We would like to welcome Keith Larson to our Board of Directors.  Keith was appointed to the board to fill the position vacated by Mitch Carlson, and will serve in the role of Director of Training.  We are looking forward to Keith helping our members with their training needs.

Here is a little information about Keith:

“In 2019, I started looking for a short-haired pointer with a goofy personality to match my late Springer.  Research led me to the Braque D’Auvergne, an old French breed.  A lack of breeders in the US led to many internet searches and a top breeder in France.  Right before Labor Day that year, I picked up Ruckus at O’Hare.  I did the bird and gun intro on my own, then hunted him for the season.  I joined MN NAVHDA and did the winter positive reinforcement class, followed by  field training during Covid in 2020. He earned a  112 NA in July, and then a 184 no prize UT at Labor Day.  Going too fast, and not being an experienced trainer led to Ruckus refusing to go on the duck search.  I’m still trying to fix it, but will try to do it the right way with the next dog.  Even without a UT prize, I still have a high-end upland dog who finds game and retrieves to hand every time.  I will try to  help our members develop their training goals and connect them to the right help when possible.  The goal is to take the right path and avoid common mistakes many of us make with our first versatile dog.”

Keith can be reached at training@mnnavhda.org

I also want to thank Mitch Carlson for his service as Director of Training for several years.   During these years, the chapter experienced extreme growth in membership and faced the extra challenges brought on by the pandemic.  Mitch was also instrumental in helping me modernize and re-shape the chapter’s training philosophy to better serve our members and their dogs.

We are now taking registrations for some of our 2023 Clinics.

June 3-4 AIMS & Rules Clinic-Kelley Farms, Hugo.

June 24-25 Invitational Clinic-Kelley Farms, Hugo.

We will be opening 2023 Test entries on Feb 15th at 6:00pm to chapter members only until March 1st. All entries and test fees will be collected online through our website. We do NOT need you to fill out the NAVHDA test entry forms. Fees this year will be $175.00 Natural Ability and $200.00 UPT & UT. Help our test secretaries out by making sure your NAVHDA International membership is up to date and that your dog has a NAVHDA Registration number.
  • May 13-14 Natural Ability- Four Brooks WMA-Milaca, MN
  • June 3-4 Utility Preparatory & Utility-Kelley Farms-Hugo, MN
  • July 22-23 Natural Ability- Four Brooks WMA-Milaca, MN
  • Aug 19-20 NA-UPT-UT-Virginia, MN
  • Aug 26-27 Utility Preparatory & Utility- Four Brooks WMA-Milaca, MN
  • September 9-10 Natural Ability- Four Brooks WMA-Milaca, MN

We will also be doing 2 MOCK Natural Ability Tests.    Entries for these will be by special invitation  to Handlers entered in our tests.   April 29th MOCK test at Kelley Farms will be for up to 20 handlers entered in the May 13-14 test and July 15th MOCK test at Four Brooks will be for up to 20 handlers entered in the July, August & Sept tests.

Saturday February 4th-After a 3 year hiatus, you are cordially invited to this year’s Fable Fest, Minnesota NAVHDA’s Annual meeting.  It’s that time again to get together and share great hunting stories as well as good food and fun! Details of the event are below for your reference and the sign up page can be found at this link:  


Hello Minnesota Chapter Members,

First off, a reminder that 2023 Chapter membership renewals are now open.  Save $10 by renewing now.    Click here to be taken to the online renewal system.   Members get the inside track on training & testing, so it is important you stay current with your membership.

We are also now accepting applications for the Joe Dolesji Youth & New Handler ScholarshipFull details and application form link are here.

Hunting Season is still in full swing, but your board of directors is hard at work planning our 2023 calendar of events.  Here is some of what we have in the works:

**Fable Fest-Feb 4th-Save the Date!** Thank you to those that responded to our survey about the Annual Meeting/Fable Fest.    We are excited to announce that we WILL be doing an in-person annual meeting at an event/banquet center in the north suburbs on Saturday Evening Feb 4th.  All members will receive further communication and registration information in an email in the next couple weeks.  Watch for that!

Feb 4th & 5th-Retrieving (Force Fetch) and Advanced Obedience Clinic with NAVHDA Director of Judge Development Mark Whalen in Blaine, MN.  (Not open for entries yet.)

10 week Positive Reinforcement Behavior Classes (Indoor)-Weekly starting late January in Stillwater, MN.  (Not open for entries yet.)

Versatile Dog 201 HEEL-WHOA-FETCH-Course Sessions starting in mid February in Ham Lake, MN.  (Not open for entries yet.)

2023 Fundraiser–  We will again be raffling off a custom fitted and built shotgun through the Upland Gun Company.  Ticket sales will start Feb 4th at Fable Fest.

MN NAVHDA 10% Discount on The Upland Institute Video Training Series.  Full details here.

2023 Test Dates (Tentative)-Test Entries will open in early 2023.

  • May 13-14 “double” NA test at Four Brooks
  • June 3-4  ‘single” UPT-UT test at Kelley
  • July 22-23 “double” NA test at Four Brooks
  • Aug 19-20 “single NA-UPT-UT test at Virginia-IRRC
  • Aug 26-27 “double” UPT-UT test at Four Brooks
  • Sept 9-10 “single” NA test at Four Brooks

2023 MOCK NA Tests (Tentative)

  • April 29th at Kelley
  • July 15th at Four Brooks

NAVHDA AIMS & Rules Clinic-June 3-4 at Kelley (Not open for entries yet.)

NAVHDA Invitational Handlers Clinic-June 24-25 at Kelley (Not open for entries yet.)









Minnesota NAVHDA now has an arrangement with Ron Boehme’s (The Hunting Dog Podcast) and Justin McGrail’s (Black Creek Dog Training) UPLAND INSTITUTE to offer a discount on their video series training guides. Use the promo code “MNNAVHDA” for 10% off of any individual course or the complete program. Our chapter mission statement is rooted in the philosophy of helping people train their own dogs according to the NAVHDA Aims, Rules & Principles. I personally believe that the methods outlined by The Upland Institute fall more closely in line with NAVHDA principles than any other training series or books I have reviewed and will be a valuable resource for our members. You can check it out here:


Except for the last 2 years due to the CV-19 Pandemic, Minnesota NAVHDA has traditionally held its annual meeting and “Fable Fest” pot luck banquet in early February. With the size of our chapter, we have outgrown the venue we have been most recently using for this event. We are trying to gauge the interest of members to hold a more formal catered banquet at a banquet facility in early to mid February. This would no longer be a pot luck, and there would be a cost per person to attend. Please follow this link to fill out the survey. If we are going to hold this event, we need to start planning it. https://mnnavhda.org/mn-navhda-annual-meeting-banquet…/

NAVHDA International is having an upcoming election for its Board of Directors. Voting will be done electronically this year, and everyone who is a current member of NAVHDA will be getting an email between now and about Oct 15th.  Please watch for those emails and make sure you take part in the voting. You can read about the candidates in the September issue of the VHD magazine.

You can read the candidate biographies here:

Hunting season is in full swing, and we hope you are all getting your dogs plenty of time out there on wild upland birds and waterfowl.    While we do our best to simulate real world situations in our training & testing during the off-hunting season, there is no substitute for wild birds in natural settings for your dog’s development. 

While NAVHDA International does not track individual chapter membership numbers, Minnesota NAVHDA is likely the largest chapter in NAVHDA with over 300 members, and we are verified as holding the most testing days of any chapter the last few years.  In 2022, we held TWENTY test days over eight weekends.    Thank you to all of our members and volunteers for supporting that effort!   We are going to keep up our testing capacity in 2023 to keep meeting the demand for testing slots.

Being a very large and active chapter, Minnesota NAVHDA and its board of directors meets year-round to stay on top of planning and administrative duties to make sure our members have adequate training & testing opportunities.    To ensure we have birds, grounds, judges, clinic leaders, test secretaries & coordinators, etc…most of our schedule is planned 9-12 months in advance, and our testing & training birds are all already contracted out for 2023.  Here is a snapshot of what we have planned so far for 2023:


February 4-5 Force Fetch/Advanced Obedience Clinic Hooley Hall Stillwater
June 3-4 NAVHDA AIMS Clinic Kelley Farms
June 24-25 NAVHDA Invitational Clinic Kelley Farms


May 13-14 Natural Ability Four Brooks
June 3-4 UPT & UT Kelley Farms
July 23-24 Natural Ability Four Brooks
August 19-20 NA-UPT-UT IRRC Virginia
August 26-27 UPT & UT Four Brooks
September 9-10 Natural Ability Four Brooks

There will also be some weekly winter Obedience classes again that will be announced probably in mid to late November.  These will start in January.

Members will be notified by email when registrations are open for our 2023 events.

One thing we are also aware of is that we have a lot of new members with young dogs/puppies that perhaps are not getting the exposure opportunities they need.  We have been strongly encouraging members to form their own small training groups, but we understand this can be difficult for new members.  For 2023, we are looking into doing some larger chapter “open” training days (perhaps monthly in May, June, July, August) where we have a variety of stations and training/exposure opportunities for members and their dogs.    If we are going to be able to pull this off, we will need a lot of help from you members!  Please watch for more communication about this over the winter.

Enjoy your hunting season!


Hello chapter members,

We are heavy into our training and testing season, and we hope that all of you are having fun with your dogs in your pursuits this summer.

We also have just a handful of tickets remaining for our 2022 Raffle fundraiser for the Upland Gun Company’s custom fitted shotgun.   If you would like a ticket, please contact Sam Snyder at:  sam.snyder@mnnavhda.org.  We will hold the drawing as soon as all tickets are sold.


We have just about a month left of training, and we have four weekends left of testing.  We are still looking for volunteers for these tests.  See chart on our website here.  If you can help, contact the Test Coordinators in the very right column.


Also looking ahead, our Bylaws require that the membership be notified this time of year about upcoming board position openings and terms.

Article VI: Nominations, Elections, Voting Section 1: On or about August 1st of each year, but not later than August 15th, the Secretary will announce to the membership that nominations for expiring board positions are open. This communication shall include a list of all current Board Members and the expiring dates of all terms. Section 2: 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.

Here is the current Board of Directors, Position held, term expiration, and their intent.

  • Pete Aplikowski-President.  Expires October 2023
  • Brent Haefner- Treasurer. Expires October 2023
  • Mitch Carlson-Director of Training. Expires October 2023
  • Sam Snyder-Vice President. Expires October 2022-nominated self for a new term.
  • Andrew Blonski-Secretary. Expires October 2022-nominated self for a new term
  • Sean Ewaldt-Director Testing. Expires October 2022-nominated self for a new term

So, there are three board position terms that will end in October, and there are three nominees for the positions.  Nominations from the general membership for the board are now open until August 31st.   If there are more nominees than open positions (three), there will be an election.  If you would like to nominate yourself, or someone else, please send an email to secretary@mnnavhda.org.