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, July 6, 2012

6:00 am, 50 degrees

It's supposed to be in the high 80s this afternoon, so we started a little earlier than usual this morning.  We met at the gate at 5:45 and broke away the first brace at 6:05 when it was 50 degrees.  The first brace was Jack and Thuddy in sections 1 & 2.  Jack had to dig deep as the 3 woodcock and one brood of grouse were all right on the edge between the alder and other brushy cover and the spruce forest beyond. Little Thuddy had backs on the woodcock and got one of the grouse brood for himself.  The woodcock are definitely using our rototilled patches as most of them are perforated with borings.  As is usually the case in this cover the grouse broods seem to be transitioning out of the area.  The chicks may be far enough along that they are switching from a diet consisting of mostly to insects to one with more vegetive matter.  We walked up one woodcock in section two.

The second brace in section three had LJ and Trash combining for a woodcock find each, a single grouse, and a brood of grouse where they had separate birds pointed.  The single grouse was an interesting piece of work as LJ seemed to have the bird pointed but I couldn't get it up in the spruce thicket he was pointing into.  Trash was baking and when we sent them on LJ went about 50 feet and slammed into a nice point.  Trash backed and then when I walked in on him a woodcock got.  When we released them Trash had a stop to flush on the grouse.  We also walked up a woodcock.

The third brace ran in section four which is a jungle.  Frankie and Trip combined for three woodcock finds.  For a total 10 woodcock, a single grouse, and two broods of grouse.  Tommy called me when I was my way home to report that he had run Veronica in another of our covers and had 9 woodcock finds and four grouse.  I guess getting on early is well worth it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just another Day at Work

This turned out to be a non-productive but LJ looked good.

The fourth of July may be a holiday for most of you but up here in the North Woods it's just another day to get out and work dogs.  We did start a little later than usual because it rained until just before 8, but then we got out with three braces of dogs.  First up were LJ and Frankie.  I don't know if it was the rain or the humidity, but the scenting conditions seemed a little tough as both dogs bumped a woodcock early in their brace.  Then they settled down and had a couple of better finds with Frankie pointing a pair and then LJ pointed one briefly until Frankie got close and he took it out.  Almost back to the truck was their nicest piece of work as they had a divided find on a woodcock and we were able to get to both of them and keep them steady on the flush.

Little Thuddy on a nice back of Wild Apple Jack.

In the second brace Little Thuddy got to run with Jack again.  Jack took off from the truck and when the Garmin he was almost 300 yards away.  We found him standing on the edge of the clearing where Yogi stole out picnic basket last summer.  Little Thuddy came in and backed on sight.  I couldn't get a bird up so we let them relocate.  Jack moved up and pointed again then Little Thuddy stopped off to his left.  At least tow chicks got up in front of Jack and Little Thuddy had the hen pinned briefly but her protective behavior worked as he broke when she flushed in a thunder of wing beats and squaking to attract his attention.

I couldn't get a bird up in front of Trip and she showed her frustration by
breaking.  Fortunately I had anticipated the possibility.  After the rope brought
her up short I set her back firmly.
The third brace was Trash and Trip both ran hard in section four but neither produced a bird.  Tony needs to get his customers up here and weed whack the trails in section four -- it was kind of rough going.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2nd Training Report

Today was our first official training morning.  It involves meeting at the gate at 6:30 and driving into one of our training covers.  The first brace broke away just before 7:00 this morning and included Little Thuddy braced with Wild Apple Jack.  This is one of those situations where we feel a less experienced young dog can benefit from being run with a dog that knows his job.  They both did their part.  Jack had a find about 175 yards from the truck and as we got close Tony called Thuddy in and put him on a lead.  Jack was standing in a fairly open spot where Tony was able to put Thuddy in good position to see Jack and watch as I flushed.  And it took me quite awhile to get the woodcock in the air as it sat tight in some pretty dense cover.  Thuddy got a good look at it.  Jack's next stand was a brood of grouse and Thuddy was once again brought in and was handled into a back.  He got to see a few of the brood. Jack's next find was another brood and he was in a good opening for Thuddy to back again.  Both dogs stood and watched as one chick after another lifted from a small patch of cover in front of Jack as well as other spots more distant.  What was really good was when we released the dogs Thuddy dove into the patch of cover and froze into a really nice point.  When Tony stepped towards him a sleeper boiled out of the cover right in front of him.

Jack started running bigger and his next find was 180 yards away.  He was standing in open spruces and I waited for Tony and Thuddy.  On their way to me, Thuddy found his own grouse which he pointed before the single adult bird blew out in front of him.  Tony stopped him with the bellyband and then brought him over for another back.  There were at least two woodcock in front of Jack that had moved out of the thick alder cover to the relative coolness of the open spruce woods.  The brace ended up lasting almost an hour and a half with Little Thuddy benefitting from the experience of Jack.  He learned a couple of lessons today that will be reinforced over and over this summer as he gets worked.  First on Jack's find he got lessons about backing and where the birds are.  All his yardwork on heel, here, and whoa was reinforced as Tony kept him in the pocket and brought him in for his backs.  He also on a number of the finds got to see and or smell birds.

By the second brace it was already starting to get hot.  LJ and Frankie were braced together and ran well.  The bird work started with a stop to flush on a woodcock for Frankie.  This was followed by LJ pointing and Frankie backing although I'm sure he had a nose full of grouse as there was a big brood in front of them.  They broke on the flush and LJ went about ten feet and stopped again.  I got to him this time and snapped a lead on him and Tony tried to flush.  Just as he was coming back to us another chick flushed right over his head out of a small fir tree.  Knowing that he had the lead on LJ remained steady for the flush.  A little further on Frankie went on point and Tony couldn't get anything up.  Frankie relocated and still no birds.  LJ came across about 20 yards in front of Frankie and disappeared into the cover.  When I say disappeared, I really mean it.  As I walked to where I thought he was I flushed some of the brood and then his bell started up right in front of me.  I was standing in a chest high patch of raspberry canes and still couldn't see the dog until he burst out into one of our trails.  He went on a little bit and pointed the rest of the brood just as Frankie came in from the side and pointed as well.

After that find Frankie went forward to the right and LJ went to the left which took him into the alders down along the brook.  He stopped again and I was able to get to him, snap the lead to him, and then flush our third brood of grouse during this brace.  Then the Garmins buzzed and Frankie was on point 135 yards away.  Fortunately we had two as Tony's choose this moment to get a little cranky.  It had the distance the same as mine but his arrow was pointing in the opposite direction.  We knew Frankie was to our front and followed my arrow.  His arrow kept pointing in the wrong direction but counted down the yardage accurately.  When we found Frankie, I brought LJ in for a back and then Tony flushed a woodcock.  Just before we got back to the truck both dogs pointed independently in a ditch between the truck and the brook.  The bottom of the ditch has been weed-wacked but the rest of the cover around it is jungle-like.  This is a place where we have had numerous non-productives over the years and then every once in a while some dog will pin the damn ditch bird.  Today was not the day.

On the way out we saw a single grouse in the road and a doe with her spotted fawn.  The doe jumped straight into the woods an disappeared while the fawn dig a hundred yard dash straight down the road as we sat in the truck and watched.  When I got back home there was a grouse in the driveway less than 50 yards from the kennel – they're everywhere!!!  So, the official count for the two braces this morning was five broods of grouse, a single grouse, four woodcock on three finds, and two road grouse counting the one at the house.  School tomorrow – Wednesday I'll try to remember the camera.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Grouse Trial Primer Part Six

The Rope

One way to control a young dog around birds is with the bellyband.  By putting an e-collar on the dogs flank during heel and whoa drills in the yard you can transition from the lead to the collar rather quickly.  Then, when the dog is in the woods it’s easy to push the button to get the dog to stop when it’s starting to crowd a bird, needs to stop to flush on a bumped bird, and later when you want to stop it from breaking after the shot.  The big problem with the bellyband is that you can easily make a young dog too cautious around birds which can lead to non-productives.  In the worse case scenario a dog might start blinking birds to avoid getting shocked.

If you don’t feel like you and/or your dog are ready for the bellyband, there is a simple alternative – a short piece of rope.  Before I get to that I have a couple of horror stories to relate.  The first has to do with attaching a light drag rope to a dog’s collar.  I know of at least one incident where a dog was running in the woods with a rope attached to its collar, the rope hung up and the dog’s neck was broken.  When Wild Apple Jack’s dam was a derby I had her wearing a harness and dragging about 40 feet of heavy polypro rope.  The rope was intended to slow her down so I could keep her close and get a hold of her when she pointed.  It had worked effectively a number of times.  However, on a Saturday I took her for a run in a new spot and all was going well until the bell just seemed to stop.  This was before reliable tracking devices that you could carry in the woods and by the time I realized she was not on point she was long gone.  We found her with the rope wrapped around a blowdown two days later.  So, that was the end of having a dog drag a long heavy rope in the woods even when it’s attached to a harness.  On another occasion, a friend was running a promising young dog and hitched a couple of lengths of logging chain to the harness.  That dog was able to drag them through the cover but the problem came when he went over a bank to get a drink of water and the water’s edge went straight down to a murky depth of 25 – 30 feet.  We weren’t sure where he went in and there was no way we could dive in to find him.

So, when I do run a rope, it’s always with a harness and I use a light piece of polypro that is stiff enough that it doesn’t whip around brush and saplings and short enough that it really doesn’t slow the dog down much.  This rope makes it a lot easier to get a hold of the dog when it’s on point.  If you’re working alone you can throw a quick hitch around the nearest tree or bush and the dog is brought up short if it tries to follow you in on the flush or tries to break when the bird goes.  I usually don’t say much if anything in these situations – I let the rope do it’s work just like I did with the piggin’ string.  Another strategy I use once the dog is staunch is to carry a six-foot rope lead and snap it on the dog’s collar and anchor it to something before I flush.  It’s a pretty stubborn dog that doesn’t quickly learn that there is no point (pun intended) trying to creep in or chase at the flush when it’s tied to something solid.  After a few times with this you can start setting the dog back just enough to take the pressure off the rope.  When the dog starts standing on its own without being brought up short by the rope you can stop tying it up every time and have the rope handy as a flushing whip if (when) the dog does break again.

Let the Training Begin

The endless hours of yardwork are behind us and as July 1st rapidly approaches we spent one final day mowing and weed whacking in Red Barn Friday.  In the course of working we flushed one woodcock from the side of the trail as we passed through section two.  Tony flushed a good size brood of grouse while working in section three.  Next week we’ll start running dogs on a regular schedule.