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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Field Trial Magazine finds a new home

Pointing Dog Journal Announces New Field Trial Editorial

TRAVERSE CITY, MI — April 26, 2012 — The Pointing Dog Journal, the leading sporting dog magazine in the world since its debut in 1993, is pleased to announce that they will now publish a special field trial section in the magazine.  This new editorial content is the result an agreement with Field Trial Magazine editor and publisher, Craig Doherty and is set to begin with the July/August issue of the magazine.
According to Steve Smith, editor of The Pointing Dog Journal, “I’ve always been impressed with the depth of knowledge that Craig brought to his magazine.  The addition of his section will give PDJ readers a chance to see what I mean by that in every issue.”
Started in 1997, Field Trial Magazine covered a variety of topics related to bird dog field trial competitions: breeding, training, habitat restoration, judging and results and was the enthusiasts go to source for information and entertainment.
That magazine’s founder, Craig Doherty says, “As much as I’m going to miss Field Trial Magazine as a stand-alone publication, I am equally excited about joining with The Pointing Dog Journal to make sure our readers continue to get quality coverage of field trialing and that we will get the opportunity to bring that same message to a wider audience of pointing dog people.”
Craig will provide the content for the new section in PDJ, so his expertise and industry knowledge will continue to be enjoyed by those who already know him and a new audience of pointing dog enthusiasts who will read his work for the first time.
Founded in 1993, The Pointing Dog Journal is devoted to upland hunting enthusiasts who hunt with and train the pointing breeds and is available six times per year by subscription and on newsstand.  It is a publication of Wildwood Press, which also publishes The Retriever Journal and Just Labs magazines.

For more information, please contact
John Roddy    (231) 946-3712    jroddy@villagepress.com 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Just Can't Avoid the Little Buggers

Today we ran three braces of dogs in a spot where we thought we wouldn't find any birds.  Boy were we wrong.  In the first brace Frankie had a a really nice find on the far edge (300 yards away) where we saw him stop and then stand as we walked all the way across the field.  He had a hen woodcock about five feet off his nose in the grass on the edge and we fired and collared him away without flushing her.  On the way back to the truck he had a stop to flush on another woodcock.  He was running with Jack who had two woodcock finds of his own -- one that we didn't flush and one that got up pretty good (probably a male).  In the second brace, LJ and Little Thuddy had a good run and the Little Thuddster had a grouse find.  He always seems to find a bird. In the final brace Abbie and Trash ripped it up and Trash had two woodcock contacts.  One was pretty much a stop to flush and the other was on the bird that Jack had pointed.  It ran around pretty good before Trash finally bumped it on about her third relocation.

Tomorrow we're heading over to Bangor  for the Mid Coast Maine Trial.  you can check out the running order at http://mcmftc.wordpress.com/ LJ and Tony's four puppies are running Sat. morning in the Open Puppy.  Frankie and Trash are also running in the Open Derby.  Jack is in the first brace of the Open Shooting Dog which drew a nice entry of 21 dogs.  Stopped and got a special bottle of single malt to give to Jack's scout Mike Flewelling who has scouted Jack numerous times including his last three Championship placements.  Hopefully I'll see a lot of you there.  If I have time in the morning I'll put up an other training article for you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Bird Field

(As Wednesday is a school day here and the dogs get a break I thought I'd post this article from the Summer 2006 Issue of FIELD TRIAL MAGAZINE.  We will be utilizing the bird field a lot in the coming weeks and I'll let you know how it progresses)

As summer will soon be upon us, a fortunate few are making plans for a training trip to the prairies. Others look to the north woods to work dogs on young broods of grouse.  Some of us are lucky enough to live where there are good populations of wild birds in the summer.  Despite the allure of the wild birds and what can be accomplished with them, the reality is that as much or even more can be accomplished, especially with young dogs, in a backyard acre that is groomed as a bird field.  Those of you who have attended the George and Mike Tracy Seminar have seen that they work their young dogs on pigeons and quail in a very small area.  Pigeons are used in a few mowed strips behind the kennel, while dogs are worked initially on quail in a small area referred to as “the orchard” which may encompass a half acre.
Remote launchers are great for
getting a dog to stop creeping.
      In these small spaces, dogs start off on checkcords and graduate to an electronic collar on the flank as they progress.  Modeling the training area here at FTM on what I have picked up from George and Mike, I have developed about an acre that holds two quail pens and a pigeon coop.  The youngest dogs are started on a checkcord with pigeons and quail in some sort of restraints.  We use everything from multiple electronic launchers that cost hundreds of dollars to $4.00 pigeon restraints.  I even won a couple of homemade tip-up traps in a raffle that work great at keeping quail where you want them (I’ve since bought more of these).

Tip-up traps like this one made by 
Mike Flewelling work great with
both quail and pigeons.
      When the dogs progress to the point where we can depend on them to point staunchly, we will release quail without restraint and let dogs move freely through the area to establish point.  Most will wear a collar on their flank at this point.  But early in the program every dog is on a checkcord.  The electronic traps are great for staunching up a dog that wants to creep.  One step and the button is pushed releasing the bird followed by a correction that starts with simply setting the dog back and escalates as the dog understands what you want it to do.
      In the FTM bird field, I have left numerous clumps of small trees in which we can plant birds.  I have left enough clumps that we can plant birds in different locations for each session.  It is interesting to watch a dog come out of the truck and point the clump where you planted the bird last time.  Knowing where the birds are allows us to move the dogs along, forcing them to use their noses to find the bird.  Even the biggest running shooting dogs in the string will adjust to staying in the bird field, even when you get to the point where you can turn them loose.
Even Wild Apple Jack spent a
 lot of time in the bird field
in his younger days.
      There are two different quail pens and a pigeon coop at the bird field.  One of the quail pens is the Johnny house style, the other is the low type with a hinged divider at one end.  The birds in the Johnny house tend to fly a little stronger as they get more exercise flying up and down to and from the perching shelves.  The low pen allows the birds to be pushed to the front of the pen and then the divider is dropped to trap them near the doors in the front, where they can be easily caught or released.  The pigeon coop easily accommodates 30 birds which 
Tony has both a check cord
 and a bellyband on this dog 
that is staunch but is being 
taught to be steady to wing and shot. 
allows us to work a number of dogs in a short period of time.  In a recent session, Tony Bly, a well known cover dog owner/handler; Dana Glover, a neighbor with an old-style setter gun dog; and I worked seven dogs in about an hour.  Each dog had at least two controlled finds and all are making progress.  Having a couple of guys to train with helps speed the program along as there is always an extra hand to hold a checkcord or grab some more birds.  Keeping the sessions for each dog short and only doing this three or four times a week prevents the dogs from getting bored with the program.  On other days, dogs are worked for conditioning.  I’m fortunate that I have plenty of places to let the dogs run.  If I didn’t, I would figure out some way to road the dogs especially later in the summer as the field trial season approaches.
      I have seen other bird fields where a section of the backyard was left with a few unmowed strips that allow enough cover to plant birds.  Those who run in trials where dogs are expected to run the edges will probably find strips a better bet.  For my dogs that compete mainly in cover dog trials, I find the small clumps of cover more appropriate.  This can be accomplished simply by allowing a ring of grass to grow up around the trees in the yard.  So, if you’re not going to make it to the prairies this summer, you may want to look at your backyard and create your own bird field.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You got to "Wonder"

Over the years I've spent many days with a wide variety of dog trainers -- attending seminars, interviewing them for articles and just hanging out as they worked dogs.  The list includes all three of the Tracy's (George, Mike, and Jeanette), Buddy Smith, George Hickox, Scott Chaffee, Rick Smith, Bob Wehle and Earl Crangle, and many other names that you might recognize.  In addition I've written reviews of most of the training books that have come out in the last 15 years as well as editing all and writing many of the training articles that appeared in Field Trial Magazine over the years.  It always amazes me just how many different ideas and techniques people have developed to basically accomplish the same thing with a dog.  There are trainers who preach a sort of Pavlovian repetition method and others that basically let the dog learn its job by doing.  Others still ascribe to pretty harsh methods to get a dog to do what they want.  Tony and I have trained together for 25 years, even wrote an article together about 20 years ago that was one of the first pieces in print on using the bellyband.

Trainers have developed elaborate contraptions to teach the dog whoa as a bird is dangle in front of them.  As well as simple things like the Buddy Stick which is a 10 foot length of PVC pipe with a swivel snap on the end. One I've always liked is the "Pigging Rope" that Delmar Smith called the "Wonder Lead."  I got mine at a Rick Smith Seminar many years ago.  It's basically the same piece of rope that calf ropers use to tie the legs of a calf.  To make it the Wonder Lead Delmar added a couple of leather buttons -- the lower one keeps the loop from springing open and the upper one makes it a little easier to hold onto the rope.  You can go on line and find a pigging string for under 10 bucks or you can buy the original Wonder Lead or the renamed Rick Smith Command Lead for $19.95 at Gun Dog Supply and Lion Country Supply.  Gun Dog Supply even has direction for using it on their website (see http://www.gundogsupply.com/wonleadbydel.html ).

So, today, now that we're officially out of the woods for a couple of months, I got down my Wonder Lead and walked LJ down to the mail box (600') and back and then around the yard.  I really think that Rick Smith's Silent Command Method is as much about training the handler as it is the dog so I followed his instructions and kept my mouth shut.  The loop of the lead should be just below the the jawbone with just enough slack so the loop stays up without applying pressure.  You start walking and any time the dog is not right next to you with its head up you give a jerk on the lead and release quickly.  By the time I got back from the mailbox LJ was heeling like a pro and I could stop him and walk around him without him moving.  Other than basic handling my puppies get to be puppies until they are about a year old (LJ was whelp May 4th last year).  All the birds he pointed last fall and this spring were just part of his natural ability and instinctive pointing.

I also use a barrel to help teach puppies to pose up and stand motionless.  So far I have not introduced the verbal command whoa.  That will come later.  As he progresses through this stage of yardwork I'll introduce the bellyband so I can use it on pen raised birds soon and then wild birds this summer.  His natural talent and ability to take training make it seem likely that he will well be on his way to being broke by the time he runs in his first wild bird derby stake Labor Day at Cronk Farm.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thuddd's Pictures

I know that many of Big Thudd's pictures from the weekend have already been plastered around the internet. But there were a few I wanted to share with you.  The Grouse below was walking in the road and let us drive right up to it.  It Finally flushed when Tony yelled from his truck as he wanted to get out one of the puppies.

This next one is of LJ pointing a woodcock. Like all my dogs he's been brought up in the woods and doesn't mind digging in the thick stuff to point a bird.  He's at the point now where he's ready to start the breaking process.  He's already getting time on the barrel and will be doing more yard work and bird field stuff between now and when we go back in the woods in July.  I try yo give you regular updates on the progress he makes and the techniques we use.

It's hard to think of Jack as the old man of the kennel but at eight he is all of that.  He obviously has proven this spring that he still has a few good runs in him and he is still amazing on birds.  the picture below was taken during a series of re-locations that he had on a running grouse on Saturday.

This final picture is of a camp in the middle of one of our favorite covers.  If Thudd ever divulges its whereabouts he will never be shown another.  I'm not worried that anyone's going drive by it and see it from the road.  You'd need a key and a lot of four wheel drive to get to it with a vehicle.  Even the people who own it mostly walk in nowadays.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birds for Everyone

Tony and Thudd rolled in about 8:30 this morning ready to work dogs.  We put six dogs in my truck and headed for the woods.  We were trying to avoid the covers we normally train in and really didn't expect to find many birds today.  The fact that we found as many as we did where we did is just another testament to the strength of the grouse and woodcock population this spring.  We started out with LJ and Trash running in a cover that was cut really hard a few years ago.  We went further in and moved four grouse back up the brook and then came out to the edges of the biggest opening where small clumps of whips are starting to take hold.  Here we moved four woodcock and a fifth grouse most of them pointed.  Giving us five grouse and four woodcock with a couple of puppies.  We then moved to a cover for Little Thuddy.  Tony gave him a little more rope and he ran well.  We flushed a grouse and he found three woodcock.  Trip and Frankie were up next.  It wasn't looking good for them as we were headed back towards the truck.  Big Thudd saw a grouse running on the ground and it flushed with neither dog involved.  Frankie got out a couple hundred yards and went on point.  When we got to him Trip came in and backed.  Whatever had been their was gone as Tony made a flushing attempt that covered a rather large area.  The dogs crossed the road and Frankie locked up about fifty yards from us.  Trip backed again and a woodcock was flushed.

That meant all five of the dogs down had been involved in bird work.  That put the pressure on Big Thudd and Rigby who was also running alone today.  Tony thought he heard a grouse flush at one point we counted it but couldn't give credit to Rigby.  Late in her run, she was only about ten yards away when she slammed into a point that left her twisted a little bit like a pretzel.  The three of us surrounded the small clump of cover she was pointing and a woodcock lifted.  I think Big Thudd let out a big sigh of relief as he was beginning to think Rigby would be the only without bird work.  Shortly after her woodcock a grouse flushed out of a tree to give us one more bird to add to the count.  I think that totals out for 9 grouse and 9 woodcock for the day.  Not bad when you think about the fact that we are staying out of our "good" covers now.