Summit County brings home trophy |

Summit County brings home trophy

Lu Snyder

SUMMIT COUNTY – Luke sat in the cool, air-conditioned cab of the truck, as Jimmy Buffet played on the radio. He was waiting for his turn to compete.

Though this was Luke’s first year in competition, the 5-year-old German short-hair pointer and his owner, Marty Price who owns a business in Silverthorne, did well enough to make it to the national gun dog competition. The competition is a three-day event where top bird dogs and their owners compete.

Price, two Breckenridge residents – Mark Bookman and Brian Hoffman – and their dogs competed and placed in the national gun dog competitions in Stratton, April 5 -7.

Their performance is impressive considering most bird hunting is several hundred miles from Summit County. It’s even more impressive knowing they competed against hunters and dogs from the eastern plains, who hunt birds more frequently.

Luke was given to Price one day while he, his daughter, Alex, and their German short-hair ena were rollerblading in Denver. The couple who owned Luke at the time stopped them on the street and asked if they’d take Luke. The family’s son had severe allergies and they weren’t able to keep the dog, Price said.

That was four years ago. Luke used to be shy around guns and i took Price a long time to gain the dog’s trust. Luke chewed up cell phones, remote controls and anything else he could find.

“He’s kind of a wild child,” Price said of Luke. But he’s become quite the bird dog, even so. “If you should miss (the shot) he will chase that bird, pick it up and bring it back.”

At nationals, Luke and Price took first place in the amateur pointing competition.

“(Price) won in his first year of competing,” said Steve Sutton. “That’s pretty darn good.”

All four men and their dogs placed in the top five in their competitions last week. Bookman and Hoffman placed fifth in the amateur doubles. Sutton won second, Hoffman third and Bookman fifth in amateur flushing.

Each dog and owner hunted wild birds for years before competing in the gun dog events.

“During the wild bird season (October to January), I don’t do the competition,” Bookman said. The competition, which goes from September until April, extends the season, he said.

But it’s more than that.

“It’s the competition, the dogs … just getting to see so many good dogs doing what they obviously love to do,” Sutton said. “The dogs know they’re in a competition, they really do. And they give it everything they’ve got.”

Each dog/hunter team is given 20 minutes and eight shells to bag four birds. The clock stops with whichever comes first: the fourth bird, the eighth shell or the 20 minutes. Competitors get extra points for harvesting four birds before the 20-minute deadline.

Results depend on both the dog’s bird skills and the hunter’s shooting skills.

Sutton’s black labrador Rosey flushed out more birds than he was able to shoot, he said. Although the dog found seven birds, it took Sutton eight shots to get his fourth bird.

“A lot of it was mental,” Price said, “I concentrated on my shooting, eating well, resting the dog, taking care of the dog.”

The nationals are organized by the North American Gun Dog Association.

Because they placed so well in this year’s competition, all four men and their dogs will compete at the pro level next year. Both Price and Bookman have enjoyed the competition so much, they are entertaining thoughts of becoming gun dog trainers.

For more information on gun dog competitions, visit the Web at or call (719) 348-5581

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or

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