Please read this message from our President-Rolf Rogers

With the recent revision of our web page and our presence on Facebook, we have been provided improved ways to communicate with our Chapter members.  As a result, the Board has decided to transfer the publication of the Chapter newsletter to the new web page and discontinue issuing a stand-alone newsletter.  We believe this change will provide you with more timely, quality information than could otherwise be achieved with a monthly and often semi-monthly newsletter.

The Chapter has grown and along with that, the need for great communications becomes increasingly important but difficult to execute.  As a result, we have also determined the position of Vice President should be changed to Vice President & Director of Communications.  This restructuring, if approved will assure timely and accurate information is always shared with the Chapter.

Along with this change, we would plan to discontinue the appointed post of Newsletter Editor.  Responsibilities associated with this post become part of the VP & Dir. of Communications’ responsibilities.

To revise the job description and eliminate the appointed post of Newsletter Editor requires a motion and vote by the Chapter to modify the bylaws at the annual meeting/Fable Fest. Members at least 18 years of age may vote at this meeting, provided dues are current.  Attached is the motion for your review in advance of Fable Fest. The Board of Directors has unanimously approved this motion and we ask for your support. Should you have any questions about this information, please feel free to contact me at 612.219.4109 or by email:

Click Here to Review the Motion

I look forward to seeing you at Fable Fest!


President MN NAVHDA

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

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


With another hunting season coming to a close, we have to find ways to keep ourselves occupied.  Here’s some photos of some recent squirrel retrieving we’ve done.  Nothing says versatility like a little fur work.

Here’s Tina and Marx