2010 Armstrong-Umbel Endurance Classic
Texas Cherry Bomb, six-year-old setter female topped the field of sixteen dogs in the 2010 Armstrong-Umbel Endurance Classic. The two-hour grouse dog event was held March 25th and 26th on the famed Marienville grounds in the Allegheny National Forest of western Pennsylvania.
The animated, tricolor setter is owned by Kevin Klein and ably handled by Scott Forman. Cherry Bomb competed in the second brace on combined Loletta courses three and four on the first morning. She ran a mature, easy-handling, forward race punctuated by a triple grouse find late in her second hour. The hallmarks of her performance were her consistency and hunting/handling maturity, gaining her this coveted title.
Texas Cherry Bomb
Runner-up was five-year-old pointer female, Pal O’ Mine, owned by Chris Mathan and handled by Joe McCarl. Appearing in the first brace, Pal had two grouse pointed in high style complemented by a searching race and particularly strong finish.
Pal O’ Mine
Members of the Black Ash Grouse Dog Club and those who support endurance trials in the grouse woods accept that the entries for this challenging event may never equal those of hour duration stakes. We believe that stamina is a quality that should be sought in all field trial bird dogs. An endurance event evaluates many of the subjective preferences we seek in our dogs today. Does the gait thought to be appealing also prove to be efficient and sustainable? Do the dogs we find exciting to watch have the mental fortitude to respond well to additional stress? Endurable gait, physical and mental strength are necessary to keep dogs focused on the task of hunting for and handling birds with class past the hour mark.
The weather over the two days of running was an improvement over last spring with many more opportunities on grouse. Eleven grouse were pointed, seen or heard flushing wild before lunchtime on Thursday. The first two braces were granted quintessential weather for getting grouse pointed — overcast, in the mid forties to mid fifties with just a slight breeze. That night temperatures dipped below the freezing mark. By Friday morning, the ground was covered in a thin blanket of crunchy snow and birds proved more illusive until later in the morning when the sun came out, causing the conditions to improve. Grouse were seen on all four of the two-hour courses during this Classic.
A small group of able-bodied and enthusiastic club members took on the duties of organizing and running the Classic and accompanying amateur derby stake. They include Russ Richardson (club secretary), Joe McCarl, Shawn Thomas, Brian Ralph and Chris Mathan. Joe McCarl and Russ Richardson took on marshalling duties. Horses were once again supplied by R. B. Powell and were tacked and ready when and where they were needed. Running of the event went smoothly.
On hand to watch the first morning’s two braces were Anna Stubna, editor of The Ruffed Grouse Society’s magazine, and friend, Dan, an avid grouse hunter. She and Dan were impressed with the dogs and birdwork they witnessed and left with a new understanding of the importance of field trials for evaluating bird dogs. Dan remarked that the upland bird hunter was the lucky recipient of the work, time and effort field trialers and breeders of wild bird field trial dogs put into selecting, producing and evaluating their breeding stock. All in attendance enjoyed their visit and appreciated their interest.
We were fortunate to entrust the judging to two highly respected gentlemen. An avid bird hunter for the past 35 years, Frank LaNasa has bred, trained and successfully campaigned his dogs in amateur and open grouse, horseback shooting dog and all-age stakes for over 21 years. His dogs have won wild bird championships on ruffed and sharptail grouse and prairie chickens. He has judged all three circuits from the mid west and prairies to Nevada and south to Mississippi, this year alone, judging the prestigious all-age endurance championship, The Southern, for the second time and the All-America Derby Championship in Illinois. In the grouse woods, he has judged the Minnesota Grouse Dog Championship and the Lakes States Grouse Championship. Frank traveled from Isanti, Minnesota for this assignment. Dave Hawk hails from Athens, Ohio and has been training and campaigning dogs for the past seven years. He is a life-long grouse hunter. He has won with his dogs in horseback, cover dog and other walking shooting dog stakes and amateur championships. His dogs have also won open championships, including the 2007 Wisconsin Cover Dog Championship and R-U in the 2008 Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship. He has judged walking and horseback stakes throughout the region, including the Region 4 Walking Shooting Dog Championship and the National Walking Shooting Dog Futurity. Both men were attentive to all the dogs and judged in a positive manner. Their commitment and expertise was appreciated by all.
THE WINNERS AND OTHERS
Texas Cherry Bomb displayed an animated, hard hunting race from the breakaway, selecting prime objectives and wasting no steps — the mark of an intelligent and mature dog — characteristics that are proving essential for winning the Armstrong-Umbel. She was forward at all times, required almost no help from her handler and remained focused on hunting grouse for the two hours. Cherry Bomb was well-mannered backing her bracemate pointing in the thick highbush blueberries at the 35 minute mark. She suffered unproductives at about the half and hour marks, both in likely looking places. Finally, she was rewarded for her efforts when at an hour, 40 minutes, she made a cast into the right side of a cut where her bell went silent. Handler and judge Hawk followed with a grouse heard leaving followed by a shot and two more grouse taking flight. Her style and manners were excellent. The temperature was warming towards the middle of the day and the two hours came to an end on a steep upward sloping hillside where Cherry Bomb’s fatigue was evident. Her overall impressive race and bird work late in the brace kept her on top in the judges’ book. Texas Cherry Bomb was bred by Marc and Scott Forman. She is out of Shady Hills Whirlwind by 4 x CH., 3 x R-U CH. Shady Hill’s Billy.
Texas Cherry Bomb
Pal O’ Mine (below)
Pal O’Mine ran in the first brace on Thursday morning. She too showed her maturity by reaching for likely objectives from the beginning and throughout her two hours, spending no time in areas unlikely to hold birds. The white and black female pointer is a small, rugged built dog who moves with speed and animation. She required more handling to keep her to the front and was lateral on a few occasions but always in search of game. Pal was rewarded for her hard hunting early on with a stylish find on two grouse far to the front at 15. She suffered two unproductives, one, unfortunately, a divided find with her bracemate where the grouse was heard leaving only by this reporter. She had a slight lapse at the hour and 35 minute mark where she lost focus and made a backwards cast. Quickly rounded up she was sent on without further incident. The highlight of her race came at the very end of her two hours where, with renewed energy, she reached for a far to the front cut and was hunting enthusiastically when time was called. Pal was bred by Rich Boumeester out of his grouse CH. Boumeester’s Elhew Sas by 4 x CH. Front N’ Center.
Finishing the two hours strong with a particularly impressive race was River’s Edge Bella. Had she pointed a grouse, her strong and consistent race might have put her in contention.
A perfect morning for grouse hunting, Shady Hill’s Bean (Scott Forman) and Pal O’ Mine (previously described) went right to work with both dogs stopped well to the front at 15. Bean was found pointing stylishly on the far side of the same heavily-wooded piece of cover her bracemate had two grouse pointed. Handler shot his gun as a grouse was seen rocketing over a line of tall pines. She continued strong at bell range and beyond, showing nicely when called upon. At 50, Bean stopped suddenly in the open, pointing towards a small bit of brushy cover, with a grouse blowing out the far side as handler approached. Shot was fired and the mannerly dog taken on only to stop again just off the path on the right not five minutes later with yet another grouse pointed. Again she was taken on and dove into the cut on the right. Both dogs were credited with a unproductive as described earlier. Bean continued hunting during her second hour but shortened and checked in a number of times. At the end of course two, Bean suffered another unproductive.
Shady Hills Bean
Texas Cherry Bomb (previously described) and Hard Driving Rita (Joe McCarl) were off at 10:13. Well-built liver and white pointer, Rita, was exuberant and showed good sense in her selection of objectives. At 38 minutes her bell, followed by her bracemate’s, went silent in a low-lying area of thick highbush blueberries. After an extensive search, Rita was located, barely visible, pointing on the edge of a beaver pond. Handler made the difficult flushing attempt to no avail. A grouse was heard lifting a little further ahead. At 59 minutes, she backed her bracemate in a spruce thicket with good style. Her youthfulness became more evident in her second hour, with her race less focused though she continued her efforts showing good independence.
Hard Driving Rita
Scott Forman with Grouse River Ace, Joe Dahl with Magic Mist Bandit, judge Frank LaNasa
Last year’s runner up, Grouse River Ace (Scott Forman) and Magic Mist Bandit (Joe Dahl) got under way after lunch on Lamonaville courses one and two. Ace delivered a strong, reaching race for two hours, showing periodically, mostly to the front, perhaps missing some of the most birdy areas. Bandit, a pretty moving, attractive chestnut and white setter was pleasant to watch as she swung nicely to the course, hunting every bit of it. She pointed and corrected several times close to the hour mark. Just past the hour, with a light rain falling, Bandit stopped again. She corrected and moved on, this time a grouse getting up far ahead, the dog unaware of its flight. Handler elected to pick her up at an hour and 25 after several more episodes of the same. Ace, returning from a short absence, continued on, his bell stopping on the right. As we approached, far to the front and down an incline, handler Joe Dahl was seen walking his dog out on a two track with Ace backing. As it was near time, handler made a halfhearted flushing attempt, to no avail, and the brace ended shortly thereafter.
At 4:13 Sorber Run Pop (Marc Forman) and My Girl Fred (Al Gehm) were at the line. The wind had picked up and cooler temperatures were on the way, foretelling of the snowfall to come. Pop was not seen much after the breakaway and was picked up shortly afterwards. The pretty setter female, Fred, got right to the business at hand and was hunting, making some good moves to birdy objectives. Not beating what the judges had in their books, handler picked her up early.
7:45 on a cold Friday morning found us back on the Loletta courses, now covered with an inch or so of frozen snow. Up were setter male, Chip’s Uncle Buzzy (Marc Forman) and pointer female, Hard Driving Lucy (Joe McCarl) with owners of both, Steve Chiappini and Shawn Thomas, on hand to watch, Shawn scouting for Lucy. The dogs broke away fast and furious, making big bold casts through the pole timber to the far-off cuts. 13 minutes into the brace, Lucy was heard stopped ahead in the same area Bean and Pal had their birds the previous morning but quickly moved on. Buzzy, soon after, also stopped in this area with judge LaNasa following handler in. The almost all white setter was standing tall, well camouflaged in a high thicket of frosted wild roses. A flushing attempt could not produce a grouse for him. Both dogs continued making big forward casts with Lucy’s bell disappearing at 30 minutes and handler sending scout down through a heavily wooded area to look for his big-going pointer. Marshall Richardson reported he heard a grouse flush just prior to hearing Lucy’s bell start up again. We were now in the creek bed area Bean had her second find the previous day, hopeful that it had warmed enough to rouse birds off their roost. Near the hour Lucy was found pointing off to the right in front of a fallen tree. Her stance was not entirely convincing but handler attempted a short flush before tapping her on and then working her away from the area. Buzzy having been absent for some minutes, returned, still strong. By an hour and 10, Lucy was off the bell again and handler asked for the tracker. Buzzy finished the second hour making good swings to far away places but had a tendency to check all the way back to the handler, once with a prize deer leg.
Chip’s Uncle Buzzy with Marc Forman flushing
Hard Driving Lucy
By the second brace of the day, the sun had done it’s job and the snow was disappearing quickly. Two young dogs were on the line at 10:04 for the 6th brace, pointer female, American Honey (George Crumlich) and setter female, Allegheny Maybaby (Joe McCarl). Maybaby’s owner, Doug Kepler was on hand to watch and scout. Attractive moving dogs, they got off to a fine start, hunting and handling nicely to the front. Maybaby made some good moves to likely objectives during the first hour. Honey, though showing plenty of foot speed and strength, seemed somewhat unsure of herself. Both dogs showed their immaturity as handlers attempted to maneuver them through the low-lying sections of the course. The brace was finished by an hour and 25 when handlers elected to pick up.
George Crumlich with American Honey, Joe McCarl with Allegheny Maybaby, Doug Kepler
Scott Forman with Grouse River Sheena, Russ Richardson with Two Acre Hope, judge Frank LaNasa
Brace 7 got under way at 1:15 under sunny skies and mild temperatures. On the line were pointer females, Grouse River Sheena (Scott Forman) and Two Acres Hope (Russ Richardson). Hope showed well in last year’s Classic, finishing the two hours. Before we got underway, Russ, smiling, confessed his concern about all the quail hunting Hope had done in the winter in Texas where he guides on the Patterson Ranch. Hope lost no time getting to the task at hand. Sheena’s cast from the breakaway took her to far off horizons and we did not see her again for over 20 minutes. Hope, availing herself of all possible grouse habitat, left nothing unsearched. At 37 minutes, a grouse and woodcock flushed just to the right of the course as we passed with no dogs involved. Shortly after, both dogs, dug in on the left in a thicket of spruce trees, stopped..first one bell then the next. They were quickly located in close proximity under a tree, pointing with great intensity, both handlers attempting to flush. It was disappointing when no bird could be produced from two such lofty dogs whose demeanor looked so positive. Both were taken on and released on the far side of the long narrow piece of cover they had been pointing in. Sheena took to the front, Hope cast to the left and back to the far end of the spruce thicket. Judge Hawk was still in the vicinity when Hope slammed on the breaks. Point was called and handler hustled to get to her but not in time to see the grouse fly. The judge, however, did and as handler went in, one, then another grouse shot out from in front of the lofty dog. Back on course and only moments later, she stopped suddenly again in front of a fallen log but as the flushing attempt was made, Hope released herself and was taken up, thus ending her exciting bid. Minutes later, Sheena’s handler decided to throw in the towel as she was well off the bell again.
At 2:36 the last brace of the Classic was released. River’s Edge Bella (Marc Forman) and Wild Apple Jack (Craig Doherty) were forward, handling kindly and hunting intelligently from the breakaway. White pointer, Bella, with an appealing way of going, could be seen swinging to the front in search of game. Jack, no novice to the woods, was searching in all the right places and at the 12 minute mark stopped suddenly on a wood’s edge, threw his head up proudly and stood styled up while handler and judge Hawk went in for the flush. A few moments after they disappeared, the lofty pointer appeared to loose scent and moved on. His handler, no doubt disappointed having made the long journey from northern New Hampshire, called on and leashed Jack. Bella continued, consistent in her enthusiasm, application, strength and attractive way of going for the remainder of the two hours. She was stopped at the bottom of a hill at the hour and a half mark giving all a brief moment of excitement but the handler’s flushing attempt produced only the remains of grouse.
River’s Edge Bella
Wild Apple Jack
The Black Ash Grouse Dog Club members thank all who came and supported the Classic with their entries and those who helped out including George Crumlich and Brian Popoleo who judged the accompanying amateur derby stake. The Club is grateful to their supporters: Nestlé Purina, Strideaway, and Strideaway’s supporters: Industry Leaders Fund, DOGS Unlimited, Marshall Radio Telemetry, Tri-Tronics, TechMix, Eldridge Hardie, Davis Quail Hunts, W. L. Jaggars, B & B Buckles/Tack, The Sportsman’s Cabinet, Dale Hernden, Kim Sampson, Shawn Wayment, DVM and all those who bought caps. Through their generosity, the Armstrong-Umbel Endurance Classic is able to offer a fitting purse for this prestigious endurance event.
Scott Forman with Texas Cherry Bomb, Chris Mathan with Pal O’ Mine.
Marc Forman, Jared and Bob Drew, judge Frank LaNasa, Russ Richardson,
judge Dave Hawk, Bob Grassi, Joe McCarl, Joe Cammisa, George Crumlich,
and Shawn Thomas. Craig Doherty was taking the photo.