Jerry Kolter

Jerry Kolter is a nationally recognized trainer whose dogs have won numerous grouse dog championships and awards. He has more than 20 years of training, upland bird guiding and field trial experience. He and his wife, Betsy, own Northwoods Bird Dogs, a breeding and training facility.

Top puppy buying mistakes

Posted by: Jerry Kolter under Dogs Updated: April 14, 2011 - 2:37 PM


Being in a hurry. 
Hopefully your dog will live a long life of 10 or more years. It’s far more important to find the puppy that meets your needs rather than one that’s currently available. In fact, the best breeders usually have a waiting list.

Not knowing what you want.
Before you even begin your search, think about what you want. What qualities—such as looks, temperament, hunting ability—are important to you? What birds do you hunt? Do you like a close-working dog or a wide-ranger? Will your puppy live in the house or the kennel?

Choosing a puppy based on price.
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Good breeders who produce high quality dogs have invested time, effort and finances in doing so. In addition, the initial outlay is virtually inconsequential when compared to the cost of a dog over its lifetime.

Not choosing the right breeder.
Do your research and get references. How long have they been breeding? Are they personally familiar with the dogs they’re breeding? For how many generations? Then make an appointment to visit the breeder. Are the kennels clean and the dogs healthy and well cared for? Do the dogs seem happy?

Not picking from the right litter.
This should be at the top of the list. Picking the right puppy is easy if you’re picking from the right litter from the right breeder. Like tends to produce like—if the sire and dam aren’t proven on the birds you hunt and in the manner you hunt, odds are that the offspring won’t either. All puppies are cute and it’s difficult to distinguish much among 8-week-old littermates.

Minnesota Grouse Dog Association trial

Posted by: Jerry Kolter under Pets, Animals, Dogs Updated: April 10, 2011 - 12:46 PM

The MGDA is hosting a field trial April 15 - 17 near Mora, Minnesota. This multiple-course trial is run on native grouse and woodcock. The Open Shooting Dog stake will begin on Friday at 8:00 am, followed by the Open Derby, Open Puppy and Amateur Shooting Dog throughout the weekend. All are invited to attend as spectator or participant.

To enter a dog or for more information, please contact Greg Gress at 612-590-2353 or email

Directions to field trial grounds

5 things to get your dog ready for hunting season.

Posted by: Jerry Kolter under Pets, Dogs, Training Updated: August 14, 2010 - 7:25 AM

The weather certainly doesn’t feel like fall, but hunting season will be here before you know it. And, like it or not, now is the time to prepare for those fall trips and to make sure your dog is ready. You can have the best hunting spots and the nicest shotgun, but if your dog isn’t ready, what does it matter? 

 Here are five things to do now to get your dog ready for fall. Happy hunting!

 1.  Check your dog’s weight.

 This is crucial in many ways. An overweight dog can’t perform its best in the field and could get itself in trouble with overexertion, especially in extreme heat. A crash diet isn’t the best answer. Rather reduce your dog’s weight slowly. (See our entry titled “Feeding For Ideal Body Condition” for more information.)

   2.  Check your dog’s health.

 Lingering parasites and bacteria that don’t cause problems normally could become issues when your dog is stressed. At a minimum, get a stool sample checked by your vet for giardia, coccidia and worms.

 3.  Start a conditioning program.

 It takes a good 6 – 8 weeks of regular exercise to get a dog in top-notch shape. Start slowly with moderate exercise and progress to more strenuous routines as the dog improves.  Conditioning your dog in the cooler part of the day will provide the most benefit.

 4.  Make time for training sessions.

Schedule training sessions to tune-up your dog on obedience and bird work. Expect your dog to be a little rusty. Don’t try to get all the training done in one or two sessions. Short sessions spread over a period of time will give the best results—and keep your dog happy and motivated, too!

 5.  Check your dog gear.

 Make sure your dog gear is in good working order and check that your ecollar batteries still hold a charge. Better yet, technology improves all the time and perhaps it’s time to upgrade to newer equipment. Buy now and you’ll still have time to learn how it operates.

Fireworks and puppies don’t mix!

Posted by: Jerry Kolter under Dogs, Pet care, Training Updated: July 3, 2010 - 7:50 AM


The Fourth of July is fast approaching. This important national holiday is a great time to kick back with friends and family over a barbeque grill and enjoy a favorite cold beverage or two.


The weekend has also become synonymous with big displays of fireworks…and an occasion when more than a few puppies have been made gun shy by bottle rockets, firecrackers and other pyrotechnic explosions.


Over the years Betsy and I have heard too many sad stories of young dogs that were badly frightened—or worse—by loud fireworks. Puppies have become so scared that they panic, run away and are lost or hit by a vehicle. Others have chewed out of crates, sometimes breaking teeth and scratching until their paws are bloody.


Fortunately, the solution is easy. Simply isolate your puppy during the duration of the fireworks. Put it in a crate in a place safe from the noisy explosions. Consider your basement or garage. Keep in mind that the dog’s sense of hearing is much more sensitive than ours.


Coming next:  The proper way to introduce gunfire to your puppy.

Puppies aren’t born gun shy. it’s a man-made problem usually caused by loud noises. Hunting dogs require a planned introduction to gunfire. The best way is gradually.


Spring ruffed grouse field trial dates

Posted by: Jerry Kolter under Dogs, Training Updated: March 17, 2010 - 7:46 AM

Grouse field trial attendees

Spring is a great time to get out and work dogs on grouse and woodcock. The woods are open and it is easier to see what dogs are doing when they encounter birds.
Spring is also a great time to attend local grouse and woodcock trials. Even if you don’t compete, it’s a fun day in the woods with fellow bird dog lovers.

Below are the dates, locations and contact information for local grouse and woodcock field trials. Directions to the field trial grounds are on our blog, Northwoods News Blog, on our website.

Chippewa Valley Grouse Dog Association
Saturday, March 27 – Sunday, March 28
Eau Claire County Forest
Near Stanley, Wisconsin
Roger King 715-845-6833

Minnesota Grouse Dog Association
Friday, April 9 – Sunday, April 11
Saturday, April 17 – Sunday, April 18
Rum River State Forest
Near Mora, Minnesota
Scott Anderson 651-338-4921

Moose River Grouse Dog Club
Friday, April 25 – Sunday, April 27
Douglas County Forest
Near Moose Junction, Wisconsin
Mary-Beth Esser 262-567-8176


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