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, August 24, 2012

There Were Grouse Everywhere

Sometimes you zig and the grouse zag.  It's like that movie from the 60s "The Endless Summer" -- every time they would get to a new beach that was supposed to have super surf the ocean would be like a mill pond and some local would say you should have been here yesterday (or last week).  That's the way it can often be with grouse.  It's hard to anticipate where they are going to be when.  But you should have been here today.  This morning we moved 58 grouse and 5 woodcock.  Tony got so excited on one mega-brood (might have been two together) that he fired three times as grouse got up in waves of four or five.  He claimed a real count of fifteen grouse in that one bunch.  We had multiple other broods as well as a number of singles.  Every dog we ran had grouse work and four had woodcock as well.

In the first brace both Trip and Bertha had finds on broods and then Trip had two woodcock finds back near the truck.  Bertha also had a single grouse just before we picked up.  Then LJ and Trash ran in the Bad Back Cover (So named because a couple of years ago during the season I took Jack in there and Tony's back was so bad he stood by the truck.  It turned out to be like a driven shoot with me flushing a bunch grouse in front of Jack and sending them out over the Landing where Tony fired away but was in so much pain that he couldn't swing right -- at least thats' what he claimed -- and the birds flew passed unharmed.) Trash went up and had a woodcock and then multiple grouse finds.  LJ went low and had a pair of grouse on one find and two other grouse finds on singles.

Then along the road we had a brood and let Trash out to work them and she had multiple finds as the birds had scattered on both sides of the road.  Jack and Rigby were the last brace and they each had a grouse and a woodcock during a good hour run.  On the way back, we found another brood along the road and this time Bertha got multiple finds.  By the time we got out of the woods and got to the restaurant in town it was too late for breakfast and we had to settle for the Friday lunch special -- Lobster rolls.  Yep, you should have been here today!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finding New Cover

It's sort of a long running joke between Tony and me that we are driving by more good cover than we actually hunt and train in.  So far this summer we've found three new covers.  One was by chance as we found a number of birds in a cut as we passed through it to go in to an old farm out in the middle of the woods.  When we got back to the truck the dogs crossed the road and found even more birds -- suddenly we had a whole new cover.  We now regularly find woodcock on the lower parts of it and one time we moved three broods of grouse as explored up into the cut.  The other new cover is one that Tommy told us about awhile ago, but we just hadn't made the effort to go to it.  A couple of other places we tried this summer didn't work out.  There are three things that seem to be essential to finding productive cover at this time of year.  The most important is that the cut have the right age class of new growth.  Poplar regeneration is traditionally what the biologists talk about but I think that is in part because much of the research is done in the Upper Midwest where large clear cuts often come back almost exclusively in poplar.  Here we're finding that the birds are in a variety of hardwood whips that can be a lot bigger than you might expect.  Many of the cuts we're now working were selective cut and now have larger trees in islands of new growth.  The ground in these islands is almost clean of growth due to the density of the canopy.  Some of these cuts are relatively dry and look great but don't have many birds in them.  It's when you find seeps, puddles, and small brooks that we find the majority of the birds -- both grouse and woodcock.  Probably the most important aspect of these cuts is that they were "chipper jobs."  That means they took out the whole trees and chipped them on the landing leaving almost no slash in the woods.  Cuts where they leave the slash in the woods are downright dangerous to run a dog in and you can barely walk through them without breaking an ankle.  If you can find a cut with these three aspects you will most likely find birds.

Yesterday we worked in two places that are some of our "got to" covers when we're training and the third was a new area that turned out to be a possible winner.   LJ and Frankie ran in one of the known sweet spots with Frankie finding 5 woodcock and LJ 2 with a couple of backs.  We then went on to another cover just down the road and Jack and the Little Thudster ran together.  Tony made a bit of a wrong turn and got out of the best of the cover but Thuddy still found 2 woodcock and 2 grouse.  I think Jack knew exactly where to go as he was soon picking birds off one right after another having 8 woodcock finds and I walked up another one.  After two braces we had 18 woodcock and 2 grouse.  Not a bad start to the morning.

When it was time to run Trip and Bee we decided to check another spot that we had just hit the edge of last fall when we were hunting.  We moved a couple grouse but really didn't start getting into the good stuff until it was time to head back to the truck.  This time we went straight into the section we thought might be productive.  Again we got separated but when we joined up deep in the cover Bee and Trip had carded the same tallies -- 3 woodcock and a brood of grouse with around 6 grouse in each brood.  Then Bee busted a grouse right in front of us that came out right at me, went over my head, and then flew straight down the skidder trail I was standing in.  It seems like they never do that during the season.  So the total for the "new" cover was 6 woodcock and 13 grouse for a morning total of 24 woodcock and 15 grouse.  The new cover fit the description above to a "T" with open skidder trails surrounding islands of new growth with wet spots in many of the islands. I'm sure glad I have a blank gun that shoots 209 primers because I've almost finished second tray of 100 primers this summer.  I think I better buy some more shells for this fall.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boots and Birds

For way more years then I'm willing to admit, I've worn the same boots -- Danner Sierras uninsulated boots.  I have worn out a number of pairs but they fit well and gave great support.  So, when it came time to replace my current pair that had started leaking, Tommy, who may spend even more time in the woods chasing his bear dogs and guiding that Tony and I do with our bird dogs, recommended that I try a pair of Meindl boots.  I wanted another pair of Danners but it turns out they now only make the Sierra with 200 grams of thinsulate and the last thing you need grouse and woodcock hunting is insulated feet.  Danner still makes a very similar boot that they call the "Grouse Boot" but it has the "bobbed" sole and I found those soles really slippery in the woods when I tried tehm once before.  So, I went to Cabela's in April and bought a pair of light weight Meindls made in Vietnam.  They fit well and lasted almost through the summer before one then both boots started to leak.  Cabela's was really good about giving me a full refund I also returned my last pair of Sierras that had also started to leak (but that was after much use).  They gave me $99.00 for the Sierras since they were a discontinued boot.  So, I decided to get the Meindl Denalis which are made In Germany.  They're a little heavy, more like a tall hiking boot but feel really solid.  I also picked up a pair of Danner Pronghorns (made in China) the Pronghorns leaked the first time I wore them.   Took those back and bought a pair of Cabela's rubber boots.  I wore those for two hours this morning and they were fine.  Then switched to the Meindl Denalis for the last brace and really like them.  We'll see how they hold up because they will surely take a beating in the next three or four months.

So, with dry feet this morning, Tony and I worked three braces of dogs.  Jack and the Little Thudster were in the first brace.  Jack had four woodcock finds and backed Thuddy on a stop-to-flush on a pair of grouse.  The Little Thudster went on to have a really nice broke grouse find on his own but showed he's still a young dog today (We walked up some grouse as well.)  The last three times I've seen him he's looked like a star pupil -- today he was feeling his oats and needed quite a bit of "training".  But that's to be expected with a young dog.  Even the seasoned campaigners need to be reminded about things once in a while.  What you hope for with a high-flying fall derby is that they have their off days during training and not during a trial.  Thuddy's got the snap on the ground and always seems to find birds but putting it all together in a trial is asking a lot of derbies especially those that weren't redshirted and born in "January."  LJ and Thuddy were both spring puppies (LJ was born early May not sure about Thuddy) and those months between "January" and May can make a difference in maturity come this fall.

The next brace was LJ and Bee and they had four woodcock and grouse each just down the road from where we ran Jack and Thuddy.  Most of the birds were way up on the hillside.   It keeps amazing me how high up on the sides of mountains and ridges we are finding woodcock this summer.

For the last brace we ran Trip and Bertha at the spot where we had found the grouse nest this spring (check some of the May blog posts for details).  Bertha is making good progress on the ground as she is running herself into shape.  They started off by pointing a pair of grouse right off the road.  And then Trip dug out a woodcock up in the dry spruces where I was expecting a grouse.  On the way back to the truck Bertha pointed a third grouse.  For the morning we had 13 woodcock and an even dozen grouse.  The temperature was in the high 40s when we started at 6:00 am and only up into the mid-50s by the time we headed out for breakfast -- a good day for working dogs.