Bachman Bay Kennels was formed by Val Bachman, a wildlife biologist based in Hooper, Utah. Dad was a game warden, a biologist, a wetland mastermind and the superintendent of Ogden Bay Waterfowl management area for nearly 40 years. Dad was one of the founding members of the Wasatch Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA. We started whelping occasional litters since the 1990s. The breeding program has focused on versatile bird finders that are easily trainable and calm around the house.
After many years of running fine wirehairs we started a breeding program in 1996. We only breed with proven hunting lines that have hunt test or field trial titles as well as all health testing completed. Check out our breeding philosophy page for more information. We strongly believe in North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s hunt test system. Our breeding program has received five NAVHDA Natural Ability breeder’s awards, one Utility breeders award and have had several dogs attend the NAVHDA Invitational.
Both of us are hardcore bird hunters who have spent 1000’s of hours hunting birds in all of the western states with multiple wirehairs. We have always been bird hunters first and foremost. Breeding, dog training and hunt testing are all by-products of this hunting passion. We have sold dogs to many very satisfied hunters across the west. In 2016 dad retired from the BBK and I became the sole owner of the Kennel and breeding business.
Details of our family history with bird hunting and bird dogs.
Dad grew and spent the majority of his life in Northern Utah. He came from a family of bird hunters his father raised and bred English setters in the 1940’s and 50’s. He owned and hunted over many setters, Labs, Chesapeake’s before settling on wirehairs as his breed of choice.
The Bachman Bay Kennels line of wirehairs was originally created to hunt the diverse marshes and uplands of the great salt lake ecosystem. The name Bachman Bay is a spinoff of the name Ogden Bay which was the name of the wildlife area dad managed and I grew up on. At Ogden Bay we used wirehairs for hunting ducks, geese, swans, pheasants, snipe and quail. We frequently went into the west desert to chase huns and chukars and ventured up to southern Idaho for day trips. For about 20 years at different points in our lives both Dad and I were absolutely obsessed with waterfowl hunting. We collectively owned thousands and thousands of decoys as well as every style of duck boat, coffin, layout boat, layout blind, scull boat imaginable. Later in our lives both of us became deeply involved in chasing upland game birds as well as doing hunt tests and field trials.
After we bred a few really good wirehairs, Dad bored of his home state of Utah and started buying properties in eastern Montana and southern Idaho to use as hunting trip base camps. He also started doing annual trips to chase quail in Arizona. He was a true western bird hunter migrating with the seasons north to south. Starting in northern Montana on September 1st and ending in February in Arizona. Dad has since retired from the breeding business and is living up in Washington state near his only grandson.
I will never forget what growing up with the short two week pheasant hunting season in Utah was like on Ogden bay in the 80's and 90's. Dad and I hunted every single day of the season. Dad often considered how good of a season it was by how many days he didn’t get his limit and that was very few days! We frequently were hunting a field that had been hunted three times already that day. We needed to use a lot of strategies and smart dogs to come up with heavily pressured Ogden bay roosters. Dad always said you needed a wirehair that could track a ghost to kill a rooster near the headquarters of Ogden bay…and we killed quite a few. The great thing about Ogden bay in those days was the diversity in hunting opportunities from pass shooting Goldeneyes and Scaup on unit three to layout boat hunting for wigeon and swans on Unit 1 from an ice hole. The Phragmites was just starting to expand and the roosters loved being way out in the thickest part of the Higley’s Jungle unit. We frequently hunted snipe on the open salt grass flats. Snipe hunting over a good wirehair that can pin them is an incredibly fun and sporting thing to do. A good snipe hunt over a pointing dog has always put a smile on my face. For many years we had good populations of California quail on the wildlife area that we enjoyed hunting. Times have changed at Ogden bay they now plant pheasants there and wild upland bird populations aren’t a fraction of what they used to be.
They still have some pretty incredible waterfowl opportunities.
As bird biologists we have a unique relationship with birds, bird habitat and bird dogs. Both of us have been lucky enough to be able to utilize German wirehairs on the job doing bird biology fieldwork. We have been part of research projects, banding projects as well as general monitoring programs. We have used our dogs to help find sage grouse for capture, to help count and find sage grouse and sharptail grouse leks. We have used dogs as part of waterfowl banding programs as well as finding bird nesting sites. I was lucky enough to use one of our favorite wirehairs on a very interesting project where we were marking baby sandhill crane colts. CC was excellent at tracking down these very skittish little runners. Dad used his dogs many times while doing research on the efficacy of waterfowl botulism disease abatement projects. We many times used dogs to make sure no nesting birds were still nesting before starting wetland restoration earthwork.
Northern Utah and Southern Idaho seemed to have always been a stronghold for wirehairs and drahthaar breeders. Many of those breeders are still breeding today and there are many new breeders focusing on versatile bearded dogs in the area.
While I was growing up we were lucky enough to have an expert on the Deutsch Drahthaar in our small community of Hooper, Utah. This man named was named Lynn Whiteley a neighbor and family friend. Lynn eventually became the national breed warden for the VDD-GNA club. Lynn was my cub scout and boy scout leader growing up. As you can imagine there were lots of lively conversations about wirehairs versus the Deutsch Drahthaar.
We got our first wirehair in 1992 a male named Three Devils Gideon from Jeff Funke’s 7th litter. “Gid” was an extremely smart dog I will always remember as “my” first wirehair. However he ended up showing signs of hip dysplasia at a young age and we had him fixed. In 1994 we were lucky enough to end up getting a female puppy from Greg Grossklaus named Besser Vom Grossklaus. Dad to this day still considers her a dog with a one in 10,000 nose. We are still running and breeding dogs that relate back to this dogs breeding.
In 1994 I started working for a local professional dog trainer Roger Miller of Miller kennels. I started out cleaning kennels then worked my way up to doing force fetch and obedience work as well as assisting with advanced bird work and advanced retriever work. This was a very good foundation for me learning about training all breeds of dogs for hunting and hunt tests.
I got my first wirehair as an adult in 1998. His name was Beta and he was from our second litter out of two dogs very important to us Bess and Salty Pete. I ran him in my first NAVHDA test as a handler in 1999. At the time I was in college and that dog was downright incredible at helping me get girls and find birds. I never finished breaking him nor ran him in Utility. However, we had a lot of great adventures hunting up on the bear river and cutler marsh as well as grouse hunting up Logan canyon while I was going to Utah State University. In 2001 Beta and I moved to coastal California so I could attend Humboldt State and study geese. Beta and I really cut our teeth hunting in the Humboldt Bay area chasing coastal brant, divers and sea ducks. Beta was by far the best coastal waterdog I have ever seen making thousand yard water chases on brant in big winds. We also spent a fair amount of time chasing and pinning Mountain quail and forest grouse in the thick woodlands of NW California. I wish I would have bred that dog or saved some sperm. However at the time I had other things to focus on and just enjoyed him for the great dog he was.
For many years I was working as a biologist at Humboldt bay National Wildlife Refuge while finishing my graduate research on the Aleutian Cackling goose. I eventually moved to the Modoc National Wildlife refuge in North eastern California where I got my next wirehair CC. check out her bio in our dogs page
During the sixteen years I was in California we used wirehairs for chasing cats, wild pigs, tracking deer and hunting just about every bird species imaginable. There are a lot of people who like to hate on California, however one thing they do have going for them is as a hunter you can harvest several pigs and two deer before the bird season even started.
In 2016 I moved to Spokane, Washington to work as the statewide wildlife biologist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Around this time Dad officially retired from his job at Ogden Bay and from dog breeding. I took over the kennel name and breeding business. We loved Washington’s diversity hunting all types of birds in the Columbia basin and channeled scablands and Palouse prairie birds.
In 2019 Julie and I both got positions in SE Oregon near the town of Burns. We love being so close to so many of our favorite remote hunting spots and it is a great fit for our dogs and lifestyle. Julie is working for Pheasants Forever as a partnership coordinator for Sage grouse in the region. I will be spending the next many years working on restoration of the Malheur lake and the Harney basin wetlands. We love all the chukar, quail and pheasant hunting near our home as well as some fantastic duck and goose hunting with very little hunting pressure. We still travel all across the west to hunt birds but we have some great hunting so close to home!