Our Hunting Guides

Gunless Professional Hunting Guides


Gunless Professional Hunting Guides at Breakfast

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!

Guide Info

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, an English Pointer and a couple of Labs. He is a skilled shotgunner, and competed nationally in 4-H shooting sports. Craig’s shooting skills have been very helpful 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 Zach Millerand 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, 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.

Avery LaCombe first came to Ringneck Ranch, Inc. as an intern from the Kansas State University, Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management curriculum in 2015.  Avery agreed to stay on full time as the Operations Manager starting in the fall of 2016.  In the summer of 2022 Avery and his wife Audrey purchased Ringneck Ranch, Inc. from the Deb and Keith Houghton.  He is the owner of Post Rock Kennels and raises high-quality German Shorthaired Pointers from champion bloodlines.  Avery originally came from the East Coast but has found a home in Kansas since 2011.

John Peckham’s  family has ties to the ranch that go back John Peckhamto 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!

Virgil Jeardoeis an asset to Ringneck Ranch and the Tipton Virgil Jeardoecommunity with the contribution of his many skills, talents and gregarious personality. He formally managed the infrastructure of the city of Tipton, plus he has worn the hats of firechief, 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. Virgil has been guiding with us for 35 years!

Mitchell Gourley  When Mitch is not guiding pheasant hunts at the Ranch he can be found guiding waterfowl hunts anywhere from Northern Canada down to Arkansas.  Mitch is also an avid fisherman and frequently can be found on his Lund Boat on Glen Elder Reservoir just north of Tipton.  He often has his daughters in tow as they enjoy trips on the boat.  Mitchell can also be found with a camera in his hand enjoying his passion for wildlife photography.  In the summer he works construction for a local contractor.  With Mitch come a team of hard working German Shorthairs and a Black Lab.

Mike Johnson has moved back home to Junction City, Kansas and Mike Johnsonis transitioning into retirement mode! 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 Kansas Certified Hunter Safety Instructor that enjoys teaching, guiding with his German Shorthairs and giving people a great hunting experience.

Aaron Christensen is a heavy equipment mechanic during the week day and loads up the Labs and Shorthairs on the weekends and heads west an hour to the Ranch.  Aaron has spent his whole life in North Central Kansas chasing upland game and brings with him a great blue collar work ethic, stopping at nothing to get a bird.


Jim Champagne We met Jim thirteen 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 Ringneck Ranch Pheasant Hunt Guideexperience. 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 retired nutritionist that worked for Hill’s Science Diet. His degree is in chemistry and he works for a laboratory in Kansas City, Missouri. To help us out, Brett loads up his Brittany dogs, Sadie & Kya, stops in Topeka to pick up his dad’s Brits and then drives to the ranch to help guide guests. When Brett’s Brits hit the ground, you’ll see three colors: liver & white, orange & white and black & white! With him, you may just learn some of the family secrets!

Keith Colter

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 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.

Perry WigginsPerry retired from the United States Army as a Lieutenant General following 33 years of distinguished service to the Nation.  While wearing the cloth of the Nation he had the distinct honor and privilege to lead Soldiers at all levels to include Commanding General 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One), Fort Riley, Kansas, 1st Army Division West, Fort Hood, Texas, and the 5th United States Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  Perry’s retirement however was short lived as he was recently appointed by the Governor of Kansas to serve as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council.

Perry’s relationship with Ringneck Ranch goes back to 2008 while serving as the commander of the “Big Red One”.  Perry worked with his division Command Sergeant Major and hunting buddy, CSM Jim Champagne, to institute an outdoor experience and mentorship program.  While visiting Ringneck Ranch he was able to observed first-hand the transformational change experienced by soldiers that Keith and Deb Houghton and the great team at Ringneck Ranch provided.  As an avid hunter and wing-shooter, Perry was glad for the opportunity to guide at the ranch. He also has a Brittany out of “Duke”, one of the Ranch’s bird dogs.

Preston Cannizzo originally came to Ringneck Ranch as the first intern out of the Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management Curriculum at Kansas State University.  He lives in Wakefield, Kansas and works for his families business.  On the weekends he loads up his tribe of Shorthair’s and makes the trek to Tipton to guide hunts.


Keith Houghton with his wife Debra, owns and operates Keith HoughtonRingneck 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 hasDewayne Burgess 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 Brittany dogs.

Fred Smith – (retired in 2012whose great-grandparents were Fred Smithearly 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 2013has helped us at RingneckDan Watson 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 Brad Stoutworked 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!

Terry Fialais 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.

Mike Wright – retired from the United States Army withRingneck Ranch Pheasant Hunting Guide 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).



Craig Gasper is a neighbor that farms a couple of miles up Craig Gasperthe 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.

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