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“ROCKY MOUNTAIN CUP” Wild Bird Trial, Denton, Montana
Posted on 10/05/2015 in Pointing Dogs.

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Big Sky Epagneul Breton Gun Dog Club
August 29 & 30, 2015

by Peter Wax
Photos provided by Janis Bruwelheide & Peter Wax

On a Friday last week we gathered again at Karen Paugh’s Home-On-The-Range for wayward dog men and woman (also known as Hyalite Kennels) for a wild bird trial and the first annual “Rocky Mountain Cup”. The grounds are legend and attracted competitors from as far east as Georgia and as far west as Washington with representation from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South and North Dakota in between. It was a time of making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

On the topic of old friends, the club lost a good one when Peter Ward packed his hunting vest, shouldered his shotgun and headed to the happy hunting grounds on the Fourth of July. I imagine he walked off through short grass prairies hunting sharptail on his way to some timber doodle and ruffed grouse filled woods. Peter was one of those people that once met was not easily forgotten; kind, quick of wit, soft spoken and ready with a smile when a smile was needed. His chosen departure date is remarkable in that so many of my heroes have picked the same day. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe to name three you know but I can readily list more. If I close my eyes I can see Peter discussing the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist with Thomas and John, and of course Peter would effortlessly keep John on task and his temper under control. Next Peter would walk down the hall to visit James and discuss the most important legal document in modern history; the Constitution of the United States. Peter would have been in the thick of things in the summer 1776 as he was cut of such cloth and because he believed, like these men, that you, that I, the rich and the poor should have the right to walk behind a dog as free men and woman. Well Peter, I pledge my first point of the season to you and may two birds rise so you can back me.

Day one of the trial broke cool and clear with a light south breeze. Braces ran first with champions and champions to be made ready at leash. The head Open Braces and Solo Judge is Larry Ellison, backed by Peter Wax, and the Gun Judges are Denine Ackerbauer and Peter Wax and our TAN Judge is Randy Meester. The field has plenty of young pheasants and the gallery had a good view near the Gallatin Valley grain elevator. In short order birds were contacted and continue to be contacted until the 1:30 PM when the last dog is run, followed by a barrage to decide both the Gun field first and reserve dogs and to pick the Rocky Mountain Gun dog qualifier.

There were many fantastic runs and spectacular finds in this trial as there are 30 plus dogs running and hundreds of bird contacts per day. As a judge I saw one dog turn 180 degrees in the air and land motionless, another point between its legs, and another have an Open Reserve performance at the tender age of a year and half and later in the day take the Rocky Mountain Cup. Many dogs rose to the occasion and other crashed and burned to make in combination a matrix of fur and feathers to remember, but a personal best was the opportunity to judge a dog handled by Richard G. Nelson.

Richard G. Nelson “Butch” has been and still is a mentor to many that have been, are, and will become dog trainers and handlers and I am proud to be a member of that fraternity. Over the last couple of decades Butch has collected hundreds of invisible ribbons and trophies through the successes of others and their dogs. Do not get the wrong impression that Butch has never been a contender as he has previously won a treasure chest of silver and brightly colored silk, but some time ago he discovered that bringing out the best in others was the best fit for his unique character.

Now you might think “Butch” was trying to make a point by putting down his French horn and putting a whistle between his lips, but you would be wrong, Butch came out this day because a dog needed him. Without going into details, the dog Satchmo had something special to regain and Butch gave him that opportunity taking him to a first in Open Solo in a crowded field of contenders, and well… when you are on a roll you might as well take a couple more dogs to the podium with a First and Reserve in the GUN division with different dogs.

While there are many dogs this weekend whose accomplishments are worthy of documenting on paper I will just list a few. F Nat du Mas D’Patuala “Pride” owned and handled by Fred Overby of Belgrade, Montana earned a first in Open Braces and Pass-With-Honor in Solo on Saturday and a First in Solo on Sunday to qualify for the Rocky Mountain Cup. The combination of wins in a single weekend is a spectacular feat anytime, but even more notable in a packed field of worthy contenders that all got birds. Heraut Satchmo Du Hyalite “Satchmo” owned and handled by Richard Nelson of Denton, Montana earning a first in Open solo on Saturday and a Pass on Sunday to also qualify for the Rocky Mountain Cup. Juno Ten Bar Ranch “Juno” owned and handled by Clint LaFary of Delavan, IL who took a first in Gun of Saturday to earn his GUN title, then moved up to the OPEN on Sunday earning a Reserve and qualifying for a run at the Cup. And lastly, Imperia Princess du Hyalite “Millie” owned by Sarah and Michael Bartholomew and handled by Richard Nelson who had the best no bird run on Saturday and a first in Gun on Sunday to qualify for shot at the Rocky Mountain Cup.

On a warm clear day on the north pasture of the Hyalite Kennel and ranch the very first Rocky Mountain Cup was competed for. The four competitors were composed of the best GUN and OPEN dog from each day and are in alphabetical order: Juno, Millie, Pride, and Satchmo. To a dog they all could be best of breed, beautiful, strong and well muscled. The Honorable Judges Denine Ackerbauer, Randy Meester, Larry Ellison, and Peter Wax surveyed the field for winners.

The first barrage competitors were Juno on the right handled by Clint LaFary and Millie on the left handled by Richard Nelson. On release Juno drives straight into the wind and Millie makes a beautiful cast left than swings right with purpose. Both dogs run with the classic high headed epagneul breton gate. Saving herself, Juno turns and began patterning with power and speed pulling Millie with her and earning a unanimous decision by the judges the opportunity to continue in the competition.

Our second brace for the barrage is Pride on the right handled by Fred Overby and Satchmo on the left handled by Richard Nelson. These two come to the line exhibiting power and a raw energy. Both strikingly marked Satchmo is shiny orange and white and Pride a classic black tri-color.

On release Satchmo makes a nice cast left , Pride does a mirror swing to the right. On each pass a pattern of separation begins to develop until all four judges come to the unanimous decision that Pride should continue to represent the breed in the final barrage.

Two contenders are still in the field. Juno and Pride are both excellent examples of their breed. Juno again lines up on the right and Pride the left. The wind is steady in their faces as the handlers prepare their chargers. Honorable Denine Ackerbauer leans in and quietly asks if the contestants are ready, a nod from each and she quickly gives the release command and off to the races. Juno’s first cast is determined and purposeful and nearly perfect while Pride is momentary distracted by a scent, a sweet perfume per chance…. Ah, so ironic that the same wonderful noise that place him here is his undoing and again another unanimous decision by the judges places Juno Ten Bar Ranch the winner of the 2015 Rocky Mountain Cups.