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Heart of the Prairie Epagneul Breton Gun Dog Club
Posted on 01/21/2013 in Pointing Dogs.

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Ken Teppel

The weather cooperated to some extent for the inaugural running of the Heart of the Prairie Epagneul Breton Gun Dog Club’s UKC Illini Continental Classic Field Trials the weekend of December 8th & 9th, 2012. The trials and TAN were open to all UKC recognized Continental Breeds. Twenty-five Epagneul Bretons and fourteen handlers entered the trials to test their training and abilities.

The Heart of the Prairie EB Gun Dog Club is a newly formed regional club, based in central Illinois. They held their first trial on the 750 acre Oak Ridge Sportsman’s Club (www.oakridgesportsmansclub.net) in Morton, IL. Dewey Kraushaar and his staff were welcoming hosts, opening their spacious and comfortable clubhouse to trialers, and providing hot home-cooked lunch buffets that warmed everyone from the inside out! With satellite television, a real bathroom, and Open and Gun bird courses that started and ended right outside the clubhouse, what more could we ask for?

During the Saturday morning pre-trial meeting in the warmth of the clubhouse, participants enjoyed fresh bakery, hot chocolate and coffee. While run orders were handed out, old friendships were renewed and new friendships forged. Trial officials mentioned that they had bought every quail in the county and still didn’t have enough. Because of this, the Open dogs would be working red-legged partridge (Chukar) and pheasants, while the Gun and TAN dogs would be using quail. It was also announced that the Honorable Judge Mark Dinsmore from North Dakota (head judge for the day) and the Honorable Judge Robert Olson from Indiana would be overseeing the Open dog trials and the Honorable Judge Larry Ellison from Georgia would be supervising the Gun dogs. Trialers enjoyed the warmth and conversation inside until it was their turn to head out into the cold, dreary Illinois winter.

There were no placements or passes for the eight dogs entered in the Open braces. The early morning scenting conditions and wily Chukar proved a formidable challenge for our EBs. Later in Open solo, Judge Dinsmore passed only two dogs; Fergus Sur Le Delavan, handled and owned by Will LaFary, and Fergus’ littermate, Felix Sur Le Delavan, handled and owned by Ken Teppel. No placements were awarded.

Over on the Gun course, Judge Ellison had fourteen EBs to keep an eye on. At the end of the day and numerous coveys of quail that were encountered, five dogs and their handlers were honored. Running in his first field trial was Smith’s Zipper, a young orange and white male that had a flawless textbook run, owned by Mark Dinsmore and handled by his son, Kevin. Zipper encountered several birds without fault and earned First Placement. Taking Reserve Placement was another first-timer, Capriole des Grands Lacs “Bounce,” Denine Ackerbauer’s black and white roan female. Echo du Copper Spur, owned and handled by Keith Beseke, was awarded a Pass with Honor. Judge Ellison mentioned at the awards dinner that it was very difficult for him to separate and place these three dogs: “They were all so good, I had to split hairs.” Earning the only Pass was Jeff Hites’ beautiful liver-colored male, Bordet Hites Mississippi. Earning a High Natural Qualities award (and not a Pass due to a handling error by owner Ken Teppel) was Gwendolyn Hites Mississippi. After a long trail, Gwen pinned a running quail down in an open wooded area full of leaf litter. After the gunners were unable to locate the bird, Ken resent Gwen and she flushed the hunkered down Bobwhite out of a pile of leaves, two feet in front of her!

Judge Olson had the pleasure of taking all six TAN candidates, their owners/handlers and a gallery over to a low sorghum plot to conduct the Natural Ability Test. Earning their TAN designations, a ribbon, and having a blast with quail were: Gage De Broughton, owned and handled by Glen Hoeinghaus; Gracen Sur Le Delavan “Bo”, owned/handled (o/h) by Judy Casper; Frazier Sur Le Delavan “Wrigley”, o/h by Kevin Byrd; Smith’s Grosvenor Jax, o/h by Don Shepherd; Harriett Des Deux Pierres Blues, o/h by Clint LaFary; and Hites Mississippi Colt, o/h by Jeff Hites. It was pretty cool to see the handlers walking back from the field with their dogs on lead, full of pride and smiling from ear-to-ear!


Trialers awoke to cold light rain on Sunday that had been falling all night. By the time the first run started at 8:00 AM, the rain turned to a misty drizzle. Handlers and family were once again thankful for the warm clubhouse, crackling fire and hot beverages. That morning in Open braces Head Judge Larry Ellison and Judge Bob Olson awarded Ember Des Hannahatchee the First Place ribbon. Ember, o/h by Jackie Hutwagner, handled three Ringneck Pheasants like a true champ, capping her run with an amazing retrieve on a wounded running rooster. The only other EB earning a pass that morning in braces was Felix Sur Le Delavan, o/h by Ken Teppel. Later in Open solo, De La Ferme Sur Le Delavan “Lucy”, o/h by Clint LaFary, had a perfect run covering the terrain and different cover superbly, winning her First Placement. She encountered several running pheasants and was able to pin them down for her gunners, then retrieved the downed birds with drive and desire. Her offspring, Fergus Sur Le Delavan, o/h by Will LaFary, and Felix Sur Le Delavan, o/h by Ken Teppel, were the only two other dogs out of nine EBs to earn a Pass on those tough birds.

On the Gun course, Judge Mark Dinsmore was enjoying a field of eight EBs. With the tough, wet scenting conditions and flighty quail, only three Passes were awarded with no placements. They were: Capriole des Grands Lacs “Bounce”, o/h by Denine Ackerbauer; Bordet Hites Mississippi, o/h by Jeff Hites; and Gallant Thor Sur Le Delavan, o/h by Jackie Hutwagner.

Prior to the Sunday awards, a hearty meal of BBQ pulled pork and bratwursts were served by the Oakridge Sportsman’s Club, filling everyone’s stomach for their rides home. While handing out awards, Judge Dinsmore commented on how realistic the cover and birds were to actual hunting situations. “These were as close to wild birds as you could get in a liberated trial under real hunting conditions. This is real Midwest upland hunting.”