Crimson Sky Vizslas
Hunting Stories and Event Writeups
Hunting Stories & Events
Here is a collection of hunting trips we have taken along with Field Trials and Hunt tests we have competed in. This is just a personal journal of events and trips I thought you may enjoy reading. Any content is to the best of my memory and any mistakes are not intentional.
look for this section to be updated with more recent stories as I have time.
Madison Hunting Pheasants at 13 years old
Madison came to our house as a personal hunting dog for Mark. Prior to her we didn’t know what a Vizsla was. Mark had hunted over German Shorthair Pointers for years. At a show we were introduced to the Vizsla and fell in love. Mark started hunting over Madison when she was about 4 months old. She made her first trip to Iowa at 10 months. We have learned a lot about dogs and hunting Along the way. We have made almost every mistake in the book and a few that hadn't been written yet. We have had some great memories and met some awesome friends. Here are a few stories from trips we have taken.
Vizsla Club of America Nationals 2012
The Vizsla Club of America Nationals for 2012 was met with high expectations by me for my dogs. I had 3 hopefuls that were doing well in the field. I also had a young (the youngest in the stake at only 8 months) Derby dog. Gauge showed promise but I expected his maturity to be an issue. Ruger at over 10 had been doing some great work standing birds, retrieving and maintaining class and style while running hard. Rigby was and is getting over some issues I introduced while training. He has been running as hard as ever, was handling well for me and starting to look good on his birds again. Izzy my little hunting dog has been performing exceptional birdwork and handles like a dream. Her range has opened up to a nice gundog range.
The week before Nationals was very hectic. I had all the packing to complete as well as putting the finishing touches on the parking assignments. I worked the dogs a few times and considered them ready. Saturday morning George and I hit the road at 5:00 am. After discussions with the Shorthair club we were allowed in the Ionia lot at noon to set up the parking. The Ionia lot is small for the number of rigs I had registered. We made great time and arrived shortly after 11:00 am. A stop for lunch was in order. After a hearty breakfast at Big Boy we entered the lot and started to measure the spaces. As we marked the lot we found extra spaces and changed some parking assignments. As the day went on we had the lot set up and 2 or 3 hours to wait for permission to bring in the rigs. At 6:00 pm we were given the ok. The parking went very well as each rig was called to “come on down”. After most were parked the spitting rain turned into wind and heavy rain. Somehow we were able to get everyone parked where they should be. A towel, dry clothes and a beer sure was good that evening.
National Amateur Field Championship 2012
Monday the 15th of October
8:00 came early the next morning. I hadn’t slept hardly a wink. I am always a little anxious before a big trial. This was the worst ever. I was tossing and turning, awake every few minutes. Usually it is the thought and anticipation of running a dog. This time it was a debate over pulling Ruger from the championships. He had torn a nail off both front feet, leaving what I thought and was told at the time was the exposed quick. He was bleeding every time he did something strenuous. I kept second guessing, trying to make a decision.
After getting the horses saddled we had a ride around starting at 8:00 with the NAFC to follow. Before the start of the championship I had a vet came to look at Ruger. It was actually the bone showing on both front toes. We covered the toes to stop him from opening them up and make him more comfortable. The covering was basically a cast. I was told he will either run or not. I decided if he came off his gate, wasn’t cutting it or in pain I would pick him up no mater where on course. I really didn’t expect him to make it to the top of the first hill. I was wrong. JR and Rodney were in the 2nd Brace and I was in the 3rd. Ruger and I needed to be ready to go prior to JR’s run. We had it planned that I would scout for JR and Rodney then Rodney would scout for me. JR had a great run with birdwork and a forward course. He held his lines and was enjoyable to watch. He was ultimately invited back for the 2nd series. I changed horses and grabbed Ruger then we headed for the line. Dixie was Ruger’s brace mate. After some squealing from Dixie and a few barks from Ruger at the castoff the race was on. Ruger ran with power and drive. He ran a strong forward course holding his lines well and the birdwork was staunch. From my viewpoint Dixie also had a strong course and both dogs complimented each other. Ruger and Dixie pulled each other along. Ruger’s birdwork was good with no steps. As Ruger was running down the line in “Hiers” field he swapped ends at full speed. His head was high and tail was up. Dixie was coming in from behind. I gave the command whoa to help stop Dixie then said it again. She stopped and gave a nice back. Ruger’s style and intensity had dropped and he ultimately decided there wasn’t a bird. As quick as he stopped he turned and moved on down the line. No point was called and I hadn’t dismounted my horse. Dixie was ordered on by Steve Whitney. The end of “Hiers Field” was reached and we turned along the fencerow. Ruger held the fence most of the way before turning for the pockets. He caught the west edge and then the islands. He stuck a covey on the big island. The birds were flushed and all was in order. By this point Ruger’s feet were covered with blood as one cast had fallen off. He was still ready to go and wasn’t being bothered. We cast off for the horse pasture field. He caught the right edge and made a big move to the front. The brace went smoothly and flowed as I caught Steve. Ruger caught a second wind with a brace mate to compete with. In the last couple minutes he came off his gate just a little. We had covered the course quickly so a turn was made to cross by the top of the stone fence. Ruger and Dixie took the east edge of the line making good use of the wind. Both dogs were found standing in a low spot. Ruger and Dixie both had poor style, neither of us quite sure if they were backing each other or standing point. Steve attempted to flush a bird while I stood for a back. No bird was produced and we went on. Time was called and both dogs were clean with one non productive. Monday was a great day to run a dog, probably the best of the series. The temps remained fairly steady and birds were plentiful.
Izzy was braced with Roxie in the 10th Brace. Before casting off I commented to Matt I hoped his dog would pull Izzy out a little. We cast off from the top of the hill Roxie was gone. Izzy kept up until Roxie made her first big move then both dogs were on their own. Although I wasn’t watching Roxie’s brace due to handling Izzy, what I did see was impressive. Roxie was running huge, to the front and on the treelines. Most times she was at least one field to the front. The birdwork I saw was good. Izzy and Roxie both made the 2nd series based on their performances. Izzy’s birdwork was staunch with no movement or mistakes. She held her lines well for a 3 year old. She stayed to the front and was pleasing to watch. Her 1st point was prior to Hiers field on the treeline across from the pond. Her style was good with a slight turn to mark. We cast off again with no birdwork in Hiers field. Once in the horse pastures she held her lines well until pulling off at the top of the hill. She cut across the field looking for the wind. I called her in and gave her water. I cast her off again toward the line which she held earlier. She went to the backside of the island to make use of the wind and disappeared. I sent Rodney to check and she was found locked up near the feeder, inside the brush standing a covey. I saw 2 hens hiding at the base of a tree. As I attempted to flush a 3rd flushed from Izzy’s side. She was standing in the middle of the covey. Izzy handled the pressure with no movement and we went on. She was cast off just before Dannys Line. Roxie was to our left or on the North edge of the Dogleg field. I chose to stay high and work the right side. Izzy went down the edge for a while, then cut to the middle and took the grass edge forward. She held the edge and worked the cover well, turning and checking out any scent she found. At the end she continued toward the treeline as I cut the corner to meet up with Mat and Roxie. At the end of the grass line a single flushed. I didn’t see Izzy but knew she was in the area. I immediately yelled whoa and rode to find her. She was standing tall. I fired the blank for a stop to flush. She was collared and we moved on. Time was called in the next field.
Rigby was braced with Tori and Jamie Fountain in the 19th brace. The braces around us were the hottest of the series as temps were noticeably higher. Early in the brace Tori was picked up for breach of manners. She hadn’t stopped on a flush. Rigby started the brace with a few loops before the creek. Once across the creek he took the path to our right. Once we could see around the trees he was hunting the hillside and pockets to the right. This is not the usual move dogs make on the castoff. He hunted forward toward the first treeline. The move looked good and few dogs pull it off. After reaching the treeline he worked his way across the front and past the stone fence. At the top of the hill Rigby pushed for the front as he planned to take the 2 track. I turned him and pushed him into the ravine toward “Bird alley”. By the time we were entering bird alley he was seen to our right on the treeline. He took the line to the cut and was called back. He turned to come toward me and found the grass strip. He held the strip for a while then cut across and pushed for the front. My scout had him going forward at “Danny’s Line”. He cut through the horse pastures and into Hiers field backwards. From the time he entered “Bird alley” he was not seen again until just before Hiers. He came back, checked in and headed back to the front. Once on the line he spun and stood a bird off the edge. He was staunch and birdwork was good. We went through the cut and cast off in Hiers field. By this time Tori had been picked up. Rigby took the line to the end. At the end of the line by the fence Rigby tuned and rooted looking birdy. When he didn’t lock up and was unable to locate a bird I pushed him onto the fenceline toward the front. He held the fence most of the way until he pulled off and cut toward the pockets. On the last pocket he dug in and started rooting around again. He ran toward the fence and looked to be in chase. I asked the judge as I hadn’t seen a bird take flight. He also had not seen a bird. I was told to keep going. I called him off the fencline he had dug into and we kept going forward. After the horse pasture I tried to send him to the left not toward “Danny’s Line” to make use of the wind. He wouldn’t work with me and took the right edge toward Danny’s Line. At the top of the line he locked up again, the bird was dug in Rigby was not staunch and took some cautioning. After a relocate a bird was flushed. As I took him through the cut I realized I was short on water. I picked him up rolled him in the mud puddle to cool him off. Make use of what you have I guess. As I went to cast him off I planned to send him on the south edge of the dogleg field (or the right). At the last minute I decided to send him down “Danny’s Line”. Once he reached the end he spun again. He locked up, made some movement, stopped and moved again. Finally he stood staunch. I dismounted and worked the single. The birdwork was poor he made some movement. I cast him off as he held the edge of the field. After the last cut he locked up again. His style was again poor and there was some movement. I gave him a verbal whoa and went in the brush after the bird. Bird pieces and feathers were found. I took the Non Productive and went on. I was told to cast him off and then pick him up he had made the half hour. Rigby had an awesome race and was as enjoyable to handle as any dog I have ever handled. His birdwork suffered from some movement combined with the possibility of a chase ultimately cost him a look in the second series.
Bogart ran hard and showed the drive and independence he usually displays. The run I have come to expect. I scouted for Bill and Bogart and he made me work to keep him in the right direction. He found the lines easily and stayed on them for the most part. Bogart had several finds and stood his birds well with some cautioning from Bill. Movement and having to handle probably took Bogart out of the bid for second series.
NAFC Second Series
By 7:00 Wednesday morning I was saddled and getting Izzy ready to run. She had made the second series and was in brace 2. The only bad thing was Izzy was drawn to be braced with Rodney and JR. I gave Rodney first choice of scouts because I figured the judges had JR higher than Izzy. He would probably need more scouting than I. Izzy is pretty honest, she rarely ranges out of sight for any length of time and her biddable attitude make here easy to handle. Roxie was in the first brace. I was proud having 3 dogs from my line in the second series. Roxie again ran hard with flawless birdwork. She held her lines and stayed to the front. She was called back for a retrieve after her run. Unfortunately she jumped the gun on the retrieve. She broke when the bird hit the ground and before Mat sent her. I used Bill Stapleton as my scout. Izzy was a little slower on the cast off today. I had a little harder time keeping her in the pocket. She wanted to hunt and find birds not run with the wind in her face. She again found multiple birds and looked great on her birds. By this time we turned on the second series course, Rodney had lost JR to the front. He was found on the 1st series course and was absent for several minutes. We never saw Jr again until time was called. Izzy had a second find while heading down the road to the “Boy Scout Bridge”. Before the bridge Izzy locked up just off the path on a single tree and some brush. The single was flushed and all in order. We moved through the birdfield without contact and time was called by the quarry. After the brace both dogs were called back for retrieve. Izzy’s first try at the retrieve had a bird flushed that was called for safety. The bird flew at the gallery and couldn’t be shot. Her second bird was down with one shot and her retrieve was completed easily and to hand. Jr completed his retrieve easily and without incident. In the end Roxie wasn’t used after the retrieve and JR was probably gone too long and timed out. Izzy gave a solid performance and was rewarded by a 4th place. Not bad for a “little huntin’ dog”
Vizsla Club of America
National Field Championship 2012
The National Field Championship began on Friday after the Derby was completed. Thursday was the running of Derby. Gauge ran a nice course for an 8 month old. He found his lines although he pulled off them to investigate or when he was distracted. He had a couple solid points with style and showed the promise I hoped for. He should be a different dog come spring. Currently he has some of his Puppy / Derby points. He will be able to run in the VCA National Derby again next fall. When he is closer to 2 years old he should have the independence, stamina and race the judges look for.
For the start of the National Field Championship, Friday was met with poor conditions. rain had moved in overnight. The rain continued for much of the 1st series. Friday saw a fairly steady rain and drizzle while Saturday had some openings with a light drizzle always looming. Temperatures were in the 40 overnight rising to the high in the mid 60s. The rain didn’t seem to bother the dogs to much but made my job as photographer difficult. I took the camera on a few braces when I could otherwise it was left in camp. Sunday was an ideal day for the dogs and the 2nd series. The riding was enjoyable other than the mud.
In the 1st series Rigby was one of the lucky dogs to get the clean out brace. He was drawn 1st. This is when all the turkey and deer are on course. It is also when the birds left over are more likely to covey up. It can be a good place or bad one to be drawn. Rigby caught the line at “Bird Alley”. He took it most of the way toward the second series fields. He turned back for the center line and took the line to the “Horse Pastures” The next time I had a view of him was in “Hiers” field going forward. He was running big staying forward and holding his lines. He took the fencline all the way to the islands never leaving the edge. His gait was smooth and covered the ground quickly. He spun to lock up on a small covey. After working the covey he was cast off toward the “Horse Pasture”. In the field he turned right and found the backside of the hedge. He popped out a few times and continued forward until the feeder where he locked up again. After working the birds he was cast off toward “Danny’s Line” and time was called. I really liked Rigby’s run but his birdwork was less than I expected. He wasn’t tight on his birds and a few steps after the birdwork were too much for me and as seen later it was too much for the judges.
I must say the Judging in both the Amateur and Open was excellent. They looked for the whole dog and Birdwork was a must. Although disappointed that some of my dogs and some other dogs didn’t get called back, I could see exactly why any one of them were not.
Izzy was braced with Tommy. She opened up her range from her Amateur run. She stayed forward and under control. She found most of the lines but had to be pushed to few. Her first find was between the 2 ponds. We found several birds running in the brambles before her. I tried to flush and they would run. Rodney notified me one was running back at her. I entered again and tried to flush the bird. Finally the judge instructed me to fire and get out of there. After casting off she continued down the line toward “Hiers Field” and stuck a bird on the line. This turned out to be a non productive with feathers all around. After casting off again and pushing to catch up, we found Tommy just finishing some birdwork. Izzy continued past the action and stopped where the birdwork had been. I rode up and asked if the bird had just flushed from there. I was told they had flushed a bird. I was given the choice of moving her on, or working it. I decided to toot my whistle and see if she moved on. Izzy is my most trustworthy dog on relocates. She never bumps a bird, until today. She moved a foot or two and 20 feet away on the other side of the treeline a single flushed. Izzy immediately stopped, I fired my blank gun then collard her. I asked the judge how he saw it. I was told it’s too early in the stake to call it a bump. Once in the “Horse Pastures” Izzy found her lines. She ran hard to compete with Tommy. At a outcropping Izzy swapped ends and Tommy turned to back from a few feet away. I pushed the woods and trough the briars to find a bird. Tommy was told to move on. I continued to push the cover, then a relocate. No bird was found. This was Izzy’s 2nd non productive, that would be a nail in her coffin. With no other choice we moved on. I cast her off toward the front. She turned for the line and at the cut spun again. We were at the end of the woods. A quail was found, flushed and we moved on. Not sure if the judges decided it was the bird I was looking for or not. I figured that would be too much in the end and it was, as Izzy never made 2nd series. Based on run and other birdwork she had a solid run with awesome birdwork. Her run was to choppy and to many questions. We cast off again toward the fenceline. She continued a forward course and was picked up when time was called.
Ruger was still dealing with his injury. He was in the 3rd to the last brace. Before going out that morning I repaired his feet to let him run. The weather was a little warmer but there was no rain or drizzle. Ruger took charge from just after the creek. He went to the front and never looked back. He ran the line at the first treeline then dropped into the ravine toward “Bird Alley” he was seen working the far side side of the valley going forward, then again going North on the line at Bird Alley. He held the line to the cut then came back along the grass line and back to the front. After working around the far side of the pond he cut the field and went toward “Hiers Field”. At the end of “Hiers” line he became birdie did a few loops and couldn’t pin anything down. He continued on the fencline and held the line most of the way before pulling off and heading toward the Islands. At the first Island he found his edge and worked backward toward the corner to make use of the wind. Dixie had held the line to the end and was coming up fast. Ruger turned and began a headrace. Dixie and Ruger were within a few feet of each other when Ruger skid to a stop with Dixie following into nice back. About the time he stopped he turned and continued on down the line. He went another 100 Yards or so and slammed on point again. This time Dixie came in and wasn’t about to stop for him. Jerry picked Dixie up and Ruger was alone. A single was flushed and Ruger was cast off toward the islands.
Ruger worked the edge pulled off and went around the big Island. He stopped again and a covey of three quail were flushed. After entering the horse pastures he hung the line to the right and found the backside of the hedgerow. I continued forward and Ruger didn’t show. I sent Rodney out to check and he was found standing off the edge. A single bird was flushed we took him through the cut and continued forward. He ended his run in the dogleg field with no other birdwork. Ruger had nice tight birdwork with good style. Unfortunately after almost every bird he took a step or two to me. This was too much for the judges and probably took JR out as well.
JR again had a clean forward race with birdwork. He held his lines and looked great for the young dog he is. Unfortunately as I said earlier a step or two to the handler after the birdwork was finished probably took him out of the running for 2nd series. Roxie knocked the 1st series out of the park. Her birdwork was fantastic. Her application was good. And her ground speed was smoking. She made the 2nd series and was one of the favorites. In the second series she again ran hard with style and speed. She didn’t have the opportunity to pont and have a Chucker shot on course. She was called back for a retrieve. Her first retrieve attempt was a chucker that ran and hid in the cover. She was collared and given a second chance. The new bird was flushed and shot, but Roxie broke and made the retrieve before being sent.
With all the dogs I handled out of contention I was asked to gun for the 2nd series. George Haines took over as the photographer and took many of the photos in the first. By the time placements were given out the motorhome was loaded and ready to roll. The drive home was uneventful. After a good night sleep it was back to reality.
VCA National Gun Dog Championship 2012
Quail Country Plantation
The 2012 VCA National Gun dog Championship was once again held in Georgia. This year the Emerald Coast Vizsla club hosted the event at the Quail Country Plantation. Quail country Plantation is an exclusive getaway and one of the few Orvis certified hunting lodges.
To cut costs on the 2000 mile trip I paired with George Haines and Bill Stapleton. I removed everything I could from the motorhome and horse trailer to cut weight. I spent the few days prior loading and maintaining the coach for the long journey. We pulled out of the drive at about 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon. Our goal for the evening was to drive to Percy Priest field trial grounds outside Nashville Tennessee. After an uneventful trip we pulled in about 2:30 in the morning, tied the horses to the trailer and had a good night’s sleep.
That following morning we headed for Birmingham Alabama with Rodney Albin leading the way. At about 100 miles out we stopped for gas at a town in Alabama named Troy. There was a gas station that was 15 cents cheaper than anyone else. The lot was packed and tight. I couldn’t pass up the great price and pulled in. While making the tight turn into the pump a car was in the way I went around him and almost made the turn. My front end was close to the pole at the end of the island. Only needing a little more swing I put the motorhome in reverse. I thought I had the room to back, but as I did the separation of the trailer and the coach was compromised. The front of the trailer and the back of the coach jackknifed. The fiberglass bumper and ladder were damaged on the coach and 3 dents were put into the trailer. After a few choice words we filled up and headed down the road.
As we pulled into the Plantation we were greeted and told where to park. Rodney had beaten us and was all set up. Rodney after being to set up in one spot was told he had to move. He backed in and dropped the gooseneck back onto the truck. He forgot to close the tailgate and jackknifed the tailgate into the pump for front legs on the trailer. The hydraulics were damaged the tailgate torn off and the left fender damaged as well. So far the trip for Rodney and myself had been expensive and couldn’t get any worse we hoped. Rodney finally was in the pre approved spot and I was able to park. I had to maneuver around a house and a telephone pole. I fit with the pole to the left of my slide and set up camp.
VCA National Puppy Stake
Luke wins Puppy Nikki 3rd Nat puppy
Luke and Manny win a First VCA National Puppy Nikki and Trish and Karren win 3rd VCA National Puppy
Every evening had a happy hour planned. Thursday was the kick off. We visited with old friends and met a few new ones, had cocktails and some appetizers to snack on. After everyone was loosened up they started the Puppy Calcutta. This year Ruger had 4 hopefuls entered, Luke, Nikki, Colt and Storm. Luke is out of our Holly and owned by Many Eagleson. Nikki is out of Ben and Barb Zahn’s Tootsie and Owned by Barabara Zahn and Trish Burdin. She is being run by Trish. Colt is from Zeeva of Busch Vizslas and owned by a newcomer Sem Dietrich and Storm the youngest of the group is from Ava owned and bread by Bill Stapletom of Ramblin River vizslas. Nikki was the big moneymaker for the Calcutta; she went for just over $200.00. The other 3 went in the more usual $50 to $70 range. The following morning was rather warm coming from the north. We had a ride around of the Puppy course and started running dogs at 9:30. This year had another fine crop of puppies. Last year Crimson Sky had 3 pups to root for and ended with 1st, 3rd, and 4th. We hoped for a repeat. I was fortunate enough to scout for all my dogs and give the support I could. Many ran Luke and although he is new to the sport he has asked questions and learned a lot for his first year. Luke at 8 months is a big running dog showing a lot of power and drive. He looks good on his birds and hunted the cover properly. On this day Luke laid down a winning run and would be crowned in 1st place. Nikki would earn a 3rd after running a large forward race. She handled easily and was in the proper spots. If her Run was an indication she will see a lot of Blue ribbons. Colt was one of the younger pups and handled by Sem. He hunted hard and handled easily. This dog has a lot of potential and will be a dog to deal with on the east coast. Storm at just 6 months was a little immature in application. She was handled by her owner Bill. She is showing the same abilities as her brother Reed. She is quick and snappy and has quite a future ahead of her. It was a nice puppy stake with many fine pups to choose from. The future is bright for the Vizsla breed.
VCA National Gun Dog Championship
Ruger 3rd NGDC
Mark with Ruger Rodney Albin (Scout), Sue Town and Judges
This year brought 36 hopefuls to the line. On Saturday morning the weather was tempting us with rain. We never had a drop, but it looked that way all morning. The Air was heavy and damp. The day dried and remained clear for the weekend. Ruger was in the 3rd brace and gave me the opportunity to ride the 1st brace and see the course. Ruger was ready to run as I saw him at the cast off. I put the proper collars on him and waited for the green light. He cast of hard and made a sharp turn to check in. he made a bigger cast, checked in again and then was gone. Ruger worked into the pine woods at the first right. One we passed the narrows we made a hard left. Ruger worked the edged in the center field to my right. One we went through the opening to the big grass field Ruger pushed to the front. He was found standing across from the water tanks by a pocket of woods. I walked to him, but he didn’t look quite right I never called point. As I approached he broke point and went on. I looked at the ground and a live quail was all fluffed up and about to die. The quail was 15 feet in front of him on the mowed path. How didn’t he see it? How didn’t he smell it? I don’t know but he never looked back or even acted like he was relocating. He headed for the front and I followed. He had several finds in the back field; one was just before the bird field. He was cutting through an open area on his way to the bird field, he skidded to a stop. His head and tail were high with a ton of intensity. I flushed the quail shot my blank and walked to him. As I approached 2 more quail flushed under his nose. He handled it perfectly and never moved an inch. I cast off for the birdfield. He had no sooner entered the area and caught scent at full speed along a line of tall grass. He slid to a stop and I called point. The gunners walked over and positioned themselves for a shot. I flushed the bird. It hardly left the ground. The bird flew low and not far, I heard two or three shots ring out. Ruger remained staunch. I asked a question I already knew the answer. I just needed time to deiced “is it shot” I received two answers “Yes” and “No”. I decided to send him as it shouldn’t go far if it flushed again. I slapped Ruger on the side for the retrieve. He delivered it to hand easily. The judge directed me to the road to keep him off more birds. I cast him off proceeded to hack him out of the field multiple times he wanted to find birds. He was running the tree line along the bird field when he stopped again. I flushed a single and all was in order. We continued along the road to finish our time.
Rigby ran in a latter brace of the stake. The weather had moderated a bit and but was still warm and dry. Rigby cast off and took charge from the start. He met me at the first turn. I pushed him deep into the pines on my left. He caught a line 4 or 5 rows in, pushed to the end of the field , turned and came back. He went for the front again and disappeared around the narrows. As I exited the narrows I started calling him in. He responded and met me at the mouth. I pushed him toward the wrong course to get him on a line I wanted him to run. I whistled and turned him at a treeline that would take him to the front. He caught the line and held it to the end of the field. Rigby was handling easily and kindly and tearing the place up. He entered the next field and held the woods on the right. He came out at the outcropping and cut through the prairie grass. Once again he took the front. In the same general area Ruger had his NP, Relocate or non event Rigby stopped as well. I walked over and at a distance he turned and went on. He never really staunched up and was very unsure. He continued working the edges and handling like he was on a string. Rigby drove deep into the next open field it had several treelines and pockets to hunt. We were at about 20 minutes when he rounded an island. I saw his attitude change as he flattened out his back and went to rip a running bird. He gave short chase as I called him to me. After collaring him it was onto the wagon for the rest of the brace.
I also had 2 Ruger sons in the Championship this year. Bogart is handled by Bill Stapleton of Ramblin River Vizslas and owned by myself and Bill. He is. Bogart is out of our Holly. Bogart is on the brink of running clean consistently. He is handling for bill and has a great drive and power. Bogart Handled one bird clean, then an ugly situation on a back. After surviving the back he took chase in the same area as Rigby.
Smokin JRD owned by Rodney Albin is out of his female. He and his brother Gunner show many of the same qualities as Ruger did as a younger Gun Dog. Jr looks great on his birds, pushes for the front and is exciting to watch. Jr is another young dog just starting to run clean at the trials. This was his first broke dog championship. Rodney was able to handle him through the 1 hour clean with multiple birds. Not enough for a placement but a win in anybody’s book. Jr Worked the pine woods well and stayed forward. After the narrows he worked the edged and field nicely. He disappeared to the front and was found standing on the treeline. Rodney worked the bird and all was in order. Hr had 2 other finds and an NP. Jr made his retrieve and finished the hour going away.
After the placements it was time to head home. We already had most of the motorhome packed up. As I backed the motorhome to hook to the trailer I forgot about the telephone pole outside my left window. As I turned the wheel to maneuver around the house I sides swiped the pole with the awning for the slide out. It made a lot of noise and the damage wasn’t as bad as it sounded. The frame for the awning was bent and should be repairable. I turned the motorhome around and lined up on the trailer. After connecting Bill noticed the left rear tire was flat. I first tried to repair the tire and then decided to change it with the spare. We loaded the horses and away we went. The Yellow ribbon was hanging in the front of the coach making the trip home much easier. As we were driving down the highway Rodney calls to tell me something is sticking out the side of the coach. We stopped to check it out. We found the front fender support bracket had been torn off when we hit something in the road on the way down. I tied it up with duct tape (didn’t hold long) and headed home.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. Its good to be home
AKC Gundog Championship
Grand Junction Tennessee
Bird Dog Hall of Fame and Bird Dog Museum
On Feb 25 2012 George Haines and I headed for the famous Ames Plantation in Grand Junction Tennessee. The drive was easy and uneventful. As we neared the grounds the excitement built. The history of bird dogs in this part of the country is awesome. Grand Junction is the home of The Bird Dog Museum and Bird Dog Hall of Fame. Ruger has a Micheal Steddum print hanging on the walls. As we pulled in the fields opened up to tree lines dogs could hold. There was cover for the birds and a course to test any dog. Some of the greatest handlers, scouts and dog teams have run on these grounds in the past. We parked across from the stables and set up camp. Saturday evening was relaxing and quiet. I expected more people to be there and the camp to be hustling. Sunday was quiet as well. A few rigs pulled in, but there was plenty of parking and not much activity. Sunday morning I tried to find a Brittany to brush up on backing with. Ruger hadn’t been braced with a Brittany in several years. I did a couple backing drills and reminded him he had to back. As I would find out later the backing should have been the least of my worries. Birds would prove to be at a premium, especially on the morning courses. In 2 days of riding the morning course I saw 3 dogs with birdwork. The 4 days after there were no bird contacts in the morning. The afternoon braces did a little better. There were several contacts the first day and bird contacts on most of the afternoon braces.
Ruger and I were in the 3rd brace of the first morning. The first 2 courses had a lot of cover in some areas and more open in others. Course 3 seemed more open to me than any of the other courses. There were nice pockets and edges to run. There were also plenty of heavy areas a dog could dig in and hunt. There were a few areas a dog needed to be collected up and handled through. This course and the others truly tested the dog and handler team. The one aspect I liked of the Ames Plantation was that all 6 courses were very similar. Most continuous courses have advantages by which course you are drawn on. I had the feeling the course would not make the difference on what dogs would get used.
Ruger cast of under warm dry conditions with blue skies and bright sun. He made a cast to the front and gave a few customary barks as he took the lead. Ruger circled back to check in. He made a bigger cast and started to go to work. His first good move was around an island to the right. It was a large cast several hundred yards out. As he rounded the island I saw my scout Nick Thompson in place to stop him from backtracking. Nick is probably the top scout on the Ames plantation. He has scouted many of the top dogs in the National Championship and helped some to be crowned champion. Ruger held his lines well and hunted the cover that was provided for him. As we would enter a field I would adjust my speed to allow him to make his move and finish to the front and not leave him coming from the rear. He made one cast to the left side of a big cornfield. I turned him toward the edge. He caught the line and held it about 300 yards to the corner, he made the turn toward the front and held it to the road. At the next corner made another right to hold the treeline along the road to cross in front of me. Ruger continued pushing to the right. As I neared the road crossing I gave a whistle. He spun and returned to the crossing. He crossed the road ahead of me. On the other side I called him in for water. As we neared the area of the old house Ruger locked up in the tall grass. His tail was high and he looked intense. I called point, walked in to flush the birds. I kicked around and no birds were produced. I looked at Ruger, his intensity and tail set had dropped. I went to him for a relocate. He worked the area, but no point was re-established and no birds were ever produced. I gave him another drink of water and cast him off. By this point time was short. We rounded the house with some nice moves. I pushed him to the left as this was one of the area birds had been seen in previous weeks. He held the line into the last field and skidded to a stop. I watched him a minute as I rode toward him, he wasn’t intense or sure of himself. I tooted him he tuned and pulled toward the front. Time was called a little further in the field. Ruger had ran a nice course and handled like a dream. Unfortunately a dog must find a bird and the run isn’t enough.
My experience of the Ames Plantation was very favorable. The courses were well groomed and a test for a dog and handler team. The majority of the dogs went bird less, but this is a wild bird trial as stated in the premium. To find a bird a dog must dig in and hunt. They also must have a little luck as you can’t predict where the birds will be on any given day. In weekend trials we put the birds where we think a quail should be. In this championship they were where they wanted to be. Some dogs didn’t have to venture very far to find birds while others hunted hard and were not rewarded.
From the day I started Field Trialing and heard of the Ames Plantation I wanted to watch the National Championship. I never dreamed Continental breeds would be allowed to run there. The opportunity to compete my dogs at Ames was reward in itself. I will forever have the memories of this trial and the satisfaction that Ruger and I had the honor to run on these grounds.
Vizsla Club of America
National Gun Dog Championship 2011
Mark with Ruger Brian Giingrich (scout) Pam Spurgeon, Jim Gingrich, John Schoonover and (Judges)
Ruger wins NGDC for the 3rd time!!!!
The 2011 National Gun Dog Championship was held at Blake Kukar’s farm in Somerville Tennessee. He has a farm that is being turned into fine field trial grounds. Although all the finishing touches were not completed the grounds, They were far better than most other grounds we have run on. The course was set up with too many turns and tight areas to work a dog through. It could have been designed to let a dog stretch out, but this tested a dog for control as well. The first couple braces the course was a little short and was adjusted. There were several places a dog could stretch out and really look good. From the break away we moved through a small field and had to keep the dogs to the right or chance a dog making a move into the bird field. After we wound through a tight area it opened to another small field. Dogs could range enough to get lost and had places they could escape. The course then went down a and up a hill to a wide open field a dog could make some big moves in. unfortunately the course was cut short and none of the dogs used the islands in the distance to there potential if at all. The course turned and went through a pocket of woods and opened again to small and medium sized fields. The edges were good and some dogs made nice use of the pockets. Most of the fields from the islands to the pocket were burned recently and cover was spars except on the edges. We moved toward a row of pines made a hairpin turn and crossed through another pocket of woods. The course moved through some tight areas with a lot of cover and opened again along a row of pines. Many finds were made along this row of trees. At the end of the field we doubled back on the opposite side of the field. We then followed the puppy course back toward the start line and bird field. Again there were some tight areas and a road to follow. Dogs could make some nice moves in the valley to our left. Once on top of the hill we made a left turn toward the bird field. Several birds were released in the bird field for a retrieve. The course was a muddy mess. The roads were slippery with deep pockets of mud. Several people lost boots and almost stuck quads in the mud.
Crimson’s Twenty Gauge Ruger
For the 2011 National Gun Dog Championship I had 2 dogs entered Ruger and Rigby. Both dogs did an amazing job. Ruger charged off the line and moved toward the birdfield. I called him back to get him in pocket. He checked in a couple times to figure out the direction we were headed. He maintained a forward course with big moves where possible. His birdwork was flawless with the exception of a non productive. The toughest spot for both Ruger and I was when he locked up on a row of pines. As we rode up my scout Brian Gingrich flushed a bird from the prairie grass. The quail flew into the pines a few feet in front Ruger. Just after the quail landed my bracemates dog came running down the line failed to back and had to be picked up. After all the commotion he still stood staunch. I walked in to flush walked around kicked and searched no bird to be found. I widened the circle until a quail flew. As I went to shoot the gun a judge yelled that one doesn’t count. As if he hadn’t been through enough. I relocated him. He went up and down the line searching for a bird. He finally went a long way down the line and stuck a quail. I worked the bird he stood steady and all was in order. After a water break and a few deep breaths we cast off again. We worked through some pockets and into another open field. Ruger had disappeared to the front. He was found standing at the end of the Puppy course on another row of pines. His head and tail were high and he remained motionless as I walked to him. After the castoff he worked through the valley and to the top of the hill. I pushed him to the line on the right to make a nice move to the front and into the birdfield. As he passed a small pocket of trees he skid to a stop. I walked to him he looked staunch enough until I walked in front of him. His tail dropped to 9:00 and I knew he didn’t have a bird. I found feathers and elected to take a non productive. We entered the birdfield, Ruger made his retrieve and was cast off. He cast off and moved toward the line. As he crossed a plowed strip that was ready to plant he made another skidding stop and stood tall. I looked at the bare ground could see nothing, took a deep breath and released him. He was either going to flush the bird, stand staunch, or cast off. He cast off and finished strong going away. (He had seen a dirt clump sticking up and must have assumed it to be a bird). Ruger looked great 1 week after winning the NVA National Championship. He had 5 or 6 finds stayed to the front and hunted for me the whole time.
Crimson’s Lord Rigby of Linden
Rigby had a fantastic run with multiple finds and flawless birdwork (until the last minute). He ran a huge gundog course. More of a shooting dog with the handle of a gun dog. Rigby stayed to the front even when we lost him for a few moments. He held his lines well and worked the valley nicely. Once in the birdfield he quickly found a bird to point. I flushed the quail the Gunner made almost a complete turn as the bird flew in a circle. Rigby marked the birds flight and turned in position. The gunner dropped the bird and Rigby made a nice retrieve. I cast him off and watched him move for the end of the course. I remember thinking I got it now. No birds were planted from the birdfield on. As he held the line along the pines a quail flushed wild. He stopped, looked, thought and chased. I picked him up and called it a day. Rigby had made it the full hour with only seconds to go. He had multiple finds and an awesome retrieve. Rigby has always been a dog on the edge. He runs huge and puts everything into his run. He is not as consistent as Ruger has been, but he is such a fun dog to compete with. Rigby has a nice mix of run and control. He doesn’t want to be a runoff and is a fantastic dog to field trial or hunt over.
National Vizsla Association
National Amateur Championship and National Championship 2011
Ruger NVA Pic
Mark and Ruger with Mark Johnson, Brian Gingrich (scout) and Terry Trazinski (Purina Rep)
Ruger wins 2011 National Championship
Ruger and Rigby were entered in both the National Amateur and National Championships. Dakota was entered into the National Derby. I had been under the weather for a few days. I arrived in time to handle both Rigby and Ruger thanks to late draws and a rain delay that pushed back the start by a day. During the drive down I drove through some tough road conditions around St Louis. There was rain, snow and Ice. On the highway west of town cars and trucks were in the ditches everywhere. I saw 3 sets of rescue squads, and to many police and wreckers to count. I arrived in time to see most of the National Amateur stake. Ruger ran a nice forward course, held his lines and looked good on point. He had multiple finds, but a point on a hawk kill gave him his 1st non productive. His 2nd non productive came at 40 minutes to end his bid for the stake. He had locked up at the edge on the far side of the field at a creek crossing. He had good style and intensity. I walked in and saw his tail drop as it had with the hawk kill. No bird was ever produced. In retrospect I think this may have been a stop to flush that wasn’t seen. I went to move him on and found the judge was calling the hawk kill a non productive. He told me this was his 2nd Non productive. I asked if he was still watching he said not really. I elected to pick him up and save him for the open.
Rigby Ran the National Amateur course clean. He had birdwork and a decent run. He mad big casts and held lines well. A couple small movements and a few caution words from his handler ended his chance for the Amateur stake.
National Derby 2011
Dakota ran the Derby in the heat of the day. We were lucky to run the bottoms going up the valley to the top. Dakota had a tremendous amount of power and showed a lot of style. She held her birds and lines well. One of her best moves was after crossing the gravel road, I pushed her to the left. She took the Milo strip to the woods, turned right and held the edge all the way around. She met me at the right turn up the valley. She did a little two tracking up the valley as there wasn’t anywhere for her to punch out to. She found a wood line edge going to the top on out right. That was the last time I saw her. I send Allison Bell to take a look, but Dakota was gone. I continued up the valley to the barns. Allison hunted and I searched as well. She was finally timed out and the Garmin was pulled. The first location I had for her was up course at 1.7 miles. I picked her up to the west of the course and followed her back toward the big field. We finally found her to the south on the gravel road with a couple of trail riders. I called her gave her some water and she was ready to go again. I put the check cord on her and took the road back to camp.
NVA National Championship
Ruger was lucky to start on course 1. We had the first brace of the day. Rob Tomczack and Rascal were our bracemates. Ruger made a nice cast off the start, then he came back to check in. he looked at me to get some direction. I said alright then he was off. Rascal had a nice start and stayed forward. At the end of the first field Ruger crossed on the far side of the treeline. Ruger Ran over a quail and it flushed. As Ruger was stopping I yelled WHOA!! He remained steady as I rode up fired a blank. In the corner of the same field Rob’s dog was acting birdy. He called him off and moved on. Just before the first creek crossing I lost Ruger as he went up the field to our left. I sent my scout out and found Ruger standing just off to may left in a milo field. Rascal, and Ruger had several other finds and backs in the bottoms. At find #3 or 4 I turned to Rob and commented “ok we have enough birds now”. After the last creek crossing Ruger took the line to the left. He held it all the way around and was rewarded with a bird at the island to our left front. Rascal made the same move, but started well behind Ruger. Rascal backed, the bird was flushed and all was in order. Ruger and Rascal started a headrace down the left hand edge. Ruger pushed harder and was rewarded again. Just before the turn for Horse Killer Hill, Ruger again locked up on the right edge. No bird was produced and I decided to move him on. Rascal continued on and gained some distance on us. I pulled Ruger in tight going up Horse Killer Hill. At the top I watered the horse and Ruger in the pond. We cast off again and Ruger pulled for the front. Rob was working a bird for Rascal on top of the hill by the cut off. Ruger continued toward the action. I called him back as Rob was finishing and getting ready to move on. We worked the dogs down the hill and back to green fields. I turned Ruger to the right while Rob pushed straight into the field. Ruger held his line around the field pulled for the front and ended the hour strong going away in the next field.
I stayed for most of the day and watched some other fine performances. Finally it was time to head back to reality. I received a call from Mark Johnson and was told Ruger had won the National championship.
VCA Nationals 2006
This story is long overdue, but as they say better late than never. We already have our 2007 trip planed and have the entries for nationals printed.
Our South Dakota trip started the way most trips do, a-lot of phone calls, excitement, and anticipation. Other than hotel reservations, I didn’t even start thinking of South Dakota until after the VCA Nationals.
At the Nationals in the national gun dog first series, Ruger had a solid find, a back and a stop to flush. He stayed to the front, and looked good. On the stop to flush he started moving his feet after the birds were gone. We were given the choice of leaving him down or picking him up. There was too much movement and he would not be used. I decided to pick him up and call it a day.
A couple of days later, I was able to run Ruger again in the National Amateur Gun Dog stake. In the first series he had good moves, and multiple finds. He ran hard, stayed to the front, and held the lines. Ruger was invited back for the second series. He had a shaky start when he could not pick me out of the crowd and took his lead from the other handler. I corrected the problem and he was to the front. He held the tree lines, and was running hard. Ruger disappeared around one of the fingers of trees on the course. Once we rounded the trees there was no Ruger. I went on a little while looking for him and finally sent my scout out to check inside the tree line. A minute or two later I saw him on the other side of the road. He had made the biggest move I saw all week. He had rounded the field and was working his way back to me on the tree line on the other side of the course. He took a cornrow and when he was at about 2:00 I called him back. Ruger shot across the gravel road to the front of me. He caught a line. He took that until he stuck a quail on the edge of the woods. I tried to stay calm and rode up and dismounted. I started walking in. He was edgy and I handled him wrong. The bird moved a foot and so did he. The bird flushed, and Ruger could not take it anymore. He chased after the bird, and that was the end for Ruger.
I was very happy with Ruger’s performance even though we screwed up. This was his first Nationals as a broke dog. There is a lot of pressure on both the dog and handler. A dog can read the handler, and if he is nervous the dog will be also. I think he was reading me and it was too much for him to stay composed.
In the Open Puppy stake at the Vizsla Club of America Nationals one of Ruger’s puppies, Shiloh's Rock My World (ROXIE) won the stake. She is owned by Matt and Ruth Rogers of Vanguard Vizslas. She ran hard, made some good moves and is showing a-lot of talent. Roxie should be a nice broke dog in a year or two. Look for her in the derby stakes this fall. She has multiple placements in the trials.
I would like to thank Jerry Jordan for taking my horse and I to nationals. For all the help he has given me with Ruger’s training, training in general, and having me to his camp for a few days. If you are looking for a good pro trainer you might give him a call.
South Dakota, 2006
Our trip to South Dakota started the same as the last 8 years. We met in Janesville on a Thursday night at about 9:00 pm. We had a big group this year. Rodney Albin and I rode in his truck. Doug and Jim C rode in Doug’s truck. Steve, Pete, and Jason rode in Jason’s truck. Brad, Tom, and Dan rod in Brads truck. This was not our largest year but far from our smallest. Rodney, Dan, Brad, Tom, and I have Vizsla’s. Steve and Doug have Labs. Jim has German wirehaired Pointers; And Jason has an English setter. Pete is dog-less. Yes we do hunt pointers and flushers together. We hunt each for their best qualities and rarely have an issue with running them together. Our biggest problem comes from the pointers running bigger than the labs and we move to fast. In most years there are plenty of birds, and we just separate in the same field. For S.D. pheasants in heavy cover or cattails a lab is hard to beat. In the grasslands, crops and creek beds a pointing dog is the way to go. The vizslas will hunt the cattails or heavy cover they just get beat up more. The labs will hunt the grasslands, you just walk a-lot more to cover the same amount of ground.
We made it to Mitchell S.D. for breakfast. After hitting wal-mart we split up. The vizsla guys went to the grasslands and the others went to Cabalas. We found a field that had crops up to the edge and had a deep ravine. We covered some good ground and put up 4 or 5 pheasant’s. I shot one but after a lengthy search we gave up and moved on. It landed on bare ground at the top of the ravine. It must have ran for a mile. After making it back to the truck we met up with Doug and Jim. We hunted a property that had a lot of potential. We had 4 or 5 seasoned dogs on the ground and none of them even turned on. After covering a-lot of ground Brad found a couple of grouse on the way back to the trucks. We started hunting a nearby area where Doug and Jim found a bunch of Grouse. Rodney and I also were into some grouse on the other side of the road. At the end of the day not much was taken and it was a good thing the cattleman’s club was open. We hunted the area for the next few days. We hit birds here and there, but there was little cover and the effects of the drought were obvious. The number of birds was way down. We did have a phenomenal hunt at a small private field north of Pierre. We all left the field with heavy vests.
For our last day the vizsla guys went toward Aberdeen. We met up with Kendall Stoddard a friend that owns High Trail Connection. He has great pheasant hunts and does not put out birds like so many places (yes, most pay places plant birds even in S.D.). See my link to his site if you would like to know more about Kendall. We saw more birds at his place than we did the rest of the week. In a normal year we would probably have seen more by Pierre. Aberdeen was not hit by the drought as bad as other parts of the state last year. It is simple no cover, no food, or no water = no birds. After spending the day with Kendall and having a nice diner we said our goodbyes and headed home to reality. This was not our best year for bird numbers. It was still a great year to get together with old friends, welcome some new, and watch some good dogs.
Until next time,
South Dakota 2005
South Dakota was planned as soon as we came home from North Dakota last year. This year we had 7 in our group. In the past we have had as many as 13, and as few as 5. We went a few weeks into the season so the weather would be cooler (it also does not affect field trial season). We started on Thursday night Tom Brad and I drove the expedition. Jim C, Doug and Steve drove Jim’s truck. Jim W drives alone to be free and come and go as he likes. As always our first stop is cabellas in Mitchell S.D. after that we can get down to some hunting. The first day is always a little lighter for us. We met some other friends that were based in Mitchell hunted a few hours with them, and then on to Pierre. We have a mix of dogs in the group. Tom, Brad, and I have vizslas. Steve has a lab and a vizsla. Doug has labs. Jim has German wirehaired pointers, and Jim w has a pointer and a shorthair.
We hunt public land most of the time. The land has been worked hard and the birds don’t stick around like the first couple of days of the season. We don’t do alot of the block and push hunting. It just doesn’t seem right behind pointing dogs. We usually break up into groups of two or three and let the dogs do their thing. Some birds flush as soon as we enter the field, others hold so tight you almost have to step on them.
We try and do quite a bit of prairie grouse hunting. In the grasslands you can really let the dogs open up. There is nothing like seeing a dog lock up on top of a hill, walking up and having a covey of grouse bust out of the grass. We were lucky this year the weather was warm enough that they were not in huge groups. The bigger the covey the harder they are to get close to.
The highlight of the trip was when we were hunting a draw on a friends land. The draw split and I went up to the dam. Above the dam was pond with cattails and grass. It had a few trees and was surrounded by crops. I worked the edge and then went toward one of the points. I was hunting Ariel, she locked up on point. I walked in and had about 30 grouse flush all around me. After I caught my breath I dropped a nice prairie chicken. Not more than a minute later about 100 yards from the first covey I had another covey of chickens. As this covey got up I had about 200 pheasants flush wild. I shot another chicken but the pheasants were all out of range. Over a nice point I picked up a nice rooster that didn’t flush. As I worked over to the other point I could see birds running and flying out of the pocket up the hill into the crops. By this time Tom, and Brad came up the hill to join in. The birds all flushed wild but there were hundreds of birds in all. On our way back to the truck we picked up a few more birds and had a great time. Steve Jim, Jim and Doug finished the draw. We have been going to S.D. for 7 years. I have seen a lot of birds but never like this day.
The other highlight of the trip is the food at the cattleman’s restaurant they have the best prime rib. If you make a trip to Pierre make sure you stop in. you won’t be disappointed. This trip is a great way to relax, enjoy old and new friends, and spend some time with our four legged buddies. We would also like to thank Terry for his hospitality.