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.

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