First Firesteel Creek Classic August 24th and 25th (Prairie Pointing Dog Club)
Posted on 09/26/2013 in Pointing Dogs.
On August 24th and 25th the Prairie Pointing Dog Club held its first ever wild bird trial at South Dakota’s finest upland game destination – “The Firesteel Creek Lodge.” Firesteel Creek Lodge is owned and operated by the Lindskov Family who ranch and farm over an extensive area of the Grand River drainage in north central South Dakota. This area is a revered venue for those who love to hunt prairie chickens, sharptail grouse, hungarian partridge and pheasants on the short grass. The area is breathtakingly scenic and seeped in the history of the mountain man and cowboy.
The fields we walked were short and mixed grass prairie in a condition not seen in most of the United States for over a hundred of year. At anytime, one could stop and see six species of grass, ten wild flowers, a dozen forbes, and three different types of brushes or trees. The prairie was so correct and complete that here the spragues pipit, grasshopper sparrow, lark bunting, and meadow lark do not nest in the unprofitable margins but in the best house in town.
From the very beginning the trial was unlike any I have ever attended with surprises found only in books written a century ago. Like a story from the past, there were blue ribbon accommodation, fantastic food and drink, safari style vehicles for the dogs and handlers, nationally known riders on Tennessee Walkers for bird scouts, and a country so expansive to appear infinite. It truly was something that could only be imagined but I get ahead of myself so let me slow down and provide some details.
After spending the night in a turn of the century home, on a perfect bed, in cool air conditioning under crisp sheets I get up early and go outside. In the pre-dawn darkness Orion’s belt is bright in the eastern sky and the only sound is the howl of a lonely coyote mixed with the gurgle of grouse on a distant leak. It is 68 degrees already and absolutely still as I put the pups on the ground for their morning constitution. I walk along to clear my head of the Scottish fog poured freely the night before by no other than Les Lindskov himself.
Like magic in the next half hour the other handlers, dogs, judges and helpers start emerging and within fifteen minutes the sun is a red ball and the world is full of the happy noises of dogs and dog folks. As I stop to take it in a suburban and an excursion appear with trailers modified to carry dogs and Polaris crew-cab all-terrain vehicles, also modified to carry dogs, with medical kits, fire extinguishers, enough water for an expedition and high seats like they ride on African safaris.
Tom Dafnis, our Lodge contact and PPDC board member, hops out of the first one and informs the crowd we will be traveling to Jim Davis’ pointer camp. Mr. Davis has been finding lots of birds and he has volunteered to let us run out of his camp. After some hasty instructions we pile in our vehicles and caravan to the dog camp. When we arrive I expect to get pointed in the right direction and sent on our merry way, but to my surprise Mr. Davis and his three boys are mounted on Tennessee Walkers and in true Southern generosity they give up a full day of work to guide us to individual coverts. Still not really believing what is happening we set off riding comfortably in safari vehicles following beautifully mounted riders, into a vast and perceivably endless vista of grass.
True to his word Mr. Davis and his three boys stayed the course with us the entire first day showing us all the best coverts in a heat that would turn triple digits. Like true horse and dog men never a discouraging word was spoke even though both horses and riders must have suffered terribly in that heat. As the day wore on they worked harder to put dogs on birds but no man or beast could best the scent stealing heat that wilted runs like butter at a picnic.
Day one included OPEN Braces, OPEN Solo, GUN Solo, and TAN. At the end of the day four of the five sets of braces contacted sharptail grouse for an 80% opportunity for placement. Unfortunately the second half of the morning became so hot only two of the fourteen solo dogs contacted birds. It was not for a lack of birds, as these very fields produced well the next day, but a result of poor scenting conditions and shorten runs brought on by calm winds and temperature that soured to nearly 90 degrees before noon and eventually topped 101, however, even in these conditions our dogs and handlers rose to the occasion posting a First Place Dog and a Pass Dog in OPEN Braces and passing two T.A.N. pups before the day was over.
On day 2 of the trial, twelve of the 14 Solo dogs would make bird contact giving nearly every dog an opportunity to Place or Pass. This fertile day posted a First Place and Pass in OPEN solo and a First Place and Pass in GUN Solo. Combined the two day trial had 33 races (5 braced and 28 solo) of these 18 races would produce birds for a 65% average representing an excellent opportunity on truly wild birds.
SATURDAY AUGUST 24th 2013 RESULTS
Our First Place Dog is Sinfad’s Bright Opal (Opal) owned and handled by Tom Dafnis, and braced by Brique de L’Ardour (Brique) a French import owned and handled by Fred Overby.
Opel drew the first field of the day. A classic piece of rolling native prairie dominated by blue grama on the high ground and big bluestem in the swales and liberally festooned with wildflowers and just enough hawthorn, chokecherry and green ash in the riparian to provide shade.
The first run was a challenge as it ran with a tricky southeast wind. Undaunted both Tom and Fred sent their hunters ahead and they ran like the wind. Both covered the course with intelligence, dropping deeply and hooking back into the wind. At 10 minutes Opal makes the first and only find on a northeast angling ripple of land and handles it with lots of style backed by Brique. Tom calls the points as two grouse lift, one to the right and one to the left, but Opal does not so much as acknowledge their existence and when Tom gets in front there are plenty more to flush. The two well mannered competitors are quickly gathered, moved a slight distance to the west and resent but no more birds are encountered.
No Reserve or Pass-With-Honor in Open Braces.
OPEN Braces Running Order
1) Sinfad’s Bright Opel (1XCHF NSTRA) , female pointer owned and handled by Tom Dafnis (mentioned), and Brique de L’Ardour, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby (mentioned).
2) TR CH Fergus Surle Delavan TAN, male epagneul briton owned and handled by Clint LaFary, braced with Elegant Thorn du Coteau, female epagneul Breton owned by Helen Wax and handled by Peter Wax. Fergus and Thorn drew a premium piece of property and a favorable wind. Fergus and Thorn both ran respectable races – no bird.
3) CHF CH De la Ferme Sur le Delavan TAN, female epagneul breton owned and handle by Clint LaFary, braced with Cloud de L’Ardour, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. This pair drew a very challenging piece of turf that ended at the border of our course and they ran it straight downwind. The dogs struggled in the southeast breeze but in the last seconds of the run De la Ferme Sur le Delavan made a find and point on a large covey of sharpies. Ms. Cloud came in with a temper and everyone left together for parts unknown.
4) GRCHF, CH Topperlyn Fontay Azure Bo, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Glen Gunderson, braced with Darius de L’Etoile du Nord, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Mark Dinsmore. This brace drew a nice piece of land and ran straight into the wind. At 2 minutes Darius made a classic point and stayed through flush and shot. Azure was out of the action to the west and never had an opportunity for a back. At 13 minutes Mr. Dinsmore, in the style of a true gentleman, picked up Darius who was struggling in the heat. Azure finished the final two minutes solo but failed to produce a bird.
5) 3XGRCHF, CH Topperlyn Gallant Bodacious (Leo), male epagneul breton owned by Anne Johnson and handled by Glen Gunderson, braced with INCHF, CHF, CH, Clint de L’Ardour (Clint), male epagneul breton handled by Rob Jagerszky. This conceivably was the competition of the decade as Clint is Winner of the 2011 World Championship Field Trials and has multiple CAC's in Spring and Fall Trials in France and other countries in Europe and Leo is probably the most decorated epagneul breton in the United States. They drew a nice piece of land with good edge bordered by corn and a draw with shade and shelter. Clint was at a decided disadvantage as he had just been flown fourteen hours, driven ten more and now had to run downwind on a game bird he had never seen or smelled before. Undaunted Rob sent his champion to hunt as did Glen with his. Both dogs displayed very different styles reflective of their training and experience with Clint working close and energetically perpetually swinging into the wind and Leo blowing a whole in the prairie with long deep sweeps to catch any and all scent. Both competitors encountered hot bird scent and two grouse lifted early but at 15 minutes neither dog had made point.
No Placements or Passes in Open Solo.
OPEN Solo Running Order
1) Darius de L’Etoile du Nord, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Mark Dinsmore. The heat was too much for Darius – no bird.
2) Sinfad’s Bright Opel (1XCHF NSTRA), female pointer owned and handled by Tom Dafnis. Opel drew a mean hot field dominated my western wheat, smooth brome, and dryland sedge but even in 87 degree heat plowing heavy grass Opel never faulted, stumbled or begged for mercy. No bird but her heart made this reporter a serious believer.
3) Brique de L’Ardour, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. Brigue scented a pheasant early and invested his entire 15 trying to unravel the mixed up trail – no bird.
4) Cloud de L’Ardour, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. The heat ate up Cloud’s thunder – no bird.
5) INCHF, CHF, CH, Clint de L’Ardour (Clint), male epagneul breton owned by Inge Prinz and handled by Rob Jagerszky. Clint was a victim of jet and car lag – no bird.
6) Elegant Thorn du Coteau, female epagneul breton owned by Helen Wax and handled by Peter Wax. Thorn’s search was effective for 10 minutes and not so much for 5 more – no bird.
7) TR CH Fergus Surle Delavan TAN, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Clint LaFary. Fergus hunted smart but he overshot his bird and then rolled in a porcupine. After a short quill picking exercise time expired – no bird.
Our dog of High Natural Quality is Griz du mas D’Pataula (Griz), male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. In 88 degree heat Griz used his nose and mind to unravel a fleeting scent trail that was rising not flowing. After some very smart work he finally pinned an old cock sharptail in a round swale, but the temptation was too much and he broke early. If but for a small amount of additional training Griz would have done what seven other dogs could not and for that he earns the recognition of High Natural Quality.
No Placement or Pass in GUN Solo
GUN Solo Running Order
1) E’toile du Mas D’Pataula, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Mark Dinsmore. The heat was eating dogs and E’toile was no exception – no bird.
2) Gracen Sur la Delavan, female epagneul breton, owned by Judy Casper and handled by Mark Dinsmore. The youth and good heart in this dog showed but the heat won - no bird.
3) Harper de L’Escarbot, female epagneul breton, owned by Anne Johnson and handled by Glen Gunderson. Nice powerful young bitch. This was definitely one of the judge’s favorites and one to watch for in the future – no bird.
4) Griz du mas D’Pataula, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby (mentioned).
5) Hera De L’Etoile du Nord, female epagneul Breton owned and handled by Clint LaFary. Hera was done in by the heat – no bird.
6) Emerald de Grand Ciel, female braque francais owned and handled by Fred Overby. Emma seemed less impacted by the heat and searched diligently but she found only larks - no bird.
7) Heidi Surle Delavan, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Clint Lafary. Heidi was done in by the heat and the southeast wind – no bird.
Both our TAN pups passed. The first pup to pass is Heidi Surle Delavan, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Clint Lafary and the second is Havelock Prairie Bree, female english setter owned and handled by Russell Keys.
SUNDAY AUGUST 25th 2013 RESULTS
Sunday found us on the ground without our guides but a good idea of where the birds would be. The air was 74 degrees when the first dog was released around 7:00 a.m. and 85 degrees when the last one was picked up at 10:00 a.m. Of the fourteen races all but two contained birds. A percentage of over 80 percent is a high indeed for prairie grouse and testament to Jim Davis’ advice and the Lindskov’s land management.
Our First Place dog is Elegant Thorn du Coteau (Thorn), owned by fourteen year-old Helen Wax and handled by Peter Wax. Thorn, a true two year-old, drew the same piece of land as the day before and it looked like another dry run. At 14 minutes and still searching aggressively she makes bird and with only 10 seconds left points. Her handler, thinking the point soft tapped her off but Thorn had the bird and only relocated a few feet. She was motionless on the flush and shot and remained so until leashed with First Place manners and style.
Our Pass dog is INCHF, CH, Clint de L’Ardour (Clint), male epagneul breton owned by Inge Prinz and handled by Rob Jagerszky. Clint is a new dog today and runs with power and purpose. At 7 minutes he hit a pair of sharpies going down wind and stops immediately to flush remaining steady through shot. Upon release, as if sensing a need to find another bird, he pours over the earth like a crazed locomotive but cannot find that third bird to point for a placement.
No Reserve or Pass-With-Honor in Open Solo.
OPEN Solo Running Order
1) GRCHF, CH Topperlyn Fontay Azure Bo, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Glen Gunderson. Azure drew the first place grounds from the day before and she ran the heck out of it. She made bird multiple times but could not decipher exactly where they were. They were there as we had a wild flush at 13 minutes but time expires before she can find the rest of them.
2) INCHF, CHF, CH, Clint de L’Ardour (Clint), male epagneul breton owned by Inge Prinz and handled by Rob Jagerszky (mentioned).
3) Elegant Thorn du Coteau, female epagneul breton owned by Helen Wax and handled by Peter Wax (mentioned).
4) Brique de L’Ardour, male epagneul breton owned by Fred Overby and handled by Rob Jagersky. Brique was our only OPEN solo dog to draw into a course that did not produce a bird. However there was much to learn from his run. He hunted effectively and had a running bird that he could not corner. Rob handled Brique like a conductor in front of an orchestra giving the gallery a lesson in close combat with a tricky pheasant and a demonstration of a perfectly performed coule’.
5) Sinfad’s Bright Opel (1XCHF NSTRA) female pointer owned and handled by Tom Dafnis. Opel had the finest run of the day and was clearly the first place dog. She had her find right at the 15 minute mark a fair distance from the handler on a hillside for all to see. She points with style both front and back. For some reason Opel doubted herself and took a step upsetting the covey resulting in an unnecessary “whoa” from her handler and tipping the apple cart. What a heart break as this dog was literally and figuratively one step short of her second First Place in the same weekend.
6) E’toile du Mas D’Pataula, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Mark Dinsmore. Darius drew the other side of the hill from where Opel had her find. He was in birds nearly but he was unable to pin one and was eventually pulled by her handler.
7) TR CH Fergus Surle Delavan TAN, male epagneul briton owned and handled by Clint LaFary. Fergus started where Darius left off and at 6 minutes and made a pretty point for the whole gallery. Unfortunately the call of the wild was too much - gone with the birds.
8) Cloud de L’Ardour, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. Cloud began where Fergus left off. Judge Niesar explained to the handler that the birds were directly up front and if he wanted to start someplace else that would be allowed. Fred decided “no guts no glory” and sent his charger. At 2 minutes Cloud points, at 2 minutes and 1 second the bird goes, and at 2 minutes and 2 seconds Cloud follows.
Our First Place Dog is Hera De L’Etoile du Nord, female epagneul Breton owned and handled by Clint LaFary. Hera had good ground coverage and stayed actively searching until she was rewarded with a classy find at 13 minutes. She exhibited excellent style and stayed through shot with first place manners.
Our Pass dog is Griz du mas D’Pataula (Griz), male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby. Griz had an intelligent search and after actively locating his bird stopped to point at the instance of the flush and stayed long enough for a pass.
No Reservoir or Pass-with-Honor in GUN
GUN Solo Running Order
1) E’toile du Mas D’Pataula, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Mark Dinsmore. Going …going…gone with the heat.
2) Gracen Sur la Delavan, female epagneul breton, owned by Judy Casper and handled by Mark Dinsmore. Good search. Found bird at 12 minutes, bumped and chased.
3) Emerald de Grand Ciel, female braque francais owned and handled by Fred Overby. Emma hunted and searched hard and effectively with a nonproductive at 8 minutes.
4) Heidi Surle Delavan, female epagneul breton owned and handled by Clint Lafary. Heidi did not take to the heat this day and faded early.
5) Griz du mas D’Paula, male epagneul breton owned and handled by Fred Overby (mentioned).
6) Hera De L’Etoile du Nord, female epagneul Breton owned and handled by Clint LaFary, (mentioned).