Kirk Keene was raised in the farm country of Central Illinois. Not exactly a waterfowl haven, the area was full of quail, with abundant pheasant less than an hour North. It was here that Kirk was given a Brittany pup while in his late teens. Fortunately for him and the pup, accomplished bird dog trainer and field trialer, Max Eldred, was a family friend. Max was kind enough to let Kirk tag along while training, and it was in the fields of Macoupin County that Kirk learned the fundamentals of training an obedient and efficient gundog.
Moving to Southern Illinois in the mid-90's, Kirk found the area devoid of quail but abundant with waterfowl. He began waterfowl hunting with serious intent, and his first Labrador soon followed. After training several of his own retrievers, there soon came requests to train retrievers for other hunters. From this humble beginning, Imperial Retriever's was born as a full-time Retriever Training facility. Kirk is also one of a very short list of trainers to have run AKC field trials, UKC and AKC hunt tests, and British field trials.
For twelve years Kirk spent the winter guiding hunters at Arrowhead Lodge Hunting Club, and currently manages Cache River Preserve in Ullin, IL. He has also hunted in four US states and a Canadien Province, and still continues to hunt public land in Illinois.
Our dogs receive a tremendous amount of work in a variety of settings. It's much easier to train competent waterfowl retrievers when working in these conditions, as it becomes clear what is necessary for a steady, reliable retriever. Very few trainers have had this experience over so many waterfowl seasons.