The Big Sky Chapter was first started in 1977 and since then the club has had a great history of yearly tests and training days. We have great expertise in the club and our mission is to help each other to make our dogs as good as they can be. If you have any questions or concerns about the testing, preparing or training, please do not hesitate to contact one of the officers by phone or an email, or better yet, show up for a training day.
New members are always welcome!

This weblog, or "blog" serves as a communication conduit for BIG SKY NAVHDA members.
If you need contact with a club member, please use the telephone numbers or email addresses listed next to the officer's names on the right side of this page.
Posts will be made chronologically, with the most recent being on top. We will be rebuilding the "Bigskynavhda.com" site....but for the time being, this should serve as our e-resource.







Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Big Sky NAVHDA Chapter has a new website!
Please go to bigskynavhda.org to check it out.
Effective immediately the new website will be our primary means of communication and dissemination of information. We will leave this blog in place for a while with this post to direct folks to the new website, but no new chapter business will be posted on the old blog.
There is a Contact page on the new website for communicating with the officers of the chapter.
Please be sure to thank Jeff Kershner when you see him, for volunteering to build and maintain such a professional website.

Friday, December 18, 2015



The BIG SKY CHAPTER of NAVHDA will hold our annual business meeting on January 15, 2016 at Mighty Mo's, 412 Central Ave, Great Falls, at noon.

Please attend if you are able.
If you are unable to attend, please let us know before the meeting date if you answer yes to any of the following questions:

A) Do you plan to test a dog this year? (Please specify if NA or UTP or UT if you know)
B) Will you be available to volunteer during a test?
C) Will you be available to volunteer to help out with training days?
D) Are you willing to be an officer in the chapter this year?
E) Do you have access to training /testing grounds with suitable field water conditions?
Responses to these questions will help us decide whether to hold a test, how many days, or if we should hold two tests, how many birds to order (which must be done months in advance), etc.

If you have new business to put on the agenda, pleaseand forward that information to Phil Matteson via reply to this email.

Please feel free to share this email with friends who may be interested in the opportunities the Chapter offers. If you are a breeder, please invite folks who have gotten your puppies to participate this year.

The Big Sky Chapter has been in existence since 1977. We have all benefited from the expertise and help of others in the chapter and it is important to give back. We need folks to be willing to step up and volunteer to continue to function.

Hope to see you at the meeting!

Phil Matteson
Big Sky NAVHDA Chapter

Wednesday, July 1, 2015



Training Day July 11, 2015

Directions to Big Sky NAVHDA training site by Cascade for July 11 training day.
Take Central Avenue EB out of Cascade. (Central Avenue turns into Cascade -Hound Creek Rd. or Hwy 330 after it leaves town)
As you go over the bridge leaving Cascade, ck your odometer. Stay on Cascade Hound Creek Rd for 1.6 miles.
At 1.6 miles you will see 3 mail boxes on your right and a white sign that says “No Trespassing- Private Road”.  Turn right onto this gravel road and ck your odometer.
Travel  1.3 miles on this gravel road until you see pink ribbon flagging on the grass and turn left at the ribbon. Go straight through the gate 100 yards ahead and you will see vehicles in the trees ahead. ( Do not travel off the road or let your dogs out until you arrive at the training site. You will be travelling through private property that we don’t have permission to use.)
If you have trouble finding it, call Phil at 406-403-1753.
As always, bring water and stakeout or kennel for your dog when it’s not running. Bring your training equipment, some hunter orange clothing, and a lunch/drinks (non alcoholic) for yourself. If your dog is ready for birds to be shot over it, please bring shotgun ammo. (bug repellent, sun screen and a lawn chair are recommended)
Fire danger is high this year and the grass is tall in the training area. Use caution.
Please RSVP your bird needs to Phil M. or Mark T. at least several days in advance so that we have enough training birds for everyone. We will have pigeons. We are working on lining up some pheasant and ducks. If anyone has a good source on those, please let us know.
Let’s plan to start around 8 AM and get some training in before the afternoon heat settles in.
Hope to see you all there!

Monday, May 4, 2015

TRAINING DAYS
 Big Sky NAVHDA will have our next  training day on May 16, 2015 at Muddy Dog Ranch, north of Great Falls. (Directions are posted below)

Thanks to all for the great turnout and everyone pitching in and making our last day a great opportunity to get our dogs some great training.

Please RSVP to Phil Matteson or Mark Troyer so that we have an idea how many birds to bring.(email or text is best- email addresses on the web page)

 Training day fee of $10 will apply, to help the Chapter cover our insurance. Training birds will be available at cost. (Cost will vary depending on supplier and type and volume of birds we purchase for the day, so RSVP will help us keep costs down.)

Our insurance requires that you be a Big Sky NAVHDA member to participate in training days. Membership application link is on the webpage. Membership forms will be available on site that day also.

Please bring a stakeout or crate to confine your dog when other dogs are running in the field. Bring your own dog water, dish, leash and training aids. Bring your own lunch and lawn chair. If your dog is at the age we will be shooting birds over it, please bring your own shotgun ammo. Our insurance and NAVHDA rules require all shotguns to be break open action shotguns. We will have guns available if you don't have a break open action. Hunter orange is required to be in the field with live fire.

We all pitch in and help each other, so please plan to come with the idea in mind to help out with other folks' dog training scenarios, just like they will help out with yours. Training days function on a volunteer basis. To be successful we all have to help each other.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Training Seminar


HUNTING DOG TRAINING CLINIC

The Big Sky Chapter of NAVHDA is having a "hands on" dog training seminar.  Penny Jo Wagner, a professional dog trainer for over 40 years will be the instructor.  She has been a hunting guide in Texas, Montana and California and is an avid hunter.  She will discuss using e-collars, steps to use in force retrieving, steadying dog to wing, shot and fall, and how to handle puppies as well as older dogs.  Bring your dog, chair and a lunch to the event.  It will be held near Whitefish June 20th from 9AM to who knows when.  Birds will be provided.  The class will be limited to 20 people with dogs at $50.00 per person and 20 people without dogs at $25.00 per person, first come first served basis.  Please list at least two dog training questions you would like Penny Jo to address on your registration form.  The exact location will be provided at a later date.  Contact Gary Whitman (406)862-4644, email: gary@whitmanandmurray.com  (note I will be out of town until June 2nd) you can contact or leave a message with: Leslie Lowe (406)471-5760, email: leslie@lowe.ca  or Phil Matteson, (406)468-2418, email: cascadegriffs@gmail.com 

PS. Penny Jo is great and lots of fun, we all should learn a lot.

Gary

Having some trouble getting the registration form to link to the website. Please email one of the above folks to have a registration form emailed to you if you aren't on our email list and didn't already get one attached to the email announcing this seminar.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

TRAINING DAYS Big Sky NAVHDA will have our first training day on May 2, 2015 at Muddy Dog Ranch, north of Great Falls. (Directions are posted below)

Please RSVP to Phil Matteson or Mark Troyer so that we have an idea how many birds to bring.(email or text is best- email addresses on the web page)

 Training day fee of $10 will apply, to help the Chapter cover our insurance. Training birds will be available at cost. (Cost will vary depending on supplier and type and volume of birds we purchase for the day, so RSVP will help us keep costs down.)

Our insurance requires that you be a Big Sky NAVHDA member to participate in training days. Membership application link is on the webpage. Membership forms will be available on site that day also.

Please bring a stakeout or crate to confine your dog when other dogs are running in the field. Bring your own dog water, dish, leash and training aids. Bring your own lunch and lawn chair. If your dog is at the age we will be shooting birds over it, please bring your own shotgun ammo. Our insurance and NAVHDA rules require all shotguns to be break open action shotguns. We will have guns available if you don't have a break open action.

We all pitch in and help each other, so please plan to come with the idea in mind to help out with other folks' dog training scenarios, just like they will help out with yours. Training days function on a volunteer basis. To be successful we all have to help each other.

We will seek input from the attendees at this training day regarding frequency and locations of future training for this year.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS to Muddy Dog Ranch -------------------------------------------------- Bootlegger Trl, Great Falls, MT 59404 US --------------------------------------------------
1. Start out going north on Bootlegger Trl/MT-225 toward 36th Ave NE. (go 6.33 miles)
2. Turn left onto Wilson Rd (Portions unpaved). - If you reach Benton Lake Rd you've gone about 2.8 miles too far (go 3.28 miles)
3. 301 WILSON RD is on the right. - Your destination is 0.2 miles past Vinyard Rd - If you reach Stuckey Rd you've gone about 2.7 miles too far

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Greetings to the members of the Big Sky NAVHDA Chapter! We hope you all had a wonderful hunting season with your well trained dogs last year! We are getting ready to fire up our spring training and make our chapter plans for the coming year. Our 2015 Annual Business Meeting will be held: MONDAY, MARCH 2 @ 11:30 AM At RYAN’S Station 721 6th St SW, Great Falls (Ryan’s Station has a separate meeting room we have reserved and lunch will be available for purchase from the restaurant.) If you are unable to attend and would like any issues added to the agenda, please contact one of the officers with your agenda issue in writing via email in advance of the meeting. If you are willing to serve in any positions on the board or commit to helping out with training days, please step up and let that be known. We have a couple of members who have held key positions in the past, who are not going to be able to participate this year due to other things going on for them. We are a volunteer organization. Many of us have benefited from the volunteer efforts of others and it’s a great time to “pay it forward” for the next generation of members. Also, as a reminder, if you haven’t already renewed your membership for 2015 please submit your application and dues ($40) to Gary Whitman, Treasurer. The membership application is located on the website and Gary’s address is on the application. Membership dues are important in keeping the Chapter’s insurance and operating expenses current. The Chapter is a registered Non Profit organization and your donations are tax deductible. We hope to see you at the meeting! Phil Matteson Vice President

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our Fall Test for 2014 was great. We had great weather (mostly), great food (thanks Lisa and all others who helped), great organization by our test secretary, great volunteer effort to make the test run smoothly and great judges.
Thanks to all the handlers who came out and tested your dogs. It's always fun to see your hard work from all spring and summer pay off on test day.
Thanks to Robyn Klenk of Byrd Dog Photography, who found time in between running her own dog in the test, to take some great pictures and share them with the club.
We wish you all a great hunting season and hope to see you next spring!
We will update the blog page when we set our annual business meeting (probably in Feb 2015) and when we set training schedules and test for spring.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Fall Test August 30- Sept 1, 2014 - Location: 9 Pipes (Ronan)

The Fall Test is filling up fast. Reserve soon to be sure you get a slot.
If you are testing, please consider staying an extra day or even a half day to volunteer to help with the test. It is a huge project to make happen. There is always something that needs done!
Reservations  and volunteer dates may be directed to:
Test Secretary Lisa Troyer,
Email: lmtroyer@hotmail.com
Phone: 406-590-0018
Mailing address: 95 Fisher Road, Great Falls, MT 59405

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last Training Day before the fall test...

August 16, Mock NA test at Muddy Dog Ranch

Scotty has pheasants available for tracking training. Please RSVP to him directly if you want pheasants, so he knows how many to bring.  He is going to try to have chukar available for those who RSVP at least a week in advance. PLEASE RSVP at least one week in advance on chukar and pheasant. (The club doesn't have birds. Someone has to purchase them and we need to know how many to get, so that the purchaser doesn't get stuck personally invested in birds that won't be used. If you wait until the last few days to RSVP, the birds may already have been bought and we may not have what you need.)

Please be sure to bring a stake out or crate for your dog so that dogs are not running loose during other folks training scenarios.
Also be sure to bring water and a dish for your dog.
Directions to Muddy Dog Ranch are on the Events page.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

NAVHDA Youth Test Incentive Program
NAVHDA'S Executive Council is pleased and excited to announce a new youth development program made possible by the generous donation of Terry Wilson and Nancy Anisfield.
 
The program is called the NAVHDA Youth Test Incentive Program and its purpose is to encourage youth education and participation in the training and testing of versatile dogs. All youths at least twelve years of age and less than eighteen years of age that handle a dog in a sanctioned NAVHDA test are eligible to receive a fifty percent refund of the paid test entry fee. This refund is paid by the International after the youth handler submits a voucher to NAVHDA'S Central Office.
 
Complete details of this program are available on NAVHDA'S web site www.navhda.org by clicking on the "Youth Programs" tab on NAVHDA's home page.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Early Summer Training Days 2014

 May 31, 2014 @ Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

June 14, 2014 @ Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

June 28, 2014 @ Marilyn Aberle's, Clancy (Directions below)



 Directions to Marilyn Aberle's
NOTE:  Marilyn and Pat have graciously offered to have coffee and lunch available to us. PLEASE RSVP to Marilyn so she knows how many folks to expect  at   marilyn.muller.aberle@gmail.com
Directions to training @ Marilyn Aberle’s :

Address:
AM Mountain Ranch
51 Ambush Ridge
Clancy, MT 59634

From the North, coming south on the highway- Route 15 - take the Montana City exit.  This is just 5 miles south of Helena.  Go right and enter the traffic circle exiting the circle on the third exit going south on the access road 9282).  Travel 2.2 miles and you will go back under Highway 15, turning slightly to the right and up a small hill.  At the top of the hill, on your left will be Hanging Tree Gulch.  Take that left and follow up the hill.  When the road forks take the right fork - it changes to dirt at this point and becomes Ambush Ridge - and continue up the hill. (Note: this is not a hard right - there is a dirt road that goes off at ninety degrees, no longer up the hill, close to the fork so be sure you continue up the hill)  You will go around a sharp corner and reach what seems like a switchback.  Continue straight past a paved drive with a black and white sign on the left that says AM Mountain Ranch.  You will take the next left onto a dirt drive.  The gate will be open and you will see a delivery box on the right as you turn in.  You have arrived.  Just follow the road past a house on the right and through another gate onto our property.  Continue past a garage on your left and shortly you will see the pond below you on the right.  We will have signs out for where to park or you will see us.  We plan to run the training from the pond area.

Coming from the south, you will get off Highway 15 at the Clancy exit and take the access road north.  It is a little hard to see the turn onto Hanging Tree Gulch coming from that direction, but if you reach the overpass, you are just beyond it.  Follow directions above once you make a right on Hanging Tree Gulch.

If you are coming from Bozeman, the fastest route is to take 90 west to 287 which cuts up through Townsend.  When you come into East Helena, you will see a sign telling you to go left to Montana City.  Take that left over the tracks and in a few miles, you will pass over highway 15 and reach the traffic circle mentioned above.  Then just follow above directions.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone and having a great training day.  Any questions feel free to call me at 406-431-4528.      Marilyn and Pat Aberle

Friday, May 9, 2014

SPRING TEST IS CANCELLED Our spring test is cancelled due to low enrollment. We just didn't have enough entries to avoid going in the hole on the test. We can't afford to run a test and lose money. Our FALL TEST IS STILL PLANNED FOR Aug 30- Sept 1, 2014. (Location will either be Great Falls or Nine Pipes.) Please reserve early Test Secretary: Lisa Troyer, 95 Fisher Road, Great Falls, MT Ph:406-590-0018 email: lmtroyer@hotmail.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Spring Test is rapidly approaching. (May 24-26, 2014) The test will be held at Muddy Dog Ranch, north of Great Falls. This will be a Natural Ability test weekend. Come on out to some training days before the test and familiarize your pup with the grounds before test day. Training days are posted in the link for training days, and below. Reserve soon to ensure getting your preference for running dates. Reservations may be directed to: Test Secretary Lisa Troyer, Email: lmtroyer@hotmail.com Phone: 406-590-0018 Mailing address: 95 Fisher Road, Great Falls, MT 59405

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Big Sky NAVHDA Training Days 2014

The following is our tentative schedule for training days for this spring:

April 5, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

April 19, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

May 3, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

May 17, 2014-Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls

Muddy Dog Ranch is North of Great Falls, take Bootlegger trail to Wilson Road and turn west (left off Bootlegger) and go about 3 miles. Watch for the dog silhouette on the right.
DIRECTIONS ARE POSTED ON THE EVENTS PAGE.

 Additional training days for summer with additional locations will be posted later after member input at these training days.

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Big Sky Chapter of NAVHDA business meeting 2/8/14 Members Present: Mark Troyer, Lisa Troyer, Phil Parsneau, Gary Whitman, John Stewart Scotty Henry, Jeff and Nancy Kershner, Phil Matteson and new members Jim and Diane Lechkitner. Treasurer’s report presented by Gary Whitman. Reviewed with members present. The Chapter operated at a loss last year. Our insurance is paid for 2014 and we have $300 in the bank. Motion by Phil Parsneau, seconded by John Stewart to accept the treasurers report. Motion carried. Gary Whitman will prepare some tax deductable guidelines for members as the chapter is a non profit and charitable donations to the chapter are tax deductible. New Business Membership Dues increase was discussed. Motion by John Stewart, seconded by Phil Parsneau to increase the dues to $40 per year effective today. (Family or individual will be the same rate. Lifetime membership is unchanged.) The motion was amended to state that those members who have already paid for 2014 will not be retroactively charged the difference from the old rate, but may contribute the difference voluntarily if they choose. Motion carried. Test fee increase was discussed. Mark Troyer moved and Gary Whitman seconded that cost for NA test increase by $25 and UT/UPT by $35, making the cost for members $150 for NA test and $185 for UT/ UPT test. Motion carried. Training day fees were discussed. Scotty Henry moved and Mark Troyer seconded, that the Chapter adopt a $10 per day, per dog, training day fee. Motion carried. Pre printed envelopes will be provided to members to write their names on and put their fees inside and will be turned in to a Chapter officer at the training day. It needs to be made clear to members that this fee is to cover club expenses like insurance and portable bathrooms. It is not a fee members are paying for training services to be provided. No Chapter members are being paid. There was discussion about charging a surcharge for training birds used during training days with the surcharge going to the chapter. After discussion, this topic was tabled with no changes to the current/ past practice. Training birds will continue to be provided at cost and will be reimbursed to the member(s) who provide the birds separately from the aforementioned training day fee. Corporate sponsorships/donations- Gary Whitman can provide our Federal ID number as a non- profit so that donations can be tax deductible. If any members have ideas of businesses to approach for donations (real goods or monetary) please bring that up. We can raffle real goods or use them in other fund raising ways for the benefit of the chapter. If any members would like to make donations, either individually or on behalf of their business, or a business they can solicit donations from, the chapter will recognize such donations appropriately. The Chapter Website link to the membership form is pending repair once new form reflecting dues change is created (Thanks Mike Wignot for stepping up to take care of that!) Gary Whitman will change the membership form to reflect the new dues amounts and the form will be linked to the website. The Chapter's enclosed trailer is in need of some repairs and materials to repair it. A Workday will be scheduled this spring to rewire it and repair the broken roof vent. (roof vent, 4 prong flat plug, wires, conduit and brackets) Volunteers are welcome. Phil Parsneau volunteered to donate the wiring materials. Other donors are welcome if they have a spare roof vent, plastic conduit for running the wiring in and brackets for the conduit. We will post the workday on the website and hope to get the repairs done in one day. Test grounds and training grounds were discussed.- Scotty Henry will be confirming in the coming week on our hopeful return to Muddy Dog Ranch for training days and spring test. This was a great location last year and we were very grateful to our hosts for the use of the property. Mark Troyer is exploring some other property which may be suitable for our Fall Utility testing. Members are encouraged to be on the lookout for areas that could be made available to the chapter for training and testing. Such sites should have suitable acreage, water and cover with no close proximity to hazards for the dogs. It would be beneficial if we could find a site for our utility testing that was open to training throughout the summer. Birds for tests- Scotty Henry has ordered the chukar and pheasants for the spring test. Food and drinks at tests- In the past we have provided breakfast, lunch, and some dinners at testing events due to the remote locations. We have operated on a "donation" system on some meals and a set fee for some. Sometimes the donations were pretty slim. We have provided pop and bottled water at no charge during events in the past. We will be adopting a "suggested donation" amount for any meals provided in the future and will be charging a nominal fee for bottled water and pop at the events. Test and training sites- Our Spring test will be May 24-26, 2014 tentatively scheduled in Great Falls area. (Exact location will be announced once confirmed.) Our Fall test will be August 30-September1, 2014. Location to be determined. Lisa Troyer and Gary Whitman are arranging for judges for the tests. Fund Raiser- We will try to get a snake break clinic put together this summer and advertise it in advance in the region in the hopes of attracting folks from outside the chapter as well. Mark Troyer has access to snakes. We will need members to volunteer to work this in various positions, (many of which will not involve you having to handle snakes.) Apprentice judge expenses were discussed. It was agreed that the chapter will continue to try to assist members of this chapter who are apprentice judges with their expenses when apprentice judging for an event sponsored by this chapter. The request should be made in advance and be specific as to what is being requested (meals, etc), and will be accommodated on a case by case basis depending on the availability of funds. Gary Whitman brought up that we need someone else on the bank account in case he is unavailable. Suggested Lisa Troyer and Phil Matteson. Motion by Gary Whitman, Seconded by Mark Troyer. Motion carried. Election of officers- No one volunteered to assume any of the officer positions. The incumbents within the positions agreed to continue in their respective positions. Phil Parsneau moved and John Stewart seconded, that the existing office holders be re-elected to their respective positions. Motion carried. President- Mark Troyer Vice President-Phil Matteson Treasurer/Secretary- Gary Whitman Test secretary- Lisa Troyer Director of cooking-Lisa Troyer Director of training-Phil Parsneau Board Member- Randy Bakker We will be posting training dates and locations in the near future on the web blog. Hopefully we will hit the ground in late March, weather permitting.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Folks, The email link attached to this site does not get checked with regularity. We try, but don't always get to it in a timely manner. If you need contact with a member of the Big Sky Chapter, Please email them directly at the email addresses posted next to the officer's names on the main page. Or feel free to call at the numbers posted next to the names. We will hopefully get you a more timely response that way!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Annual Business meeting February 8 2014 at 11am at Lambkins in Lincoln

The Big Sky Chapter of NAVHDA will hold our annual business meeting on Feb 8, 2014 at Lambkins Restaurant in Lincoln, MT at 11 am. Before our pending annual business meeting, the officers and some members have conducted a review of the financial status of the chapter. We need to make you aware of the results of that review as we will be presenting some ideas which involve significant increases in our fee structure at the business meeting. The Problem: We are losing money on events that were making money five years ago. Our current fee structure is losing money as the chapter holds events. (Thank you to those who renewed your annual membership early. We were able to pay our insurance for the coming year because of your prompt response.) The Chapter is a nonprofit organization. The Chapter has insurance costs, maintenance on our equipment and various costs involved in holding the events as explained below. When we hold tests and handlers clinics we should see a small left over amount of money after expenses to pay our insurance and maintenance, and pre-ordering birds for coming events. We have gradually gotten to a point where there is not enough left over to do these things. Here's the breakdown...We are losing approximately $700 per test under our current cost structure. Our main expenses in a test are birds and judges. We are required to have at least one outside area judge each test, one senior judge each test, and we have a very limited pool of judges within our area, so we have to pay for travel , lodging and food costs for bringing in judges. Bird prices have increased drastically over the last five years. A three day test with 30 NA dogs at our current $125 per dog fee creates $3750 if we fill the test. Our bird costs for the test are approximately $2000. If you have flown anywhere recently you know that to fly 3 judges in, put them in a motel and feed them for 3-4 days is going to eat up the remainder of that income pretty fast. We have been lucky to use some of our few local judges and have had some judges not charge us travel costs as they stay and hunt with members after the fall test. But that is the exception. I can think of 7 members off the top of my head who donated actual supplies and materials, or paid for unreimbursed club expenses out of their own pockets last year. And that doesn't consider fuel costs which are born by numerous members when they pick up birds, equipment, supplies, etc to haul to tests and training days. Often these members are showing up and volunteering on training days and tests, and not even working their own dogs, just to support the club and membership. (Thank you to those members. You know who you are. There are probably more of you, that I am unaware of. It is great that we have such members who donate materially, as well as with their time, but we can't expect to continue to operate that way.) We get wonderful donations of time, energy and labor from our members. We shouldn't expect them to pay for the privilege of being a volunteer within our chapter too. Some Proposed Solutions: Increase Test Fees: Our test fees have not increased in the past 5 years. 5 years ago, chukar cost $4 each compared to $11 each in 2013. Pheasant cost $7-8 each 5 years ago compared to $16 in 2013. Ducks were $7 and are now $10. Air fare for judges and motels has significantly increased during the same time frame. Five years ago, our average cost per judge was anticipated at $300 for airfare and $120 lodging and $120 meals. Based on those costs a full three day test 5 years ago cost the chapter $82 per NA test and $124 per UT test . (The chapter made approximately $43 per NA test and $26 per UT test five years ago.) If we anticipate our cost per judge in the future to be an average of $500 per flight, $200 for 4 nights lodging and $200 in meals over the 4 days, we have a total cost of $900.00 per judge per test or $900 per day of the test. If we have a full test day of 10 dogs each entry costs $90.00, if we have UT day @ 6 entries each entry is $150.00 just for the judging cost. Add the bird costs in and the cost to the club per test today looks like this: NA Tests- 5 Chukar @ 11.00 = 55.00 1 pheasant @ 16.00 = 16.00 Judges cost = $90.00 total cost to the club per dog = $161.00 (under our current pricing we lose $36 per dog / $360 per day/ potentially over $1000 on a 3 day test.) UT Tests- 5 chukar @ 11.00 = 55.00 2 ducks @10.00 = 20.00 Judge cost = $150.00 total cost to the club per dog= $ 225.00 (under our current pricing we lose $75 per dog / $450 per day/ potentially over $1000 on a 3 day test.) These figures are approximate as each test may have variable costs involved in judge expenses or bird prices. We can't continue to operate tests at a loss. And we can't expect the core membership to keep donating more and more to keep the process going. Research of 13 other chapters found the following information: A review of 13 NAVHDA chapters showed an average test cost for NA is $125.00 / UT $160 The lowest was Kettle Moraine in WI. Their cost for NA is $95 / UT $120. The highest was San Diego Chapter at $225.00 for either NA or UT. Keep in mind that more populated areas have a much larger pool of local judges to draw from and are not geographically so isolated as we are. Our judge costs are going to be understandably higher. I am also told that bird prices are cheaper in the midwest and east. If we increased our test costs to $175 per NA test and $225 per UT test, we break even on UT tests and hopefully make $14 per NA test. Even based on 24 NA dogs over a 3 day test we only make $336 on a 3 day test as a chapter. (hopefully) Increase Membership Dues: Our membership dues have not increased in the last 5 years. One proposal is to increase the dues from the current $25 individual membership to a $40 family membership. There would be no more individual memberships. That gives the chapter a $15 per year increase. Since we are a family oriented group and want to promote youth opportunities, we are considering that if you are a member, your spouse and kids are welcome without additional costs. Research of the same 13 chapters referenced above found an average membership dues cost of $35 for individuals. Training Day Fees: We have resisted training day fees which are popular with some other chapters. I think we all agree that we are there to think about our dogs, not to think about collecting money. Our chapter and members make no money on the training birds the members use. The members get the birds they use at cost. The members who are there volunteering their time, energy and wisdom are not compensated in any way. The land owners are not compensated in any way. Maybe it's time to look at a $10-$20 per dog daily fee to keep the chapter afloat. (not per person... we want to encourage family participation) Please give us your thoughts. Some have suggested that the club charge a surcharge on training birds. Some have suggested that becomes more cumbersome for those keeping track of it. It's more complicated than a flat daily 'per dog' fee. Let us know your thoughts on that as well. We also have had requests to look at training weekends, as we are getting more members who are coming from further away and a single day training event is not worth their driving time. Adding more training time into the trip for the members may make the training fee more palatable. Please let us know if that is something you prefer. Corporate Sponsorships NAVHDA International has corporate sponsors. Our chapter is registered as a nonprofit organization. If anyone has any ideas of Montana businesses who might be interested in sponsoring our chapter, we should consider taking sponsorship money to help with our expenses, which might allow us to keep the previously mentioned cost increases down. In exchange for sponsorship, businesses could get sponsorship recognition on the Big Sky Chapter website, the chapter trailer, mention of their support at our tests, and hopefully some business from our members who recognize and appreciate the value of their contributions. And the contributions would be tax deductable. Please give us your feedback on this idea. Corporate Donations If anyone knows of businesses which might be interested in making donations of goods which could be raffled or auctioned at tests/ events, we could use those donations to keep costs down, and the business gets the tax benefit for the value of the donation. Member Involvement This is not a money issue. But we have a small group of members doing a large percentage of the work to make training days and tests happen. Some have been doing it for a very long time. We need some folks to step up and become more involved. New people need to get involved before some of these folks burn out. If you are interested in being a board member, please let us know. If you have time, talent, ideas for training day sites or test sites, or ideas we haven't thought of, please speak up. The current board members and the members who are doing most of the volunteering would welcome any new ideas, help, or people who want to take on some responsibility. This chapter belongs to the members. If you can attend the meeting, please do. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to express your thoughts on these (or other) issues, please email: Mark Troyer, President jxtroyer@hotmail.com Phil Matteson, Vice President cascadegriffs@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Big Sky NAVHDA Training Days 2014 The following is our tentative schedule for training days for this spring: April 5, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls April 19, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls May 3, 2014- Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls May 17, 2014-Muddy Dog Ranch, Great Falls Muddy Dog Ranch is North of Great Falls, take Bootlegger trail to Wilson Road and turn west (left off Bootlegger) and go about 3 miles. Watch for the dog silhouette on the right. Additional training days for summer with additional locations will be posted later after member input at these training days.

Monday, June 24, 2013


 The Handler's Clinic was outstanding!

Thanks to Sr. Judge Joe Dolesji from MN, who provided really easy to understand and informative instruction. Thanks to NAVHDA International for sponsorship of the event.

Thanks to the volunteers who planted birds, ran dogs for our scenarios, provided snacks, drinks and meals, gunners, and to our land owner host... (You all know who you are)

Now lets see those dogs perform this fall!

Don't forget if you want to test a dog in the fall test to get your application in. It is starting to fill up.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thanks to Brad Storch who somehow found time to take some pictures on test weekend in between helping set up, running his own dog to a perfect score, and filling in where ever help was needed the other days.

Scotty and Demi.

First time handler, Marilyn releases Gus on the track. They nailed a maximum score.

Mark and Roby wait their turn at the water, on their way to a maximum score.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Test was a great success!

The Memorial Day Weekend Test was a great success. We had first time handlers and old hands, wonderful NA pups, great weather (mostly) and great judges. We all saw some really nice dogs and test scores.
It's almost scary to start naming all the folks who deserve thanks, for fear someone will be left out... but: Thanks to our hosts at Muddy Dog Ranch for allowing us the use of their grounds, the many members who volunteered time and effort in  pre-event set up, on the test days and cleanup, Test Secretary Leslie for having a very well organized test, Lisa for wonderful meals, all the members (and guests) who tested  their dogs. As usual, everyone jumped in and helped at whatever was needed to make the test run smoothly. That is one of the things that makes this chapter great... everyone's willingness to pitch in and do anything that needs done.
Great Job Everyone!

There are still some openings for the Handler's Clinic in June. Contact Leslie to sign up.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Phil Matteson's 4 month old WPG "Cain"on point, about to have his first bird shot over him.
Diane Boyd styles up her 8 month old GWP on a nice intense point.
Craig Henry and GWP pup, Cooper.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sage grouse hunting in Winnett Montana in September... Hot, dry, plenty of birds.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Training pays off.

Just a hunting report and a thank you for all the help training.
We went to a hunt in Brooks Alberta this past weekend. It was a release hunt. They have it every year. It is a fund raiser for youth hunting in Alberta. Team of 6, and you get 40 Roosters. We released the birds and I watched 2 of them go into a Cattail island in a small pond. I wasn't waiding out to get them so we tried the duck search training. I got Sadie at heal, nelt down beside her, got her attention on where I wanted her to go, and said Fetch. She swam straight to where I pointed, smelled the bird and the action was on. The bird actually flushed, but landed on a old dead tree stump in the island of Cattails. It was soaken wet, wasn't going to fly so I shot it. Sadie found it and swam back with it. Good Girl. There was one more in there, so we did it again. She went back in but the bird would not fly. She caught it and brought it back. Thing were not perfect, but I was very happy with the results.
Thanks for the help training Scott. The bucket payed off.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lets Go Hunting

Thus ends another great Big Sky NAVHDA season, with plans under way for spring and fall 2012 tests. Fall test at Ronan was beautiful, and lots of fun. Great dogs, Great Kids, Great Judges, Great Volunteers and Great Handlers. What more can one say except Lets Go Hunting.
See you next year

Sunday, December 19, 2010



Maybe getting carried away, but I wanted to see if I could upload a picture. These are the GSP pups from last Christmas.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


A huge thanks to all the Judges, Volunteers, Handlers and of course the Dogs for a great series of tests over the weekend. We'll post scores as soon as we are able - Thanks again, and Happy Hunting.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Even More Rattler Info

A couple folks have inquired relative to the frequency of vaccination required. This webpage - http://redrockbiologics.com/FAQ.html#4 - from Redrock Biologics may help.