American Field

Field Trial Report

Region 2 Amateur Walking Shooting Dog Championship

By Michael Spotts | Oct 06, 2017
The Winners. From left: Andy Bogar, Dave McKay, judge; Michael Spotts with  Grouse Ridge Gambler, Troy Terlizzi, judge; Rich Warters and Ernie and Karen Saniga with Barcelona Bull.

Lake Ariel, Pa. — Dave Murphy's beautiful farm was the venue for this year’s Region 2 Amateur Walking Championship. We were fortunate to be able to host such a prestigious event on these unique grounds.

Dave and his family have been improving habitat on this old dairy farm for nearly thirty years with the purpose of creating a place wild birds can thrive. It has worked! The grounds are home to native grouse and woodcock, wild pheasant (some pre-released, but many born on the farm from earlier releases), and pre-released coveys of quail. All four game birds were pointed during the trial.

The Mohegan Bird Dog Club and its members put on a class trial. In addition to the rotating Region 2 and Peter Ecker Memorial trophies, the winner and runner-up received plaques and handmade bells.

Lunches were provided by the club and we had long, midday breaks that facilitated a lot of great storytelling and fellowship. It was a fun trial!

We are again thankful to Purina for sponsoring this event. Their support was crucial to the success.

Judges were Troy Terlizzi and Dave McKay. Both men are very successful horseback field trialers with current winners on the major horseback shooting dog circuit. They were an attentive and positive pair to run under. Both came into bird dogs as wild bird hunters and appreciated a dog that knew how to hunt.


Grouse Ridge Gambler, white and orange setter male owned and handled by Michael Spotts of Bloomsburg, Pa., ran in the second brace. He was braced with Blue Ribbon Bella, Martin Festa’s stylish young pointer female.

The pair was forward off the breakaway with Gambler wider and harder going. Bella had a nice quail find at 5 near the course with Gambler hunting the field edge on the left side. At 10 Gambler stopped, right of the course, in an area where quail were flushed the previous brace. A quick flushing attempt only produced feathers on the ground and he was taken on. Bella was well ahead at this point and Gambler made a big move to catch the front.

It took several minutes to catch up with the other judge and handler and they let us know that the dog came forward and hadn’t been seen after the top of the hill. After several minutes of searching point was called by the handler and Gambler was found tucked in a hedgerow just off the right side of the course. A cock pheasant was pinned up against a stone row and quickly put to flight. Another pheasant flushed back over the dog on the shot. He was strong and forward throughout the hour. At 50 near the road crossing Bella pointed along an edge in the open. Gambler came in from a cast and backed mannerly from a good distance. Pheasants were flushed and all was in order. A big, forward finish capped off a nice hour.

Grouse Ridge Gambler, a first year shooting dog, was acquired just a year ago from Grouse Ridge Kennels as a coming Derby. “Fess” impressed early in workouts with his extreme pointing style and his desire to please.

After a winter in North Carolina with professional Robert Ecker, he rattled off a number of important Derby wins this spring. This win, in his first championship start, has us excited for the future.

Barcelona Bull, Pennsylvanian Ernie Saniga’s veteran pointer male, turned in a solid performance to capture runner-up. “Pablo” was braced with Bob’s Elhew Kate in the 8th brace of the trial. Kate, handled by her owner Bobby Phillips, was wide early and a bit lateral. At 35 Bull made a nice move in the back field and was found pointing at the corner where the course goes back into the woods. Kate came in and backed mannerly. A small covey of quail was put to flight.

This sequence was repeated again at 50 near the road crossing. Despite a long flushing attempt birds were not produced. A running pheasant was suspected. Just seconds before time was called Bull stopped on the far edge. Kate failed to back and was taken up. This time the pheasant was put to flight after another long flushing attempt; a pretty piece of work to finish things off. In addition to spotless bird work, Bull and Ernie navigated the tight course effortlessly. The dog handled exceptionally well, made intelligent casts, and hunted the different types of cover thoroughly. It was a very nice performance.


Bud of Piney Woods (Andy Bogar) and Bob’s Elhew Lucy (Phillips) started things off on a cool, dewy morning. Bud got on the board quickly, nailing a rooster pheasant right off the breakaway with great style and manners. He had a mannerly back at 10, and two more finds . He was in contention until suffering a second unproductive late in the hour. Lucy showed great drive and style but was under a pheasant and picked up.

Little Girl Creek (Saniga) and Fergie on Fire (Dean Avillion) dashed ahead and made the turn quickly. Fergie stopped in the alders to the right of the course at 5 but went with the quail on the flush. Just up ahead Creek had a stop to flush on a small covey in the patch. At 20 she stopped ahead on the course and showed excellent composure as the quail landed at her feet after a short flush. Her race slowed near the end but otherwise this was a solid performance.

Backstep Rudy (Kevin Lahoda) and Waybetter Butch (Dave Park) broke away as the sun started warming things considerably. Rudy was the bird-finder of the trial, pointing four species of game birds in his bid. He had a woodcock at 10, a grouse at 15, a pheasant at 30 and a quail at 45. He pointed all with good style and composure. At 55 he pointed again; this time it was too tempting and he went with the quail on the flush. Butch suffered an unproductive at 25 and then was out of the pocket and the retrieval unit was requested at 30.

Bob’s Elhew Jill (Phillips) and Hirollins Moncho Man (Festa) had their running shoes on early. Jill had a nice stand at 20 but no birds were flushed. At 40, after a nice cast, she crossed to the front with a quail in the air and was picked up. Moncho Man looked good going but took too many steps on a pheasant at 15 and was leashed.

Gab (Bo Mamounis) and Sunrise Star (Bogar) handled well early and were hunting nicely. Gab pointed a chipmunk at 15 but could not connect on birds and finished her hour without any contacts. Star had an unproductive in a likely pheasant spot and then had a stop to flush on a pheasant at the road crossing. His race shortened and he was picked up by his handler at 40.

Miss Penn Star (Spotts) and Wicked Thunder Alley (Teri Propst) were the first brace on the second day. They shared a find on a big covey of quail at 5. Miss had an unproductive well left of the course at 15 and had a hard time staying forward after this. She was picked up at 30. Alley was challenging with a sharp find on a single quail at 10, then an outstanding piece of work on a large pre-released covey at 15. She had two more pieces of bird work but also had three unproductives which kept her out of the winners’ circle.

Bo of Piney Woods (Propst) and Big Bang (Rob Boos) showed good style running and hunting. Bo stood at 5 but birds could not be produced. After a long absence he was picked up. Bang hunted the cover nicely and handled well but her race shortened at the road crossing and she was picked up.

Both Bob’s Elhew Holly (Phillips) and Phil on Fire (Avillion) stopped in the alders right of the course at 5. Birds were heard leaving the area and both handlers fired. Phil moved up on the shot and was leashed. Holly was making some nice casts and pointed again near the pond. She relocated during the flushing attempt and was picked up.

Dirty Dutchman (Propst) and Maebull (Saniga) had the covey at 5 with Dutch backing Mae. Mae got hung up left of the course at 10 and eventually the retrieval unit was used. Dutch pointed in the buckwheat field at 15. After a long flushing attempt and relocation the tight sitting rooster was airborne with Dutch giving it too close of a look.

Sterlingworth Jack (Spotts), as a bye, made some nice moves and showed great speed and style. At 20 he got hung up left of the course and the retrieval unit was used.

Lake Ariel, Pa., September 15 — One Course

Judges: Dave McKay and Troy Terlizzi


Winner—GROUSE RIDGE GAMBLER, 1670231, setter male, by Grouse Ridge Jerry—Grouse Ridge Dee. Michael Spotts, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—BARCELONA BULL, 1610854, pointer male, by Bulltown—Sage Valley Betty. Ernie & Karen Saniga, owners; Ernie Saniga, handler.


Judges Andy Bogar and Martin Festa looked over a good crop of Derbies. Multiple courses were used and it was a tough test for the youngsters.

Rich Warters, for whom the stake is named, made the trip from Pinehurst, N. C. Rich shared his passion for bird dogs, wild birds, and the people who enjoy them all weekend with us.

Hunter Run’s Libby separated herself with a strong and classy race to earn first place. She showed Derby manners on a covey of quail and a strong finish. She was handled by Robert Ecker, Jr. for owners Bill and Kasey Lenz of Chesterfield, S. C. Knob Mountain Monarch, owned and handled by Michael Spotts, ran a powerful, forward race and had contact with a grouse to bring home the red ribbon. Tyson, handled by Robert Ecker, Jr., made some good moves and had work on quail to round out the placements.

Judges: Andy Bogar and Martin Festa

OPEN DERBY — 6 Pointers, 7 Setters and 2 Irish Setters

1st—HUNTER RUN’S LIBBY, 1672792, pointer female, by Hirollins Cash Flow—Hunter Run’s Echo. William & Kasey Lenz, owners; Robert Ecker, Jr., handler.

2d—KNOB MOUNTAIN MONARCH, 1674678, setter male, by Erin’s Hidden Shamrock—Bo’s After Party. Michael Spotts, owner and handler.

3d—TYSON, unreg., pointer male, breeding not given. Robert Ecker, Jr., handler.

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