Hi! I’m Deke!
I was born in Pella, Iowa – home of Pella Windows, Tulip Time, and the Dutchmen! At 19 years of age, I left Pella to attend Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. In my first year of college, I purchased my new best friend, a Siberian Husky, that I named Nautique.
Nautique is how it all began! The “instruction manual” that came with him said, “Must have daily strenuous exercise at a minimum of one hour.” I took that literally and together with Nautique, we explored a lot of country in the state of Colorado.
And then one day, we encountered a dog sled team skiing on one of the trails. Wow! I waited at the musher’s truck for him and his dogs to return. I then pleaded with him to let me help him out with his team of dogs so that I could learn about mushing. Nautique and I ended up helping him out at his kennel for the rest of the winter! Nautique passed away unexpectedly in the fall of 2006. He was only three-years-old.
In 2007, I took an extended 3 month trip to Europe, and ended up traveling to Arctic Sweden where I became very good friends with a 70-year-old Swedish Man named Helge. Helge introduced me to a musher there. One year later, I was back in Sweden managing a 45 dog kennel, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle!
After the winter of handling, training, running and operating sled dog tours, I knew without a doubt that I would be a musher one day, but I also new it would be with my own team of dogs. The following year, I moved to Seward, Alaska which is located along the coast, to work for the summer and to find out what Alaska was like.
I was employed as a Law Enforcement Ranger for the National Parks. A permanent job opened in Florida, so my next move was naturally to move to the Florida Everglades! Although Florida was the wrong direction geographically, it was a smart stepping stone in my career. After spending just shy of 3 years in Florida, I drove back to Alaska, but to Fairbanks, in the Interior, this time. This area is known for some of the best mushing in the World!
I moved into an off-the-grid house, 30 miles north of Fairbanks, where I knew someday I would be able to house a dog team. I didn’t care so much about the house or the property, but I fell in love with my backyard which was millions, literally millions, of acres of public land with trails, public use cabins and freedom!
In 2013, I bought my first Alaskan Husky, a 6-month-old sprint sled dog named Kali. Two days later, I bought a distance sled dog puppy named Luna. Luna and Kali were house dogs for about 6 months until the fall of 2013 when I received a phone call from a musher moving to Germany. He said, “Would you like to buy my kennel?”
The next day, I drove home with 13 dogs, combined with Luna and Kali, I had my first team of 15 dogs!
Nautique Sky Kennel was Born!
Since 2013, there have been three litters of puppies born at the kennel.
The “Special K” Litter
The “Disney” Litter
The “Canadians” Eh!? Litter
I’m now up to 30 dogs, 25 adults and 5 puppies. I’m entering my 6th season of running dogs already! Wow!
During the 2017/2018 season, we successfully completed three races including the Solstice 50, Yukon Quest 300, and Percy DeWolfe 210. For some crazy reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to try out the Yukon Quest 1000 beginning on February 2, 2019. It’ll be the hardest thing I’m sure I’ve ever attempted in my life and looking forward to the adventure!