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