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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Testing 1, 2, 3!!!

Frankie on a find this morning.  
It's been coming for a while now and I've just been biding my time giving LJ enough rope to hang himself.  LJ was born May 4, 2011 which makes him just a little over 15 months old.  We shot a bunch of birds for him last fall and he has literally pointed more than 100 wild birds this past spring and this summer, and he was getting close to being broke with very little pressure.  You have to think of a 15 month old puppy/derby like a teenager.  They're going to follow the rules for a while and then they're going to rebel.  Unfortunately our society frowns on knocking a little sense into our kids but there comes a time in most young dog's training when you have to be willing to lower the boom.  For the last week or two LJ has been getting cute with the woodcock he's pointed, often moving up when I am going to him but not flushing the bird.  Tony is a big proponent of the bellyband and would most likely have already started using it on LJ, I think it is a great tool but has the potential to make a dog too cautious or increase un-productives.  So, I don't like to use it until a dog is well on the way to being broke and knows that it's not the only solution.  

So, today LJ pointed a couple of birds and then moved up and bumped them right in front of me, I also caught him a couple of times moving after he established point.  When you work in a bird field this is a relatively easy problem to work on but when you train on wild birds you have to catch the dog in the right situation.  Each of the times I caught LJ today the punishment got a little more serious.  Starting with picking him up by the collar and flank and setting him back and ending with some pretty serious whacks with a lead.  If you'd seen him after these corrections you'd know that I didn't even hurt his feelings as he went on after each incident with the same boldness he usually has.  When I run him Friday, I'll take a flushing whip with me.

It's not that I'm opposed to using an e-collar on the dog's neck and/or belly, it's just that they know when they have it on and when they don't.  If you want to field trial a young dog it has to realize that corrections are possible whether there's an e-collar or not.  Over the years I've seen too many trial-wise dogs that have taken advantage of the opportunity to screw their handlers, I've had some myself.  I especially remember a setter I had that got me good at the New York Grouse one year.  She'd already had 3 or 4 perfect finds and we were just deadheading to burn up the last couple of minutes of the hour when she ran into a swale full of ferns and busted a brood of grouse.  Had she stopped to flush, she might have still been in the money.  Instead, she chased the birds barking like a puppy.  She was a bit of a black-hearted bitch anyways and my last setter.  The pointers I've raised since all know that I will get physical with them when I need to.  

The one thing that all of them needed was to understand what was expected of them and then they would stand and take whatever correction I had for them.  But you should never do it arbitrarily, or with real anger.  It should always be controlled and as soon as possible after the infraction so they know what they're being punished for.  That's why today was good for LJ.  He screwed up right in front of me and stoically took what I had to dish out then went on about his work.  When I got home today, I dug the flushing whip out of the garage and put in the truck.  The one I have has a second thick strap on it that makes a good popping noise when you use it.  An old trainer once wrote or told me -- always whip them up not down.  I usually lift the dog up by the collar and give him a few whacks on the chest and then style him up.  A couple times today the bird sat through the correction and I was able to flush it and fire with LJ standing tall.  There are always things that you have to work on with a young dog, that's why we call it training.  You also have to expect them to screw up and be ready to correct them when you catch them.  You never gain by letting a dog get away with something, even if you're in a trial and you know the judge didn't see it.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool and Clear

Dave Hawke and Tony running dogs this morning

Finally, we got some heavy rains during the night as a front came through and moved out the hot and humid weather we've been having.  Temperatures tonight are expected to be in the mid-40s that is my kind of weather.  This morning we headed for the orchard to run the first pair of dogs and expected woodcock in all the usual places only to be a bit disappointed at first.  LJ and Dave's dog Ginger ran in the first brace and didn't find any birds in the lower part of the cover.  Things changed up on top as Ginger had a nice find and then LJ had one way to the front that moved out on him and Ginger came in and pointed as well.  LJ almost immediately had a second woodcock in under the old apple trees and then a third one down on the edge of a big mowed field.  As we headed back to the trucks LJ had another woodcock up on the edge of area where the land owner did some clearing as part of the management plan for the area.  As we got almost back to the trucks both LJ and Ginger had finds in a stretch of cover they had blown by on the way out as they raced far to the front on the skidder road that cuts through the cover.  Final count was 8 woodcock -- 7 pointed and one walked up.

The second brace was Trip and Frankie and we took them far off the road into a cover that had long ago been a farm and now has a camp in it.  We had to go way to the bottom of the cover to find a few woodcock as Trip and Frankie each had one about 50 yards apart and then I walked up one which flew and landed right in front of Frankie for a little bonus bird work.  Shortly there after Trip had her second find to give us a total of four woodcock deep in the cover.  When we got back to the trucks Frankie hunted down along the road and had a really nice find on a woodcock to give his his second find and raise the woodcock count to 13 for the morning after two braces.  At one point Frankie stop well to the right of the trail we were on and I went forward as Dave and Tony followed the Garmin to Frankie.  When then released him he ran forward up the trail until he passed me and then began to hunt to the front again.  I could just barely hear Tony behind me calling for Frankie which brought up one of the fine points of judging and handling in grouse trials.  It is my contention that our dogs are highly competitive and do not like to be behind the forward dog and handler.  I expect my dogs to regain the front when they are released in a trial.  In fact, it is one of my pet peeves when judging when a handler gets behind and keeps calling a dog back to him or her.  Often what you end up with is a dog the runs to the front on the course and then gets reeled back in.  forcing the dog to run up and down the path to keep it with you only makes you and the dog look bad.  The forward jude should put someone from the gallery on the dog until the handler catches up.  In fact, whenever possible I try to have someone in the gallery who knows my dogs always stay with the forward party, carry a blank gun, and offer to keep an eye on the dog until I catch up.  Tony thought Frankie should have returned to the rear when he was called although I could barely hear Tony yelling and I'm sure Frankie, who was 100 yards further away with Tony's big loud bell strapped to him couldn't hear him at all.  So what the rear judge would have been led to believe (if there had been one today) was that Frankie was being non-responsive.

The next brace was the grouse brace with Dave's puppy Daisy and Tony running the Bilodeau's dog Bertha.  We started out working them along the road where we had found woodcock recently but both these dogs lack a lot of experience and found the road to much of a temptation.  So, we headed into a cut and followed a skidder road up the hillside.  Daisy put up the first brood with to separate stops.  Then further up the hill Bertha was in the cover and a really big brood of grouse blew out like a covey of giant quail.  She came back through and put a couple of stragglers in the air.  One came out and flew right down the skidder road offering what would have been a pretty easy shot attempt.  Bertha runs with more animation every time I see her and the grouse today really caused her to shift up a gear.  On the way out Daisy pointed (briefly) another brood.  I really don't have an accurate count but the two small broods were three or four and the big may have been as many as ten so if this was a field trial we'd probably report 18 grouse moved on the brace and we wouldn't be exaggerating by much.

Tony then ran Bee who had a couple of unproductives including the one pictured below.  In the hunting season Tony and Bee's owner Lloyd Carney run her with a orange vest and you can see why in this picture.

Tony and Dave went off to work more dogs in the cool weather of the day while I came home to clean up for a doctor's appointment the afternoon.  This evening we're planning to work some of the young dogs in the bird field.

Sometimes it can be really hard to see a dog in heavy cover.  Can you see Bee in this image?