Event: Miller's Cover Girl Wins the 2023
Result: National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship
Location: Bloomingdale, Ohio
Post Date: Oct 18, 2023
Submitted By: Joe Cammisa
National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship Winners (front, l-r): Madison McDonald with Miller's Cover Girl and Chris Catanzarite with Backcountry Buddy. (Second row): Lee Long (judge), Jack Miller, Fran Miller (handler), Brian Riggles (judge), and Joe Cammisa (reporter). (Third row): Buddy Morrison, Mike Tracy, Allen Linder, Muriel Primm, Bill Primm, Stacey Woodie, Greg Strausbaugh, Jeff Gilbertson, and Mike Martino.
A short history of the National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship shows the most recent winners since 2017.
2017: TOUCH'S KATRINA, 1654628, pointer female, by Touch's White Out-House's Proud Mary. Austin Turley, owner and handler.
2018: TOUCH'S HAIL STONE, 1653857, pointer male, by Touch's White Out-Touch's Maswood Anne. Alexander Rickert, owner and handler.
2019: UPFRONT'S SOUTHERN STAR, 1662579, pointer female, by Ransom-Double Wild. Lance Schulz, owner and handler.
2020: TOUCH'S DIAMANTE, 1651518, pointer male, by Touch's White Out-Henson's Go Girl. Austin Turley, owner and handler.
2021: HIGHTAILING MAGGIE, 1674283, pointer female, by Bail Me Out-Walden's Ridge Liz. Kevin & Maureen Joyce, owners; Kevin Joyce, handler.
2022: NAVAJO CODY, 1668520, pointer male, by Great River Ice-Blaze's Isis. Camille Masiello & Saverio Morelli, owners; Joseph E. Lordi, handler.
And, now let the history books reflect:
2023: Miller's Cover Girl, 1675005, pointer female, by Just Irresistible-Miller's Bring the Heat. Jack and Fran Miller, owners: Fran Miller, handler.
Miller's Cover Girl ("Alice") comes from a long line of winning dogs bred, raised, and trained by Jack and Fran Miller. She is from a litter of notable champions: Miller's Blindsider, Miller's Heat Wave, Miller's Upgraded Version, Miller's Braveheart, and Miller's Just Plain Rowdy, along with several brothers not littermates with many championship titles too numerous to mention. Having been bred in the purple, she comes by her talents naturally. The Millers have been breeding, raising, and training dogs for the all-age and shooting dog circuits and have proven to be very successful. Dogs like Miller's Record Heat, Miller's Extreme Heat, Miller's High Heat Index, Miller's Packing Heat, and Miller's Heat Advisory have come out of their program, to name a few.
Backcountry Buddy is a product of Chris Catanzarite's breeding program and placed second in the National Shooting Dog Futurity on these same grounds at just 14 months of age. He was the winner, placing first in the National Walking Shooting Dog Futurity. Only just last spring, he placed third in the Carolina Celebration. Buddy is right now qualified for the National Open Shooting Dog Championship, and this is all accomplished before his fifth birthday next July.
The judges for the trial were the outstanding Ohio dogmen, Lee Long and Brian Riggles, both very capable and of high sportsmanship caliber. Brian found his passion "later in life, while in his 30s." He owned his first competitive dog in 2000 and turned professional in 2005. He remained a pro until 2017 when he decided to request his return to amateur status so that he could spend time running his own dogs. Lee was first attracted to dogs when he first saw the Disney movie "Big Red." Ironically, his first dog was an Irish setter. He started out hunting birds and was attracted to field trials through Springer Spaniels and then Brittanys, and just really stumbled into field trials. Since then, he has bred, trained, and campaigned a good number of field trial dogs. Both have a good eye for dogs and have judged more than their fair share of championships, classics, and weekend trials.
The winner and runner-up are detailed in the brace descriptions.
Brace No. 1: Miller's Little Duce Coupe (PM/Madison McDonald) and Reedy Creek Dial Tone (PM/Joe McHugh) were off to a great start at 8:12 on the first day. Both dogs broke away together and took in the breakaway field with ease, out through the open field and up to the tree line top. At 5, both dogs stopped, Dial Tone handling the bird to flight with all in order and was moved on. Little Duce Coupe was picked up by the handler.
Dial Tone took in the first tower field and was seen next going through the second powerline tower hollow. He was not seen at the first pond site, and the tracker was called for at 30.
Brace No. 2 (The Runner-Up): Backcountry Buddy (PM/Chris Catanzarite) and Miller's Just Plain Rowdy (PM/Buddy Morrison) went to center stage at 9:02 with the sun just starting to shine bright and the temperature warming. Both powerful dogs broke away through the chute and were off to a great start. At 7, on the top of the hill, they were spotted standing with Buddy pointing and Rowdy backing--a picture of beauty. A pheasant was produced, and with all in order, they were moved on. Buddy drove to the front and was next found at 15 on the left before the well pad turn. A short flushing attempt followed, a chukar was produced, and Catanzarite fired. With everything again in order, Buddy was sent on and quickly took the front with a far-forward cast. In the meantime, Rowdy had not been seen for a while, and Morrison called for the tracker at 23. Catanzarite had the field to himself, and he and his charge went to work. Buddy tagged a pheasant at 25 and then went on to complete the day loop and took a big cast, rolling all the way up to the breakaway hill. Once there, he became birdy and pointed. Catanzarite flushed, and a chukar was produced, Buddy again handling the find with ease. He was loosed again, and within short order, at 44 just out the ridgeline, Buddy handled a gorgeous stop to flush in front of all. Forward at 56, Chris found Buddy high and tight; he dismounted and flushed, with a large flock of chukar taking wing in every direction, Buddy stood tight. Backcountry Buddy finished his hour strong. He was found at time's end on point.
Brace No. 3: With the sun now beating down and conditions completely baked dry, Calico's Over the Top (PM/Alex Smith) and Bull Finch (PF/Ernie Saniga) were off in a far-forward race. Over the Top went right to work and, within the first few minutes, pointed and handled a cock pheasant where Bull Finch backed perfectly. After released, the two were pressing the front, and Over the Top was found pointing again, this time a chukar with perfect manners. Over the Top was turned loose again and came to another abrupt stop. Unfortunately, he was charged with an unproductive after an extensive flushing attempt by Alex. At 38, while along the right hedge line, with the clubhouse in the distance, Over the Top moved with a chukar put to flight and ended his bid. Bull Finch, running to the front, tagged a chukar at 50 and pointed one final time at 58, with Ernie producing a pheasant. Bull Finch finished the hour.
Brace No. 4: Dunn's Ever'n Onward (PM/Will Dunn) and Miller's Record Heat (PF/Madison McDonald), both stylish dogs, were off at 11:35 and hitting the front hard. At 5, Ever'n Onward, at the first road crossing near the rockpile, encountered a large flock of chukars and just couldn't get stopped in time, abruptly ending his bid. At 18, Miller's Record Heat was seen taking a wide, attractive forward cast around the second pond. Soon after the pond hill, the tracker was called for.
Brace No. 5: Tian Butterbean (PM/Clifford Mesnard) and Wayward Flyin Tomato (ESM/Chris Catanzarite) broke away at 2:09 cleanly and far forward. With the sun high in the sky and enough heat to roast a marshmallow, Butterbean and Flyin Tomato crossed the first three fields with determination. At 8, Butterbean was found standing, and Clifford produced a chukar. With all in order, Butterbean was released and went quickly to the front. At 14, a flock of chukars was put to flight, and with no chase involved, Flyin Tomato returned to his handler to be run another day. Butterbean continued a good forward race, taking in the powerline hill and then the first pond field to the left. At 33, he encountered the fate of many when birds on the two-track lifted, and he found it hard to stop in time.
Brace No. 6: Miller's Upgraded Version (PM/Fran Miller) and Raag's Rich and Rare (PM/Greg Strausburg). Hotter than ever was the temperature by this time, and both were released at 3:00 on the button. Running consistently forward, both came to a stop at 13; Miller's Upgraded Version pointing and Raags Rich and Rare backing mannerly. A chukar was flushed, and with all in order, they moved on. At 20, birds were piled up on the road, and Miller's Upgraded Version just couldn't get stopped soon enough. At 3:34, Raags was found standing, and Greg produced a pheasant for his staunch partner. Raags again pointed at 51 with no one home and suffered a non-productive. He continued to run a forward pattern and finished his hour.
Brace No. 7: Miller's Triple Digit Heat (PM/Buddy Morrison) and Calico's County Strong (PM/Alex Smith) entered the last brace of the day at 3:52. Conditions were parched and dry. At 3, Triple Digit fell prey to the birds on the road, stopping and then moving forward. Calico's County Strong continued forward and headed for the breakaway hill, where he quickly stopped and pointed once there. Alex flushed and produced a pheasant, fired, and took his dog on. Heading down the hill and in that same line of cover before the first road crossing, high and tight, County Strong made a stance, and a hen pheasant came roaring out when Alex went in. At 23, after a long relocation, a flock of chukars were put to flight. At 35, after a relocation, a pheasant was pointed and flushed with all in order, and at 47, the judge described his quarry as a big pile of chukars. After handling the large pile of chukars, he was moved on to where he had a final find at 53. Calico's County Strong finished the hour.
Brace No. 8: Miller's Strolling For Gold (PF/Madison McDonald) and Springflow's Backcountry P (PM/Chris Catanzarite) were off with a shot, and at 4 at the top of breakaway hill, Strolling For Gold stopped abruptly, and Madison went into flush, producing a pheasant to start the day. A shot was fired as Strolling For Gold stood steady, and all was in order. Strolling For Gold and Backcountry P were at the first road crossing at 13, showing that they both were hell-bent for speed athletes. At 38, Backcountry had not been seen for a while, and Chris Catanzarite called for the tracker. Soon after, Strolling For Gold, at 40, ran into a road covey and was not able to stop in time, ending her bid.
Brace No. 9: Miller's Upgrading The Ante (PF/Madison McDonald) and Dunn's Sneak'n In (PM/Will Dunn) were off together and soon split to find their own fortune. Sneak'n In stayed to the left and headed far forward. Upgrading The Ante took a big cut at the countryside and made some great first casts on the right after the first water tub. Upgrading The Ante did find gold when she wheeled around at 9 and stopped hard. Madison McDonald flushed a chukar, and all was in order after the shot. At 12, Will Dunn asked for the tracker as Sneak'n In had not been seen for some time. Upgrading The Ante went forward and garnered a pheasant for the books at 19 with impeccable manners. At 27, she took a great forward cast and was rewarded with a pheasant find. Standing stylishly, she handled the shot and flush very nicely. At 46, she was stopped on the left at Rockpile Road, was relocated, but came up with an unproductive. Miller's Upgrading The Ante finished the hour.
Brace No. 10: Miller's War Bonnet (PF/Joe McHugh) and Wicked Quick (PF/Kelsey Hajek) broke away at tower hill at 10:34 and were through the valley in no time, driving hard up the far hillside. War Bonnet struck first at 7 with nice style and composure. A chukar launched itself skyward when Joe flushed; he fired, and all was in order. High on both ends, War Bonnet was found standing before the road crossing, pointing another chukar. All successful at the flush and shot, he was moved on. Wicked Quick was picked up at 37 by the handler. War Bonnett ran a great forward race and was found standing at 19. With no one home, he was moved forward. War Bonnet stopped at 28 and duplicated the same outcome with a second unproductive. At the prospect of not moving the sticks, Joe ended his and War Bonnet's bid.
Brace No. 11: Miller's Cover Girl (PF/Fran Miller) and Face To Face (ESM/Jeff Gilbertson). Running in the heat of the day, both dogs were cast away at 1:30, the first brace after lunch on the second day. There were no clouds in the sky, and the sun was hot, just like a good day at the beach. Salvation was a slight breeze. The top of breakaway hill has a long strip of autumn olive and was the site of the first stop. After riding a short way down the long and 15-foot-wide row, both dogs were spotted, stopped in a divided find on a pheasant at 5. They were staunch, high on both ends, steady to the flush, and focused at the shot. Moving on and just a minute later, Face To Face hit the brakes hard with Miller's Cover Girl backing immediately at sight. A pheasant was produced by Jeff, and all was well. At 8, Cover Girl pointed, and Face To Face backed. Both taking a cut forward and around the right turn at the treelined point before the second road crossing at 18, Cover Girl skidded to a stop, and Face To Face did the backing honors again. Fran flushed, producing a bird, and with both dogs mannerly, fired and moved Cover Girl on. Jeff moved Face To Face on, where he fell fate to lifting chukars and did not stop in time, ending his bid. Fran was notified that she was on her own, and she went right to work with Alice. Fran watered Alice at the first pond at 29, and Cover Girl took in the field ahead of her, driving hard, putting on a real show out to the second pond and the next hilltop. She was found standing as we crossed the top of the hill on the right-hand side, lit up by the sun. A bird was produced, and all was in order once more as the shot rang out. When Alice went forward, she crossed the road, and to the next section, she was working to the right where all others angled left to the roadside tree line. By not taking the path of least resistance, she was rewarded with a covey of quail in what may have been the most definitive move of the trial. Yes, at 44, Alice found the treasure she was looking for, as no one had pointed quail all week, and she, hot off the prairies, struck it rich. She was high and tight, staunch, and frozen when the large covey took wing to the sky. A shot was fired by Fran, and this find was in the judges' books. Cover Girl was moved forward, went across and up to the treelined road, and stopped once more. A chukar was produced, and everything was in order. This fancy little female pointer finished out her hour well forward with ease and style. This was her first trial of the season.
Brace No. 12: Calico's Sky's The Limit (PF/Madison) and Calico's Guns N Roses (PF/Alex Smith) broke away at 2:43, and both dogs scrambled to the front. Calico's Sky's The Limit scored first at 5 with a pheasant, looking great at the flush and standing well at the shot. She took back to the front and never gave up. Madison asked for the tracker at 28. Calico's Guns N Roses came to a screaming stop at 30. She was rewarded with a chukar, and all was well at wing and shot. At 35, she fell prey like others to the chukars on the road and was not able to stop in time when they decided to tempt her.
Brace No. 13: Hightailing Penny (PF/Kevin Joyce) and Bella Bulli (PF/Ernie Saniga). Hightailing Penny was a scratch, and Bella Bulli ran as a bye. Being a bye, Ernie was able to run his own race and went right to it. Bella broke away at 3:30, but the sun was hanging high in the sky, and very hot temperatures reigned. At 15, Ernie watered Bella at the first pond, and she then proceeded to make a defining cast to the left after the first pond and rimmed the entire hillside. It was very enjoyable to take in from our vantage point. At 20, she was found standing. Let me note that it was a well-deserved reward after that cast, standing a find at the top of the hill far right. At 24, she stopped in the valley field just past the second pond and suffered an unproductive. After crossing the road, she took the same path as the winner, angling right and stopping in the same area the quail had frequented. Unfortunately, there was only a pile of feathers on the ground. She was up at Ernie's request at 40, ending her bid.
Brace No. 14: Miller's Upgraded Design (PM/Fran Miller) and Mac's Real McCoy (PM/Tim McClurg). The first brace of the third day was off and running strong at 8:16. Mac's Real McCoy brought his lunch bucket and went straight to work. The strongly built pointer male hit scent and stopped hard, finding and pointing a pheasant at 4 without difficulty; the rest was easy. Miller's Upgraded Design was not to be beaten out and pointed at 5, his own pheasant that was properly handled throughout the flush and shot. Both dogs were turned loose again, and at 14, Real McCoy got birdy and stopped for his second pheasant find. McClurg flushed and fired; all in order, they moved on. Miller's Upgraded Design at 20 made a beautiful cast to the right just after the second pond and was rewarded at the top of the hill with a successful find at 24. All in order, Fran moved him on. Mac's Real McCoy was on a mission and tagged a third pheasant at 22 and a chukar at 30. Same signature M.O., McClurg flushed and fired with his charge staunch. Upgraded Design at 40 came across a bird that would not hold tight and was not able to stop in time, ending his hour early. Real McCoy was not seen for a brief period, and at 48, the scout called point back and behind the trial party. McClurg raced back, dismounting, and flushed, relocating twice. With no birds home, they were charged with a non-productive and returned forward. The hour was not finished until he found and stood one last time. At 58, just after the second pond, he added a chukar to his tally. Mac's Real McCoy finished the hour.
Brace No. 15: Backcountry Pure Gold (PF/Chris Catanzarite) and Answered Prayers (PM/Madison McDonald) broke away at 9:25. Answered Prayers, a powerful male pointer was in the race, with Pure Gold challenging her bracemate from the git-go. At 5, she stopped at the first scent of a chukar and gave it plenty of attention. She was staunch and upright on both ends. Catanzarite flushed and fired while Pure Gold held to her heels. Running hard towards the front, she came by her second piece of work with a pheasant, stopping abruptly with everything in order. At 35 was a third nice piece of birdwork, while Madison asked for the tracker to get Answered Prayers. Pure Gold was found forward at 50, and a pheasant was produced under her point. Backcountry Pure Gold finished the hour.
Brace No. 16: Fluid Drive (PM/Joe Lordi) and Glenmere's Amae Zing (PF/Jeff Haggis) came to the line ready to rumble. Both were turned loose at 10:47 and took the front immediately. Both are good-looking pointers, fast, fancy, and determined. Fluid Drive was found by scout at 19 in the far left after the road crossing. Joe Lordi flushed but to no avail; the birds were gone prior, and a non-productive was charged. Glenmere's Amae Zing continued on his forward motion, and the tracker was called for by Jeff Haggis at 20. Fluid Drive decided to put some space between him and his handler, causing Lordi to call for the tracker at 35.
Brace No. 17: Miller's Sweet Talking Candy (PF/Joe McHugh) and Miller's Flowers and Lace (PF/Madison McDonald) broke away, and both were ambitious, taking a little liberty in misdirecting to the right side of the course. After straightening out, both were well on their way in a great forward cast. Both were found at 14 standing in a divided find. Consequently, a rabbit was produced, and both were moved on. Candy stopped again at 17, and Joe flushed to no avail. No birds were home, resulting in a non-productive. After a long absence, the trackers were called for by McHugh and McDonald, ending their bids.
Brace No. 18: Waybetter Bobby (PM/Bob Verderosa) and Backcountry Bruiser (PM/Chris Catanzarite) were out in this brace, looking to change the tide of the trial. Backcountry Bruiser was the first to strike, pointing a chukar at 5 with Waybetter Bobby backing very mannerly. Bruiser next pinned a pheasant at 20, where Chris Catanzarite easily flushed, and all was in order at the shot. Waybetter Bobby dug in his heels to a stop and produced a pheasant at 20, looking good and handling the bird with ease. Additionally, at 25, Chris Catanzarite elected to pick up Bruiser, bringing his hour to a close. Bobby rambled forward, covering the ground well, and at 42 pointed a flock of chukars. Bob Verderosa flushed and fired with Waybetter Bobby staunch and classy. At 53, Verderosa elected to pick up and ended his bid.
Brace No. 19: Jolene Jolene (PF/Dave McHugh) and Calico's Sugar 'N' Spice (PF/Alex Smith) were in the last brace of the day. Jolene had her tennis shoes on and quickly tore up the field to a cleanly handled pheasant find at 5. At 20, she was stopped, with Calico's Sugar 'N' Spice coming in for an honorly back. A chukar covey was produced, and all was in order for them to move on. Jolene tagged two more chukars at 24 and 30 without complications, then pinned a pheasant at 33. She was sent forward once more and successfully came up with another pheasant at 40. Everywhere you looked, she was standing her quarry. This fancy little youngster is a bird machine.
Brace No. 20: Navajo Cody (PM/Joe Lordi) and Miller's Automatic Upgrade (PM/Madison McDonald) started the third day in the first brace of the morning, breaking away at 8:20. Navajo Cody was last year's champion, and many were out in the gallery to ride the brace. Remembering last year's win, Cody took to the ground like a fish in water. Quickly, Upgrade pointed and handled a pheasant at 7, moving on down the hedgerow, encountered Cody, and backed. The bird was produced, and both were moved on, with Miller's Automatic Upgrade pointing and handling his own pheasant further down the same treeline. Cody stopped on the left, going up the hill, and suffered an unproductive, putting him behind. Cody then pinned a cock pheasant at 24 that was produced by handler Joe Lordi. All in order to the shot, Cody was directed forward. At the powerline, Miller's Automatic Upgrade took a big cast and was next found at the top of the hill on the left. A bird was produced, and all was in order. At 30, Upgrade went left and up the hill to the roadside treeline and stopped twice, handling both situations, one for a pheasant and one for chukars. Cody was found by scout at left after crossing the road, pointing again, this time at a flock of chukars. Nicely handling the situation, he was moved on to where he pointed and handled his last bird at 56. Found stopped at 57, Miller's Automatic Upgrade suffered an unproductive. Both then went on to finish the hour.
Brace No. 21: Backcountry Missy (PF/Chris Catanzarite) and Erin's Demolition Man (PM/Paul Kelly) were off at 9:35 and running. Both dogs to the front, Missy started the day off with a find at 7 on a group of five chukars. At 9, Demolition Man scored his own on chukars, and both were forward when, just three minutes later, Missy, breaking off, tagged a hen pheasant at 10. At 21, she was pointing again on the right treeline corner with Demolition Man backing. At 33, Missy went on to handle a hen pheasant beautifully after two relocations. Missy proceeded to put on her own demonstration, pointing a chukar and two more different hen pheasants, before finishing the hour going strong.
Brace No. 22: Miller's Heat Wave (PM/Fran Miller) and Hillhavyn's Wild Child (PF/Joe McHugh) broke away at 11:02. Heat Wave and Wild Child came ready to find birds, and they did within the first three minutes. Joe and Fran worked in the same hedgerow at different spots as both dogs successfully handled pheasants. Additionally, at 10, Heat Wave was back at it and pointed a chukar where all was in order. He tagged another hen pheasant at 18 and one more at 29. Both finds were well handled; he remained very staunch throughout. At 36, he came to an abrupt halt and showed plenty of style on point, high on both ends. When flushed, a pheasant came boiling out, and a shot was fired; he was very still and then moved on. Heat Wave finished out the hour in great fashion. At 16, Hillhavyn's Wild Child was found standing and successfully handled the chukar to wing and shot. Let loose once more, Wild Child made a good cast coming up to the well-pad turn. She was found, after crossing the road at the water tub, forward and left. Joe flushed, and a pheasant came to life, taking flight from its sanctuary. Joe fired, and all was in order. Wild Child lived up to her name, starting now to distance herself from her handler. Joe called for the tracker at 50 and ended her bid. This was not her first time at this rodeo. She was well familiar with these grounds, having been there before when she was runner-up in the National Open Pheasant Championship in 2021.
Brace No. 23: Miller's Southern Gossip (PF/Fran Miller) and Dunn's 10 West (PM/Will Dunn), in the last brace of the day, were off at 1:02. Will Dunn released Dunn's 10 West, and he made an outstanding and beautiful cast rimming the far side of pond hill. Miller's Southern Gossip cast forward and proceeded across the breakaway and up to the top of the next ridge via a large right-hand cast. The scout was dispatched, locating Gossip, where she was found at 17. Her head was high, and she was intent upon her quart. A hen pheasant was flushed, and with all in order, she was moved on. Back at 10, 10 West had not been seen, and Will Dunn called for the tracker. Southern Gossip had hunted forward and was up on the left treeline along the roadside when, at 35, Fran ended Gossip's bid.
The National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog group would like to thank our sponsor, Purina and Greg Blair, for their support this year. We would also like to thank the Mingo Sportsman's Club for their untiring support in providing a lunch menu and bird planting duties. Additionally, we are most grateful to the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America for their oversight and to Piper Huffman for taking entries and conducting the draw. Thank you to Garmin for continued support with Garmin products and Bruce Fox for making the winners' plaques. Thank you to Dave Hughes, Mark Hughes, and Carl Bishop for filling the water tubs, Dave Hughes for driving the dog truck, and all who entered dogs. And a huge thank you to the many other unsung heroes we do not want to forget. Thank you to all who helped make this the hugely successful trial that it was.
Bloomingdale, Ohio, September 21 - One Course
Judges: Leroy Long and Brian Riggle
NATIONAL AMATEUR PHEASANT SHOOTING DOG CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] - 45 Pointers and 1 Setter
Winner-MILLER'S COVER GIRL, 1675005, pointer female, by Just Irresistible-Miller's Bring The Heat. Fran & Jack Miller, owners; Fran Miller, handler.
Runner-Up-BACKCOUNTRY BUDDY, 1682654, pointer male, by Waybetter Rocky-Backcountry Polly. Chris Catanzarite, owner and handler.
Fran Miller and Champion Miller's Cover Girl.