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
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
And one for the MFFTC at www.Bdarn.com/mfftc
Dennis Guldan hails from New Brighton, MN bwo Marshfield,