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 14, 2012

Slow Day

Tony got called in to work today and I had a lot to do around the house so I only got out with the puppy. Ran LJ in a grouse cover and we had a nonproductive on a drumming log and three woodcock finds. I had to curtail some of his growing independence. Thank goodness for good reliable electronics. Twenty-five years ago the electronics were pretty bad but I could still run down a dog in the woods -- now I can just walk fast when I have to. I could still hear his bell at 300 yards when I had to remind him where I was. It was after that, that he settled down and hunted more -- coming up with the three finds. On the last one I had a good look at the bird on the ground and could see before it flew that it was a male. He was right on the edge of a big landing in some hardwood whips. I'm sure if I had gone back tonight the woodcock would have been singing right on the landing. The spot I was in is called the "secret cover" because after Tommy and I first ran in it last summer we kept it a secret from Tony just long enough to torment him for awhile. It's not all that far from the Cover-that-shall-not-be-Named where Tommy and I flushed more than two dozen grouse going to, around, and in front of Jack in late December.

Speaking of Tommy, he and Veronica moved five grouse in another spot during the day today.

Chris Mathan is due up tomorrow -- hopefully we'll get out early as the high tomorrow is forecast to be in the mid-70s. Monday is supposed to go well into the 80s and then we'll return to more seasonable weather for the rest of the week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Porkie's minus one

I have a vague recollection of a series of movies based around a roadhouse called "Porkie's". When you run bird dogs you will eventually have to deal with another type of Porkies -- the ones with the quills. Tony, Frankie (the dog), and I had an encounter with one on March 26th (see the post from that date for details) and had to rename a cover the porcupine cover. today, Tony and an un-named associate were returning from the Porcupine Cover when they encountered the beast or one of his relatives crossing the road. Said associate dispatched the beast which is legal here in NH but not necessarily the case in all jurisdictions. When I find them around the house I reach for the .204 if I don't have a shotgun in hand at the time. I have found a load of 7 1/2s more than adequate for the task with either my 20 or my 28. I even shot one once with my English hammer gun which is a 2 1/2 inch 12gauge. The first time I was able to go to Michigan for the Grand National was 1998. I think I spent more hours on that trip pulling quills than I did running dogs. The worst case was one of Bob Stewart's dogs who caught, killed, and tried to swallow a relatively small porkie. The most disappointing porkie encounter had to have been Elhew Hustler running the Grand that year. She made a number of good moves and then came back from what seemed like a really nice cast covered in quills. She was a devoted porkie hunter. I had a vet tell me once when I had a mutt the was covered with quills that dogs go one of two ways. After their first encounter the learn their lesson and avoid porkies or the spend the rest of their lives trying to get even. I have been fortunate that so far the dogs I have had have fallen into the later category. Let's hope Frankie does too.

In addition to the dead porkie, the boys saw three turkeys way the heck out in the woods. moved 6 to 8 grouse (how hard can it be to count accurately to eight), and had a woodcock pointed that had her full complement of four eggs in her nest. (Supposedly they got a picture of the eggs and have promised to e-mail to me -- but it hasn't arrived yet. Don't hold your breath as I'm still waiting for some pictures of Jack on point that were promised from a week ago.) With four eggs in the nest, we can expect chicks in 20-22 days which would put their due date in the first week of May, unless she's been sitting on them for awhile.

I only ran one dog today as much of my time was taken up with going to the hospital for a cystoscopy to see if I'm a candidate for a green laser treatment for my BPH. If you don't know what any of that means it's because your not old enough -- after 60 it's all about maintenance.

The ten day forecast is looking great with above average temperature early in the period going back to seasonable by the end. Not a lot of moisture either. Any of you who hunt grouse and woodcock in the Northeast should be praying that the trend continues.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Day in Paradise

It was overcast, in the mid-40s, and spitting a little rain and sleet a couple of times today which meant the grouse were out in numbers. Little Thuddy started the count with a single grouse contact and then we ran Abbie and LJ up in the Orchard. There weren't any birds in the regular places and LJ may have had an encounter with one of Bullwinkle's relatives as he got out almost 600 yards at one point. When he came back he crossed a large field and dove into some cover. He was 254 yards away when the Garmin buzzed. I never thought he'd stand long enough for me to get there, but he did and a woodcock was flushed. That made it one woodcock and one grouse. Then we went to a place that will remain nameless and ran Jack and Trash. Let's just say it was a hell of show. Jack had three woodcock finds and five grouse finds. Trash had a number of finds of her own to give us a total of five woodcock and 17 grouse (that's right 17) we had two grouse on the road to give us a total of 20 grouse and 6 woodcock for the running dogs part of the day. The grouse above was number 20 and we got to take some pictures before he wandered off the road.

One of the things I needed to work on was shortening Jack up a bit but he was on a mission today and his first find was at 385 yards. I hoped it was a woodcock because I assumed a grouse wouldn't stay around very long. I was wrong. Jack was pointing at a drumming log and the bird obviously didn't want to leave as he was only about 30 feet away when I got to the dog. It is amazing what a male (of any species) will do for sex. On another find I was sure we had a hen woodcock on a nest as she was sitting tight on a small hummock about five feet in front of Jack. I went to him and collared without trying to flush and the bird flew. There was no nest but I assume there will be one shortly.

Here at home we are not running any dogs until after the nesting season so Katie and I just took a walk around the training loop without a dog and flushed five more grouse. That made 25 grouse for the day as well as many others we heard drumming. Last night when I got home from school I could hear at least one woodcock peenting and doing the sky dance. I was in the wrong position to see him silhouetted against the sky but I could definitely hear his wings as he flew. It will be a little warmer tonight so hopefully there will be more activity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drummers in the Woods

Rained out yesterday but got out today. Headed out deeper in the woods with a dim hope of finding a Tritronics collar that Frankie shed from his belly last fall. Didn't find the collar but Frankie and LJ had a heck of a workout that included a pair of woodcock and six grouse. Frankie was the first to go on point at about 212 yards dead ahead. As we started to him LJ pointed nicely in a small clump of alders and poplar whips and I flushed a woodcock. We then proceeded to catch up to Tony before he got to Frankie. LJ ran by him (he is only a puppy) and while we tried to produce a bird for Frankie LJ went on point about 40 yards away. I went to LJ and flushed a pair of grouse that had most likely walked away from Frankie as we weren't exactly able to sprint the 200+ yards that we had to cross to get to him. Another grouse got up in a little bit as both puppies were working in an area. Frankie's find of the day was pretty exciting as he staunchly held the bird until LJ and Tony got close. The bird flushed and momentarily got hung up in a small fir tree. It was almost his last mistake as Frankie (he's only a puppy as well) made a mad leap in the air and just missed sinking his pearly whites into the bird. So as we headed back to the truck we were pretty happy with finding a woodcock and 4 grouse. Almost beside the truck LJ pointed in some alders and allowed me to flush a woodcock which he then followed into the cover when his bell stopped about 40 yards down the road from the truck I thought he found the woodcock again. Much to my surprise, A grouse blew out in front of him, he took a a couple steps locked up again and a second grouse busted out. (that was six in a row for finding birds by going beyond the truck on the way back). That made 6 grouse and two woodcock with a pair of puppies in an hour and a bit. Not a bad outing for the middle of the day in April. As we worked the dogs today we could hear grouse drumming on the hillsides all around us. Now all we have to do is get a break with the weather when the grouse start hatching in late May and early June.

The second brace had Abbie and Jack down in a cover that has for the most part has gone by although there are still some productive pockets. But today nobody was home and both Jack and Abbie had a good run but no birds even when they made a final cast that took them a couple hundred yards down the road beyond the truck. It looked like the streak of finding birds beyond the truck had come to an end. That was until we got to the last cover of the day.

Little Thuddy and Trip ran in a cover where we could keep a keen eye on the youngster. His Houdini days are over and he's in the program. This is a really nice moving pup who shows a lot of potential like his many 1/2 siblings (Bud, Maggie, Clifford, Zeus, Cocoa, etc). the key now is to get all that potential going in the right direction and coming back every time when called upon to do so. Building a winning puppy is a tough endeavor that requires a certain amount of ruthless willingness to make it do what you know it has to. If they can take a correction and keep running as Thuddy has then you know it's time to win the battle of wills. Tony should be up to the task as he has worked numerous dogs of his own over the years that were a "little" headstrong. We're also pretty sure that the Thudster was under at least three grouse in his workout today (the last one was after we had past the truck to start a new streak). That's another big plus in his favor -- he's always hunting and seems to be able to find some birds.

Final bird count for the day was 2 woodcock and 10 grouse (we saw one in the road between covers) for the dogs Tony and I ran. Tommy ran Veronica today in some of the other local cover and we can add her woodcock and three grouse to the total.

Rich Claxton found a drumming log on his place with Jack's little brother Mike and set up the Grouse Cam to get this picture of the grouse sneaking away as Mike was pointing it again the today.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


38 degrees F. and spitting snow this afternoon when Tony and I were out working dogs. Despite the weather we moved five grouse and five woodcock in three braces. Trash has to get the nod for day dog as she dug out three grouse finds. Jack had three woodcock but one was a stop to flush that he probably would have gotten the hook on. On his first find, Tony was able to get a hold of Abbie and bring here in near Jack. I made a big circle to try and make sure the bird flew back towards her. Tony saw it on the ground, and it flipped up and landed within two feet of Jack and then walked towards him. It was a good thing for the woodcock that it was "broke" Jack and not one of the growing number of young dogs because the bird would have been lunch. Little Thuddy looked good going through the woods today for Tony but you really have to keep an eye on him as he has a bit of Houdini in him -- he'll be working nice at a good range and then suddenly he's a couple hundred yards away.

LJ had a limb find on a woodcock on the other side of a beaver canal at 189 yards. He held it for as long as it took me to find a crossing and get within about 40 yards. After he took out that one he almost immediately locked up on a second one.

Tony has discovered a new technique for getting his dogs on wild birds -- when we get back to the truck he runs them down the road past the truck. It's worked five times in a row. He maybe on to something or then again it may just be "dumb" luck.