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, May 19, 2012

Grouse Nest

When we found this grouse nest last Wednesday we had hoped that she wasn't done laying eggs yet.  There were nine then and there were still nine today which leads us to believe that's all there will be.  A hen  grouse takes approximately 17 days to lay a clutch of 9 to 14 eggs and then 23 to 24 days to incubate them.  Shortly after they hatch she will move them in denser cover where they will be better protected from avian and ground predators.  Katie who has the most acute hearing of the four of us who went to check the nest this afternoon heard the hen sneak away as we approached.  We'll go back out every few days to check on her.  If we start counting from Wednesday, the chicks should hatch sometime around the 6th of June.

We found this grouse nest just by chance on Wednesday (see the post from 5/16 for details)

The lower picture gives you a better idea of just exactly how well hidden the nest is.  You can see some of the eggs under the left side of the log a couple of feet out from the stump if you look really carefully.  The little knoll is quite literally the bank of the woods road.  fortunately the road beyond the nest is really bad and their is no active logging in the area currently – and very little traffic of any kind.  I was actually standing right on the edge of the road when I took this picture.  We didn't stay long and with the temperature in the upper 70s today I'm sure we did no harm.

I was standing on the edge of the road when I took this picture.

On another note, the woodcock singing in the front yard was still at last night.  Thursday night as I was outside listening to him, a second woodcock flew through the yard.  It looked like another male as it was highlight against the still white cloudy sky.  Then yesterday we took a walk (w/o dogs) up behind the house and flushed a woodcock right next to one of the trials I use for training. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cover Hunting

So, we aren't running dogs because of the nesting birds, but that doesn't mean we're not looking for them.  As most of you surely know grouse cover is transitory.  There is window in our neck of the woods between the time when the cover is coming back from being cut to the point where it is too mature to be a productive place to find birds.  Covers that were just getting good 20 years ago are well past their prime.  The only solution is to keep looking for new covers.  Today it was supposed to be 75 and the lawn wasn't going to be dry enough to mow until late afternoon, so I called Tony and suggested we go for a drive to check out some spots that Tommy had told me about and another that I had seen on Google Earth that looked promising.  We drove into the first spot and walked up into the cover.  Tony was about to tel he thought this cover wouldn't work when a grouse started drumming.  We kept walking and then heard another and then at least one more.  We'll come back in the summer and run a dog or two and then we'll probably hunt it a few times this fall.  With a new cover like this it might take us a year or two to figure how to hunt and where the sweet spot.  Our current best covers took us about three years to figure out.  So now we had three grouse in the count and headed to another spot.  Along the was we saw a pretty good size bear on the side of the road.  At the next spot Tony went one way and I went another.  We met up down the road from the truck and were discussing what we'd seen when Tony pointed to the side of the road and I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  It was a grouse heading over the roadside bank into the cover.  She didn't flush so we walked over to where she'd been.  I looked down and there was her nest.  There were 9 eggs in the nest.  Six were in the center of the nest touching each other and the other three were spread out near the nest.  I took a picture with my phone but it didn't come out. We're going to check on her periodically to find out when the eggs hatch.  After that we checked out another spot then head home.  Along the way Tony spotted a small bull moose just of the side of the road.  I tried to get another phone picture but he ran into the woods before I had a chance to take it.  A little further along there was another grouse on the road.  I finally got a picture of that.  So, for the day it was 5 grouse, 9 grouse eggs, a bear, and a moose.  Next time I'll be sure to take the real camera!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Still Here!

I'm checking just a dusk each night to see if the male woodcock is still singing in my front yard.  As of last night he was still here ever hopeful – as am I  about this upcoming fall.  Although we've had some rain over the last week the temperatures have been relatively mild and the ten day forecast has things warming up even more and little rain in the next stretch.  Tony and I are planning to do some management work in our training cover this week.  We have access to a tiller that will run off the PTO on my tractor.  What we plan to do is turn over the soil along some of our larger interior trails which should make it easier for the woodcock to probe for worms.  These trails were created a number of years ago with a bulldozer as firebreaks when the state was doing some management work on the area.  The plan had been to burn the area but that never happened.  When the ground was first plowed up we often found borings in the trails.  Hopefully, I'll have pictures later in the week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wynot Ace

(Jack Harang and I talked the other day and he had the sad news that Wynot Ace has been diagnosed with lung cancer and although he is on medication and does not seem to be suffering yet, his days are numbered.  I thought I'd share this essay from the Spring 2009 issue of FTM with you as a tribute to the great dog Ace has been as a sire and as one fine bird dog.)

There are numerous dogs’ performances that stand out in my memory.  I saw a dog at Mortlach in 1998 run what had to be the epitome of a prairie all-age race where at times the dog was only a speck on the distant horizon — but always broke to the front and had four chicken finds in his hour.  My own dogs have also given me some memories both bad and good.  Diamond Solitaire ran a perfect 59 minutes in the New York Grouse Championship with three finds in the book when with a minute to go she busted a brood of grouse and chased them like a puppy.  Wild Apple Jack’s winning hour at the 2007 Grand National Grouse Championship is a thrill I will never forget.
      But some of the greatest performances don’t necessarily come during a trial.  My setter, Prime Rate, who wandered off this winter at the age of 15 and never came back, got into a flight of woodcock when he was still a puppy and must have had 15 finds in 45 minutes.  On every flush, Tony Bly and I put up multiple birds and walked some up getting to him.  To this day we call the spot the 100 Bird Cover, although we have not caught a similar flight in the ensuing years.  I finally had to snap the lead on the dog while he was pointing so we could get back to the truck before it got completely dark.
      In Texas for the last three seasons, some of the most memorable runs have been when Wild Apple Jack has been put down with his sire, Wynot Ace.  Jack Harang, who owns Ace, and I are happy to work dogs together and help each other out.  But when father and son are on the ground it gets a little competitive.  In one run near the end of this past season, our Garmins both beeped: Ace was on point 200 yards away to the right, while his son Jack was close to 800 yards away in the opposite direction.  We both came back with birds in hand.
      Late in the afternoon, on Valentine’s Day (2-14-09), Ace and Jack were put down in one of our favorite pastures on the Vest ranch.  Stacy Perkins and Matt Bell were riding with us.   Stacy had become intimately familiar with the coveys in this pasture during the season, but even he was amazed by what unfolded in the next hour and a half.
      Wild Apple Jack was first to score on a covey that was out feeding within a couple hundred yards of the trailer.  As we went on, Ace scored next with Jack coming in and backing from a distance.  With their competitive juices flowing, both dogs flew over the prairie until Jack came in and pointed a single with the old man backing.  When they went on Jack nailed another single and we lost track of Ace.  Jack had a third single and then we checked the Garmin to get a line on Ace.  He was only 50 yards away over a small hill pointing another single and had been there through two flushes and shots for his son.
      Back and forth it went with one pointing and the other backing as we rode on through the pasture.  We took them to water about halfway through the run.  As we left the tank, five mule deer flushed and ran right across in front of the dogs.  Both dogs saw them, but on this afternoon they only had one thing on their minds and we were soon rewarded with another covey find.  This time Ace had gone over a ridge and stopped.  Jack came in shortly and stopped right at the top of the ridge as he spotted Acea below.
      We turned and headed back toward the truck and trailer but the dogs hadn’t finished.  They handled a couple more finds before we got to the final act.  Ace pointed and Jack came in and backed from about 75 yards.  I went to Jack and Stacy and Jack Harang went to Ace.  The birds were running and both dogs were released to work the area as we headed downhill towards the edge of a small canyon a few hundred yards away.  Ace cast to the left and Jack to the right.  Both stopped and self-corrected a couple of times as they tried to pin the running birds. 
      Finally, right at the edge of the canyon, both dogs locked up solidly.  As we approached, the covey flushed out of the canyon bottom and rocketed up the other side out of gun range.  The sun was just about to dip below the western horizon as we got back to the truck.  The tally was 10 coveys pointed plus the singles as well as an eleventh covey that we rode up.  It was the best run of the season by any measurement.  Later that evening, as we rehashed the day, Jack Harang turned to me and said that when he is in a wheelchair in a nursing home and I want to know if his mind is still working clearly, all I’d have to do is mention 2/14/09 and the light in his eyes would tell me that he was still lucid.  It was definitely a performance the memory of which will not fade until the end.