The pointing dog is a long-standing symbol of understated class in the hunting world. From the long strides elicited by a “hunt ‘em up” command, to the 12 o’clock tail in a staunch point, a well-trained pointer is beautiful.
One particular breed, with their bushy 12 o’clock tails, caught the eye of many a competitor and spectator at Bill Berner’s Beulah Ridge Kennels Surf and Turf event July 21-22 — the English Setter, an institution among pointing dogs and at Beulah Ridge in Lamoni, Iowa.
Berner’s line of English Setters is the epitome of the breed with champions found in nearly every generation on the pedigree. Luckily, for the bird dog lovers in attendance, The Surf and Turf brought together not only Seven members of the Beulah Ridge Setter family, but the group of people connected by the litter of pups that has performed at such a high level.
For Berner it started with Buelah Ridge Willy who he bought from the Outback Kennel in Western Kansas.
“He was 10 months old when I bought him and the price was $250, which was hardly anything.” Berner said. “I sent his pedigree to the American Field Dog Stud Book. I got it back and saw he was the grandson of a field trial hall of famer and arguably the greatest English Setter ever, Tekoa Mountain Sunrise and was shocked.”
Berner’s discoveries didn’t end there. Willy’s great-grandfather is also a field trial hall of fame dog by the name of Tomoka, a dog Berner says could be the second greatest English Setter in the history of the game. He’s a great great-grandson to the Perfomer another field trial hall of famer, and the list of champions in the family continues on through generation upon generation.
Berner originally planned to hunt wild birds with Willy, but with a lack of wild birds in southern Iowa he entered the tournament-hunting world. Willy’s first super major resulted in a fifth place finish in a highly competitive field.
“I didn’t think we’d ever finish that high again, but we just kept getting better and better,” Berner said. “As he progressed, people started taking interest in Willy and his blood line.”
This interest led to Berner’s breeding of Willy to his female setter Tripp’s Lilly Pearl. A product of K&L kennels in Missouri, she has a similar star filled pedigree. On Nov. 7, 2009 Lilly gave birth to 12 puppies including Jacob Edward’s Brewster, Ed Holland’s Stoney, Ron Reiber’s Penn, Berner’s Hillbilly and Bob George’s Patch. All of who competed in the Surf and Turf.
Willy’s most recent accomplishments could be seen on the Sportsman channel in the Bird Dog Circuit’s World Championships. Willy’s list of accomplishments includes 33x BDC champion, National Upland Classic Series Champion, and a winner on the Bird Hunters United circuit.
The nearly nine-year-old Willy’s performance doesn’t stop with himself it trickles down to his prodigies. Jacob Edward’s Beulah Ridge Brewster laid claim to the 2011 National Pheasants and Quail Forever National Field Trial title.
For those that may not know the rules of the game, handlers are given three birds. They are scored on the dog’s points, the handler’s shooting and retrieves, and deductions are given to dogs that trap birds on their own or do not retrieve the bird to the hands of the handler. In the Surf and Turf’s case runs were limited to ten minutes due to the summer heat. Points are awarded for left over time.
On day one of the Surf and Turf, grandma Dottie shocked the field with a methodical run of 3:38. Willy lived up to his reputation running a 4:29 landing him in the run off. Mom and the kids didn’t fare as well finishing just outside the four-dog final. Willy showed up in a big way in the run off with a time of 2:48, just off the field record, leaving both Bill and I a bit out of breath on the walk back to the vehicles.
Day two brought the rest of the family to the field. Ed Holland’s Stoney led off in the early morning Iowa beauty. He ran a 4:58 landing him in the run off later that afternoon.
“I love him for his passion for the game.” Holland said. “He just loves it. He has a very good nose. His intensity is right up there with the most intense dog that I have. He would make a great lap dog because he loves to cuddle, but, boy, when you blow that whistle it’s go time and he doesn’t stop until he finds the last bird.”
Willy wasn’t far behind with a 5:03. Brewster ran a 5:16 that would eventually lead to a run-off spot. The rest of the family struggled with the heat and deteriorated scenting conditions of the late morning runs.
After a tough decision to scratch Willy due to the heat, it came down to four. Jacob Edward’s Brewster, Mark Rozum’s Pointing Lab Elvira and Ed Holland’s Setter Stoney and English Pointer Shelby.
The run-off yielded much drama for one man in particular. Earlier in the day Ed received news that his father, who was ill for quite some time, had been moved to the ICU. While talking to Ed in the blind before his run he said, “This one’s for dad. This is where he’d want me, and this run’s for him.”
Stoney and Ed ran a 2:54 finishing the weekend behind only the elder champion Willy and his 2:48. Ed’s father passed the next morning, and on a personal note I must say that run is my favorite moment in my short involvement with field trialing and my thoughts are with Ed and his family.
After a competitive weekend at Beulah Ridge, it was the Setter that dominated the Pointing class. Not just any Setters, but Beulah Ridge Setters. Willy and Stoney took first and Second, and Willy, Stoney and Brewster finished in the top five on day two.
The future is bright for the Beulah Ridge Setters in many different settings. Bob George’s Patch is more of a wild bird dog, but also excels on the trial fields.
“She has a great nose, but she’s so intense that she wants to get to the bird and she may trap a bird, but I do this for fun and I see the difference in training from my dog to a Brewster who gets trained everyday.” George said. “She’s a bit of a raw talent, but she has an incredible hunting drive even in the backyard. When she goes out the door she doesn’t lounge around, she’s bird hunting, looking for whatever she can find.”
Berner’s Buelah Ridge Setters live up to his four major tenants of premium bird dogs. Willy and Lilly’s prodigies are loving pets with superior blood lines that perform at the highest levels and will produce great prodigies of their own.