by Tara Walker
Grand County Residents Todd Perdue, Mark Krieg, and Carl and Debra Prather will be competing at the Bird Dog Circuit National Championships in March. One of their dogs, Morgan, will be running for Dog of the Year.
Todd Perdue explained, “It’s a big honor to win. There are five tournaments and twenty unique dogs. If you win, you are awarded a black jacket, like a letter jacket you got in high school. They put an emblem on the back and they keep adding patches the more you win.” In December of 2019, Todd Perdue and Carl Prather won a doubles event at Western Nationals in Lovelock, Nevada, earning their first prestigious black jacket.
Perdue, Krieg and the Prathers started compete with NBDCA in 2012, when pheasant hunting in Kansas was negatively impacted by drought. Hunters compete in a 10-20 acre field with 3-5 birds. The runs are ten to fifteen minutes. The dogs flush out the birds, and a hunter attempts to get the bird in one shot. The dog then retrieves the bird. Hunters can only take one step, and points are deducted for extra shots. The goal is to have the fastest run with no deductions.
“The competition is unbelievable and most of these guys have been doing this twenty years,” explains Carl Prather. “Most are pro trainers and it is their livelihood to train dogs for a living. We train our own dogs and it is really satisfying to compete with these pro guys. The competition is fierce. They are all good shots and they rarely miss.”
Women, Youth and Seniors are also involved in competitions. While men dominate the sport, women are participating more every year. Carla Prather encourages women to participate, “It’s almost like a family. We hunt together, eat together, and support each other. A lot of the bigger hunts have lodges and bunk rooms or we will get hotel rooms. Women enjoy watching and cheering each other on. It’s really fun and a good time.” Taura Perdue and her daughter raise chukar partridges to practice hunting in Grand County before they travel around the United States competing with their dogs.
Todd Perdue likes to see youth participating as well, “It’s a good place for youth to get started on hunting and competition. They learn how to work dogs and learn safety. That’s the biggest thing, to teach them safety.”
Perdue’s two-year-old lab, Lily, is a top qualifying puppy in the region and is up for Puppy of the Year, which will be decided at Nationals in March.
The Prathers have two labs that come from Beckman Pointing Labs out of Norfolk, Nebraska. Their dog Morgan, who is six years old, won Dog of the Year in 2019 against twelve dogs from six different regions.
Mark Krieg hunts with German Shorthair Pointers. Hunters don’t practice as much in the winter, so they exercise their dogs by skiing or walking them two to three miles to keep them in good shape. Todd Perdue swims his dogs in his pond to give them exercise. They do wild bird hunting in the fall and try to shoot as much as they can with the chukars that Taura Perdue raises. The groups also shoots trap with the Crooked Creek Trap Club in the summer to stay competitive.
The National Bird Dog Challenge Association (NBDCA) was founded by Iowa game farm owners in 1995 and has grown to over 650 members and over 50 tournaments. According to NBDCA, the mission of the National Bird Dog Circuit is to offer the finest competition bird dog hunting experience throughout the United States by providing fair, fun, family friendly and professionally managed events. Competitors of all ages and skill levels can test their abilities, showcase their exceptional dogs and receive recognition for their accomplishments.
If you are interested in competing, go to http://nbdca.com/ to see where events are and sign up to be a member. Call or email the circuit and their contacts. There are usually three tournaments in Colorado.