Bill Autrey Named 'Handler of the Year'

John Blackbird (left), Bill Teague Bill Autrey & Geri Autrey
John Blackbird, Bill Teague Bill & Geri Autrey

Bill Autrey, has been named the 2016 Bill T. Teague Handler of the Year award recipient.
Bill Autrey is the owner and operator of Autrey Kennels in Bentley, Louisiana. A large group of almost 100 representing 16 states in the United States and Canada attended the event held at Autrey’s Kennels. The 2015 recipient of the award, Ken Virdine from Lake Charles, Louisiana was among the attendees.
Guests included owners of retrievers Autrey is or has trained; handlers of dogs that  Autrey has trained, fellow retriever enthusiasts, neighbors, local public officials and many members of Autrey’s family, including his wife Geri and daughter, Polly Smithye.
For full details on the presentation, please see contact information below. The Foundation Awards program includes awards to both adult and youth handlers of retrievers at the Master National Retriever Club’s annual AKC licensed event.
Autry was surrounded by friends & family at the award presentation
Autry was surrounded by friends & family at the award presentation

In 2016, the Master National event was held at the August Busch Conservation Area in Greater St. Louis. September 29-October 9.
No Youth Handlers were nominated in 2016.
MNRCF Board of Directors members attending the event were John Blackbird and Bill Teague.
Autrey was nominated by several retriever enthusiasts, including his daughter, Polly Autrey Smithye from Minnesota. He was cited for his ability to overcome major health obstacles, including cancer of the throat to produce well trained retrievers who excelled at both the local, state and national level. One of his recent treatments included removal of his larynx rendering him unable to talk. While clearly a challenge, he overcame this obstacle by talking to judges & colleagues at tests mostly thru writing on a pad & hand signals.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) approved a special ‘mechanical whistle’ Mr. Autrey used by pushing a button resulting in the whistle being ‘blown’ to handle his dogs.  Mr. Autrey is a very competent dog trainer that has resulted in numerous AKC Master Hunter titles and successful qualifications of dogs at the Master National Retriever Club events.
He is an inspiration to many, a mentor to both young and more seasoned trainers & handlers and is a wonderful asset to the retriever sport. Of the  820 retrievers entered in the 2016 Master National event, only about 275 qualified and Autrey had several dogs qualify. After his selection as Handler of the Year, it was learned the cancer has returned in his tongue and he’s currently taking radiation treatments.
A recreation of the award presentation will be scheduled at the 2017 MNRC’s annual business meeting at the 26th annual event to be held at the Big Woods on the Trinity outside Palestine, Texas, October 12-22, 2017.
For further info on the awards, contact Bill Teague at or 713-252-3918 or 734 CR 630, Nacogdoches, Texas 75964.
Additional Foundation board members are:
Gloria Mundell, Colorado
John Blackbird, Minnesota
Larry Kimble, MNRC President 2017
Jimmy Hughes, Treasurer, Treasurer
Bill Teague, Texas, President

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