN ROVENS SOOZEE, 1682090, setter female, by Clary's Tekoa Sky Hawk-Dun Rovens Boofay. Chris Jaeger, owner; Richard Hollister, handler.
Runner-Up-SHADY HILLS WHISKEY BONFIRE, 1662697, setter male, by Shady Hills Billie Too-Shady Hills Beanie. Shady Hills Kennel, owner; Scott Forman, handler.
Wolverine Derby Classic
Twenty-seven dogs competed over one and a half days of running. The weather was good, and the birds were plentiful. Eight dogs had clean bird work, making the final decision very difficult for our two judges, Jeff Sweet of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and Chris Wasserman of Farwell.
First place was awarded to Hifives Rolling Stone, handled by professional Bruce Minard and owned by J. P. Jones. Stone is a classy pointer male who stayed to the front and hunted all the likely cover. The dog and handler were well in tune, with minimal handling needed to negotiate the course. Stone had a stylish broke woodcock find at the halfway point where he stood with a high head and poker-straight tail.
Second place went to Grouse Feather Tilly, handled by Rich Hollister and owned by Curtis Coleman. Tilly is a hard-charging setter female who constantly sought out likely cover. She had two wild bird finds during her 30-minute brace.
Third place went to Shady Hills Lefty, handled by Marc Forman and owned by Deb Nihart. Lefty is a very nice pointer female who handled very well and stayed to the front on a very challenging course. Her determination was rewarded with a woodcock find at the 25-minute mark.
The Beaverton Grouse Dog Club would like to send out a special thank you to Purina for their continued support of the Michigan Grouse dog trials. Also, special thanks to all the owners, handlers, and spectators who came and enjoyed a very fine week of bird-dogging. The birds were plentiful, and the weather was wonderful for both man and beast. We hope to see you all next year.
Wolverine Derby Classic Winners (l-r): Bryan Wood, Bruce Minard, J. P. Jones with Hifives Rolling Stone, Jeff Sweet (judge), Rich Hollister with Grouse Feather Tilly, Chris Wasserman (judge), Marc Forman with Shady Hills Lefty, and Deb Nihart.
Judges: Jeff Sweet and Chris Wasserman
WOLVERINE DERBY CLASSIC - 5 Pointers and 23 Setters
1st-HIFIVES ROLING STONE, 1701648, pointer male, by Titanium's Hammer-Hifive's Allisin. J. P. Jones, owner; Bruce Minard, handler.
2d-GROUSE FEATHER TILLY, 1703250, setter female, by Grouse Feather Hawk-GF Southern Belle. Custis Coleman Jr., owner; Richard Hollister, handler.
3d-SHADY HILLS LEFTY, 1703772, pointer female, by Double Deuce Zeke-Shady Hills Zeena. Debra Nihart, owner; Marc Forman, handler.
Judges: Shane Haskin and Brent Peters
OPEN SHOOTING DOG - 6 Pointers, 25 Setters and 1 Irish Setter
1st-BACK CREEK LUCY, 1683067, setter female, by Peyton's Legacy Kip-Girl's Little Dixie. Steve Graham, owner; Richard Hollister, handler.
2d-MERIDITH GRADE CORKY, 1681353, setter male, by Ponderosa Mac-Call Me Maggie. Dennis Keysor, owner; Tammy Chaffee, handler.
3d-TRAVEL ALERT, 1665621, setter male, by Moss Meadow Traveler-Wild Katrun. Dr. Harold Holmes, owner and handler.
Open Shooting Dog Winners (l-r): Shane Haskin (judge), Rich Hollister with Back Creek Lucy, Brent Peters (judge), Tammy Chaffee with Meridith Grade Corky, Scott Chaffee, and Dr. Harold Holmes with Travel Alert.