As summer closes on the upper Midwest, the seasons begin; dove, grouse, and woodcock, followed- up by ducks and geese.  October brings on the pheasants; first North Dakota and Minnesota, today South Dakota and Wisconsin, and next week Iowa.  This is what we’ve waited for.  As the air cools and the leaves crisp, our dogs gain a new energy.  Suddenly bird scent seems cleaner to them, with the once masking smell of green grasses now gone.

For Minnesota NAVHDA, this annual journey starts in January, with 10 weeks of bird dog obedience classes.  In March there’s a test prep seminar. April’s new member orientations and Training Day with a Pro kick-off the weekly training nights – 4 different groups at 3 different locations, on 2 different nights, consuming countless hours by volunteer members and hundreds of birds.  May, June and July saw the Mock NA and NA Test, June Full Test, Pheasant Championship, Mock UT, Handler’s Clinic, and an August training weekend in Virginia, MN.

While the test days of August and September may seem like the culmination of it all, it’s really just the start.  Now is the time for which we all train, but none of this happens without countless hours spent behind the scenes.  The birds don’t just find their own way to the sites.  Birds need to be transported, housed, and fed.  Judges are scheduled from around the country and travel arrangements made.  Training and testing grounds are reserved and secured.  Insurances paid, portable toilets delivered, and lunches prepared.  Volunteers and ATVs are needed for test days, applications processed, and all forms filed correctly with NAVHDA International.  And the list goes on.

Last week we seated a new board of directors for our chapter, with 5 of the 8 as new board members.  While many thanks go to our new incoming board, extra thanks go to the outgoing team:  Chad Simmer, Ed Challacombe, Rolf Rogers, Dave Kunz, and Pete Aplikowski.  While I don’t know the exact number, I’d estimate that between them they’ve put in nearly 30 years on this chapter’s board.

With the new team remain our anchors of Secretary Peter Ness and Director of Training Mark Jacobs.  Pete does an incredible amount of paperwork to keep this chapter running – the kind of work most people would avoid.  As for Mark, well, we’ve been looking for a way to clone Mark and spread him around some more on the training nights.  If anybody has any ideas, we’d love to hear.

Put them together with the energy on our new team of Keng Yang, Brent Haefner, Sam Snyder, and Kevin Boog, throw in Jami Meath as our new Youth Program Coordinator, and as your President I’m just privileged to be the conductor of this fine orchestra.

But now it’s time for hunting – it’s what our dogs live for!  (We do it just to keep them happy, right?)  Savor those days afield.  These brief months will fly by and soon it will be January and your board will have in place the plans for the next year.   As you walk the fields and watch your dog work, keep in mind how you can share and pass along that experience to new members next year.  You won’t regret it.

Good Hunting!