Northwoods Bird Dogs was founded in 2002 by husband-and-wife team Jerry Kolter and Betsy Danielson. At the time, the business was strictly a part-time endeavor as both were busy with other careers. Jerry was an independent contractor and professional developer of software systems. Betsy had spent years in the information technology field but had returned to her career as a horticulturist and landscape designer.
In 2005, Jerry and Betsy decided to pursue their dream of a move out of Minneapolis/St. Paul and to a lifestyle more suited to their personalities and goals. They quit their jobs, sold their home and moved north to rural Pine County in east central Minnesota. There they built a small home, a pole shed and a kennel. Within a few short years, they had developed Northwoods Bird Dogs into one of the premier pointing dog breeding and training facilities in the nation.
Betsy and Jerry chose their location wisely. They are adjacent to 2,000 acres of private land and are surrounded by thousands of acres of public land. A healthy mix of habitat holds populations of ruffed grouse and migrating woodcock in the woods while the fields are home to coveys of sharp-tailed grouse.
The kennel itself has only 20 runs and Jerry and Betsy like it that way. They purposely limit both the litters they breed and the number of dogs they train. Individual care and attention are primary concerns for them.
Jerry and Betsy have a division of labor that works. Jerry manages the kennel and cares for the birds used for training. With help from two dedicated men, Dan Stadin and Jeff Hintz, Jerry trains each dog—whether in for the puppy program or for advanced work in the field. He travels to their training camp in North Dakota during August and also to select field trials in spring and fall.
Betsy manages the business and, in addition, is responsible for website management, marketing and client communication. She takes special interest in whelping litters and early development of puppies.
Together Jerry and Betsy move south for several weeks during the winter. They bring their own dogs and a select group of client dogs for specific training on quail.