Chad has been training hunting dogs since he was a child. He started out reading any literature he could find and watching every dog training video available. Willow Creek started when Chad was 11 with his first Beagle named Willow Creek’s Running Wrinkles. Over the next few decades, Chad has continued to research and develop training methods, seeking a more positive approach to training dogs.
Although there are certain techniques that Willow Creek uses for training, we also recognize that many different approaches work to get the same result. We are constantly experimenting and looking for easier and more effective ways to achieve the same goal. Over the years, Willow Creek has trained and handled more than 70 AKC Master Hunters under Chad’s direction.
Integrity, honesty, and ethics are core principles at Willow Creek. As a breeder of German Shorthaired Pointers, Chad has diligently researched bloodlines and hunting ability through many generations, and he strives to produce dogs that are right for today’s hunters and pet owners.
Trainer/Guide Minnesota & Texas
Cade Richgels is originally from Highland, WI, just west of Madison. After working 11 years in HVAC construction, Cade sought out a new path. Cade’s passion for the outdoors and training dogs led him to participate in Ronnie Smith’s Dog Training Apprentice program in 2012. He was immersed in gun dog training and earned his Gold Level Advanced Certificate, which includes proficiency with finishing a gun dog. Cade comes to Willow Creek highly regarded by Ronnie Smith himself, and he has not disappointed. His dedication and conscientious nature have made him a stand out trainer. Willow Creek is proud to have Cade as part of the team!
Cade harvested 9 different species of wild upland birds in their own habitat this winter (’16-’17) and 7 different species of ducks this past season. Cade trains at Willow Creek April – November and guides and trains in Texas December – March.
Cade has finished 4 AKC Master Hunter’s to date. One of those is a WC Honker x WC Courtney pup called Inga. Cade handled her to 6 out of 7 qualifying scores before she turned 2. Then went 6 for 6 to get her Master Hunter Advanced. She only needed 5 MHA passes, but one score was under an average of 8. Qualifying Master run, but not enough points for an MHA pass. Nice work Cade and Inga!
Cade will be running NAVHDA Utility tests this spring and summer with his German Wirehaired Pointer Floyd and his Willow Creek German Shorthair Inga.
Trainer / Bird Keeper – Minnesota
Charlie has been with Willow Creek since 2003. He grew up on a neighboring farm and has applied his farm work ethic to the kennel. In his 14 years in 4H, Charlie showed just about every animal you can. He was a wrestler for 17 years; two of those years he served as team captain, and he placed 5th at state (112 pounds) in 2009. Charlie has worked as a kennel attendant, a groundskeeper, a general handyman, (pretty much Chad’s right hand man) and now a full time trainer. Charlie has a one year degree in Wildland Fire Fighting and a two year degree in Welding and Robotics.
With his years of experience handling dogs coupled with his hard work ethic and passion for hunting, Charlie is a great asset to the Willow Creek training team.
Assistant Manager / Trainer
Jordan Pharris grew up hunting and fishing in Nebraska. He can remember walking the fields with his dad before he could carry a shotgun. Jordan’s passion for dogs was cultivated through hunting at such a young age. He grew up with three golden retrievers, June, Jill, and Lucy, who ruled the house!
Jordan achieved his Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources with a Minor in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. He worked many different jobs in college, including working at a petstore where he could enjoy another passion of his, “fish!” After college, Jordan lived in Bowling Green, OH, where he worked as a Fisheries Technician on Lake Erie. He mapped the Maumee Bay to better understand the structure that juvenile walleye use to survive.
Jordan’s wife received a job working as a hydrologist for the Minnesota DNR, which brought him to Brainerd, MN. At Willow Creek, he handles customer communications, trains our breeding animals as well as customer dogs. His passion for dogs and positive nature makes him a great fit for the Willow Creek team.
Jordan is a natural with the dogs. He has trained dogs from start to finish at Willow Creek. He has learned our system well and we are seeing very good results out of his dogs.
Jordan has taken an interest in NSTRA trials. Last year (2016) Jordan took a 3rd place in his first trial with his 1 year old English Setter Ryder. Ryder was braced against a 4x Champion and beat him. Go Jordan and Ryder! He is looking forward to this spring’s NSTRA trials.
Business Operations, Marketing and Puppies
Originally from Ottertail, MN, Tracy has been an integral part of Willow Creek’s business operations, marketing and breeding program. She previously worked as a Senior Consultant with DTA Associates, focusing on quality strategy and process improvement for Healthcare Organizations.