American Field

Legendary Member of the Field Trial Sport

By Bob Fleury | Jun 04, 2020

The Energizer Battery company’s well recognized mascot the “Energizer Bunny” is known to outlast all the competition. He is still running when all the competition has fallen by the wayside.

The American Brittany Club has an energizer bunny by the name of Ray Trimble of Carterville, Ill.

Well known among his peers as being a gentleman and a sportsman, Ray has been involved with Brittanys and the American Brittany Club since the late 1950s. He has served in many management positions of the club from officer, director to chairperson of many of the working committees over the years.

Highlights of his many years with the Brittany has been winning the National All-Age Championship in 1963 with Crab Orchard Duke and the National Amateur All-Age Championship in 1986 with Crab Orchard Jet.

Ray has won many  regional all-age championships and classics and probably holds the record for most attendance at the yearly ABC National All-Age Championships since the early 1960s.

His other noteworthy accolades has been his being a member of the American Brittany Club Hall of Fame, Brittany Field Trial Hall of Fame, recipient of the American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Award and member of the Bird Dog Foundation Legends.

Ray, at the young age of 94,  shows no sign of slowing down.

Excerpts of article that appeared in the 1964 October issue of the American Brittany Magazine are appended.


Crab Orchard Duke — “Do It all Yourself” Dog to National Champion

By David Kenney

Ray Trimble jumped for joy when the results of the National Championship stake were announced last December 7, and no wonder that he did, for his prophetically named Crab Orchard Duke (now truly one of Crab Orchard’s royalty) had just been named the winner.

Duke thus became the National Champion for 1963 and finished his field championship title at the same moment. With this dual accomplishment, Duke fulfilled all the hopes and dreams spun out for him over a six-year period by his owner-handler, and as he did he presented the Brittany world with another argument for the value of hunting experience in the making of a dog worthy of the title of national champion.

With his victory, Duke also justified this observer’s prediction of a year ago (see The American Brittany,  November 1963, p. 25) when in regard to the then approaching National Championship Stake, he wrote “when the last dog down has faced the hazards of Crab Orchard’s deer, and thickets, and extensive fields, chances are the winner, whether it be Miller’s Desert Dust again or some other equally deserving campaigner, will be a dog who learned to hunt his birds the hard way — before the gun, in big rugged country, in search of natural covies.”

And when the stake was over, it was just such a dog, Crab Orchard Duke, who was the convincing winner, with his predecessor as national champion, Miller’s Desert Dust, placed second in a field of 69 of the nation’s best Brittanys.

Thus the true field dog banner was kept flying, for Duke, like Dusty, learned to hunt his birds wild, and before the gun. His competence at finding and handling natural covies of quail was demonstrated well, in the Championship, when he showed perfect manners on birds on four occasions, with three bevies and a pair to his credit.

Two of his three coveys were found well out on a limb, the results of cast that a less experienced or less determined dog might not have undertaken. Duke showed talents that training on planted birds, and field trialing alone, simply could never have developed in him as well as has hunting under natural conditions.

Crab Orchard Duke was acquired by Ray Trimble from Lee Holman at five months of age in 1958. Lee took him to Canada for the following summer, when he was just past a year old, but aside from that brief experience, Duke was fully trained and developed by Ray. Thus, his well deserved National Championship represents a goal and an inspiration for all amateurs who dare to dream of personally developing and handling their own dogs to major field trial victories.

During that summer on the prairie Lee Holman recognized Duke’s potential and advised his owner not to have him broken as a gun dog at that time, as they had intended, but instead just let him run to his heart’s content.  Duke ran in a few trials as a puppy and Derby, and placed in none at all, but when Ray was ready to break him to all age form, late in 1959, he had been hunted for two full seasons, he knew and loved the birds, and he was ready for a college education.

Ray made Duke completely steady to wing and shot in a surprisingly short time, just less than two months, and had him ready for the Illinois regional trial in February, 1960. There he placed the dog third in the open stake, and an exciting field trial career had begun.

Never campaigned extensively, since job and family duties limited Ray’s participation in trials. Duke totaled five placements in 1960, and added an equal number the following year. His first blue ribbon in a licensed trial came during 1961, in the Midwest regional amateur stake.

Duke’s National Amateur placement in 1962 signified the approach of his finest year. As many other great dogs do, he ran either high in the money or completely out of it.

In 1963 he recorded two first and three seconds in large open stakes, with his last win of the year coming in the National Championship. With that victory, Duke walked away with all the marbles, National Champion, Field Champion, and recognition at last as a great competitor.

When the spring trial season ended in 1964 Duke had placed 18 times in 45 trials over a period of four and a half years, a lifetime average of .400 that even his fellow townsman Stan Musial might envy.

With this summary of the field trial career of Crab Orchard Duke fresh in mind some reflection upon its significance for Brittany owners might be in order.

Duke had little formal training until he was well past two years old and had spent two hunting seasons before the gun. He was allowed to run to the limit and to learn to find birds in the most direct way, by finding birds over and over again and profiting by his own mistakes. Nothing was taken out of the dog before and ardent desire to find game, and the knowledge of how to do it was built in. Then when he had that solid foundation of experience, he broke easily and without loss of character, and with little danger of becoming mechanical in his actions.

On the average, the Brittany is a sensitive dog, and too much discipline too soon can have its negative effects

The training routine that brought Duke to his present greatness may be of interest to both amateur and professional handlers. There was little emphasis on yard training in his earlier days except for force breaking to retrieve. Duke is thoroughly conditioned before hunting and competition, and this attention has paid off in physical soundness and freedom from disease. Late summer finds him roading behind Ray’s car, or on a leash, in the cooler evenings. When cooler days come he is worked in the field three or four times a week, from 45 minutes to an hour each session. Ray attempts always to keep Duke steady to wing and shot while hunting.

This then is Crab Orchard Duke — a lot of natural talent, with all the pieces ably put together by the kind of amateur who is the mainstay of Brittany trialing.

Hunted early and often, broken only when the time was right, and achieving greatness at the age of six. Duke has a lot to teach some of us about the Brittany breed.

Are we wise enough to learn?



Comments (1)
Posted by: William Zeisset | Jun 05, 2020 11:34

Very good article!

Bill Zeisset

If you wish to comment, please login.