Hello chapter members, the Chapter Bylaws require the current Board of Directors to notify the membership by August 15th of each year of the status of the  board members and their terms.  Your current Board of Directors, their current boards position and their term expirations are as follows:

  • Pete Aplikowski-President (October 2021)
  • Brent Haefner-Treasurer (October 2021)
  • Mitch Carlson-Director of Training (October 2021)
  • Sam Snyder-Vice President (October 2022)
  • Peter Ness-Secretary (October 2022)
  • Sean Ewaldt-Director Testing (October 2022)

Nominations will be accepted by the Secretary from the Membership until August 31st.   Members may nominate themselves. Members who are not nominating themselves must  agree to accept the nomination which is to be verified by the Secretary.

If there are more nominations than open seats, there will be an election.  Please reference the Bylaws Article IV for more information.  Please also reference the Bylaws for a description of each Board Position and duties.

The three individuals with expiring terms (Pete Aplikowski, Brent Haefner and Mitch Carlson) have all been nominated for another 2 year term.

Send any nominations to:   secretary@mnnavhda.org


We are getting reports of dogs getting sick from being in the water at Kelley Farms.  There have also been reports of algae blooms of the bluish-green variety.  Please be aware of this if you are using these grounds.   The lack of moisture this summer has also hindered the growth of grass, and the grounds have been heavily grazed over by the cattle.  To allow us to hold a high quality NAVHDA test, the chapter Board of Directors has decided to relocate our Labor Day weekend test on September 4th & 5th to Four Brooks WMA.    We are still looking for volunteers for this test.  If you can help, please contact Scott Green at slgreensm42@gmail.com

Here is a brief Spring Update to some things going on in the chapter.

Grounds Access:  Please be aware that to be on the grounds at Kelly Land & Cattle Co. in Hugo/Marine AND the Four Brooks WMA dog training area north of Milaca everyone MUST have an annual grounds pass OR be part of a chapter sponsored paid event like a Test, Primary Clinic, or an OPEN Training night.  You can find info on how to get passes here.    New for 2021, to help new members or those that do not wish to buy a pass, we are having OPEN training & puppy exposure nights on the 3rd Thursday of each month at Kelley.

August 7th & 8th Training Weekend-Virginia: There is still plenty of room left for the Traditional training weekend on August 7th & 8th at the Iron Range Retriever Club in Virginia.  More info and registration here.

AIMS & RULES CLINIC (formerly Handler Clinic): We still have spots available in our 2021 Aims & Rules Clinic at Pineridge Grouse Camp in Remer, MN on June 12th & 13th.  This clinic will be led by longtime chapter member and Senior Judge Terry Petro.    Full details here.

BIRDS: Birds are generally distributed through the small training groups or at the OPEN training nights on Thursdays at Kelley.  If you have questions about obtaining birds, please email training@mnnavhda.org.  The effects of the CV-19 Pandemic has disrupted our normal bird supply channels.  Obtaining birds this spring in sufficient quantities of what our chapter has been customary to has been challenging.  The growth in membership is also creating more demand for birds.   We have chapter volunteers who are spending a LOT of time trying to source birds for us.  They have made some new contacts and hope to have more consistent quantities arriving in the coming weeks.  If you know of anyone that can supply us with Pigeons or Chukar, please send an email to:  president@mnnavhda.org.

Testing Season is Starting: Minnesota NAVHDA has expanded our testing to span SEVEN weekends in 2021 starting May 15-16 with an all NA test at Four Brooks.  All of our tests are full with waiting lists.  We are in need of volunteers.  Coming to a test is a great way to meet people, see a variety of dogs, and learn about NAVHDA. If you can help, please contact the Test Coordinators.


We are holding a  NAVHDA AIMS & Rules Clinic on June 12th & 13th at Pineridge Grouse Camp in Remer, MN.

We have about 10 spots remaining, and we would really like to fill this up.  We are discounting the price to $120,00 from $165.00.    There are also additional meal & lodging options.

Wondering if this event is for you?  Full event details and registration are here:

(Those already sighed up will be receiving a partial refund)


Hello Chapter Members.   The days are getting longer, some snow is melting, and it will not be too much longer until we start our 2021 season in April.  In the meantime, here is an update on some things to be aware of.

ANNUAL MEETINGS:   We held our chapter annual meeting on Tuesday evening Feb 2nd via the Google Meet platform.   This meeting was not recorded.  Chapter members will be emailed a copy of the Meeting minutes and Board of Directors reports.   NAVHDA International held it’s annual meeting on Jan 23rd via the Microsoft Teams platform.  This meeting was recorded, and is available to review here.

BYLAWS:   The voting for the revisions to our chapter bylaws was held electronically over a  14 day period ending on February 21st.  The revisions passed by a 94-6% margin.  (66% was required).  Thank you to all who participated.  These changes will allow us to better manage the size of the chapter and continue to hold quality tests and training events while fulfilling our mission statement.

CHAPTER SECRETARY POSITION:  Pete Ness is currently our chapter secretary, now in his 3rd two year term, but is looking to transition out of that role.  This is a very important position in a chapter of our size.  Primary responsibilities include managing the roster, monthly meeting agendas & minutes and coordinating chapter email communications.  We are looking for candidates to interview for this position.  Qualified individuals will be familiar with simple database management like MS Excel, sending mass emails, and online systems of sharing and storing information like the Google G-Suite.  Interested people can contact president@mnnavhda.org.

RAFFLE: Our 2021 Raffle Fundraiser for two Garmin Alpha 200i units was a huge success.  The raffle sold out sooner than we expected and winners were drawn at our Board meeting on 2/16.  Congratulations to our winners Greg Fassett & Dan DelMonico.

2021 VOLUNTEERS:   We are the biggest chapter in NAVHDA both in the size of our membership and the number of test days and training events we hold.   We cannot do this without volunteers, and we could use your help.   If you are running a dog in a test, please consider volunteering on the day you are NOT running.  You can contact the test & event coordinators listed on this page to volunteer.  (Note that your specific test running day assignment is not usually made by the test secretaries until the week of the test, so which day you would volunteer cannot be determined yet.)

TRAINING:  For 2021 Training, we will continue to form small focused training groups like we did in 2020.  If this interests you, please visit our Small Group Training Page and complete the questionnaire by March 15th, if you have not already done so.   Small group training dates are NOT published on our website calendar, but will be organized based on the results of this questionnaire.  You can visit our Training Events Page to see some of the larger scheduled events we have set up and which ones still have openings.  NEW for 2021, we will be doing some OPEN training nights at Kelley Farms on the 3rd Thursday of each month, from April through August.  This is to give people an opportunity to do some training at that venue without having to buy the expensive annual grounds pass for Kelley Farms.  These nights will also be open to non-members to check out what NAVHDA is all about before they make the decision to join.

NAVHDA AIMS & RULES CLINIC:  We still have openings at this 2 day clinic on June 12th-13th at Pineridge Grouse Camp in Remer, MN.  Full details here.

TESTING:  4 of our 7 tests are full with waiting lists.  there are still some openings in the other 3.  If you are planning on testing a dog in 2021, do not wait too much longer to sign up for a test.  Please reference our Testing Events Schedule for all details.

SPONSORS: Thank you to our Chapter Sponsors. 

We look forward to seeing everyone soon at our 2021 Events.

Pete Aplikowski



” I don’t want to get all wrapped up in this testing stuff, I just want a hunting dog!”  This is a statement you will hear from a lot of people new to NAVHDA with their first versatile dog.

Many people’s first exposure to NAVHDA is by their breeder, who may suggest that new puppy owners join NAVHDA in hopes they will get their puppies evaluated in a Natural Ability (NA) test as a measure of their breeding program.  That, and they know that NAVHDA chapters are a good way for them to meet other people familiar with the versatile breeds and get them on the right track.

As a large chapter, we get a lot of new members who join for a year, participate enough to get their pup through the NA test, and then they go on their merry way and we never see them again.  There is also another group of people who get involved with the chapter’s exposure & training days, get through their NA test, and then say “now what?”

After the NA test, the next test in the NAVHDA system is the Utility Preparatory Test (UPT).  The NAVHDA AIMS book describes this test as follows:  “It is a test midway between the Natural Ability Test and the Utility Test.  The dog’s level of obedience and training should demonstrate that it is on its way to becoming a Utility dog.”

NAVHDA NA, UPT & UT tests have “prize levels” of Prize 1, 2 & 3.  “Prizing” is also referred to as “passing”.  While having a truly “finished” Prize 1 Utility dog is the desired goal for a lot of experienced NAVHDA handlers, it is not practical for the majority of people, especially those who “just want a hunting dog.”   So, let’s focus on that term of “passing” and how it relates to the UPT test.

To “Pass” a test, a dog must achieve a minimum of a prize 3 performance.  The full context of what a “passing” score would be can be found in the AIMS TEST RULES.    We cannot get down in the weeds on all of that in this short article, but let’s look at an idea of what that might look like for the UPT test.

While I am a NAVHDA judge, I want to make the disclaimer that at a NAVHDA test, there are 3 judges, and every dog’s score is a consensus score of what each judge saw and observed.  If you look at the Prize 3 requirements for the UPT test, for a dog to “pass”, this is my own synopsis of what I would be looking for, in general, for  a dog to obtain a passing score.

  • Do a productive field search, point birds for the handler and be consistently at least “steady to flush” so the handler can flush the game in range of the gunners.
  • Retrieve all game it is sent out for or breaks for on its own (land & water) and bring it back to within reasonable reach of the handler no matter how efficiently it does it.  (game recovery is a KEY NAVHDA principle)
  • Do a several minute water search within reasonable shotgun range. A retrieve is not required unless the dog locates the dead duck.
  • Have decent manners on the way to and around the duck bind.

Doesn’t that sound like a “passable” HUNTING DOG?   

For many people in NAVHDA, “passing” a dog at the UPT test level would not only be a good goal to strive for, but for many people, will be as far as they would ever need to go to have the hunting companion they are looking for.

For a full understanding of the NAVHDA NA UPT & UT tests and scorecard system, handlers should consider attending an official NAVHDA AIMS & RULES Clinic.  the Minnesota Chapter is holding one on June 12th & 13th this year at Pine Ridge Grouse Camp in Remer, MN.  Click here for full details.


Hello Minnesota NAVHDA Chapter Members,

Your Board of Directors has been busy the last couple months organizing our 2021 calendar.  We are the largest and most active chapter in the NAVHDA system, and we have a lot planned for the coming year.  All of our testing & training events are now open for registration.  You can always find all of the info on the Master Calendar.

Here are a few special things to be aware of:  Click on the highlighted links for full details and registration/payment info.

  • Because we cannot hold our traditional  Fable Fest and silent auction this year due to CV-19, we are doing a RAFFLE for TWO Garmin 200i training/tracking bundles.   This is limited to 250 entries and is open to chapter members only.  To enter, members will need the password that was emailed to them on Jan 2nd.  We expect this to sell out rather quickly, so do not hesitate. Outside of our membership dues, this will be our PRIMARY revenue generator for the year, so please participate, you might get lucky!
  • Our Bylaws require us to hold an “Annual Meeting” and this year that will be done via a virtual meeting platform on Tuesday Feb 2nd from 7-8pm.  We will be sending out more information about this soon, including a  survey asking who will be interested in attending so we can select an appropriate virtual meeting platform.  Members-watch your emails for that in the next week or so.
  • To kick things off this year, we will be holding a ‘Virtual” Training roundtable meeting on Thursday Jan 7th at 7pm via the Google Meet platform.   Members can call in or video in with a capable device.   This will be a general informational discussion about some of our 2021 events and how we are going to try to organize small group training.  Nonmembers and new members are especially welcome on this virtual meeting to ask questions about NAVHDA and if joining the chapter makes sense for them.  The instructions to join are in the link above.  Mark your calendars.  If this works well, we will be doing some more virtual training meetings and discussions  over the winter.
  • Our first primary Training Clinic of the year will be April 24th & 25th at Kelley Farms, when we will have pro trainer Kyle Hough from Pennsylvania in for a  2 day Steadiness Clinic.  This is limited to 40 entries and registration will be open to chapter members only until January 31st.  Members will need the password that was emailed to them on Jan 2nd
  • Due to the large number of chapter members qualifying for the NAVHDA Invitational, we are also going to host the first ever NAVHDA sponsored Invitational Handler Clinic, which will be led by NAVHDA Senior Judge Clyde Vetter. This will be June 5th & 6th at Kelley Farms. This event will also be limited to chapter members only until January 31st.  Space is limited to 20 handlers, and to participate in this you must have run a dog in a UPT or UT test in the past.  Open to chapter members only until January 31st.
  • For  people in the northern part of the state, we are also going to hold a 2 day Clinic on May 22nd & 23rd at the Iron Range Retriever Club in Virginia.  Clinic leader will be NAVHDA Judge and chapter President Pete Aplikowski.  This will be open to nonmembers as well who want to get a feel for what NAVHDA and the Minnesota Chapter is about.  Saturday will focus on Natural Ability Concepts and Sunday will focus on Utility Prep and Utility Training & Demonstrations.  We are trying to offer some more training options in the northern part of the state, and hopefully we can connect some people at this event.
  • We will also be holding a NAVHDA Aims & Rules Clinic and to add a bit to the experience, this will be held at Pine Ridge Grouse Camp near Remer, MN on June 12th & 13th. Clinic Leader will be NAVHDA Senior Judge Terry Petro.  This will be a nice setting to hold this event in and there are meals and lodging/campsites on site.  Space will be limited to 20 handlers.
  • Minnesota NAVHDA leads the entire NAVHDA system in the number of testing days, with 16 testing days spread out over 7 weekends this summer.   Our tests have been filling rather early the last several years, so do not hesitate to get your entry in.  All of our tests are open for entries. Minnesota NAVHDA 2021 Testing Schedule.   Members who want to volunteer at our tests should contact the Test Coordinators listed here.

I look forward to seeing everyone at some of these events this year, or speaking to you on our Virtual meetings this winter.

Pete Aplikowski-President

Hello Minnesota Chapter Members,

It is Chapter membership renewal time.   Please note that there are TWO levels of membership in NAVHDA.  NAVHDA International, and local Chapters.

Registration for certain 2021 Training & Testing Events will be open after January 1st, and chapter members get notified of these first, so it is important to keep up your NAVHDA International membership as well as your Minnesota Chapter membership.  Check your NAVHDA International membership here

Chapter Membership Renewals are now open, and there is a $10 Discount for renewals by 12/31.  You MUST be a chapter member to train with Minnesota NAVHDA.  You can sign up or Renew Here.

As we get closer to the New Year, we are starting to get some clarity on more of our 2021 Event dates.  Unfortunately, with the Governor’s current CV-19 epidemic Executive Orders, it appears we are NOT going to be able to have our traditional winter indoor obedience classes.  We are studying some virtual options (ZOOM, etc..)

Due to COVID-19, we will also NOT be having our traditional Annual Meeting & Fable Fest this winter.  To fulfill the requirements of our bylaws, we ARE planning on having a “Virtual”  Business Meeting on Tuesday Feb 2nd at 7:00pm.  Chapter members will be notified by email of how to attend.

For a 2021 fundraiser, we will be doing a raffle for TWO Garmin Alpha 200i bundles.  Limit of 250 tickets @ $20 each.  Details will be announced in January

Our 2021 Testing Dates & Locations will be:

(not open for entries until January)

  • May 15th, 16th-Natural Ability-Four Brooks, Milaca
  • June 12th, 13th- Natural Ability, Utility Prep, Utility-Four Brooks, Milaca
  • July 24th, 25th-Natural Ability-Four Brooks, Milaca
  • Aug 14th, 15th-Natural Ability, Utility Prep, Utility-Pine Ridge Grouse Camp-Remer
  • Aug 21st, 22nd-Natural Ability, Utility Prep, Utility-Iron Range Retriever Club-Virginia
  • Sep 4th, 5th-Natural Ability, Utility Prep, Utility-Kelley Farms-Hugo.  DOUBLE TEST (2 Judging teams)
  • Sep 11th, 12th-Natural Ability-Four Brooks, Milaca

Some of our planned 2021 Training Events will be:

  • April-May as weather permits- half day Duck Search clinics.  Led by NAVHDA Judge Pete Aplikowski-Kelley Farms and Four Brooks
  • April 24th & 25th-Steadiness Clinic with Pro Trainer Kyle Hough-Kelley Farms Hugo, MN
  • May 22nd & 23rd.-Training/Handler Clinic- Iron Range Retriever Club-Virginia, MN
  • June 5th & 6th-INVITATIONAL Handler Clinic led by NAVHDA SR. Judge Clyde Vetter-Kelley Farms Hugo, MN
  • June 12th & 13th-AIMS, Rules Clinic led by NAVHDA SR. Judge Terry Petro-Pine Ridge Grouse Camp-Remer, MN
  • August 7th & 8th-Training Weekend at the Iron Range Retriever Club-Virginia, MN
  • Late April through August-WEEKLY small group focused training.-Kelley Farms, Four Brooks, Virginia, Remer

We will be adding more events to our calendar in the coming months.

Please also remember to check out our Chapter SPONSORS.

We also want to give a special mention and Thank You to members Jeff & Tasha Pleskac and Brad Storch for helping with our trailer storage needs over the winter.

Please share you hunting stories & photos on Our Facebook page.

If you want to make an additional contribution to the Chapter, please consider giving to our Grounds Improvement Fund.

Pete Aplikowski

MN NAVHDA-President