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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grouse Trial Primer Part Eight

If you read Monday's post you know that in one workout Frankie and Jack combined for 18 finds on grouse and woodcock in just a little over an hour.  I assume many of you are envious that we have access to that quantity of wild birds, and might be led to believe that the abundance of wild birds is the reason that we have been able to develop some really top notch cover dog competitors.  It's definitely a big part of the equation but there's another part that isn't as glamorous or as exciting.  We are now six weeks away from the first cover dog trial that we'll run in in the fall and will start changing up our training strategy -- especially for the older dogs.

We have a number of covers that don't hold large numbers of birds and are open enough to let the dogs really run without fighting the dense cover that exists (especially this year) in most of out bird rich covers.  We could condition the dogs by roading them but that does not make them handle.  It is the covers we have that have something approximating a typical cover dog course that become more valuable as the summer progresses.  What we want is the dogs to run 1:15 to 1:30 where they might have two or three finds -- preferably on grouse.  On these runs we make sure they stay to the front and stay in bell range most of the time.  We also always run them with a bracemate to as closely as possible approximate an actual field trial brace.  

If you just road your dogs into shape, don't be surprised if they don't handle when you get to a trial.  And if you keep going to little bird corners and hack them around to get into birds don't be surprised when they potter around in every little piece of cover that they come across on a course.  You also can't hunt the dog every day for a long stretch before a big trial. You'll grind them down so they pace themselves and we all can get a little sloppy about dog manners when the long guns come out.  Whether you're hunting or training, you really need to have clear objectives in mind and be always working towards them.  The need to have dogs that will run to the extremes of a cover dog course with no let up for an hour is one of the reasons that very few cover dog professionals stay in it for the long haul.  More than one has had success and then gone on to other venues where the demands on the dogs are not as severe.  The point here is that if you are in the cover dog game to win, it's your job to bring the dog to the line readyto compete both physically and mentally.  

I was reminded of this last year at the Invitational when I had Jack ready physically by skijoring him into shape and running him in the snow, but he was not ready mentally to be under control and a part of the team which has always been one of his strong suits.  Something similar happened many years ago when I was getting him ready for the Puppy Classic which was held that year in Rhode Island.  he was too strong and not listening after a winter of conditioning in the snow with little or no work on handling to a course.  You never know how a dog is going to go on any given day, but you have to do your part to have them ready.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quick Monday Report

Only had time to run one brace of dogs this morning as I'm off to the airport to pick-up my granddaughter and her parents.  We took Jack and Frankie to one of our newer covers and in just over an hour Tony fired 8 times over Frankie and I fired ten times over Jack.  Three grouse were moved and the rest were woodcock.  It had rained all night and the woods were just dripping wet.  We were soaked to the bone but only complained a little as we were excited by the number of birds we found.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Little Thuddy's Big Day

At 5:32 this morning the sun was a huge red ball just at the top of the spruces as we headed for Red Barn with both Big and Little Thuddd in the truck.  His trainer had been bragging up the Little Thudster who had just spent a couple of days with the Big Thud getting spa treatments and generally being spoiled.  Tony seemed nervous as he chained smoked his way around the cover but Little Thuddy did him proud.  He started out with a perfectly executed stop-to-flush on a woodcock right off the breakaway then busted another a couple of minutes later.  Through the billows of smoke I watched as Little Thuddy ripped it up with boundless enthusiasm and was soon rewarded with a stop 40 or 50 yards away.  He was covered up and it was still dark enough that the auto-flash on the camera went off.  The trainer thrashed around in the dense cover until he got a bird up and Little Thuddy stood for it all with mature manners.
Little Thuddy on his first finished find of the morning.

As we went on Little Thuddy hit the cover hard and was rewarded with a few more finds.  The one in the picture below he had the directly off his nose and never moved when it lifted and flew out past the gallery of Tony, Thudd, and Marie.  His nicest find had him standing on on the edge of a bank with another woodcock in front of him.  It took us a few minutes to get to him and he was still high and tight with the bird still in front of him.

Little Thuddy with a woodcock directly in front of him.

On the find pictured below his proud trainer styled him up before flushing.  I will admit that after going home for parents' weekend and laying on the bed for a couple days Little Thuddy lost a step at about the one hour and 15 minute mark, but overall it was quite a show.    We then went to where Rigby got to show her stuff with four nice woodcock finds (one on a pair of birds).  LJ had a couple of his own and pointed a fawn that still had spots which were seen clearly when it broke cover and ran out in front of Katie and Marie.  The total for the day was 9 or 10 birds with Little Thuddy and another half dozen with LJ and Rigby. It was good morning coming shortly after a nice meal where Big Thud supplied the steaks, wine, scotch, and bread.  I think he expected a certain amount of ink as a quid pro quo for the food and drink, but really I would have had nice things to say about the Little Thudster even without the bribes.  Besides its great to see Tony with a dog that isn't all covered in long hair!!!!

Tony maybe a rookie as a pro, but he's an old hand a training championship caliber dogs, and if everything continues this may be yet another one.