Bird Dog & Retriever News

April / May 2003 issue Page 10

 Minnesota's New Field Trial Grounds
By Dennis Guldan

I had just gone to press with the February/March issue and was running on six hours sleep in the past 48. In that condition, there is a very short list of people that could get me to go to a three hour long meeting the following night. Roger Berg, the president of the Minnesota Association of Field Trial Clubs, is just one of those people.
Roger Berg, in case you haven't been reading Bird Dog & Retriever News long is a big ole Swede from St. Cloud, Minnesota and one of the gods of Red Setters and field trials and hunt tests in Minnesota. Roger was instrumental in bringing together all the hunting dog clubs; including earth dogs and coon hound clubs of Minnesota into the Minnesota Federation of Field Trial Clubs (MFFTC).
At the January meeting a representative of the DNR was giving a presentation of the opening of Four Brooks the new running grounds for hunting dogs in the state, the culmination of years of Roger's and a dozens of other peoples work, and Roger wanted me there.... he even said please and I'll buy you dinner... so I knew he was serious. So with tooth picks to keep my eyes open begrudgingly showed up.
The meeting was unlike anything I had seen in the state. Everyone who was anyone in the dog business was there. Joe Dolejsi represented NAVHDA, John Blackbird of Lake Country Retrievers was there, Tony & Bethann Roettgers for Cocker Spaniels, Rod Dobey of the pointer club, the LeBlancs for the Coonhound Club.... the names go on and on. Over half of the crowd I had either written about or had their dogs in or on the cover of Bird Dog & Retriever News..... I woke up fast.
The event was part of a regular meeting of the MFFTC. Roger had managed to get past all the politics within dog organizations and get all the clubs united in a common cause... to get a dog testing grounds in the state. And after many years work we now have one called Four Brooks Trialing Grounds. It's 2800 acres and about an hour north of the Twin Cities, 72 miles from my house. Of the 2800, 1400 will be used as a WMA area and currently the MFFTC lease 640 acres.
Four Brooks is an incredible facility. It is a few miles south of Lake Milacs right on Highway 169 across the road from Rum River State Forest. Instead of starting with an open farmers field, we start with an area that has birds and cover. In fact last year 60 woodcock were banded on the grounds.
Finding a training area that would work for the pointer, setter, flusher, retriever, coonhound and earth dog clubs was no easy feat, but they have done well. The front quarter of the facility is open fields with scattered woodland rows... similar to a South Dakota farm. As you progress back from the road you basically go from pheasant area into grouse and woodcock area. In fact last weekend while we were up training with the MN GSP club we watched a wild pheasant walk the road in.
Four Brooks is a DNR project and the DNR have given about $31,000 to help the facility happen. That money is being used to increase grouse and woodcock populations for the area. The MFFTC has donated $16,000 for a mile and a half 6" square fence that encloses the facility so our dogs can't get out of it... a great relief when we're training. The DNR are also working to get roads in place and doing forest management.
So what do you need to do to train there? Simply become a member from any of the sponsoring clubs... I paid $25 to join the MN GSP Club. Then each club sells passes for $10 a year. So for $35 a year I have a place an hour away that I know there are birds... someone is running there every weekend and many weekdays. Sure beats trying to find birds and someplace to train.
If you want to take a drive up to see the place simply take 169 north out of the cities. A few miles north of Milaca you'll see a cell phone tower just off the freeway on the left side... it is in Four Brooks and at one of the two gates. It's worth the trip and you'll meet great dog people, usually with live birds to train with nearly every weekend. If you have any questions give me a call at 612-868-9169.
For more info I have created two websites one for Four Brooks at: www.Bdarn.com/fourbrooks
And one for the MFFTC at www.Bdarn.com/mfftc

Dennis Guldan hails from New Brighton, MN bwo Marshfield, WI

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
Bird Dog & Retriever News, 563 17th Ave NW, New Brighton, MN 55112,
Phone/Fax 651-636-8045 Adv deadline 1st of the month prior to the issue.