2017 Inductee – “Sage”
Owner/Handler: Bryan Matthews
554 Champion Points
Legendary Status Champion
2 Super Major Championships
2 Major Championships
After losing a young dog in 2005, Bing Wesner was in need of another tournament hunting dog. He contacted his trainer, Walter Epps, and told him what he was looking for. At that time, Walt did not have anything except for his personal hunting dog Sage. Sage was going to make a great tournament dog, so he went home with Bing. Sage was 3 years old at the time and extremely shy. He took a little while to warm up to Bing, but in time, they became good buddies. Sage seemed to be a one-man dog not going near anyone else. However, Bing quickly learned that Sage would be friendly to anyone that had a shotgun in their hands.
Sage began his tournament hunting career in the Northern Nevada series winning Dog of the Year in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, Nevada learned of the National Bird Dog Challenge and they started to co-sanction their Spring shoots with the BDC. Dan Sojka awarded the Big Meadows Upland Championship Super Major status. Sage and the rest of Nevada were off and running.
It was in 2008 when Walter mentioned to Bing that he had a new player for the BDC that he thought Bing should mentor. Bryan traveled to Lovelock to meet with Bing for a quick lesson in tournament hunting. Nearly two years following that lesson Bryan and Bing became partners.
Bryan already owned, Jake, a half-brother to Sage. Bryan, along with Walter’s help, was adding dogs to his line-up just like everyone else was doing, but Walter was having trouble finding another special tournament dog for Bryan. Walter called Bing and asked if he would consider selling Sage to Bryan, and after careful consideration Bing agreed to make the transaction. After all, Bryan and Bing were partners and Bing still would get to hunt with Sage. So, Sage moved from Lovelock to Reno with Bryan.
The transition from home in Lovelock to home in Reno wasn’t too difficult for Sage. Bryan put Jake in the kennel so he could bond with Sage in the house. Sage came into the house and inspected it for a few minutes. Realizing he was missing, Bryan searched the house and found him in the bedroom, laying down on the bed. Sage rolled over on his back, lifted his leg, showed his boy parts, and wagged his tail. Bryan took that as a sign that Sage was ready to bond in his new home and accept Bryan as his new Dad. Jake and Sage eventually accepted each other when in the house, but it was always a competition to see who could sleep next to Bryan. To keep the peace, Bryan slept in the middle of the bed so Jake could reside on one side and Sage on the other.
Sage was a natural hunter whether he was running the mountains for wild birds or competing in a tournament field. Sage was always teaching Bryan something new every time they hit the field. Bryan just had to pay close attention. Sage always knew what he wanted and would play Bryan to his advantage. One would have thought that Sage was a mistreated soul until the shotgun came out and you cast him off. This is when his Lionheart appeared, and he shot off the line. He would run effortlessly and majestically thru the field utilizing the wind to his advantage. After the first bird was harvested he would magically know where the next zone was and would head that direction on his own without guidance. Many times he would be over a hill, out of sight, in the next zone, on point waiting for Bryan to get there.
After a few years of making his home with Bryan, Sara came into the picture. Sage quickly warmed up to her and they were instantly pals. They played every morning and every night. Sara then started to watch Bryan compete at BDC events. She was quickly fascinated by the dog work and it was not long until she wanted to play. The problem was that she had never shot a shotgun before. She started with clay pigeons and then Mark Moyle took a chance and let Sara run his dog, Scout, at the Big Meadows Upland Championship in 2013. She was addicted. Bryan then let Sara run Sage. Sara didn’t know what she was doing, but she followed him, and in typical Sage-fashion, he taught Sara how to play the game. He was very patient with Sara because she missed most of the birds he pointed for her. One time, a bird that Sara lightly hit, went down into a coyote den. Sage was determined to dig to China to get that bird for her. Sara ran Sage in a tournament for the last time in 2015, at 13½ years old, a memory she will treasure dearly.
Sage never failed to bravely lead the way and guide the journey to success. Sage loved life and his shining eyes and shy smile brightened Bryan and Sara’s days. He will forever be in the hearts of those that loved him. Each and every time Bryan or Sara walk thru a BDC tournament field, Sage’s, home away from home, they will always cherish the memories of him and the lessons they learned with this amazing dog.
Today, March 16, 2017, Sage enters the BDC Hall of Fame with 554 Champion Points, 2 Major wins, and 2 Super Major wins. A Legendary status dog, who will forever be remembered.