American Field

Field Trial Report

Indiantown Gap Keystone Classics

By Ernie Saniga | Jun 04, 2018
Open Shooting Dog Classic Winners. Front (l-r): Cody Fisher with Cory’s Easy Holy Water, Mike Tracy with Waybetter Rocky  and Ernie Saniga with Bully Bragg. Behind: George Tracy, Art Hower, Greg Strausbaugh, George Habecker, Steve Boyer and Karen Saniga.

Petersburg, Pa. — We held the Indiantown Gap trials April 3-7 at the club grounds near Petersburg, Pa. These five days featured some brutal winds or cold, or rain, or all of those at once. In short, it was uncomfortable. On Wednesday we had winds of over 50 mph. One handler said he couldn’t get his horse to turn forward. He said, “Try running a dog in open country like this when they can’t hear you and the horse won’t go forward and you will know how hard it was.”

The featured stake was the Keystone Open Shooting Dog Classic, which drew an entry of 38 dogs.

Because I could not attend the Open Classic the report is based upon a conversation with the judges, who said they agreed before the stake that a field trial dog was one that ran, that hunted, that handled and that found and handled game upright and mannerly.

Our “not their first rodeo” judges were Peter Flanagan of Oxford, N. Y., and Tom McKellar of Pottstown, Pa.

They noted that the winner, pointer female Cory’s Easy Holy Water, was strong, cracked her tail and really hunted the country. This was at the limits of this big country and off the beaten path. She had seven finds with precise location, tight and stylish on all. Holy Water finished with elan. She ran in the worst conditions, with high winds and rain.

Her owners are William and Muriel Primm of Cream Ridge, N. J.; George Tracy was her handler.

Waybetter Rocky scored on seven finds and had an unproductive with the same kind of race in terms of range and hunting intelligence and was very smooth handling. Rocky earned second. He had the best conditions to run in, and that isn’t saying much.

Carl and Collin Bishop of Punxsutawney, Pa., and Muriel and William Primm are his owners; Mike Tracy handled.

Bully Bragg was third. He had seven finds of his own and dug in to find them. Otherwise it was the same kind of wide hunting race as the other two. Like the winner, he ran in the worst conditions.

Bully is owned by your writer and his wife Karen and the Primms; Mike Tracy handled.

At one point in the continuous course we have to cross a farm road where a milk truck comes each day to serve the Mennonite dairy farm. They seem to be driven by would-be race car drivers.

Another car or truck comes by occasionally so the crossing isn’t a problem but it only takes one dog and one vehicle meeting at the wrong time and the dog, the handler and the owner lose.

Mike Tracy, who handled the second and third place dogs, let them hunt the inviting country far out but next to the road, assured they would respond when asked, and they did, and that connection with running dogs impressed the judges.

In mentioning this connection and the emphasis they placed on it, Peter Flanagan noted that he scouted for Larry Moon when he handled Great Notion to six of his twelve championship wins and did little more than hold the horse while this great dog was pointing.

I might add that Gerald Tracy never offered advice but when we struggled with a dog and asked for some he usually said, “They gotta listen.” Which covers a lot of bases.

As noted, William and Muriel Primm own all three winners, the latter two with the Bishops and the Sanigas, respectively.

The judges noted that the three winners ran, they hunted, they found game and they handled it upright and mannerly, an echo of what they were looking for.

They said the same was true for a number of others and wanted mention to be made of Steel City Karen with a fine effort including an excellent relocation on a running bird. North Country Girl had a strong effort on the ground and six finds with a single unproductive. Steel City Storm was close as well with a good race and six finds.

The Open Derby Classic was interesting since it featured the top two contenders for the Purina Derby Shooting Dog Award for the 2017-2018 year, Glassilaun War Paint and Miller’s Heat Seeker. War Paint was birdless on this outing and Heat Seeker could score but once, winning third with a powerful classy race and excellent work on game.

Miller’s Lock and Loaded won the Derby Classic with three finds, pretty to look at and handling up front for George Tracy at wide range. Very little scouting was needed. Osceola’s Dial Tone was second with a similar classy and strong race with three finds with Mike Tracy at the helm. He hunted hard.

There were other good ones as well including Kingsman with multiple finds and high IQ ground work.

Petersburg, Pa., April 3 — One Course

Judges: Peter Flanagan and Tom McKellar


33 Pointers and 5 Setters

1st—CORY’S EASY HOLY WATER, 1601794, pointer female, by Connor’s E Z Button—Holy Water. Muriel & William Primm, owners; George Tracy, handler.

2d—WAYBETTER ROCKY, 1652783, pointer male, by Brown’s Tom Tom—Waybetter Reba. Carl & Collin Bishop & Muriel & William Primm, owners; Mike Tracy, handler.

3d—BULLY BRAGG, 1650794, pointer male, by Our Big Bully—Little Wing Silver Belle. Ernie & Karen Saniga & Muriel & William Primm, owners; Mike Tracy, handler.


1st—MILLER’S LOCK AND LOADED, 1674986, pointer male, by Just Irresistible—Miller’s Bring The Heat. Muriel & William Primm, owners; George Tracy, handler.

2d—OSCEOLA’S DIAL TONE, 1673570, pointer male, by Miller’s Dialing In—White Diamond Sally. Joe McHugh, owner; Mike Tracy, handler.

3d—MILLER’S HEAT SEEKER, 1674886, pointer male, by Just Irresistible—Miller’s Bring The Heat. Dennis Hood, Jack & Fran Miller & Muriel & William Primm, owners; George Tracy, handler.


We had nine in the Amateur Derby. Brian Sanchez won the blue and red ribbons with two pointers from the Tracy strings. They were also one-two in the Open Derby. Miller’s Lock and Loaded and Osceola’s Dial Tone each had big forward races and one find. Bella Bulli won third with a strong race and a single find. All had shooting dog manners.

The Keystone Amateur Shooting Dog Classic started Friday afternoon. Our judges were Pennsylvanians George Habecker and Steve Boyer, both of whom have served us as judges in the past a number of times. Thanks to them and the open judges from all owners, handlers and trainers!

Throughout the stake it was very cold and windy.

Ten-year-old pointer male Erin’s War Creek was the winner. He was handled by Cody Fisher in his first attempt in this role, and he said he spent a sleepless night thinking about the “bad” things that could happen.

War Creek was braced with Backcountry Polly, seven-year-old pointer female placing third for Chris Catanzarite.

They were off from the clubhouse and were gone early, being found standing together on a pine edge at 6, style and manners on each here and on all of their bird work. Together they were sent down the Mennonite lines through the Shavers Creek bottom at wide range and were found again standing together, this in the boggy bottom.

The boggy bottom is after the old bridge which Mapquest sends you over to the clubhouse. But if you do take Mapquest’s directions your truck and your trailer would end up in Shavers Creek since the bridge is bottomless.

Going up the half-mile line they hunted intelligently with the wind coming straight down the edge and swirling, War Creek weaving in and out on the left side, Polly on the right. War Creek stopped and styled up for a nice find.

After the hundred-acre farm, they were found after an absence on their third divided find at the ranch house location. On to the trust property, Polly beat the veteran up the crabapple hillside line, pointing at the top with War Creek backing, this at 52.

Then, at 55, both dogs bulled and were ridden for at a difficult turn, Polly back quickly and War Creek being stopped by birds sideways up a line toward the Mennonite house.

Jubullee, or Peggy, was second. The three-year-old pointer female started in the open country at the Bone Pile headed toward the 100-acre farm. It was blowing a gale and very cold. She was forward but very much a handful early. She was found standing at 6 in a small copse on a wooded hillside, the opposing handler riding up the bird as he skirted her, the bird unseen by the judges and thus she was sent on without flushing. Heeled across the farm road at 12 Peggy settled into a strong forward race for the last 48, scoring five times, most off the beaten path and on all upright, tight and mannerly.

Merv Eisenhart chairs the trial and manages the public drawing and cocktail party at the clubhouse the night before the trial.

Art Hower oversees the grounds. Greg Strausbaugh does a bunch of planning regarding the property and he, Merv and Art are out each brace planting birds.

Mary Tracy owns the kitchen and supervises the cocktail parties and free dinners each night for all who come.

Ted Foust and Bob Reed man the dog truck. Thanks are due to all of them and the ones I forgot because there are many who make a field trial go.

Judges: George Habecker and Joe Lordi

AMATEUR DERBY — 9 Pointers

1st—MILLER’S LOCK AND LOADED, 1674986, pointer male, by Just Irresistible—Miller’s Bring The Heat. Muriel & William Primm, owners; George Tracy, handler.

2d—OSCEOLA’S DIAL TONE, 1673570, pointer male, by Miller’s Dialing In—White Diamond Sally. Joe McHugh, owner; Mike Tracy, handler.

3d—BELLA BULLI, 1674898, female, by Bully Bragg—Bulerina. Ernie & Karen Saniga, owners; Ernie Saniga, handler.

Judges: Steve Boyer and George Habecker


[One-Hour Heats] — 15 Pointers and 1 Setter

1st—ERIN’S WAR CREEK, 1608208, pointer male, by Erin’s Special Force—Priceless. Allen R. Linder, owner; Cody Fisher, handler.

2d—JUBULLEE, 1662778, pointer female, by Bully Bragg—Summerhill Bella. Ernie & Karen Saniga, owners; Ernie Saniga, handler.

3d—BACKCOUNTRY POLLY, 1629923, pointer female, by Mac’s Silver Dollar—Backcountry Dolly. Chris Catanzarite, owner and handler.

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