I’m sure we’ve all read or seen quotes to the effect of “Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can.”   At Minnesota NAVHDA we had our own experience with that concept this year, when one of our founding members, Joe Dolejsi, suddenly passed away in January.  The good news, was that from Joe’s passing was created the Joe Dolejsi Annual Youth Scholarship, the purpose of which is to be used by a youth Minnesota NAVHDA member for training and testing of their dog.

So – the call went out, the applications were received, the ballots counted, and the winner is – drum roll please – Mason Schultz!                                  Mason is a 5th grader at Lincoln Elementary in White Bear Lake, and lives with his folks Cory Schultz and Kirsten Olson, along with his younger brother Bram (plus the animals they foster through the humane society!).  When Mason’s not training his year old pudelpointer pup “Comet” (“Pan American Elora, from Pan American Kennels in Miami, FL), he’s into biking and just being outdoors.  He’ll complete his hunter safety course this month.  Oh yeah – and he’s a bit of an artist as well – as an accomplished glassblower.  It takes all kinds to work these dogs!

In addition to the scholarship providing Mason with a family membership in MN NAVHDA for a year, he’ll also be covered for his training day registrations, 10-week obedience class, training nights registrations and grounds fees, and a Mock NA or UT test.   The fine folks at Kelley Farms have even donated an annual pass for their grounds.

What will he do with all this?  Perhaps Mason himself says it best:

“My name is Mason P. Schultz.  I am 11 years old.  My family got a Pudelpointer in May, 2017.  Her name is Comet.  We just started taking her to training classes in Stillwater, at the Washington County Fairgrounds.  My dad and I go together, but I am in charge of training her, and I like training her a lot.

Comet went hunting with my dad and I this fall.  She is a versatile hunting dog.  She is a pretty good listener, but she sometimes forgets.  I like to work with her and would really like to keep taking classes.  I think that I can help her to be a really good versatile hunting dog – to go after ducks, pheasants, grouse, and other types of birds.  Also, I have been teaching her some other things too, like how she should point for a bird.  And how she needs to have her own place to go when people are over.

I would like to be in this next class session because I want to learn how I could improve my skills and her skills.  I would really like to enter competitions with her and see how well we could do together.  I would like to be a good trainer and dog handler, which I think this class would help me do.

I really like owning a hunting dog because when you ware hunting you have to scour all over to try and find a bird or two.  But if you have a dog, you find the birds much more quickly.

If I get into this class my goals are to learn even more about dog training, to improve my skills, to be able to teach my dog new advanced skills, and to enter my first competitions.

Thank you for considering my application for this youth scholarship.”

There you have it.  Thank you, Mason, for applying to be our first recipient of the Joe Dolejsi Annual Youth Scholarship!  I sure that Joe is smiling about this right now.

If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to this fund in memory of Joe, please follow this link: GOFUNDME  The Joe Dolejsi Youth Scholarship Fund

At the NAVHDA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas on January 20th, the Executive Committee passed a motion requiring that all owners and handlers of tested dogs be members of NAVHDA.  This rule will go into effect July 1st, 2018.

“The EC approved a motion, to become effective July 1, 2018, to make it a requirement that Owners (at least one owner of co-owned dogs) and Handlers of dogs must be NAVHDA Members in order to enter a NAVHDA test. The statement “…must be NAVHDA Members…” refers to the NAVHDA parent organization commonly known as NAVHDA International.”

Please note that this also includes Youth Handlers, who will require their own NAVHDA Youth Membership Membership Application

2018 Annual Meeting Highlights

Please pass this information on to non-members you know who might be planning to test after July 1st!

Question:  What do you get when you combine bird dogs, shotguns, flying pheasants, comradery and competitive spirit on a fine summer day?

Answer:  Minnesota NAVHDA’s annual Pheasant Championship, of course!

This year marks the 40th annual running of this event, to be held at Major Avenue Hunt Club near Glencoe, MN on June 23rd .  To celebrate this milestone, 2018 entry fees have been reduced to $125.00 per team.

This is not a training or testing day!  This is a fun event open to all members (and their friends as hired guns).   Steadiness is optional and retrieving standards relaxed!  Teams consist of 2 gunners with one dog.

REAL MONEY AND REAL PRIZES are at stake here, as well as BRAGGING RIGHTS!  70% of prize money goes to the #1 team – last year’s winners walked away with over $400.  Need more info?  Contact Bryce Adams at (651) 387-8556 or bryce.adams@exceleng.net.

Full Event Info, Rules and Printable Entry Forms Click Here

See the results from 2017 here:  https://mnnavhda.org/2017-pheasant-championship/

Hope to see you there!

There are people in this world who, wherever they go, somebody’s gonna’ recognize them.  When they walk into a room, you know someone is going to raise a glass and say “Hey!  Over here!”  When you hear a big laugh, you turn and see gathered a group enjoying themselves, with that same person of quick wit and good humor near the center of it all.  In the Minnesota NAVHDA world that person was our own Joe Dolejsi.  But our Joe was no ordinary Joe, as the rest of the NAVHDA world will attest.

Last January I had the privilege of representing the Minnesota chapter at the NAVHDA annual meeting in North Carolina.  Imagine my delight when, at the height of the awards banquet, two honorary awards of handmade knives were awarded to Joe Dolejsi and Joe Raia.  Two great guys – our guys – being honored.  How could I not sit just a little straighter and stand a little taller?  After all, they were ours!

Since neither man was present in North Carolina, I was entrusted to bring the knives to Minnesota, and present them at our chapter’s annual meeting.  I had with me NAVHDA president Dave Trahan’s notes detailing their incredible accomplishments.  Joe Dolejsi’s hall of fame stats were eye popping:  Joe joined NAVHDA in 1983.  Over 27 years as a judge, Joe judged 1793 dogs at 218 chapter tests.  He led 14 Handler Clinics.  For NAVHDA International he served as the Director of Testing, Director of Judge Development, Treasurer and President of NAVHDA across a span of 21 years.  All this in addition to training his own dogs to Invitational status.

What the stats don’t tell you is what he has meant to us at Minnesota NAVHDA, as well as the rest of NAVHDA.  There are no statistics to show the number of people he mentored, helped, influenced, taught, and befriended over the years.   There are no records of handlers trained and coached at training nights.  No recordings of good times shared and stories swapped.  Joe was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and son, and what does remain is a compelling legacy of which his family can be proud.

We in NAVHDA are also a part of his family – I think Joe would agree.  And yes, of that we can certainly be proud.   Hunt ‘em up, Joe.  Rest in peace, my friend.

Services will be held for Joe in Minnetonka on Saturday, February 3rd.  Details can be found at http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/0000239337/?fullname=joseph-k-dolejsi

By Ethan Aplikowski, age 14

I was able to do the Handler’s Clinic because of the Kristen Rieser Youth Scholarship Fund, which paid for my Handler’s Clinic entry fee. Also, youth handlers can get 75% of their test entry fee for a NAVHDA test refunded through the NAVHDA International youth program.


The journey I have been through so far with my 2 year old Griffon (RJ) in NAVHDA, has been a Mock NA test, then following the mock test up with a score of 112 and a Prize 1 in the NA test.  I am planning on running with RJ in the Utility Preparatory Test (UPT) on Labor Day weekend and I thought the Handler’s Clinic would help me understand what the judges are looking at in the UPT test.

One thing that I have learned from the Handler’s clinic is the 4 stages of steadiness.  Steady to flush, steady to wing, steady to shot, and steady to fall. In the UPT test you are only judged on the first 2 of the four stages, steady to flush and steady to wing. In the Utility Test (UT) you are judged on all 4 stages of steadiness.

I also learned how judges use their score cards for dog tests and how they keep it organized and what notes they take and how scoring works. All NAVHDA tests use a scoring system from 4 (the highest) to a 0 (the lowest). The way to get a 4 is if your dog did at least 76% of the work required for that component of the test, and to get a 3, your dog has to do 51% to 75%, for a 2, its 26% to 50%, and 1 is 1% to 25%, and your dog can receive a zero if they did none of the work.

You may notice after the water part of a test, the judges will ask to straddle your dog. This is where they look at the physical attributes of your dog, the density and harshness of your dog’s coat, and to check if there are any defects, in your dog’s teeth and/or eyes. What they are looking for in your dog’s eyes is if the eyelids are entropic (turned in where the eyelashes are rubbing against the eye), ectropic (turned out where a pouch is created below the eye), or trichiasis (facial hair growing toward the eye). What judges look for in your dog’s teeth is to see if any teeth are misaligned, missing, or if they have extra teeth. The correct alignment is the scissors bite, where the top teeth or just barely in front of the bottom teeth. The abnormal alignments are the butt or pliers bite, the undershot bite, or the overshot bite. If you would like to see what the misalignments look like, you can look on page 36 and 37 of the NAVHDA AIMS book.

Your dog’s temperament is evaluated throughout the entire test. The judges are looking to see if your dog is sensitive, shuts down, or becomes aggressive after you give them a harsh correction. If your dog’s temperament is normal, then they do not shut down or get aggressive. If your dog’s temperament is sensitive, they will shut down or get aggressive, but they will recover quickly. If your dog’s temperament is shy, it takes them longer to recover from shutting down or becoming aggressive.

I am looking forward to the UPT test, and the remaining weeks of training. Wish RJ and me luck!

Editor’s note:  Ethan and RJ ran a fine test, but due to the duck search scored 145 points and no prize, and had a great day nonetheless.  He also prepared by participating in the Mock UT test in July.

So, you ran your dog in a test.  Maybe your scores were fabulous, maybe some were less than you expected, and maybe some were better than you expected.  How did the judges come up with that score anyway?  What does it mean when you hear the judges’ pens clicking behind you, while your dog works?

On June 17 and 18, Minnesota NAVHDA hosted a Handler’s Clinic for fifteen members at Kelly Farms in Hugo, MN.   Todd Rockhold coordinated the event, with NAVHDA Invitational Director Tracey Nelson coming to town to conduct the two-day clinic, assisted by NAVHDA Past President Marilyn Vetter on Saturday.

Although it’s called a “Handler’s Clinic”, it could just as easily be called a “Judging Clinic”, as the clinic is a hands-on approach to learning the NAVHDA system.   Participants are given judges’ scorecards for the NA, UPT, and UT tests, and following a couple hours of “classroom” work, are sent into the field as judging teams, where two NA dogs, one UPT dog and one UT dog are run and scored.  Each team is required to determine a consensus score for each dog, and following the dog’s tests, each team will read their scores to the others. Read More Here on getting your dog trained by professionals at an early stage.

Desire.  Cooperation.  Obedience.  “Our team scored him a 3”.  “Our team gave him a 4”.  Why?  How?  What did you see that we didn’t see?  Was that a Cooperation issue?  Or was it Obedience?  Was the dog steady to wing or steady to shot?  The teams will hash it out, try to convince the others of why they believe they’re correct, and ultimately come up with consensus team scores for each dog run.

Thanks to Bridget Welter, Bob Karrick, Ron Brokhausen and Ted Wentink for putting their dogs out there for the members to score.  Also thanks to Howie Hill, Doug Lodermeier, Joe Wessels, Mark Jacobs, Ed Challacombe and Wolfie Smith for doing the things it takes to make it all happen.

Plus, the Aplikowskis made it a family affair, with Pete and son Ethan participating (Ethan was recipient of the Kristen Rieser Scholarship).  Most importantly, Kathleen kept us all fed and happy both days.

The MN Chapter of NAVHDA ran its 39th Annual Pheasant Championship on June 24th at the Major Avenue Hunt Club near Glencoe, MN.  The day began with a cool 56, reaching a high of 64 with sunny skies in the morning giving way to overcast skies and gusty winds by late morning.

The cover in the both fields was about knee-high, but open enough that walking was fairly easy and the dogs could move through it easily and be kept in sight. This year found more standing water in low spots in each field that provided some additional retrieving drama.

The conditions seemed favorable for most dogs to find birds, with 5 finds by 4 teams. Mike and Colton Busse, running Sarge, posted a respectable score of 121 points with 5 birds. Given team Busse’s recent dominance (with Sarge) in the event (1st place in 2014, 1st place in 2015, and 2nd place in 2016), many felt that the Busses were well positioned to win the event. However, in the last brace of the day, Pete Aplikowski and Roger Schmatz, with Ike, bagged 6 birds with 8 shots to edge out Mike and take 1st place. Their performance earned $404.25 in prize money.

Mike and Colton Busse, with Sarge, did manage to hold on to 2nd place, earning $173.25 in prize money.

As is customary, the first 6 places each received a handsome, solid walnut plaque, and teams placing 3rd through 11th made selections from the prize table for their efforts.

At this year’s event, 72 pheasants were released for 11 teams and 42 birds were harvested.  This is a 3.8 bird average per team, which is a significant increase over last year when the average was 2.1 birds per team.  2011, with 4.9 birds per team, remains the highwater mark for harvest ratio at our Pheasant Championship on the Major Avenue grounds.

Thanks to all who entered their dogs in our Chapter fund-raiser.  We earned a small profit for the chapter with 11 entries. Given the recent robust growth in Chapter membership, we are exploring ways to promote the Pheasant Championship to our newer members.

In addition, thanks are in order to Myra Martin of Major Avenue Hunt Club for allowing us access to these excellent grounds and club house.  She offered a delicious lunch of brats, potato salad, beans, chips, and a cold beverage for a nominal fee.  This is the 24th consecutive year this contest has been held on these grounds.

Special thanks to all the workers who volunteered their time to make this event possible.  A drawing was held for the workers for a $50 Gander Mountain gift card.  Chris Buller, who planted birds, was the lucky winner.

Finally, thanks to chapter members who made generous contributions to the prize table.

Scorekeeper/Field Marshall and Driver:             Jason McKinzie

Bird planters: Wayne Starkson Judges: Steve Bany
  Wolfie Smith   Diane Koetz
  Russ Koetz   Chris Petro
  Chris Buller   Terry Petro

Results of the Running                       

Place Handler / Partner Dog Breed Age
First Pete Aplikowski / Roger Schmatz Ike PP 4
Second Mike Busse / Colton Busse Sarge GS 5
Third Brian Karr / Jacob Goergen Gauge VI 10
Fourth Bryan Thomas / Ben Adams Cutter GS 8
Fifth Mike Busse / Colton Busse Riley GS 1
Sixth Bryce Adams / Ben Adams Riley PT 9