Go here: MFJ 2286 Big Stick Vertical Antenna Product Reviews
Three hams have reviewed the 2286 and gave details on how they used it. One didn't even bother with the counterpoise and made contacts.
A counterpoise is not usually connected to a ground rod unless there are specific instructions to do so. They are laid out on the ground to give the antenna the other half of a dipole. A vertical is merely a dipole where the ground radials are the other part of the antenna system.