About John Amico
As a teen, John’s natural skill with dogs landed him a job as a kennel boy for Field Trial Hall of Famer Delmar Smith. Under Delmar’s tutelage, John learned that even seemingly menial tasks as kennel cleaning provided fundamental insight into his canine charges. But the Viet Nam draft interrupted John’s goal of becoming a gun dog trainer and a world away from Oklahoma, he could only dream about his passion. John returned home from the Army with an ever-increasing desire to learn the art and craft of retriever training. Devouring every written word on the subject and scrutinizing the field work of top trialers, John set his mind on learning how to train blood-in-its-eye hunting retrievers for duck hunters like himself.
In 1980, John began training professionally. He named his business Deep Fork Retrievers after his favorite hunting spot in southeastern Oklahoma, one of the nation’s last remaining natural hardwood bottoms. Within a few years, he attended the second-ever hunt test at the Jay Hawk Retriever Club in St. Joseph, Kansas. There he was inspired by the new concept of standardized testing for hunting retrievers and further, how recognizing excellent hunting dogs with titles could lead to developing sound breeding programs.
Soon, others began to notice John’s growing reputation as an astute gun dog trainer, most notably Richard Wolters, author of Water Dog, who approached John about helping establish a network of training clubs for the fledgling North American Hunting Retriever Association. Richard recognized that the success of the organization and its testing program depended on having judges who knew gun dogs and invited the young pro trainer from Oklahoma to join their judging pool. John’s expertise in interpreting the testing standards into realistic hunting scenarios became widely acknowledged and his early contributions to the hunt test movement remain in effect to this day.
John has presented retriever training and gun dog product demonstrations for national hunting shows, sporting goods stores and sportsmen’s groups, including Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Step Outside Program, Boy Scouts of America, National Turkey Federation, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
John’s passion for retrievers and hunting comes through regardless of whether he’s speaking to an individual, a live audience or in front of a camera. He has been featured on Outdoor Oklahoma numerous times due to the record number of viewer requests for his insight into training hunting retrievers. John also appeared in the premier episode of The World of Dogs which aired on PBS channels in the U.S. and Europe and arranged a hunting segment for the National Rifle Association that appeared on the Today Show.
Radio listeners have enjoyed his training expertise on Field and Stream, Hunt Sleep Fish Radio,and Speak, a live call-in show for dog owners. John has also shared his know-how with regular readers of Ducks Unlimited Magazine, Gun Dog Magazine, and Waterfowl and Retriever Magazine.
Deep Fork dogs have garnered an equal amount of attention as their nationally known trainer. They’ve been featured in two books on retriever training, Hey Pup – Fetch it Up by Bill Tarrant and on the cover of Gun Dog by Richard Wolters, as revised by Charles Jurney. Deep Fork-bred and trained HR Grande’s Rolling Stone Hunter also led a national print ad campaign for Bismuth Cartridge Company.