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Hunting guide's work is for the birds




TIPTON -- He says he knew nothing about bird dogs 25 years ago.

Now, Virgil Jeardoe not only raises Vizsla and German short-hair hunting dogs, but he spends a lot of quality time with them several days a week at his "second job."

Jeardoe started working at Ringneck Ranch near Tipton while helping a friend place pheasants in the fields at Ringneck in the mid-1980s.

Stories featuring the business and hunting lodge's 30th anniversary appear in The Hays Daily News' December-January edition of Das Haus magazine in today's issue.

Hanging around with the hunting guides not only got Jeardoe interested in becoming a guide, but he decided to give raising dogs a try as well.

"I would follow the guides and learn from them," said Jeardoe, now one of the facility's main guides, who leads hunters two to three days a week and on weekends at the popular bird hunt in north-central Kansas.

One day while Jeardoe was helping place birds in the fields, he got a surprise from Keith Houghton, owner of Ringneck Ranch.

"(Houghton) and the other guides saw how interested I was in it, and I watched how the other guys worked their dogs," Jeardoe said. "So Keith gave me a dog of my own."

That Brittany spaniel, Abby, was approximately 8 years old when Jeardoe started training a pup to learn from Abby.

One day, Abby accidentally was killed by a hunter who was shooting at a low-flying bird, and the pup, Sadie, took over.

Jeardoe has raised as many as 10 dogs at a time, but now is down to four -- which he pairs together according to their strengths.

"Some will point better, and some will retrieve better," he said. "They work as a pair, good teamwork. So I run two at a time and alternate them."

Jeardoe grew up on a farm in Republic County and said he always had an interest in hunting.

Working as a hunting guide gives him a break from his regular jobs working for the city of Tipton and raising cattle and crops on his farm north of town.

"It's better than working," he said.

And, he added, it's a good way to meet people. Jeardoe has worked with hunters from throughout the United States and even foreign countries.

"These people I guided maybe 10 years ago, it's like a family reunion," he said during a hunt earlier this fall. "I've got guys who come back two to three times a year. I could name each and every one."