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, May 4, 2012

Still on the Nest

Tony wanted to check on the woodcock he "photographed" on Monday.  On the ride out we had a bet on whether she would still be there.  As the current rain is supposed to end today and clear out for the next few days I hopefully took the "still there" end of the bet. Fortunately, I was right.  I offered to let Tony try to get a picture again but he deferred. The hen never moved as we walked up to her and took three pictures from different angles. Looking back over the calendar it seems likely that she started setting her eggs after April 13.  This is the same cover where I first heard male woodcock singing on March 20th.  But my understanding is the males arrive early and then sing to attract females as they arrive.  This hen probably arrived sometime in the first week of April.  We plan to check on her again over the weekend.

In the meantime, both Tony and I are doing yard work with our young dogs and giving the older ones a much needed chance to rest up and lick their various wounds.  We will try to stay out of the woods for at least a month and not get really serious about getting the dogs ready for the Fall trials until July.  I'll try to post some pictures of yard work and the bird field as soon as we get our pigeons settled.  I'll also post some more articles from the past issues of Field Trial Magazine as we await the arrival of the first issue of Pointing Dog Journal with the new Field Trial Supplement.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Drama in the Woods: 2004 G & WC Invitational

(The dogs are taking a little break for a few days as I will not be able to get to any other trials this spring.  So I thought I'd post this article from the Summer 2004 Issue of Field Trial Magazine.  The first issue of Pointing Dog Journal with the Field Trial Supplement will have an article on the 2012 Invitational and more.)
Pioneer Will and Centerfold Rose posed for the win picture
at the 2004 Grouse and Woodcock Invitational
Maybe the toughest field trials to win are the invitational events.  They all follow a similar format.  The best dogs on the various circuits are invited to participate in an invitational based on the points they acquire during the qualifying stakes of the previous season or year.  The Quail Invitational, the Shooting Dog Invitational, the corresponding amateur invitationals, as well as a number of others all require a dog to perform for at least an hour on three consecutive days to be named winner.  A number of dogs can come out in a single event and put down a winning performance, but to do it for three days in a row requires something special.
      On April 7, 8, and 9, 2004, 16 of the previous year’s best grouse and woodcock dogs converged on the storied Gladwin Field Trial Grounds in central Michigan to compete in the 14th running of the Grouse and Woodcock Invitational.  And there were stories within stories.   In the woods, amateurs hold their own with the professional trainers.  Six pros brought nine of the dogs to the event, while seven amateurs and their dogs came from Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to compete.  Joe McCarl made his first appearance as a pro with two entries – Hard Driving Bev, the 2003 Grand National Grouse Champion, and Hard Driving Duke.  Young Michigan pro, Vance Butler won his first championship in Minnesota last fall and brought Roger Bryant’s Modaka’s Jazzy Jeff to the line.  Dave Hughes, who has dominated the woods in the past, but is now feeling the pressure from younger handlers, qualified two setters from his string.  One of those vying with Hughes as the top handler in the woods is Robert Ecker of Pennsylvania who had two dogs invited for owner Phil Gould – the setter Taz and the pointer Eldorado.
      As many know, the woods are the last venue where setters outnumber pointers and this was the case with this year’s Invitational where the entry included nine setters and seven pointers.  Among the pointers was one of the year’s most amazing stories.  Wynot Ace had won both the National Amateur Grouse and the International Amateur Woodcock Championships in the fall of 2003 as a derby.  At 20 months of age last fall, he is the youngest dog to win a national amateur championship.  When he came to the line at the Invitational, Ace had reached the ripe old age of 26 months. 
      On his first day, his youthful exuberance caused a 12 minute absence at the beginning of the hour and then he went on to dig out two scouted limb finds on woodcock to show his dual championships were no fluke.  He had many fans in the gallery who hoped for improvement on the second day, and a shot at the finals on Friday.  During his second hour, the open woods of the Gladwin grounds gave Ace the chance to remind all that he is still a derby as he visited the farthest reaches of the grounds seemingly oblivious to his handler.  The dog is excitement personified on the ground and on point, and has a bright future ahead of him.
      Joe McCarl’s Hard Driving Bev earned day money on the first day but the buzz throughout the trial was about two old warriors who had owned the Invitational for the previous four years.  The setters, Pioneer Will, nine, and his younger full-sister, Centerfold Rose, eight, had had their names engraved on the winner’s trophy for the last four years.  Rose had won in 2000, 2001 and 2003 while Will had been champion in 2002 and is now a three time champion, three time runner-up champion, and has won two classics in the woods.  Rose had experienced a life-threatening infection caused by an unborn pup and had almost died since she had won the title in 2003.  Her amateur owner/handler Dr. Harold Holmes of Michigan expressed concern before the event that she was not back in top form for the event.
      Will, on the other hand, had just gone out to Pennsylvania and bested a field of 58 dogs in the Armstrong Classic to show he was ready to get the job done for Michigan pro handler Scott Chaffee and owners Jack Harang of Louisiana and Woodland Kennels.   On the first day, Rose showed she could still dig out the elusive grouse of Gladwin with two super finds on the often jumpy birds.  Her race was solid and forward.  Will also ran well the first day and pinned a grouse, but two nonproductives kept him out of the day money.
      Rose and Will were definitely the sentimental favorites on the second day and each had a large gallery.  Rose showed her big heart as she reached out farther and harder than the first day and again dug out a grouse.  Will also improved his ground effort with his bell fading out from time to time but always to the front.  His second day was complemented with two grouse finds, the second coming just at time.  Will got the day money for the second day and everyone expected to see the two white setters run again on Friday.  Most hoped to see them go head to head.
      The announcement was made back at Alibi Hall, the headquarters on the grounds.  Eldorado, Phil Gould’s pointer handled by Robert Ecker, and Grouse River Rock, owned and handled by Jim Gingas of Michigan, would be the first brace on Friday morning.  It was an honor for both dogs to make the finals, but barring a disaster, everyone believed the winner and runner-up would come from the second pairing of Rose and Will.  Amateur against pro, brother against sister, both former winners of the event – it was no wonder that people came out of the woodwork to walk the final hour.
      Moments like this are often anti-climatic.  That was not the case as Chaffee and Doc Holmes turned Will and Rose loose on Friday morning.  It was as if the two canine gladiators fed off the energy of their handlers and the gallery. Or maybe it was just sibling rivalry, as both ran bigger and harder than their two previous outings.  Scouts were dispatched a number of times as first one then the other of the two bells faded out.  The dogs however continued to show to the front.  At about the halfway point, Rose drew first blood as she pointed and then relocated on a tight-sitting woodcock.  Doc Holmes and most of the gallery surged forward as the course turned away from Will as he cast deep to the right.  As Will turned to regain the front, his bell went silent and he stood high and tight, but he too was forced into a tough relocation on a woodcock find. 
      Although that was to be the end of the bird work, it was enough as both dogs finished still running hard to the front.  In fact, Will looked like he had not had enough as it took Chaffee a minute or two to round him up.  There was no question that everyone had just seen the winner and runner-up.  It was just a question of which one was on top.  Those who were judging with their hearts wanted the nod to go to Rose.  Her compelling story is what legends are made of.  Those looking at the situation with a more objective eye were giving the nod to the older brother.  He had beaten his sister on the ground and equaled her on birds.  The judges concurred and Pioneer Will was named the winner of the 2004 Grouse and Woodcock Invitational with his little sister, Centerfold Rose as runner-up.  That made five years in a row for Will and Rose.  As winner and runner-up, they will get automatic bids to the 2005 Invitational that will most likely be run in Pennsylvania next April.  If these two setters show up for the 2005 running, it will again be high drama in the woods.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Lighter Side of Dog Training

Although we’re always serious about the dogs we’re training, amusing things still happen.  We were running LJ and Frankie together when Tony asked me to keep an eye on them both as he wanted to make a detour to check on a woodcock nest that we found last week.  I took the dogs on and handed him my camera with the instructions to get a shot of the bird if it was still there.  He managed to turn the camera on and take three pictures.  This is the best one.  I guess I should have been more specific about which way to point the lens.

Later in that same run LJ had a nice find on a woodcock.  Fortunately I know which way to point the camera.

In the next brace Little Thuddy came prancing out of the woods after the find of the day with something in his mouth.  As he got closer, I could see it was a grouse.  He brought it right to my hand and fortunately it was stone cold.  It was also headless.  I told him he was a good dog and Tony sent him back in the woods.  In the past I have had two dogs kill grouse in summer training.  One was Diamond Solitaire (a setter I had by Hamilton’s Blue Diamond) and the other was Autumn Moon in the summer before his derby year.  Thereafter, if he screwed up on a bird, Jack Harang and Scott Chaffee always blamed me for “letting” him catch the grouse.  I can show you exactly where it happened.  He went on point in a stand of poplar whips and I started to him.  Suddenly it was like a linebacker had been turned loose as he went forward full blast and then came out trotting with glee as he brought me the ¾ grown grouse.  Had he been able I’m sure he would have done a fist pump and a happy dance. 

Looks like a nice stretch of good weather with a few showers here and there and relatively mild temperatures.  The woodcock should be hatching out in numbers soon.  The good weather ahead will mean plenty of native woodcock for summer training.  If we can get another good stretch in late May and early June it will be a heck of summer and fall for grouse as well.  Makes me wish we had gotten Trip bred last winter.  We will definitely do it for next year.

Finally, here’s a picture of Rick Claxton’s dog Mike, a younger brother of Jack’s,  pointing a turkey in his yard in southern New Hampshire this morning.  The turkey hunters are definitely winning as the state fish and game dept. here in New Hampshire had an aggressive stocking program for turkeys a number of years ago.  I keep hoping for a good old fashion winter with 6 or 8 feet of snow and two weeks of temperature below zero to wipe them out up here, but global warming seems to have turned the North Country into turkey habitat.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Autumn Moon Wins Number Six

6X Champion Autumn Moon
According to a text message I got from Jack Harang this afternoon, Autumn Moon (Littermate to Wild Apple Jack) won his sixth championship today when he bested a field of 45 dogs at the US Complete Great Lakes Regional Championship.  This is his second win at this event.  His other titles include the 2008 Grand National Grouse Championship, The 2011 Lakes States Championship, 2010 New York State Grouse Championship, and the 2009 Michigan Woodcock Championship.  One of the great attributes of our dogs appears to be their competitive longevity.  Autumn Moon and Wild Apple Jack are now eight and they have both won a championship this spring.  Many dogs get hot for a year or two but few have the durability to stay at the top of their game as long as these two.

Another Day At the Office

Tony and I traveled over to the Mid Coast Maine field Trial yesterday and it turned out to be a good trip for most of the dogs.  Frankie, Trash, and LJ (in that order) won the puppy stake.  And then Frankie came back a couple hours later and won the derby with a woodcock find (probably the same one from the puppy as mentioned below).  Second in the derby went to Brian Breveleri with Gabe and 3rd went to Jazzy with John Adsit.  Not bad for only his second trip to a field trial.  Joe Dahl and Jeff Mahaney judged the puppy stake and Joe told us afterwards that Little Thuddy  and then Abbie were the next two pups.  LJ started a little slow (for him) and wasn't able to beat out Tony's two shags.  And Little Thuddy spent a little too much time running the mowed lanes and not attacking the cover as much as the three above him.

LJ was in the first brace and had a really nice find on a woodcock where we could see standing on an edge from about 100 yards away.  As we got to him, Trash who was braced with him came in and backed then the bird flew and so did the pups.  Shortly there after Trash found the same bird for her own find.

I missed Frankie's run in the puppy as I had to go run Jack.  The wind was blowing hard all day and it was almost impossible to hear the bells beyond 75 yards and Jack is usually well beyond that.  He did have a woodcock find but it was after time and I had to use the Garmin to find him.  Later in the day the wind subsided a bit and Chris Mathan had an afternoon she will long remember.  In the 7th brace Kit had a grouse and woodcock find to be the first dog of the day to finish with clean bird work and then she followed it up with a grouse find for Rita in 8th brace.  Those two performances held up and she took first with Kit and second with Rita.  Great work in a 21 dog wild bird stake that included a lot of really good dogs.

Except for the wind the weather was great.  They have a gun dog stake to run Sunday morning and another shooting dog stake to follow.  They have a great group of people, nice grounds, and put on a quality trial.  Word is the Joe McCarl and Steve Groy are coming up from Pennsylvania to judge the Championship on these grounds the last weekend in September.  Considering the bird that were moved and the grouse we herard drumming late in the day it should be a good trial to mark on your calendar.

The Big Thudd took a lot of pictures hopefully he'll share them when he gets back to "work" tomorrow.  Chris was also taking pictures and I'm sure she'll post them as well.