Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service

Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service
The 2007 Grand National Grouse Champion, Winner 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship, Winner 2010 Lake States Grouse Championship, Runner-up 2011 Northeast Grouse and Woodcock Championship, Winner 2011 International Amateur Woodcock Championship, Winner 2012 Southern New England Woodcock Championship

Wild Apple Kennel Training Blog

This blog will try to present a running account of the training and field trialing season for the pointers of Wild Apple Kennel. NOW ACCEPTING BOOKINGS FOR THE 2015 GROUSE AND WOODCOCK SEASON WITH WILD APPLE KENNEL GUIDE SERVICE! PHONE NUMBERS 603-449-3419 OR CELL 603-381-8763.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grand National Update

After the first day of the Grand National there are three dogs that finished with work on grouse. Two of those were on the Ammonusuc Course in the second morning brace. The old Deer Mountain course was the only course where no birds were either pointed or observed by the gallery. Fortunately both Wild Apple Jack (Thursday AM) and Wild Apple Deuce (Friday AM) run on the Ammonusuc Course. Although most of the cover on this course has gone by since its glory days in the 90s and it has been re-routed so that it doesn't flow like it used to, it still may be the best course to draw. I'll let you know how the boys do after they run.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lakes States Grouse Championship

Just learned that our dog Wild Apple Jack has won his third championship with Tony Bly handling him to victory in the Lakes States Grouse Championship. Thanks to Tony and the judges Steve Groy and Bill Wendt. Also to all those who worked to put on this great event. I have judged the Lakes States in the past and consider it one of the most prestigious of the titles in the woods. It was one of the original grouse trials having first run under the auspices of the Saginaw Club as the All American Grouse Dog Championship in 1934 over the same grounds at Gladwin, MI. Over the years many great handlers and fantastic dogs have won the event -- we are humbled to be part of such a rich history. To make it even sweeter, Scott Chaffee took runner-up with Jack Harang's dog Autumn's Hot Cocoa who is a littermate to Sunkhaze Maggie Mae and Chasehill Little Bud.

His third title (the 2007 Grand National, the 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship, and the Lake States) brings Wild Apple Jack even with his littermate brother Autumn Moon who won the Grand in 2008, the Michigan Woodcock in 2009, and the New York State Grouse Championship in 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hunting (and fishing) Update

Prior to the season I took a break from working dogs and went up to New Brunswick salmon fishing with Jack Harang. We caught two super fish along with some smaller ones. Jack's was a 45 incher mine was 42 both fish probably tipped the scales over 30 pounds. Pretty exciting on a fly rod. As you can see from the picture Andrew Anthony (my guide) had his hands full holding up my fish for the camera.

Today we are having torrential rains and we have stayed inside where its warm and dry. So far the bird season has been good here in Northern New Hampshire and yesterday we ran into what seemed like the first of the woodcock flights. Mariah was down and we moved about 10 birds in 30 minutes she managed to point some and we killed one for her. Unlike some dogs who don't really like picking up woodcock, Mariah has mouthed and played with the birds we have shot for her this fall. Everybody out of the truck has had a chance at birds in almost every cover we've hunted. Tony hurt his back just before the season started and has been the "weakest link" in the team. Yesterday afternoon I wanted to try a new cover that Tom Parker had found birds in when running his bear dogs. Tony was less then enthusiastic and although he got out of the truck with his shotgun he did not follow me up into the cut when I turned Jack loose. In the first large clump of poplars, Jack's bell stopped. I went in by myself and all hell broke loose as grouse started coming up in front of me in bunches of two and three. There was probably a dozen birds there. I stood in one spot and reloaded twice. I could hear Tony shooting back on the landing. Tony's a very good shot in the woods standing out in the open trying to hit what amounted to high flying driven grouse he came up empty. I ended up with two birds and it was interesting to note that their crops were filled with different food although the flushed out what must have been the same brood. One bird was full of clover and other greens, the other was full of catkins. Go figure.
The weather's supposed to improve tomorrow and Tim Perske is coming to up from Pennsylvania to hunt with us for a few days. That will mean more shags on the truck. When we hunt with three people, the guy running the dog leaves his gun in the truck, I'll try to remember the camera tomorrow and get some good shots to post here.

Northern New England Woodcock Championship

The 2010 running of the Northern New England Woodcock Championship took place September 17, 18, and 19 on the Maine Bird Dog Club’s championship courses. Three of the courses are on land owned by Dr. Rob Rose along the Saco River in Fryeburg, Maine. We are grateful to Dr. Rose for allowing us to use his unique property which may have as many grouse and woodcock per acre as any land in New England. Our third course is on state land — also along the Saco. As president of the Maine Bird Dog Club, Kellie Short has led this event for a number of years and is ably assisted by many of the club members. John Short and Bob Paucek brought their tractors down a couple of times to mow the trails and were present throughout the event to assist as needed. Bruce Burnell has taken over as the club’s secretary/treasurer and also put in many hours to keep the championship running smoothly. John Short manned the grill all three days including a great feed for handlers and owners on Saturday night that included barbecued chicken and fresh corn on the cob. Friday evening John Stolgitis, the owner/handler of last year’s winner Chasehill Little Bud made sure there was plenty of beer, seafood, and other treats for all. The Club would like to thank Joe McCarl and Jeff Mahaney for judging the Championship. Both men have extensive experience judging and handling dogs in the woods and their courteous attention to every brace was appreciated by all.
The Maine Bird Dog Club and all cover dog trial officials and participants greatly appreciate the ongoing support of Nestle Purina for our end of the sport. Although cover dog trials still have a large contingent of amateur owner/handlers, we could not put on this event with out the support of the professional trainers who attend. Thanks to Bruce and Jennie Minard who make the trek out from Michigan, Mark and Scott Forman of New York, Joe Dahl of Maine and John Stolgitis from Rhode Island, we had a strong entry of 47 dogs drawn for the championship.

Companion Stakes
On Thursday, the club ran two companion stakes on its nearby single course grounds. The derby and restricted shooting dog were lightly attended with each drawing six entries. In the derby Grouse Hill Dixie handled by Scott Forman for owner John Cappocci garnered the blue ribbon followed by Fireside Tsunami with Bruce Minard handling for Mary Beth Esser, and Beech Ridge Abigail grabbing third for newcomer owner/hander Russell Ogilvie. In the shooting dog Wild Apple Deuce came in first for owner/handler Craig Doherty, with Land Cruiser Rain in second handled by Scott Forman for owner Mike Cooke. In third was Paucek’s Classy for owner/handler Kellie Short.

The Winner and others
Topping the field this year was tri-colored setter male True Patriot, ably handled by his owner Kellie Short. True Patriot is no stranger to these grounds having run in this championship every year of his highly successful career. He has twice been runner-up in the past and put on a display this year that made him the clear “dog to beat” after he ran in the seventh brace. He started out quickly with finds at five and seven minutes where he was standing in the open on the edge of a two track with his bracemate backing. Both times he had a woodcock accurately located. At 12 he had his third woodcock and it was obvious that he was making a bid. It was probably his next find that clinched the championship for him. Kellie sent Bruce Minard out to scout and Judge McCarl and Kellie soon followed with the reporter in tow. The dog was finally found by the scout well forward and deep to the right side of the course a fourth woodcock was flushed with all in order. At this point all Kellie really needed to do was hold onto the dog for the rest of the hour, but True Patriot was not close to being done. He pointed woodcock at the 27 and 30 minute marks then a grouse at 40. At time his bell was silent and he was found ahead with yet another woodcock in front of him. Other dogs would make runs at him and some came close but from my perspective as reporter and obviously from the judges’ point of view none bested True Patriot on this occasion.
Runner-up honors went to last year’s champion as Chasehill Little Bud came out in the 13th brace and put five evenly spaced woodcock finds in the book with a good race. I don’t think the judges were counting finds but Bud just wasn’t as sharp as True Patriot on this day. Bud ran on course one and two other dogs that ran on that same course were seriously considered by the judges. Stokely’s Ker B ran in the 9th brace first thing Saturday morning and had a grouse and five woodcock but did not beat Bud on the ground. Wild Apple Jack ran on course one on the last day in the 17th brace had a really nice scouted find on a pair of grouse at 17 and a divided find on a grouse at 55 at the end of the hour he had an unproductive on the edge of the field where there was woodcock splash in front of him but no bird was produced. Stokely’s Ginger B had been carried early in the stake as she dug out three woodcock and back her bracemate twice on the new number 2 course.
Brace One – Magic Mist Riley – Joe Dahl and Spring Ponds Shooting Star – Bruce Minard – the first brace broke away on time Friday morning, the breakaway brood of grouse took out Star in the first minute and Riley was lost on point at 7 minutes. At 24 the bell started up in a spot we had walked by more than once and had flushed a grouse early in the search. After standing for that long Dahl knew he had too much of a hole to overcome and reached for the lead.

Brace Two – Lake Country Rayden – Forman and Stokely’s Ginger B – Bly – This was the first brace to run on the newly added course it is more open then the other courses but the thick ferns made it hard for many dogs to find birds and run with a good pattern. Ginger and Rayden both ran well — each logging two woodcock finds. They gave the Judges’ two early performances to work with. Ginger was the stronger and was carried into the second day when she was bumped down by True Patriot and then out when her kennelmate Ker-B ran.

Brace Three – Bog Brook Rigby – Stolgitis/Kiselwiski and Winter Set Steadfast – Minard – John Stolgitis started out with Rigby who kept coming back in the gallery looking for his owner. After a few minutes of this, owner and handler switched places and the dog started to stretch out a bit. Rigby was picked up at 21 for failing to back. Steadfast had three finds in the first half of the hour before being picked up for moving on its fourth bird.

Brace Four – Fireside Drama Queen – Minard and Last Flight – Dahl – Last Flight had a woodcock at the 8 minute mark but was picked up at 27 after its third nonproductive. Drama Queen had a woodcock at three, non-productives at 17 and 19, and a turkey in a tree at 41 which all conspired to keep this strong running dog out of contention.

Brace Five – South Bound Stretch – Stolgitis and Dateline Milwaukee – Minard – Milwaukee didn’t know what to make of the dense cover on course one and handler elected to pick it up early. Stretch went on to have a stop-to-flush on a woodcock at 9 and nice work on grouse at 11 and 25 the second requiring a nice relocation. He also put another woodcock find in the book at 35.

Brace Six – Texas Cherry Bomb – Forman and Pinehill Silent Echo – Minard – The only bird observed in this brace was a turkey at 42. Forman elected to pick up at 31 and Minard followed at 46.

Brace Seven – True Patriot – Short and Chasehill Ben Franklin – Flewelling – True Patriot was reported above. In addition to backing his bracemate three times, Franklin had a woodcock at 12 and a grouse at 25.

Brace Eight – Grove Hill Bullett – Forman and High Five Rock Solid – Minard – Bullett had woodcock at 7 and 34 with the later requiring multiple relocations as the bird scooted around under the ferns. Rock Solid had four woodcock finds and a respectable race.

Brace Nine – Stokely’s Ker-B – Bly and Fireside Hey Man – Minard – Ker-B was mentioned above. Bruce Minard had a lot of first year dogs that show future potential Hey Man was one of them.

Brace Ten – Chase Hill Molly – Stolgitis and Dunn Raven Grouse Getter – Froman – This was another brace that had trouble figuring out the cover on course two. Both dogs ran hard but failed to connect on a bird.

Brace Eleven – Dateline Black List – Minard and Star’s Southern Idol – Forman – This was an action packed brace with Black List carding woodcock at 10 and 20 and grouse at 32 and 46 with a stop to flush at the 28 minute mark. Idol also put birds in the book with two woodcock and a stop-to-flush on a grouse. A non-productive at either end of the hour detracted from an otherwise good performance.

Brace Twelve – Shadyhill Bean – Forman and Fireside Interesting Linda – Minard – Bean had a stop-to-flush at 10 and a pair of woodcock 35 before being picked up on a woodcock at 47. Linda bobbled a woodcock at 38 to end up on the leash.

Brace Thirteen – Mr Ted Stokely – Bly and Chasehill Little Bud – Stolgitis – Bud was mentioned above. Ted just couldn’t sort it out on this day and was picked up after a number of non-productives.

Brace Fourteen – Grouse River Ace – Forman and Magic Mist Bandit – Dahl – Ace had a non-productive early and was up on a woodcock at 42. Bandit put down a nice race on the new course and showed that the birds are there with woodcock finds at 13, 37, 49, and 58.

Brace Fifteen – Highfive Here She Comes – Minard and Grouse River Sheena – Forman – Neither dog could get much going and the brace was over early.

Brace Sixteen – Sweet Pea – Stolgitis and River’s Edge Sadie – Forman – You reach a point in championship of this caliber where everyone pretty much knows what their dogs have to do to push what the judges are carrying. In this brace there was a lack of birdwork with Sweet Pea having the only find at 10 and a non-productive at 15 Stolgitis went for the lead at 38. Forman followed at 40 to end the brace early.

Brace Seventeen – Wild Apple Jack – Doherty and LB Horchen – Forman – Jack was mentioned above. LB had a woodcock at 31 and the divided grouse find at 55.

Brace Eighteen – Upper Cove Desert Devil – Forman and Fargo – Stolgitis – Fargo failed to back at 18 and was up. Devil had finds at 13 and 18 followed by two non-productives. Forman went to the lead at 32 to end the brace.

Brace Nineteen – Upper Cove Billie Babe – Forman and Call Me Kate – Minard – This brace also ended early Babe had two non-productives, a back, a stop-to-flush, and a woodcock find before getting leashed. Kate had a back then woodcock at 10, 15, and 19 before failing to back at 21.

Brace Twenty – Fireside Fleetwood – Minard and Chip’s Charlie Brown – Forman – neither dog had anything in the book and both handlers elected to pick up at the 35 minute mark.

Brace twenty-one – Movelle’s Daisy – Storer and High Five Wrangler – Minard – Wrangler has had some great days. This was not to be one of them as she never really got it going. Daisy was handled by Max Storer and it was the championship debut for both. Daisy bobbled a woodcock at 32 to end her bid but we hope that Max has caught the bug, as this sport can always use more participants.

Brace twenty-two – Chip’s Uncle Buzzy – Forman and Fireside High Noon – Minard – High Noon failed to back at 8 to end his bid. Buzzy had a pair of woodcock at 6 and then singles at 8, 13, 47, and 57 to go a long with a good ground effort.

Brace Twenty-three – River’s Edge Bella – Forman – Some dogs run well as the bye others lose some of their fire. Bella only managed a woodcock at 12 to bring this year’s championship to a close.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Spent Thursday to Sunday down in Fryeburg at the Northern New England Woodcock Championship and the companion stakes on Thursday. In the restricted shooting dog on Thursday two dogs from our breeding got their first shooting dog placements which will qualify them to run in any championships including the Grand National here in NH this fall. Wild Apple Deuce took first and Paucek's Classy took third. Deuce (pictured here) is from the 2007 Wynot Ace X Elhew Liebotschaner litter and Classy is from the 2008 litter both are full siblings to Wild Apple Jack and Autumn Moon. Jack ran in the championship in the 17th brace which was on course one first thing Sunday morning. He had two grouse finds and a nonproductive where there was woodcock splash at the end of the hour. His race was well applied and filled the difficult course one. The judges reported that he received serious consideration. As the reporter I walked every brace and thought True Patriot the clear winner. Chasehill Little Bud, the runner-up, ran on course one on Saturday and had 5 woodcock and a back and was definitely deserving. Jack really needed a couple of longbeaks to push him out. Stokely's Kir-B was probably in the mix along with Ginger who ran in the second brace on the new course two. There is still some work to be done to bring this course up to that of the other three courses but I think it has potential.

Training tomorrow then leaving Wednesday for a Salmon fishing trip to New Brunswick. Next week the long guns come out and we won't be shooting any more blanks for a while. I'll try to keep this going through the hunting season and the Grand National and then again when I go out to Texas this winter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Ready for the Northern New England Woodcock Championship

There's not a lot of time between trials in the fall to get ready for the next one. That's one of the reasons we spend so much time in the woods in the summer. After returning from New York on Saturday we got out on Sunday afternoon with some of the dogs that didn't make the trip. The wind was blowing pretty good and the birds weren't where they had been when we'd run this cover in the mornings. The first pair of dogs, Abbie and Deuce, had a divided find on a grouse that we couldn't flush and then after they had left Tony and I walked it up going back to the trail. There was one other grouse that got up wild before Deuce got a chance at him. Trey and the Beastie ran second and Trey scored on a woodcock as we were almost back to the truck.

Monday morning and today, Tony and I met at the gate at 6:30 with two braces of dogs and Mariah to run by herself. It was a tough morning. Trey and Teddy ran first and Trey dug out the only bird in a spot where we hadn't seen one all summer. Ginger and Jack ran next and had two woodcock each in about a half hour. Then we ran Mariah in an area that had been holding quite a few woodcock. They were no where to be found until we got way down in back and there was a pair of them right on the bank. I got Mariah into the area and she got a whiff of them as they left. So far the lessons of the early summer are staying with her as I give her a little more freedom each time out.

In the afternoon, I took Deuce and Minnie over to the quail pen to do some work only to discover that I had left the net and bird bag in the tractor bucket the last time I had fed and watered the birds, which turned out to be a good thing. I ran Minnie first and she pointed a brood of 8 grouse down at the south end of the property. I swung her up through the woods and back to the truck where I put the collar and bell on Deuce and cut him loose. I made a swing down where most of the birds had flown and was disappointed when I walked one up. I shouldn't have worried. Deuce came in and pointed nearby and two more got up. A fourth one flushed on its own. He than made a swing in the other direction where he pointed a fifth bird. Then we made the turn back only to have him go on point on a pair, birds 6 & 7, Just before we got back to the bird field he pointed grouse had a stop-to-flush on grouse number 8. I guess it work out for the best.

This morning we were back at it early and had what for us was a rather disappointing morning. Jack and Kerby ran together with Kerby having a stop-to-flush on a grouse where we had just flush one or two others. And later Jack had a single grouse that I inadvertently flushed right into his face when I was looking for him. Fortunately he didn't move a muscle. We then ran The Missile and Deuce with Deuce getting credit for one woodcock although he may have had another where he stood for a long time and moved up at least once when we were going to him. So the total for the morning was 3 or 4 grouse and 1 woodcock in a cover where Ginger and Jack often had double digit finds each last summer. Go figure.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New York Grouse

Last week we focused on a final tune up for Jack and Ginger for the NY Grouse Championship. Then on Thursday we headed over for the trial. We got lucky with Wild Apple Jack drawn in the fourth brace and Ginger in the 9th. This was the same course that Jack had last year with the same result. He had a strong race and a woodcock find (you need a grouse to win). Ginger ran in the first brace Saturday morning on the number 3 course and also put down a good race with one find. However, there were three grouse in front of her two of which got up as Tony and Matt Mentz (one of the judge's) were still looking for her the third got up when they found her and Matt told Tony to fire his gun. All was in order and the consensus of those on the brace was that Ginger might have "raised the bar" from the dogs that had finished with grouse on Friday. With 31 braces still to go, when we left, there are plenty of dogs still to run that can (and have in the past) hit one out of the park. We won't know until they finish up late Tuesday.

Now, we get a couple of days to work the dogs and then it will be off to Fryeburg on Thursday for the derby stake and the restricted shooting dog, then the championship starts on Friday. It looks like we'll have 60 some dogs to run. Kellie was able to lay out a fourth course at Fiddleheads which is a bird rich as the other three -- should make for lots of action. I'm judging the derby and reporting the Championship so I'll be there for the duration. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back in School

It's been a busy, and hot, week here in the North Country as the started of classes has restricted some of my free time. We were last out on Sunday morning and with the shorter days the sun is just coming up at 6:30. We are in another long dry spell and birds were hard to come by. The Missile started things off with a nice find right off the trail and then Jack followed with a limb find later in their brace. Trip and Ker-b ran together with Kirby having a find with trip backing at about the half way point.

On the way in we stopped at a small pocket of cover to see if we could get Mariah into a bird. She handled well in some really thick cover but didn't dig out a bird. So, after the big dogs ran we gave her another chance and were able to steer her into a bird. She flash pointed the woodcock and then ripped it but it was soon gone from sight and she came back in and handled well back to the truck. Hopefully the wheels will stay on and we can get her into lots of birds this fall. She seems fearless in the cover as you can see from the picture of her popping up to see over the goldenrod.
Next week we'll be heading over to the New York State Grouse Championship which if everyone goes who says they're going should have a very large entry. Hopefully we'll get some dogs worked before them and I'll give you an update.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can Fall Be Far Behind?

This morning we noticed a few of the swamp maples along the edge of the field we've been working Mariah in have begun to turn. The calendar still says August and it's four weeks until the fall equinox but fall comes early in the northern mountains. The first wild bird championship (the New York Grouse) we'll be running at is just two weeks away.

This morning we moved seven grouse and four woodcock with two braces of dogs. The first brace featured Jack and Teddy in a hour plus that was meant for conditioning as much as the bird work, but like the best laid plains, etc . . . 2 of the woodcock and all of the grouse were in that first hour. It was fun. Then Tony and the Groy brothers went off to run the rest of their dogs and I came back to the office to work for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Brothers Groy

One great thing about training and running bird dogs is the great people you meet along the way, two of the best are the brothers Groy who are spending the week at Tony's. I've been tied to the desk getting the next issue of Field Trial Magazine ready to go to the printers and only went out with them yesterday afternoon but Tony is taking them to all the best spots. In two full days we have collectively run 25 dogs and all have had some sort of bird contact. Yesterday, they moved 20 woodcock and 11 grouse. It's interesting how the birds start appearing in larger numbers about this time of the year. The grouse seem to be coming out of the swamps and other brooding cover to be found in their more traditional fall cover. As the days begin to shorten the woodcock seem to start staging in our lower lying covers. It maybe that they are just more active as they try to add fat in preparation for the fall migration. AS I write this Tony and the Groys are out in the woods getting wet while I work. I'll join them this afternoon.

Lon Meneer, a professional trainer in Maine (207-858-4265) who has worked a number of dogs for us and I highly recommend him, is coming over this afternoon and delivering "Minnie" she is from the '09' litter and therefore is a full sister to Wild Apple Jack. Minne will spend the fall in the hunting string and then will most likely be bred to either Sunkhaze Fastbreak or Chasehill Little Bud.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are we Lucky, or What?

Saturday morning we left the house and headed to an old farm nearby. My wife snapped this picture when I was working Mariah out in the mowed field. You have to feel fortunate just to be able to enjoy the day when the scenery is a beautiful as this. Add that to the fact that we had some great dog and bird work and life doesn't get much better. In the first brace we ran Teddy and Trip. We started out with Teddy having a stop to flush on a grouse within 100 yards of the trucks. The bird flew across the trail and looked like it set down so I sent Trip in for her first experience on a grouse. It must have been running as she stopped and started a couple of times before she got too close and the bird flushed. Teddy went on to have a woodcock with Trip backing. She also backed him on a couple of nonproductives in an area where there was recent turkey sign. (I will never understand why the state of New Hampshire stocked these birds this far north and keep hoping for a good old fashion winter with lots of snow and an extended deep freeze that will wipe the out. ) Trip then found a grouse on her own and again crowded it. She learn quickly enough if there are as many grouse around this fall as we are expecting. When we got back to the trucks the dogs went into the cover just along the field edge. This time Trip pointed and held a woodcock with Teddy backing. Two grouse and two woodcock to go with the scenery is pretty darn good but we weren't finished.

The second brace was Ker-b and Veronica. Ker-b was feeling his kibbles and took Veronica with him until they were about 500 yards away. He found his way back and Veronica took a wrong turn and Tommy eventually had to go out and round her up. He then went into an area where we had recently mowed some paths and had two amazing pieces of birdwork. The first was on a woodcock and the amazing thing was the woodcock had walked away from him and was standing on top of a large (about four foot tall) rock in play view to Tony and I from the trail. Katie and Marie caught up with the camera just as the bird left and we missed the chance to get a picture. Then a couple minutes later Ker-b had an apparent stop to flush on a grouse. When we got to him 6 0r 7 more birds flushed. These birds were all full size and there was no way to tell which one was the hen, but if all the broods this season are around that size we will have very good grouse year. There were a lot of birds around at the end of last season and we had a relatively mild winter.

Friday was another good day for some of us. Rick Despins drove up from Maine to train with us and got hung up by a tractor trailer that separated from its load in the middle of the road and then discover his phone had died and couldn't reach me to tell me that he'd been delayed. I waited for a little while but when he didn't call we headed out to Red Barn. He missed a good morning. It was an especially good morning too. Trey and The Missile ran in the first brace with both dogs having finished bird work. Trey had three finds and a stop to flush with The Missile backing and she had two finds with Trey backing. We then ran Abbie and Jack, two of our best bird finders. Jack had six woodcock and Abbie had three to give us 15 finds for the morning. We found Rick when we came out of the woods. After breakfast we ran his Pebbles puppy behind the house with June. We walked up a grouse and a woodcock, the woodcock was right in the path which led me to believe that one of the dogs had bumped it and it had just landed there. A little further on Pebbles had a good puppy encounter with a single grouse.

The cover behind the house was clearcut in the early 90s and is starting to go by. We have four small patch cuts planned for this winter to create some new openings and then will do more every couple of years to be sure we have adequate cover for the wild birds. In addition, I keep some of the old fields mowed for a bird field and puppy walking.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

DC 40 First Look!!

Finally got a DC 40 yesterday and we got a chance to try it out this morning. It feels lighter (the battery in my digital scale is dead) and seemed to work fine. I think the position on the neck is going to be more critical as the the gps antenna is built into the unit instead of being up on the collar. The end to those black fabric collars is a big plus. We went through a number of those before finding an aftermarket collar that worked. I didn't have a chance to put a shock collar on the with the DC until after we ran today. It looks like it should work fine and I'll try it out tomorrow.

In other news today, we finally took Mariah back in the woods. she had been doing great out in the field and keeping track of me as I zig zagged across the field so we took her out into the pole timber where she continued to be responsive and keep track. Towards the end of the session we got into some thicker cover and had to give her a little tap to get her back in and get her to the front. We'll keep working her by herself and keeping her close throughout the fall which should give us the opportunity to handle her into birds and kill some for her.

Mariah getting her first go back in the woods.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


You have to wonder sometimes why two grown men would get up early every morning to go out and thrash about in thick cover that most people wouldn't go through even if the bird season was open and they were guaranteed to get their limit. Then you have a moment like we did this morning when Ker-B went on point, Jack came in and backed, then when we were trying to flush, I looked down a a little patch of bare ground, and there sat a woodcock. I step back, took out my camera. and took three pictures then had to take another step closer to get the bird to fly. We don't have the birds that we've had in recent years but it's still exciting when we get one as cooperative as this one.

And if you don't think the cover we train is can be all that thick, take a look of this picture of Ker-B pointing the above bird.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wet Monday Morning

PA Pro Joe McCarl during his week here in New Hampshire

It was still raining at 5:45 when the alarm went off. But it stopped shortly there after and a quick check of the noaa radar showed that the rain was over for the morning, so I met Tony at the gate at 6:30. The first brace had two finds, then we ran Ginger in what has consistently been our weakest section of the cover and had five finds which was most likely caused by two factors -- the fact that the experienced dogs always seem to find the birds especially this year as they seem to be buried in thicker cover and the rain seems to help bring (or keep) birds in the cover. Abbie and Trey ran together in a section where Saturday Jack had five finds and his bracemate off of Joe McCarl's truck bumped 3 or 4 more. This morning the majority of those birds weren't in the same place although Abbie did have one find standing withing 20 feet of where Jack had been on one of his finds on Saturday. They we took Trey and Abbie into a little corner near where we park the truck and usually miss. There were four birds stacked up there.

One of the dog's off Joe's truck pointing a woodcock.

Of the three young dogs Trey continues to hunt the hardest and show the most advanced manners around birds. Trip is finally figuring out the woods and has started finding birds on her own. Tom Parker, a neighbor who has a pack of bear dogs, has taken on the task of bringing on a young pointer that I gave him. He has vast experience in the woods of our area with his bird dogs and has often tipped us off to spots he's found grouse while going to his dogs in the woods. He showed us a really nice spot the other day that we had driven by many times, we just hadn't gotten off the road and penetrated the first 30 feet that looked to dense to run a dog. Once in the cover it looked to be the perfect age of regeneration with a number of wet spots in the skidder ruts and gathering openings.
Tom Parker experiencing a different part of the dog world.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Blues

We are having a really nice summer here in Northern New Hampshire which is a real bummer. And I've been too busy to make the early morning runs for a couple of weeks although that should change next week. I have been out twice this week with Tony and Joe McCarl whose up for ten days working his string on wild birds. Mariah's lessons out in the open fields seem to be sticking and next week I'm going to get her out in the woods by herself. We're going out this afternoon (it's 75 at 3:00 pm) and we'll run in a cover that has plenty of water for the dogs. We are also planning to show a friend the rope-a-dope process with a young pointer bitch who keeps getting away from him. Hope to have pictures later.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In the Bag

Today after a 20 mile bike ride and lunch in Errol, we got back in time to work the young dogs in the bird field. My son-in-law Jason helped with birds and dogs while my wife Katie snapped some pictures. After we loaded up the bird bag we used the tip up traps to hold the quail in place until we were ready to flush them. This is as system that works well although as the dogs progress they are given opportunities to find and point the free roaming quail that were released from the traps earlier in the session. Wild Apple June went first today. As you can see in the picture, June has been introduced to the bellyband which is being used to break her of creeping in. Like her mother she has very little interest in chasing birds after the flush but she loves finding and pointing them. I'm not sure she has the style to make in the field trial world but she is going to make someone one heck of a grouse and woodcock dog.

It's interesting how different dogs have different personalities. Trip, our Guardrail daughter, loves to point and is pretty staunch but still wants to chase at the flush like a puppy. She is going to require more effort to break then June and Trey. But every indication is that she'll be well worth the effort.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Work Day

Early this morning I drove down out of the mountains to Fryeburg, ME where the Maine Bird Dog Club held a work day in preparation for the Northern New England Woodcock Championship. We were able to get courses one and two done at Fiddleheads with the help of two tractors brought and operated by Club VP John Short (no relation to Kellie) and the venerable Bob Paucek who is recovering from a heart attack and the insertion of a stint four weeks ago. Club president Kellie Short and our new Sec/treas. Bruce Brunell help Bob on Course two while Rick Despins, Peter Mooney and I help move logs and flag course one. Peter was out ahead with the tape and walked up to good size broods of grouse and a woodcock. I put up another woodcock when I was try to route John and the tractor around a ditch. The club decided that we will hold a derby and a restricted shooting dog on the Thursday September 16th before the Championship begins on Friday. There is also talk of a half hour derby and shooting dog later in September.

After spending the the morning in Fryeburg I came back over the mountains, where the high today was in the upper 60s, hooked up with Tony, and we took Jack and Ginger for a training run. We moved a total of eight woodcock in about an hour. The dogs had not run in about a week and Jack was all over the place as he expended his pent up energy. Thank heavens for the Garmin, on one find he was buried in some raspberry canes that were shoulder high on me. I almost stepped on him before I saw him.

Tony's Garmin was having a problem dropping the signal from the collar and we sent in in for a "repair" and received a reconditioned one back. Today was the first time he'd used it and the new one did the same thing. It looks like another call to Garmin.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

Veronica last winter in Texas.

Spent most of the day mowing and then worked some dogs in the late afternoon. Trey and June went to the bird field along with Veronica who now resides with one of my neighbors. Tommy has some of the best bear hounds around and wanted to try a pointing dog so he and his daughter could do a little bird hunting together. Veronica is perfect for them. She has lots of point and looks good doing it. She's on the small side for a brood bitch in our program and is a little too soft to stand up to the rigors of field trialing but I'd be willing to bet that Tommy and Robin will get lots of opportunities to shoot at birds over her this fall.

Trey and June were worked on quail because June has started creeping and I wanted to introduce her to the belly band in a controlled environment. Trey is getting very close to broke and the bird field is a good place to reinforce what he's doing on wild birds.

Then we took Mariah and Trip up on an old hill farm close to the house. There's a mowed field that's about 20 acres on the top of the hill and it's a good place to continue Mariah's handling program. Today the grass was full of small white moths that she thought were put there just for her to play with. Despite the distraction of the moths, she still paid attention to me as I kept changing direction and "whooping" her to the front. She did have one lapse when I got to do a correction. It's important that they test you and you get to assert control. The jury's still out as to whether she'll stay with me or move on to the horseback game. But in either case she'll have to go with her handler and whoever's blowing the whistle will need to be able to show her in the right places. Some of them do it naturally, others you need that handle on them to help them put on the kind of show that wins.

Trip has been running a lot with Tony's Ginger dog and getting a lot of backing practice. She's doing well in the bird field and I wanted her to have the chance to work some cover on her own. So, after we worked Mariah I took trip into a small corner of cover where I could count on a woodcock being present. She succeeded in finding and pointing the bird and then broke at the flush. There will be many more birds for her as the training and hunting season progresses but at this point she needed the chance to get some work on her own.

A Big Day

Saturday morning the temperature was again in the low 40s as we broke away the first pair of dogs. Kali, one of Bill Branham's pointers started of the day with four woodcock contacts. In the second brace Wild Apple Jack had three finds and "The Missile" had two that we saw. There was some controversy over what went on a couple of times when Jack had stopped at the edge of bell range and The Missile got to him before we did. She's just entering her derby season and may not be fully reliable at long distance. She's doing great when we can get close to her quickly thanks in part to Tony's judicious use of the belly band. This brings up the dilemma of finding the balance with a young dog between letting it run and hunt independently and keeping in close so you know what's going on. Anyways, after two braces we had ten birds moved.

We then went into a part of the cover we haven't been using with the brace of Abbie and June. In less then an hour we moved over 10 woodcock (we lost the exact count which may have been 12) with Abbie finding most of them. With six dogs run we moved over 20 woodcock which is still not up to the numbers we had last summer but is encouraging. Right now the brook is easily crossable and most of the usual spots that have standing water are dry. There's rain in the forecast for the coming week and we should see our bird numbers pick up even more when the ground gets softened up in the main sections of the cover.

Later in the day, Bill and Tony came over to the bird field and we put out some quail. We have been having trouble getting the birds to fly as they would rather run into the patches of cover we have been planting them on. So, Tony developed a new technique for using the tip-ups. We call it the "Tony Toss" where you just scoop up the bird like the tip-up was a lacrosse racket and launch it. It works and Bill claims that Tony learned from playing Women's Lacrosse. I have no comment on that assertion. One dog that is impressing me in the bird field is Trip. Most of the dogs the last couple sessions seemed to need to be almost on top of the traps to scent the birds but trip is winding them from well back and is staunch. I expect she'll be broke by fall.

Rick Despins from Grey, ME stopped by mid-day with a nice looking setter puppy out of Long Gone Boston X Bog Brook Wilma. He'd been reading the blog and is planning to join us for a Wednesday later in the summer.

Bill hangs on to his puppy "Jack"
while I practice the "Tony Toss"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why we live in the Mountains

Today, when we broke away the first pair of dogs it was 43 degrees. As I am writing this it still hasn't hit 70. It's not expected to reach 80 until sometime the middle of next week. It is still very dry in our covers and the birds are not in their usual places in the kind of numbers that we expect. That said, we still managed to find 10 woodcock this morning. All the dogs are making progress and getting into shape for the fall.

Bill Branham and his wife Julie are here from Michigan and staying with Tony and Marie Bly. Billy brought a couple of his young dogs over to the bird field for some planted quail after we ran on wild birds this morning. Mike (pictured here) will be a derby this fall and he had a really nice looking black and white male named Jack who also got some work. Tony ran his the "beast" and she uses her nose well and finds birds but is not standing then for very long yet.
Mariah who was almost staunch has reverted to flash pointing and then jumping in. Hopefully we can get her into some wild birds again soon. But she still needs more work on her handling although she is making progress each day. I think it's now three sessions that she's gone without having to be corrected. She pays attention to me and, like most of our dogs, wants to go to the front.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A day in Paradise

Monday morning the temperature was hovering around 60 and there was a dry northwesterly wind (we didn't even get our boots wet) and Jack and Ginger had three woodcock finds between them up on an old hill farm near the house. Both of them are a little banged up from running in the heavy cover and rough ground and will probably need some time off. We still have plenty of young dogs to run.
We seem to have to have made a break through with Mariah. Today we worked her in a big field that had recently been mowed and she ranged out but kept looking back to be sure I was still with her. When I turned she turned and on the few occasions when she didn't it just took a word from me to send her scurrying to the front again. I called her all the way in a couple of times and she came without hesitation. All this without touching the button on the transmitter once.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Grouse cover

Thrusday, It was Ker B and Abbie for the "B" dogs and Wild Apple June and Trey for the blog team. Abbie was definitely dog of the day with three finds one of which forced us to cut through a long stretch of heavy, wet cover -- we wouldn't have been wetter had it been raining.
Friday morning we took the A-team of Ginger and Jack and headed out to one of grouse covers to see what we could find. It turned out really well, we moved 11 woodcock and three single grouse then found a brood on the road on the way home. Tony got out and flushed in the dense firs and spruces next to the road and I heard at least 6 young birds and the hen fly. The young birds were just a little bigger than quail.
Everbody got this morning off. The young dogs will porbably get some work over at the quail pen this afternoon. Mariah had another session on Thursday with a technique we are now referring to as "rope-a-dope" I think we're winning although Mariah might disagree.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One, Two, Three

The biggest difference between dogs like Wild Apple Jack and Stokely Ginger B and the rest of the dogs on the truck is their overwhelming desire to find birds. When they aren't in the places where we normally find them the dogs like these dig in and find them someplace else. That was the case this morning as the birds had moved around and were hard to find. We got 3/4 of the way around with Jack and "The Missile" before he started finding birds and then finished the brace with three finds. Ginger dug out 2 woodcock again in places where they hadn't been recently. We brought Trip in on both for backs and you could see the light bulb go off when she found one on her own, pointed it and then bumped it. We were going towards why the bird pop -- it flew right towards us and Tony could have reached out and grabbed it as it fluttered back down into the cover.
Mariah got her third session on the rope. When Tony let her go she came to me so fast that I did have time to reel her in nor did he hit the button. We did it again and she slowed slightly and got a little tickle. We then thought she was ready to go free dragging the checkcord. She stayed right next to me for a few moments and then her desire to see the country started to kick in. When she got a couple of checkcord lengths away I called her back and she turned, saw me, and came straight back. Then we made a mistake. Instead of staying out in the open we turned into one of our trails. and she soon wanted to go hunting. When I called her she wasn't sure where I was and went in the wrong direction and it took quite a bit to get her coming back. So two steps forward -- one back.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

After a big day on Monday with 16 birds, we only found seven woodcock this morning. Jack and Ginger had the day off but it was more humid this morning then it had been for the last couple of days -- it was also very still. Ker-B had the first find of the morning with Wild Apple June backing within 50 yards of the truck. The find of the day came in the second brace when Trey's bell stopped and then we called Abbie in to the area and her bell promptly stopped. I assumed she was backing until we found them both on the old sawdust pile looking into the edge in different directions (see picture) when we went in front of them they each had a woodcock.
After we had run the older dogs we got out Mariah for a little more double teaming on the rope. There are two points to this technique: one is to get the dog to recognize the handler as the safe base and the other is to get it to submit to your authority. Mariah is getting both ideas after two sessions. Tomorrow we will do it again and will let her go beyond the end of the rope. When she will finally come to me every time without stimulation it will be time to let her run in the woods again. When we pair a young dog with an older experienced dog in the woods for training and exposure to birds, they have to stay with you and come when you call them in to share in the birds. We've seen it over and over, after a relatively short period of this the young dogs will be hitting the cover on their own and finding their own birds. In the meantime, they have also learned how to back. With a young dog like Mariah the objective is to get her finding and holding birds well enough to give us shooting opportunities in the fall. We have a couple of covers that are pretty reliable for woodcock throughout the season that we reserve for the puppies -- hopefully Mariah will be ready for prime time come October.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Day

Finally, after a couple of more days with small bird counts we finally had a more typical morning with all dogs getting involved with birds and a morning total of 16 woodcock moved. Saturday our puppy Mariah got her first shot at a wild bird and slammed into a picture perfect point . . . that lasted about a ten count before she moved up to get a better whiff and the woodcock lifted. We then brought her on a find of Ginger's and I was able to get a hold of her. She stood for the flush on this bird and then went a little crazy as far a her handling went. Monday morning she ran all over the place not listening nor staying with us. She's back on the yardwork plan and off the truck for a few days. As you can see from the picture she's pretty stylish on point . . . hopefully we'll be able to get a handle on her soon so she can get the experience on wild birds before the guns come out this fall. Saturday we even had a gallery as our wives came along for the walk.

Trip is starting to get the hang of things and is hitting the cover more each time out. We have been calling her in to have her back the more experienced dogs and today she began stopping on her own and got her nose on a bird. She's been running with Abbie who has pointed hundreds of woodcock and knows how to dig them out. The picture of Trip was when she was backing Abbie.
Sunday we went up on an old farm near here that at one time was good for double digit finds on grouse and woodcock in the early 90s. It grew up and then was re-cut. It's starting to hold birds again although we were only able to dig out a couple of woodcock in locations that are pretty dependable. We expect the rain we're supposed to get today and tomorrow to further improve conditions.
Mariah is going to get the double rope treatment for a few day to help collar condition her and hopefully get her a little more focused on me. the way we do this is to use two ropes. Tony held her close to him and held the transmitter. When I call her, he lets her go and pushes the button which he holds down until she reaches the safety of me. We'll do this 2 or 3 times a session until she realizes that coming to me is the best place to be. I'll try to get some pictures of this for a later post.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tough morning in the Barn

It was already approaching 70 and very humid when we arrived in our training cover this morning and as you can see by the picture I have finally figured out a way to keep track of Tony when we're running dogs together. Now, if I could just get him to wear a shock collar I wouldn't have to listen to the same stories over and over and over . . . All kidding aside, the use of the Garmin at this time of year is really helpful. However, sometimes it gives you a little too much information. This morning we ran the "A" team (Ginger and Jack) together. I was listening to Jack's bell when I heard it stop. Just then Tony's Astro beeped indicating that Ginger was on point followed a couple of seconds later by my Astro indicating Jack had stopped when we went in you might have called it either way if you hadn't heard the beeps -- I shot and tried to claim the find but Tony wouldn't buy it. The Garmin doesn't lie.
After finding nine woodcock and two grouse on Wednesday morning, the first two braces went birdless. It took the seasoned veterans to dig out four woodcock on a course that we had already run.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14

Back out in the woods again this morning. Rain overnight improved conditions despite the fact that Tony and I were both soaked within a couple of minutes of leaving the truck as Stokely's Ginger B took a couple of relocations in a dense spruce stand before we finally got an adult grouse in the air. She ran with my first year dog, Wild Apple Trey, who ended up backing this seasoned veteran as she had another grouse and four woodcock. Trey did manage a woodcock on his own.

The second brace saw Wild Apple Jack and stokely's Ab B running in a section of the cover that had no birds on Monday -- they each had one woodcock find. Jack was so buried in the cover that I walked right past him -- only his nose was sticking out of the cover into one of our trails and the woodcock was on the other side of the trail.

The final brace of the morning saw Trip and Ker B down together. On Monday Trip had taken a road to the point that the Garmin switched to miles instead of yards. Today when she headed out down the road she only got about 100 yards before she felt the juice and then came back and stayed with me. Kirby had two finds and I brought Trip in on both. Although two she doesn't know woods and wild birds yet -- Hunting season was over when we bought her last fall primarily with the thought of bringing more Guardrail blood into the kennel (she's by Guardrail). The puppies here get started in the woods almost as soon as they are weaned and the difference is amazing as far as how they attack the cover.

Yesterday afternoon we worked some of the young dogs in the bird field. The air was still, hot, and humid and those with superior noses were able to point a bird. Tony brought over the Beast, a puppy he got from Kevin Klein. She had never seen a quail but wheeled and roaded right into the first one she smelled. All the training in the world can't put that into them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Training Season has begun

At the end of May the dogs go on vacation for awhile while we wait for the native grouse and woodcock to grow and establish themselves in our training covers. We usually get started around the first of July but a number of factors, especially the high temps and humidity (which is unusual for us), have kept us out of the woods. So this morning Tony Bly and I met a 6:30 am to get some dog work in before the temperature climbed up near 90. The extremely dry weather of late has limited the number of birds we found this morning (around half a dozen woodcock) but as the summer progresses and the dogs get back in form the numbers will definitely increase. The grouse hatch is looking good -- one of my neighbors called to say he saw a brood where the seven chicks were almost as big as the hen, and in another location he saw a brood where the chicks were about half size. Other broods we have seen have been on the medium to large size. There have been bad years when broods were small (1-4) chicks and great years when the broods were all approaching double digits -- this year looks to be somewhere inbetween. We'll have a better idea in a couple of weeks. Now that we're back in the woods, I'll keep you updated.

Friday, May 28, 2010

May Heat Wave

It's been a very unusual week here in Northern New Hampshire. The temperatures were over 90 a couple of days and in the high 80s the rest of the week. It has also been very dry. If the grouse are hatching this week, which would be a little early, the weather has been perfect for them even though its been a little hot to work dogs. We are back to seasonable temperatures today. The heat broke last night with the low in the high 30s and the high today expected in the low 70s. The weather looks good in the 10 day forecast as well, keep your fingers crossed for all those grouse chicks.

Talked to a guy who was out in the woods hiking with a dog and flushed a grouse off nest and then nearby the dog treed a raccoon. There were 11 eggs in the nest. They didn't have a gun or they would have killed the raccoon. Let's hope it didn't find the nest after they left. Years when we have really cold weather during the nesting season we see lots of large broods, 8-10 chicks in super years. When the weather is bad at this time of year, cold and wet, we see really small broods. 2 - 3 chicks. Should the raccoon get the eggs the grouse would probably re-nest with a smaller clutch of eggs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Habitat Improvement

The spring field trials are over here in Northern New England and its time to get some work done on our summer training grounds. We are very fortunate to have a few pieces of private land with strong numbers of grouse and woodcock that the the landowners are willing to let us do some mowing and trail clearing. I am also talking to one of my neighbors who is a logger to do some cutting on my own place. My 100 acres was a dairy farm at one time, was allowed to grow up, and was then clear cut almost 20 years ago. When we bought it ten years ago it held good numbers of both grouse and woodcock but those numbers have decreased recently as the woods have grown back up with lots of spruce and fir. My neighbor has developed a system designed to leave little behind when they cut -- they have three pieces of a equipment that work over a piece of ground. First the shear comes in, delimbs, cuts the logs to length and then stakes them. The forwarder comes in next and loads and hauls (not drag) the logs to the landing. The third piece of equipment is a forwarder that has a chipper directly behind the cab and a box for the chips -- this comes in last and picks up and chips all the brush and tops. Will probably start with 2 or 3 five acre clear cuts to get more early forest growth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cover and Wild Birds

Many years ago, we used to keep our quail pen up on a big hill farm nearby. There were some grown up old pastures, and a few open fields. The owner of the farm had a firewood business and had pretty much cut over the place making for a lot of successional forest. It was great we could work the young dogs or do finish work on the quail and then work on wild birds. It was not unusual to have 20+ finds in the course of running a few braces of good dogs. When the owner died he left the 800 acres in trust to his many children. A couple of the older ones cleared some of the best cover and put cattle up on the hill, the woods grew up, and the wild birds all but disappeared. Now the cattle are gone, the pastures are growing back up, and they've done some new cutting, and the birds are coming back. Over the last week, we have been up there four times and found both grouse and woodcock each time. So, the point here is that in about 25 years, this one cover has gone from terrific to poor to good due to land usage changes.

There is one problem with running in the same cover and that is the comfort level of the dogs. They come to know where you're going and range bigger and bigger on each trip. Yesterday afternoon we ran Wild Apple Jack and Stokely's Ginger B, their bells had faded out to the front when the point signal on my Garmin beeped. Jack was on point 453 yards away. We were on foot and it was mostly up hill to the dog so it took a while (we're not as fleet of foot as we once were). About halfway there, Ginger went on point close to Jack. When we got to them Ginger was backing and a male woodcock flushed. Tracking devices have really affected the way we train. Before Trackers and now Garmins, we had to keep the dogs within bell range and expended a lot more electricity then we do now. In fact Tony doesn't even bother putting his e-collar on the older dogs a lot of the time. I always put the collar on but rarely use it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Maine Bird Dog Club Field Trial

Ran the Trey and June in the Derby on Saturday. June's race was a little immature and she had trouble pinning down her only bird in the rain. Trey ran as a bye and I was very pleased with him. He had three bird contacts -- one was on a thoroughly soaked dead bird and the last on barely alive bird the flopped three feet and then walked around in front of him he stayed put for both those. In between, he moved up on a bird walking around and popped it. I was also please with his race. Deuce the first year shooting dog put a cold, wet bird out of its misery to end his shooting dog bid early. Jack will be running in the USCSDA International Championship this weekend. Planted birds are not really his forte and it should be a very competitive stake with Bob Ecker and John Stolgitis bringing their strings of dogs that have done well in this type of single course trial.

Jack is sure to run strong but the way the cover is coming on at the grounds it's going to be a challenge for everyone to find their dogs on point if they run hard.

We've been working dogs on a large farm nearby and had a couple take a .7 mile trip (according to the GPS) into a swamp before they decided to turn and come back -- Tony and I couldn't decide if they had found Bullwinkle or Yogi. We've been experiencing an an unusual number of nonproductives and figure it must be the turkeys we saw the other day in the middle of the afternoon -- the male was in full display.

Unfortunately, the black flies are just starting to come out -- in another week or ten days it should be pretty bad.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pigeon marathon

Since the quail were all killed last weekend, we switched to pigeons today and worked six dogs on them. Pigeons are great if traps or harnesses as they give off a lot of scent and usually fly well. However, that was not the case today, the pigeons I got this year are some fancy breed with feathered legs and a little crown on the top of their heads -- I hadn't planned to use them until later this summer and then had not been flown much -- and it showed. A couple landed in nearby trees when release from traps -- a couple just flew a few feet not the best situation -- but since the quail this weekend at the trial will probably be wet it allowed for some teachable moments for the two derbies and the first year shooting dog that are going down to the trial tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Neither rain nor snow nor ...

A day or two after my last post it snowed here in Northern New Hampshire and lasted for a couple of days. Then I went out to Wisconsin to help my daughter celebrate the completion of her PHD. Got back Sunday night to find that all the quail in the Johnny house had been killed by either a Fisher or a raccoon. We've set a trap in hopes it returns. The last few days Tony and I have been running dogs on a nearby farm where we've been rained on both Tuesday and today. Stokely's Ginger B has been on the bench in anticipation of having puppies but we learned Monday when we took her to the vets that there are no puppies -- a big disappointment. This is the annual Mother's Day weekend trial of the Maine bird dog club followed by a US Complete regional trial on the same grounds the following week. Spring is running early which means the black flies ought to be out in force this weekend and next. After these two trials, we will start working on our habitat projects in our training covers. All signs report to a good bird year, we hear drumming grouse almost everywhere we go. Let's hope for some good weather at the end of May and early June as that is the critical time for the grouse chicks. Considering how early the woodcock started coming back this spring there are probably chicks already hatched out. We stay away from known woodcock and grouse nesting cover until July.

Looks like I'll have plenty of time to get the young dogs going before we start on wild birds. I'm going to be reviewing Martha Greenlee's new book Training with Mo which presents a really straight forward plan for working a pointing dog using first a checkcord, then a checkcord and a spike collar, then the addition of an e-collar. Click on the Field Trial Magazine over on the right sind of the blog and order a trial subscription to get the full review and see what else the magazine has to offer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

back in the bird field

I try not to over do anyone aspect of training -- I think the smart dogs quickly get bored with too much of the same thing. They also get so they know the routine too well. Tony Bly and I used to do a lot of training with homing pigeons and we'd try to mix it up by going to different spots to train -- this kept many of the the dogs fresh, but one of my setters -- Stokely's Mikey D -- figured it out. It didn't matter where we took him to work pigeons, as soon as you cut him loose he'd cast around the truck for our foot scent and track us to the first place we planted birds and then point them. After the flush and shot, he'd follow our tracks in a beeline to the next bird. Needless to say we gave up working him on planted birds. Today we took Deuce and the three derbies back to the bird field. Trey (whose picture is at the bottom of the page) went right to the spot I planted birds for him the last time he was in the bird field and went on point -- the only problem was their wasn't a bird there today.

I have been working the rope, and whoever I could get to help was flushing the birds. Today we switched roles with me flushing. Two of the derbies Trey and June were more staunch seeing me in front of them -- Trip on the other hand figured if I wasn't there to stop her she might as well follow me in and help flush her bird -- she got set back twice before she stayed and let me flush. Trey, like his dam -- Elhew Liebotschaner -- really doesn't care all that much about the birds once they flush and is content to watch them fly -- a lot of people would not consider him a broke dog because it has taken very little in the way of correction to get him staunch which he pretty much did on his own last summer before he turned a full year old (he was an August whelp) and then he started to steady himself on woodcock last fall. There's no doubt in my mind that he's still going to mess up once in a while but you really don't need a lot of harsh methods to break a dog when they're ready to do it on their own. Had I tried to force his littermate June to progress at the same rate it would have taken a lot of pressure as all she wanted to do last summer and fall was run around like she was possessed and knock and chase birds. This winter she started pointing on her own in Texas and is know ready to begin the breaking process because she wants to point birds.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Airing out the Kennel Dogs

There are seven pointers here at Wild Apple Kennel -- five live in Scott kennels and two, Wild Apple Jack and Trip, live in the house. Just up the road from the house is a gated area of state land that has a canal running through it leading to a small hydro plant it is a good safe place to just let the dogs run. Early in the spring, when there's still snow in the woods Tony and I will cut a half dozen dogs loose at once and let them just run for 45 minutes or so. Today I ran Mariah with Deuce then June, Trey, and Veronica together. A while ago I made the mistake of running the two puppies together way out at the end of a gravel road. I turned them loose and they went about 650 yards (according to the readout on the Astro GPS) then they turn around and came back by me. Had to use the truck to catch up with them about 2 miles down the road where they discovered some big hay fields with flocks of robins to chase, today they pretty much stayed with the older dogs (although Trey and Veronica were out 940 yards at one point) and I was able to pick up the puppies fairly easily today when I called in the older dogs. I put bells on the older dogs but not yet on the puppies -- I figure running listening to the bell on the older dog is a good way to get them use to the noise.

In the past, I've often had a hard time getting my quail to recall. I'd hear them for a while calling in the evening but they wouldn't go back in the johnny house. It looks like I'm not going to have that problem this year as the birds I let out Thursday and Friday are back in the pen. There was one that was just hanging around outside caught him in a havahart trap and he's back as well.

The pigeons I got a few weeks ago have started laying in the pigeon coop so I should be able to start flying them soon. I find pigeons are great for breaking dogs, teaching them to back, learning to stop-to-flush, etc. They almost always fly well. If I feel the need to shoot a bird to fire up a young dog, and its not hunting season, I'll almost always use pigeons. If there's a way to work pigeons I've tried it -- everything from radio controlled launchers to doing a wing tie. Once the dogs are staunch, I really like using harnesses with a Velcro quick release. I have enough harnesses that we can plant pigeons around the bird field in "coveys" -- lots of scent and multiple flushes which allow you to get a dog to remain intense after the first flush.

Girls only

Yesterday, I figured out a way to get Mariah to stand still -- put a bird in front of her. She had two finds on a checkcord in the bird field yesterday. The second one she stood high and tight while the bird walked around in front of her and my wife thrashed the bushes trying to get it to fly. Veronica points picture perfect with a little head crank going on -- her nose goes higher in the air the longer she stands. June and Trip each had a couple of birds planted for them -- Trip showed she has a very good nose pointing a single quail in a tip up from about 30 feet away.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the bird field

Today, was a bird field day with the derbies (Trey, June and Trip) and a young shooting dog (Deuce). Trip is probably the least experienced on birds followed by June. Trey just about broke himself on wild birds last fall and is the only derby that is allowed freedom to run at this point. June and Trip both were worked on a checkcord on quail in tip-up traps. June is just about ready to be trusted to find the birds on her own and remain staunch until we get to her. She has very little desire to chase and remained steady on the first bird she pointed. On the second I needed to check her up with the cord and set her back up. No yelling or harsh correction just returned her to the spot where she had pointed. Trip is also pretty staunch but wants to see the bird. It was interesting to watch her on her second find as she moved her nose slightly to the left then to the right after she established point as she zeroed in on the bird. When she had a line on it she finally saw it and remained staunch as she was now sight pointing as well as scenting the bird.

Once the birds had been flown from the traps, Trey was released to hunt the bird field and proceeded to run over a bird that he approached from the down wind side -- he stopped to flush and stayed steady until I got to him. He then went on to point another one staunchly until Tony flushed it. He was dragging a light cord which I had picked up and I checked him on the flush.

Being the last one out of the truck Deuce had the hardest time finding birds. He started out with a nonproductive. He's an interesting dog around birds. If he points and then realizes there aren't any birds he'll start to whine. If there's a bird he remains quiet and staunch. He really likes birds -- especially dead ones and seeing planted quail walking on the ground is a great temptation for him. He'll stand all day on a woodcock or a grouse but finds those little birds from the pen awfully tempting. This is the double edged sword that those of us who do a lot of training on wild birds face -- Deuce can run with the big dogs when it comes to wild grouse, woodcock, and Texas quail but is a little rough around the edges on planted birds. he still needs a shooting dog placement to run in all the wild bird but most of those in the Northeast are championships. The guys in Michigan have the best deal at Gladwin dogs out there have many opportunities to run in Derby and shooting dog stakes on wild birds. Deuce ended with a good stop to flush and then a find on a quail that we let walk around in front of him until he required a correction which he got rather forcefully.

The level of correction varied for the four dogs. From Deuce who who was shaken up and smacked under the chin forcefully to Trip who was gently set back to where she had established point -- I believe that the dog has to know what you want before you can apply pressure. Deuce knows -- Trip doesn't, yet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another day on the rope

I teach one day a week at the local community college here on northern New Hampshire, so Wednesdays I don't have much time to work dogs. I did manage to get Veronica and Mariah out for some yardwork. I felt like I wasn't making any progress with Mariah and needed to get her attention. I attached a spike collar -- an old leather one with dulled copper spikes -- to the end of the checkcord. It didn't take long for her to stop pulling and to turn and come with out so much pressure on the line. She actual stood still and let me pose her up a little bit when we got to the barrel. Veronica is also progressing. Today when she was on the barrel I was able to walk all the way around her. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can pose her up and get a picture. Tomorrow will also be a day when I try to work the derbies in the bird field. Trey is the furthest along as we were able to flush and shoot birds for him last fall. His littermate June just wasn't ready to start pointing on her own last summer and still needs a checkcord in the birdfield. She did point some birds in Texas last winter. Trip who joined us late last fall hasn't had the bird exposure that the dogs raised here have had and is still pointing mice and tweetie birds -- I'm sure she'll outgrow that as we get her on planted birds -- once she is staunch enough I'll probably shoot a pigeon or two for her.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Training April 20, 2010

After a wet snowy weekend Tony Bly and I headed over to Jefferson, NH to look at some new cover. Rich Claxton joined us with his derby, Mike, a younger brother of Wild Apple Jack. The new cover is part of an area being managed by WMI to improve woodcock and grouse habit in the area. Although we walked up a pair of grouse just looking around and could hear a couple of drummers off in the distance, we didn't put a dog down in the new area.

Ran some dogs in some of our known covers but it's geting late in the season to find woodcock as most of the hens are on the nest already. We ended the morning with two birdless braces and Tony's Kirby dog with a nice limb find on a woodcock and a snipe pointed on the edge of a field in a wet spot. I don't know of any trials run on snipe, but they are a legal game bird here in New Hampshire and I think I would have given the dog credit for the find in a trial.

It is probably time to work dogs in the bird field until summer when we start training on grouse and woodcock again. Although I checked one area near the house Friday night and heard at least six different woodcock singing. It was interesting, as we started out too early and had to wait until after 7:50 pm for the woodcock to come whistling in to the singing area.

Checkcording on birds and yardwork aren't as much fun as letting the dog run the woods in search of wild birds, but it's a neccesary evil. The two puppies I'm working are a strong reminder as to how different individual dogs can be. They share Wynot Ace as a sire but come out of different bitches. Veronica will be a year old in May and Mariah is acouple month younger. Veronica hardly pulls on the checkcord when we're doing yardwork and comes immediately when called. Mariah is still pulling hard and has to be dragged in to be stroked and fussed over. The first time I put Veronica on the whoa barrel she stood still and let me pose her head and tail. Mariah on the otherhand can not stay still for more than a few seconds before she ends up dangling by her collar. I expect to have both of them ready to go this fall. We'll see . . . I'll keep you posted