Gunless Professional Hunting Guides
The guides at Ringneck Ranch are atypical in that we borrow them from a variety of professions. Local farmers and ranchers, bankers and businessmen, with some commercial and military pilots added to the mix comprise our guide staff. All share a love and interest for the hunting dog companions that are one of the most significant elements of our upland gamebird hunting experience. At Ringneck Ranch, we train a variety of breeds that are mostly offspring from our own canine staff. By using our seasoned dogs as mentors the new pups become skilled veterans normally within their first season. Seems almost like cheating!
Craig Dilley – is a semi retired adrenaline junkie on snow and wake boards. He first came to the ranch in a support role in fall of 2009. Growing up in the Greely, Colorado area, most of his hunting experience came from waterfowling on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. Craig is now a first-class uplander with a great bunch of German Shorthair Pointers, a English Pointer and Avery the Lab. He is a skilled shotgunner, competing nationally in 4-H shooting sports. Craig’s shooting skills have been very helpful with our military mentoring programs with introducing new shotgunners & hunters. Craig married our long-time weekend cook, Sara, in 2015.
Zach Miller – is a local Beloit, Ks, native who grew up fishing and hunting all of North Central Kansas. Zach is certified by the Ks Law Enforcement Academy and has five years experience as a city canine officer and county deputy. With Zach you may see combinations of Setters, Brittanies, GSP’s and Labradors. Zach is one of our resident waterfowler, likes to call the turkeys and during the summer months is an avid softballer.
Terry Fiala – is an avowed OU fan & dedicated deer chaser. Terry, who has been a manufacturing plant manager for several years, now is immersed in the dogs and hunting that is his passion. He has developed a line of smaller, liver-colored German Shorthairs with a wonderful calm demeanor. Several guests have been delighted with puppies from that line. Terry is also developing a family property for its wildlife potential utilizing some new techniques to enhance quail populations.
Avery LaCombe – first came to us as intern from the Kansas State University, Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management curriculum. Avery agreed to stay on full time as the operations manager starting in the fall of 2016. He has a growing herd of liver and white German Shorthaired Pointers and occasionally hunts one of the ranches Brittanies. Avery originally came from the East Coast but has found a home in Kansas since 2011.
Tyson Seirer – is a certified wildlife biologist with an extensive background working in wildlife management from US Fish & Wildlife Services, Kansas Dept. of Wildlife & Parks, and Pheasants Forever Inc. Tyson has been the local expert when it comes to developing and managing bird habitat and CRP. Tyson has developed comprehensive habitat management plans for landowners across the state and is an excellent resource on farm bill related assistance programs. Tyson started working at the ranch during the summer of 2016 and is currently working as Director of Field Operations for Ringneck Ranch Inc. You will see various dog breeds working in harmony when hunting with Tyson. Tyson rotates through his team of 9 dogs including English pointers, Llewellyn & English setters, German shorthair pointers, and a pack of little brown flushing Boykin spaniels.
John Peckham’s – family has ties to the ranch that go back to his grandfather and Keith’s dad, Clifford. Grandpa Peckham and Clifford hunted birds, deer and raccoon day and night! John graduated from the University of Kansas (we let him on the ranch anyway!) with a degree in Environmental Sciences. He is a seasoned outdoorsman with one of the most well-mannered & well-trained German Wirehairs, Belle. John’s wife is from Ames, Iowa, and they have young daughters who quiz him every evening about that day’s hunting!
Craig Gasper – is a neighbor that farms a couple of miles up the creek. A computer science grad, he is bringing a new level of technology to production agriculture in this part of Kansas. He has learned from long time guide Dan Watson about high productivity, low capital investment bird dogs. Ask him about (Jake the drug dog) for a great story with a good ending for almost everybody. You won’t see much of Craig at the ranch in October, while he winds up his fall farming.
Virgil Jeardoe – is an asset to Ringneck Ranch and the Tipton community with the contribution of his many skills, talents and gregarious personality. He manages the infrastructure of the city of Tipton, plus he has worn the hats of fire chief, EMT, ambulance driver and 4-H leader. Virgil’s farm is one of the few wonderful rural places where you can still see one of just about every creature. All of the Jeardoe family, including wife Tanya, have helped us provide the other services at the ranch over the years. Virgil used to follow the hounds at night, but now is confined to his high energy bird dogs on weekends.
Kaj Larson – was a new face at the ranch in 2010. A Kansas State University graduate in kinesiology, he is from the little town of Tescott, Kansas, about 50 miles from Tipton. Kaj is a professional dog trainer, works with a variety of breeds, and has a herd of German Shorthair Pointers. He runs “Hunt-em-Up Kennels” and plans to expand those operations. If you are a suspect for a shorthair puppy and training, you should talk to Kaj. Kaj is of Scandinavian heritage, and his name is pronounced “Ki”, rhymes with “my”.
Mike Johnson – has moved back home to Junction City, Ks. and is transitioning into retirement mode, haha! He has worked forty years in the medical supply business in rural central and western Kansas. Mike has utilized Ringneck Ranch for educational training meetings for many of his medical supply clients, at the same time offering an outstanding hunting experience for those guests. He is a new Kansas certified Hunter Safety Instructor that enjoys teaching, guiding with his German Shorthairs and giving people a great hunting experience.
Jim Champagne – we met Jim seven years ago, after his third deployment with the United States Army to Iraq. He was serving as the 1st Infantry Division Command Sergeant Major and was searching for a mentoring program which would allow soldiers a Kansas outdoor experience. Little did we know that one of the most successful resilience programs in the Army would be born. Jim grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts and joined the Army at the age of 17. He has served with units like the 82D Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, and the 1st infantry Division. Jim has recently retired after 29 years serving our country and is passionate about Soldiers and their well being and his Kansas State Wildcats. Since being introduced to upland bird hunting at Ringneck Ranch seven years ago, Jim has become a wingshooting fanatic! Jim and his wife Lisa are building a new home for retirement near Junction City just outside Fort Riley.
Brett Clark – grew up hunting on the ranch, his mother is Keith’s first cousin, his dad is a nutritionist that works for Hill’s Science Diet. His degree is in chemistry and he works for a laboratory in Columbia, Missouri. To help us out, Brett loads up his Brittanies, Sadie & Kya, stops in Topeka to pick up his dad’s Brits and then drives to the ranch to help guide guests. When the Brett’s Brits hit the ground, you’ll see three color combinations: liver & white, orange & white and black & white! With him, you may just learn some of the family secrets!
Keith Colter –first came to the ranch years ago to hunt with some of Keith (Houghton)’s airline buddies. Keith is a “good ole Missouri farm boy”. He uses some of his vacation to sneak out to the ranch whenever possible, along with his three canine hunting buddies. Keith is a real people-person and wingshooting enthusiast, who can tell plenty of stories around the fire!
Steve Struyk –has been through the airline experience with Keith at Ozark, TWA & American. Retired from the airline business at age 60, he now flies a Beechcraft Hawker for a St. Louis corporation. A bird chaser and Brittany enthusiast, Steve & his wife Lin, and their family live in St. Louis and have been regular visitors to the ranch for many years. The days that he helps guide each season allow us an opportunity to rest up & regain our sense of humor. Steve & his son have built and fly a Vans RV-8 aerobatic home-built aircraft.
Mike Wright – recently retired from the United States Army with a twenty-six year career that culminated with him being the 1st Infantry Division Master Gunner. He was introduced to the Ranch as a participant in the Military Mentorship Program and fell in love with Upland game hunting (having grown up with quail, turkey and deer hunting in the Ozarks). He now divides his time between working for the 1st Infantry Division as a member of the Mission Support Element and spending time with his wife of twenty six years Hope and his son Jacob a K-State Sophomore and his Labradors’, Mojo and Molly.
Keith Houghton – with his wife Debra, owns and operates Ringneck Ranch. Keith, who is a self-professed migrant airplane driver, attributes the development of the hunting service business at the ranch to his flying career ups and downs (sorry!) through mergers & acquisitions at Ozark, TWA & American Airlines. Keith occasionally loads the dogs up and takes a group out as needed but prefers to hang around the Ranch and catch up with our guests.
Dewayne Burgess – is a college friend of Keith’s that has hunted on and around the ranch for over 40 years. Dewayne was the youngest of a family of sports-persons on a family farm near Wamego, Kansas. A KSU graduate in Wildlife Biology, he has been a fighter and instructor pilot for the USAF and Air Force Reserve and now retired vice commander of the A-10 Wart Hog Squadron at Whitemen Air Force base. He and his wife, Jo, live near Topeka. They own the local Roy Fry Western Store, keep serious barrel racing horses and a huge pack of Brittanys.
Fred Smith – (retired in 2012) whose great-grandparents were early frontier settlers of Tipton, took an opportunity in 1991 to buy the local grocery store, moving his family back home from suburban Chicago where he retired from the police force after fifteen years. Fred loves to write and founded the local newspaper, The Tipton Times, of which he is the editor. His wife Vali, who he found as a soldier in Germany, runs the grocery store. Fred, his family and his dogs live on their cattle ranch, where they raise a small herd of Simmental cows. He has four grown children that are just about all gone from the house. Fred, an outdoorman, loves his Brittanys and Wirehairs and has been guiding at the ranch for years and is the source of local color & history.
Dan Watson – (retired in 2013) has helped us at Ringneck Ranch from its beginning in 1983. Dan and his wife, Nancy, live and farm in a wonderful hunting area, seven miles south of the ranch. Dan is renowned for his ability to tell a 2-minute story in 10 minutes. His family shudders at the thought of his naming a new puppy (Moose, Smart & Maybe?), but we all fondly remember these wonderful dogs, and look forward to the next set of names!
Brad Stout – originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, Brad worked as a guide/dog handler at the ranch for several years before moving with his extended family to New Mexico. He believes Kansas to be an “outdoorsman’s paradise,” though one thing he misses is the big game hunting of Colorado. Guests all remember his German Wirehaired Pointer, Clyde, the biggest, hairiest, funniest & one of the best of the canine staff! He is bringing two experienced bird dogs, a new Vizsla puppy and a pair of rookie Brittanys with him…