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Field Trial Report

National Open Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship

By Joe Lordi | Nov 16, 2021
Championship Winners, In foreground, from left: Casey Hollander with Miller’s Heat Seeker and Jeanette Tracy with Hillhavyn’s Wild Child. Standing, from left to right: Ted Faust, Judge Buster Tucker, Earl Drew, George Tracy, Roger McPhearson, Muriel Primm, Margret Drew, Bill Primm, Mark Hughes, Joe McHugh, Judge Marty Robinson, Chris Catanzarite, Carol Bishop, and Joe Lordi.

Bloomingdale, Ohio — The 65th running of the National Open Pheasant Shooting ran on the rolling hills of the Mingo Sportsman's Club outside of Bloomingdale, Ohio.

This year getting to the trial proved to be more challening than most years. Flat tires were the norm, with Mike Tracy, Casey Hollander, and Kevin Joyce all getting a flat tire, and this reporter winning with two flat tires.

The draw was more than respectable with 62 dogs being handled by five different pros and one amateur handler. The club thanks Mike, George  and Jeanette Tracy, Mark Hughes, Bo Brewer, and Doug Ray for their continued support. Chris Catanzarite was the lone amateur handler.

The drawing was held Friday night at the pavilion. Maureen Joyce picked the dogs, and Mary Tracy and Muriel Primm completed the brace sheets and judges’ books. Hot dogs with all the fixings fed a group of tired travelers who spent much of the day on the road and seemed to replace as many tires as a typical NASCAR team on race day.

The club would like to thank Purina for their continued support. Purina ia a generous sponsor of our sport and this trial. They provide dog food to the winners, sponsor the handlers' dinner, and pay for the ad. Thank you hardly seems enough for all they do.

This year the search for judges was far and wide with numerous unavailabilities. Although this was a bit frustrating for the judicial committee, it may have been for the best. This had us reach deeper than normal. We were forced to scour the country for two qualified judges. By digging deeper, we were able to secure two highly qualified judges. Marty Robinson from Carrollton, Ga., is extremely successful running dogs and has been very influential in the Southern Bird Hunters Association. Buster Tucker from Berea, Ky., is no stranger to the winners' circle. These two judges rode through tough conditions, setting a good consistent pace and giving all the dogs a chance. It seemed from the beginning they wanted a running dog, and nothing short of a strong forward race would be considered. These two are gentlemen were an absolute pleasure to be around, and their decision was well received by all.

There are always numerous people to thank when running a trial this size. First and foremost is Chris Catanzarite. He makes numerous trips to the grounds to make sure everything is in order. This year he had to secure a new bird supplier. He spends a lot of time working with the club and Bill Monk to make sure everything is just perfect. This trial’s success is due to Chris’s hard work, dedication, and attention to detail.

We thank Ted Faust for manning the dog wagon. He was on the spot, having the dogs right where they needed to be and also provided refreshing drinks between braces and snacks for the morning breaks.

This year the club tried to give all the dogs an even chance. In the past, dogs drawn in the first brace had a major advantage. Although this was still the coolest time, Mark Hughes got water tubs that were evenly placed on course, and Dave Hughes and Roger McPherson made sure the tubs were filled each morning and afternoon. This helped to give the dogs an opportunity to cool off. It is impressive that a Hal-of-Famer was spending his time filling water tubs for dogs.

Continuing that trend, we worked hard to have a marshal for each dog. We cannot thank Kevin Joyce, Greg Strausbaugh, Roger McPherson, Mark Hughes, and Chris Catanzarite enough for dedicating their time to help in this effort. These individuals are a shining example of everything that is right in our great sport.

Our host, the Mingo Sportsman Club, is without a doubt a great supporter of this trial. They provide us with amazing grounds that they continue to improve each and every year. They allow club members to earn their yearly work credit supporting this trial by providing lunches and planting birds. They provide delicious dinners at the wonderful clubhouse most nights. We are grateful to the club and Bill Monk for their continued support, and we look forward to running at Mingo for years to come.

Saturday night was a wonderful clubhouse dinner provided with the local 4-H club for a small donation. Monday was the handlers' dinner sponsored by Purina. We enjoyed Salisbury steak with all the fixings and fabulous desserts. Tuesday evening we celebrated last year’s champion Master’s Touch and runner-up Dominator’s Kid Rock. Thank you to owner Tommy Liesfeld for his generous donation. We all enjoyed a delicious Italian feast complete with strawberry pie and apple crisp. On Wednesday, we enjoyed a wonderful fried chicken dinner provided by an anonymous donor. We thank this donor for the generous donation.

As always, when you have this many people to thank, someone could be missed, and for that please blame this on the lack of talent of the reporter and not the club’s appreciation for your help.

THE WINNERS

Miller’s Heat Seeker, owned by Alabaman Dennis Hood, Muriel and Bill Primm of New Jersey, and Georgians Jack and Fran Miller, and handled by George Tracy, bested the field of 62 with a dominating performance that was made to look effortless.

The previous brace was exciting with dogs trading casts and finds. This brace was different. Heat Seeker went off as a bye from the main breakaway. Being a bye can be a blessing or a curse, and, in this case, Heat Seeker took full advantage of the cooler weather and being a bye. His bird work was exceptional with four well-spaced finds; his race was strong and to the front. It was as if he was admiring each of his finds. It was so close to perfect that, as weird as it seems, it almost took away from the excitement. There was no doubt that Heat Seeker was going to be exactly where you would want to see him. He never disappointed and continued to a strong race.

Hillhavyn’s Wild Child, handled by Jeanette Tracy, ran in the 30th brace. Wild Child was in the first brace on Thursday morning, also taking full advantage of the cooler temperatures. Wild Child was off to the races, making big moves. She was gathered up at a rock pile and taken on to the locust grove. Her first find was out of my sight, but it was reported that all was in order for the flush. Her second find was in the cover just beyond the locust grove in the flats; she stood high and tight for the flush, and she was sent on at 21 minutes. She was sent to the left, and up on the hill she was charged with an unproductive after an unsuccessful relocation.

After gaining the front, she continued a strong forward race up the ridge, standing up at the clump of trees on the ridge. All was in order as Jeanette flushed a rooster. This was a rare find in what was a consistent bird spot in years past. Wild Child continued hunting ahead with her fourth find coming on the right as she turned back on the outer loop. She stood tall for the flush of a hen bird. Wild Child continued to the front and made a big finish to the front after the rock pile.

Pushing the winners were Waybetter Rocky,  Osceola’s Seminola Wind, Pinestraw Sweet Tea, and Dominator’s Ghost Rider.

THE RUNNING

The first brace was off at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday morning with cool temperatures that unfortunately did not last long.

Hard Truth was handled by Doug Ray, High Drive Fantasy Pants by Mike Tracy.  Both dogs moved with ease, taking the left side of the autumn olives. Point was called on the left for Fantasy Pants. She stood high and tight on both ends for the flush. As Fantasy Pants gained the front, Hard Truth was pointing, and Fantasy Pants failed to back. Hard Truth was intent, but a bird could not be produced. Truth continued to the front, running a strong race as point was called on the left at the end of the locust grove. Again, he looked perfect on point but had to be relocated. He was working to the bird but got a little too close.The bird lifted. Handler picked up.

The second brace Featured R Q’s Saddle (Jeanette Tracy) and Armstrong Mountain Dustie (M. Tracy) released at the end of the locust grove. Mike called point for Dustie on the right hill; as he rode to Dustie, Jeanette called point for Saddle on the left, just over the hill. Dustie stood tall for the flush of a hen, and Jeanette flushed for Saddle. The increasing temperature made it tough on the dogs. Saddle showed more, but both dogs covered the country. Dustie was standing on the left toward the end of the outer loop. Mike saw a kill and elected to go on. As he grabbed the collar to take Dustie on, a hen bird lifted. Saddle slammed on point, and you were sure he pinned the bird, but none was to be found. Both dogs finished the hour strong and to the front.

The final brace Saturday morning consisted of Dominator’s Ghost Rider (D. Ray) and Miller’s War Bonnet (M. Tracy). Both dogs made nice moves, with Ghost Rider making a big wide move on the left that is oh so pretty when done right. Going up the hill after the ridge, War Bonnet was charged with an unproductive, and Ghost Rider backed. On the outer ridge, both dogs were standing as handlers flushed a hen from the bush in front of the dogs. Both dogs looked spectacular; this scene could have easily been a painting. They both continued to hunt to the front making big casts. Just before time, scouts called point for both dogs, but it was an unfortunate unproductive.

The afternoon provided extreme heat that seemed to get the better of the dogs. At 2 p.m., Miller’s Braveheart (M. Tracy) and Chief Apache (D. Ray) were released from across the pavilion. They moved with cracking tails and a forward race, but both handlers elected to pick up due to the heat and no bird work.

Waybetter Bobby (J. Tracy) and Bronco Bully (M. Tracy) were sent down from the top of the ridge. Bully was making wide-ranging moves, but with no birds, handler elected to pick up at 30. Bobby hunted the ground hard and moved with style and ease, but with no bird work the handler elected to pick up at 35.

Miller’s Just Plain Rowdy (G. Tracy) and Doubledee Deeva (J. Tracy) were off from the main breakaway. Rowdy was fast and forward while Deeva locked tight on the right side going up the hill. As Jeanette caught the front, George called for the retrieval unit. Deeva continued to hunt the locust grove and along the flats before point was called on the left side up the hill. She was charged with a second unproductive to end her bid.

Sunday morning gave us Osceola’s Seminole Wind (M. Tracy) and Double Deuce Zeke  (M. Hughes). The dogs started strong, showing to the front. As they finished the breakaway, both screamed over the far hill. Chris Catanzarite called point for Seminole Wind on left edge of the locust groove for a pretty find. Both dogs shared to a divided find ahead just past the first tree of the outer loop. Zeke tallied a pretty find just over the hill at the end of the outer loop. Both dogs finished the hour.

Miller’s Locked and Loaded (G. Tracy) and Steel City Avenger (J. Tracy) were released from the rock pile, both dogs away well to front fields and making the turn up the breakaway field. Point was called for Locked and Loaded on the far side of the feed patch with all in order. As George gained the front, Jeanette called for the retrieval device. Loaded continued with a forward race, making a strong comeback on the outer loop. He made game, but no bird was produced. He finished the hour strong.

Miller’s Blazing Hot Chick (G. Tracy) and Suemac’s Sashay (M. Hughes) finished out Sunday morning. They started at the rock pile, making strong casts before a quick water at 5 minutes. The twosome moved with high tails. They were watered again along the locust groove to help combat the heat. Chick was locked up, but again no bird was produced. George elected to pick up. Sashay continued to hunt ahead, giving a valiant effort, but with no birds Mark picked up before going into the outer loop.

Sunday afternoon braces started at 2:30 p.m. with Land Cruiser Benny (J. Tracy) and Bail Me Out (M. Tracy). The heat was there with a slight breeze. Bail Me out had a find at the end of the breakaway hedgerow before Mike elected to pick up at 20. Benny had an unproductive before the handler elected to pick up.

Bully Rock (M. Tracy) and Showtime Dominator (D. Ray) were away through the locust grove with Dominator on the left and Rock to the right. In the flat beyond the locust grove, Rock stood stoutly with Dominator backing stylishly. Dominator was sent to the left, and again Rock was on the right. They continued to the front before Mike called for the retrieval unit. Dominator suffered an unproductive on the right edge of the ridge, and the handler elected to pick up as we reached the outer loop.

Answered Prayers (M. Tracy) and The Secret (J. Tracy) were featured for the final brace on Sunday. Answered Prayers is an attractive-moving dog that made some nice casts. He is one you would like to see under better conditions. The Secret ran an excellent race, finishing the hour with only an unproductive. The gallery was secretly cheering for this dog to have a find or two. His race was worthy of a multiple-find effort. This was one of the few dogs which the heat seemed to have no effect. His race was the same  in the first 10 minutes as it was in the final 10. Truly. This was heartbreaking.

Monday started with cool temperatures, but they did not last long.

C S Lil Ann, handled by Bo Brewer, is a classy-moving bird finder. Ann took an early unproductive. Calico’s Country Strong (G. Tracy) had a crackerjack find on the right side of the locust grove. As Country Strong was gaining the front, a bird lifted in her area code; she kind of acknowledged it and continued. George elected to pick up. Ann, with the course to herself, made some nice casts. Bo gave her a splash and go at the second pond, and she was off over the hill. In the valley on the right, she was standing for a find. She was released and went up the hill where Doug Ray called point on the right side of the ridge; she held strong for Bo to flush a hen bird. Her next contact was on quail as we started coming back from the outer loop. Just before time was up, she suffered an unfortunate second unproductive.

Bittersweet War Cry (G. Tracy) and C S  Trump (B. Brewer) were away from the rock pile. Both dogs made the turn before the pavilion. Bo called it at 20. War Cry tried, but with no bird work. Tracy picked up at 40.

Suemac’s Tiger Rose (G. Tracy) and Diamond Hill Max (J. Tracy) were off on the outer loop. Max answered early with a pretty find at 1 minute on hen and another at 3 on rooster. Again, Max stood for the flush for his third find at 7. Rose is a classy moving female, but the handler called for the retrieval device at 25. Max was adding some range to his race but was on the other side of the pond. He attempted to swim across and then thought better of it. Jeanette had to go around the pond to gather him up. He was sent to the front, had a brief absence before being seen in the locust grove. He was watered and sent on. He finished the hour strong with an unproductive at 50.

Miller’s Southern Gossip (G. Tracy) and Steel City Karen (J. Tracy) were away up the breakaway hedgerows. Both dogs gave a good effort. Karen had two unproductives. Gossip made some exciting casts but with no birds was picked up at 40.

Navajo Cody (J. Tracy) and Miller’s Upgrading the Ante (G. Tracy) were released going into the outer loop. Point was called for Cody in the center of the outer loop. All was in order as the handler flushed a hen bird as Cody stood stoutly. Not long after, George called  it a day for the classy pointer. Cody was making strong moves and was rewarded with a second find on the main breakaway hedgerow. All was in order for a stylish find. Cody was sent on and had another classy find near the end of the hedgerow. Cody continued a strong forward race, making a strong bid for this title, but as time was called, the handler had to call for the retrieval unit.

Iron Bully (G. Tracy) and L F Silver Bell (D. Ray) were the featured pair in the 18th brace. They were sent down the ridge. Iron Bully had a lapse of manners and was up. Silver Bell was not pleasing the handler; he elected to pick up before we reached the end of the outer loop.

Tuesday morning brought cooler temperatures and a nice breeze.

North Country Girl (G. Tracy) and Absolute Dominator (D. Ray) tried to take advantage of the nicer weather. Girl was locked tight on the top of the first hill with Dominator backing. No bird was seen officially, and Tracy elected to go on. Both dogs were running nice forward races and in tune with their handlers. Country Girl had a pretty find in the locust grove. Dominator made an absolutely beautiful cast up the hill on the left, and he was rewarded for the effort. Bo called point; she stood high and tight along the milo feed strip. Doug was forced to relocate. Dominator got just a little too close, so the bird lifted. Country Girl was covering the country and made a wide cast when Casey Hollander called point. All was in order for the flush, and she continued to the front. At the end of the outer loop, the retrieval device was out.

No. 20 featured Cheney Jack (G. Tracy) and Island Blue Jeans (D. Ray). Both dogs covered the country, with Jack just a bit farther reaching. Jack scored a stylish find on the right in the first 3 minutes. He gained the front with fine style, hitting the cover. He made a nice cast as he headed toward the trailers and pointed. George flushed and tried to relocate, but Jack refused; after another flushing attempt, George elected to go on. Both dogs hunted but were trading casts. Point was called for Jack but waved off. Blue Jeans was pointing at the end of the locust grove with Jack backing; no bird was produced here. Blue Jeans had a find on the left while Jack was rimming the right hills. On the right side of the ridge, Jack stood determined; as George flushed, a number of pheasant lifted. Jack never let down. He was off to the front and scored another stylish find on the outer loop. Both dogs finished the hour ahead.

The final brace of the morning was Back County Bruiser (Chris Catanzarti) and Miller’s Million Dollar Penny (G. Tracy) coming back from the outer loop. Bruiser, a normally reliable pointer, seemed to be a bit of a handful, and Chris was forced to call for the retrieval unit. Penny was working with her handler before she had a lapse of manners and was picked up.

The first brace after lunch continued with much cooler temperatures. Faithful (G. Tracy) is a classy moving pointer female that had an unproductive at the end of the breakaway hedgerow before having a slight breach of manners. Saddle Ridge Thunder (J. Tracy) is a classy setter that runs and points with a high tail. He had a back and a find before the handler elected to pick up on the top of the ridge.

Miller’s Big Iron (G. Tracy) and Wayward Flying Tomato (M. Hughes) were away down the ridge. Big Iron was running a big race when point was called in the center of the outer loop. On the relocation, the bird lifted in the air, and Iron was tempted too much. Flying Tomato ran a strong race but with no finds was picked up at 35.

Miller’s Extreme Heat (G. Tracy) and Pinson Imagine That (D. Ray) were off from the main breakaway. Imagine That had a stylish find at 5 and an unproductive in the locust grove. She made a big cast up the hill on the left, and the handler called for the retrieval unit. Heat is fast classy pointer that moves as if she is floating on air. Making several big casts, she swung wide to the right beyond the second pond where point was called for a limb find on the far right woodsedge. She continued making big moves, going up and over the ridge. Point was called on the left with Heat pointing up the hill; unfortunately, she was charged with an unproductive. She continued a strong race with a find in the center of the outer loop at 56 that required a relocation. At time she was standing, and as George picked her up, a hen bird lifted.

Wednesday morning featured Erin’s Big Casino (G. Tracy) and Braggabull (M. Hughes). Big Casino is a strapping setter male that is classy moving, but Tracy had to call for the retrieval device at 15. Braggabull was standing; as Mark rode up, the bird lifted. Just to the left side of the locust grove, Braggabull was standing as flight was called. Braggabull was standing in all her glory but was charged with unproductive at twenty-three minutes. She was released and within 500 yards was locked up again; on the relocation, she was a bit too close for comfort.

Miller’s Unbridled Forever (G. Tracy) and Pine Straw Sweet Tea (J. Tracy) were off from the flats. Unbridled Forever ran up the tower hill and had an unsuccessful contact with a pheasant. The pretty moving setter Sweet Tea is fast and light-footed. She covered the ground out front. She had four finds, the first stout find atop the ridge. In previous years, this was a honey spot; this year it was the only find here. Sweet Tea continued a strong, forward race as we turned to head back in the outer loop. Handler had a plan to send Sweet Tea up the left, but Sweet Tea had a better plan to hunt on the right and pinned a pheasant. Sweet Tea made a big move along the right as we reached the rock pile. She was rewarded with another find just before the pond. She was locked up tight in heavy cover by the tree as we turned to go back out. Jeanette attempted to relocate, but Sweet would have none of that, and Jeanette flushed a cock bird just in front. She continued to run a strong forward race, finishing the hour strong.

Miller’s High Heat Index (J. Tracy) and Miller’s Strolling For Gold (G. Tracy) were released from the rock pile through the locust grove. High Heat struck a pose at the end of the locust grove with Gold backing. All was in order for the flush. Both dogs were making moves. High Heat Index was to the far left before making it to the outer loop. At the end of the outer loop, George had to call for the retrieval unit Heat Index had an unproductive and was just a bit too close on a relocation and was up at 40.

Reedy Creak Dial Tone (G. Tracy) and Steel Valley Freedom (J. Tracy) were off after a quick break to switch horses with storms looming in the afternoon. Dial Tone made some nice moves, but George called it at the rock pile with Dial Tone showing up just after. Freedom had an unproductive and a stylish find on the left of the locust grove. He continued a forward race but got caught up on the road to the right before the ridge, and the handler elected to pick up.

Rocky River Showmaster (G. Tracy) and Absolute Tornado (D. Ray) were away after a shortened lunch break due to the impending storms. Tornado is a pleasure to watch on the ground. He scored first with a classy point at the end of the autumn olives, Doug flushing a hen; a rooster was spotted in the cover. Showmaster exhibited fine manners backing. They continued to the front, but George called for the GPS at the end of the locust grove, with Showmaster showing up shortly after. Tornado ran a strong, forward race with a second classy find on the other side of the first pond that took a big relocation effort. He continued a forward race, finishing the hour.

The brace with Waybetter Rocky and Hilllhavyn’s Wild Child was noted under Winners, and was the most exciting brace of the trial, with both dogs making a serious bid for the title. Rocky ran a strong, forward race with an unproductive, a back, and three finds. The difference was an unfortunate finish for Rocky.

The winner, Miller’s Heat Seaker, was next and has been noted.

Miller’s Record Heat, as a bye, had one stylish find before George Tracy called for the retrieval unit.

Bloomingdale, Ohio, September 18 — One Course

NATIONAL OPEN PHEASANT SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP

[One-Hour Heats] — 51 Pointers and 11 Setters

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

Runner-Up—HILLHAVYN’S WILD CHILD, 1673693, pointer female, by Wild Sky—Hillhavyn’s Showgirl. Joe McHugh, owner; Jeanette Tracy, handler.

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