2004 Inductee – Yukon
1998 Puppy Division 3rd Place
1998 U S Open Champion
2000 Open Flusher
Doug Lunde had been waiting a long time for a puppy from Rich Boumeester’s line of Labrador Retrievers. In 1997, he was in line for the pick of the litter. Never having been in that position before, Doug didn’t quite know what to do. Rich suggested tossing a dummy for them to see how they responded. After each throw, one puppy would run after the dummy and bark his head off. He’d be the last one there but would dive into the pile and take it away from the other pups. Then he would bring it to Doug. This was especially amazing because he was the runt of the litter. Doug was taken by the little guy’s aggressive nature and picked him.
Other than working with a dummy, Yukon never had training. His first encounter with a bird was a wild rooster that he flushed and retrieved like a champ. He was only 5 months old. Yukon had an incredible natural ability to find and retrieve birds. Doug says, “It wasn’t me. He just knew how to do it. The only training I did was to run him to keep him in shape.”
Come January, Yukon got his first taste of tournament action at the Minnesota Partridge Championships. The seven month old pup worked like a champ, but got a little help from his humans. In spite of poor shooting, they managed a 3rd place in the Puppy Division. It was Yukon’s first taste of media attention. A reporter from the Minneapolis paper came to the event and a photo of Yukon showed up in the next Sunday’s paper.
Doug “had a blast” with Yukon. “Tournaments were almost secondary to the fun we had with him just having him around the house. He’d sleep and the foot of our bed and he was great with the kids. But when it was time to go hunting, it was like turning on a switch. I had a ritual with him before each run. First I’d get him jumping. He’d leap as high as my head. Then, when he was all excited, I’d get down face-to-face with him and we would talk about what we were going to do on the run. I took some ribbing from the guys about this. When the run began he was all wound up and shaking. I’d call ‘GO’ and he’d be off with a bark just like when he was a pup.”
Yukon had a tremendous drive to hunt and was extremely willing to please. All it took was a whistle or a call of his name and he would pay attention to what you wanted next. Usually. In 1998, they were entered in the Top Gun Flusher class at the U S Open. Yukon was still less than one year old, so nobody expected miracles, especially in the tough scenting conditions. It was warm and windless. Top-notch dogs and hunters coming in with long times and/or short on birds. Apparently nobody told Yukon. He rousted up three birds in short order and suddenly Doug realized that they were on a hot run.
“We had three birds and we had only been through half the field. So I ran across to the far side of the field and call Yukon over. He ignored me completely, ran to the opposite side of the field and stuck a point. I made the shot, called time and the judge told me that I had the fastest time of the day.” The time held up all through Saturday and Sunday. Yukon had won the U S Open.
Doug learned a valuable lesson from this. “Yukon knew more about birds than I did. If I followed him, we’d find birds.”
In 2000, Doug teamed up with Grant Lindeman and pointer Lizzi. They worked together and by the end of the season, Yukon and Lizzi were neck and neck for Top Dog honors. It all came down to the U S Open. “I screwed up that poor dog every way I could. Missed shots that blew great runs. I was terrible. Along came Casey Powell and Dan Sojka, they wanted to use Yukon for their last Open run. Neither had ever hunted with Yukon before, but they went out and won the Open Flushing competition with him. That would have given Yukon the Top Dog prize, except tat Mike Glewwe and Ken Larson took Lizzi out for a super run and took home the Open Pointer first place. Lizzi won by 3 points. What a magical season. I got to hunt with the two very best dogs around.”
Sadly that was to be Yukon’s last season. He contracted Lyme Disease and the treatment was not successful. Damage to his nervous system made the loving Yukon into a paranoid and dangerous dog. Doug was forced to put him down once it became clear that there was no hope of recovery.
“He was a one-in-a-million dog – once in a lifetime dog. I was lucky to have him, even though our time was cut short.”