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, September 6, 2012


Alpha from Gramin is both GPS and e-collar in one.
The Garmin ALPHA arrived yesterday afternoon and I messed around with it enough to understand the controls, threw it on the charger overnight and took it with me for this morning's training session.  I used it on all three dogs this morning.  So with about three hours of use, I'll give you my first impressions.  First of all it worked just like I expected considering that I have been using Tri-Tronics e-collars for 20+ years and got an Astro 220 shortly after they came out.  The three buttons across the top of the screen run the e-collar functions with the left button for monetary stimulation, the center one for continuous stimulation and the one on the right is the tone button.  I'm a big advocate of using the tone before I shock a dog.  Most of my dogs learn to respond to the tone without stimulation, so I was glad it was included.  It was easy to use the touch screen to raise or lower the level of stimulation.  I'm used to using a Pro 500 which has low, medium, and high stimulation on each of 6 levels to give you 18 levels of stimulation.  The ALPHA has 18 levels of stimulation which I assume basically correspond. Other than the on/off button on the right side of the unit everything else works from the touch screen.

If you have a touch screen phone or computer pad you'll find the screen works instinctively.  For example, if you're in the compass mode and you want the dog information screen you just touch the dog's name and you're there.  Various icons appear on the screen and are fairly easy to interpret.  For those who are already using an Astro navigating around the ALPHA will be easy as the functions all seem to be in the same place.  When I wanted to switch the collar to "pointing dog" I touched the dogs name on the compass screen which took me to the "dog information" screen, then I touched the menu icon and there was the "change dog unit type" function right where I expected it to be.  I'm fairly adept with technology but the transition to the ALPHA this morning was even easy than I expected.

The convenience of having only one collar and one handheld device may be the best feature of the unit.  I'm used to having the Astro in my shirt pocket on a lanyard and the Tri-Tronics transmitter in a holster hanging from a strap. The ALPHA is a little bigger than the Astro but still fits in a shirt pocket.  The other really good point is the fact that the handheld now runs on a rechargeable battery.  I turned the ALPHA on at 5:30 this morning and 7 hours later it still has 65% of its battery life.  So, if I was turning it on and off between covers or when I finished running dogs this morning the battery would be good for quite a while.  I also like the fact that it gives you an actual percentage of battery left.  With the Astro I got caught a couple of times with a low battery and reduced function because I wasn't sure how much battery I actually had left.  Also the Astro 320 is pretty battery intensive.  I switch it to Lithiums but I've gone through a bunch of batteries this summer.

I do have one big complaint.  The ALPHA is not compatible with the DC - 30 and DC - 40 collars.  One thing I always try to do when we are running two dogs is have both dogs in my Astro.  This proved a really valuable practice this summer when Frankie went over a hill and Tony went after him.  I was able to go back to the truck and track the dog until I got quite close on another road with the truck.  Instead of having to lead Frankie 3/4s of a mile back to the truck I was about 150 yards away when I blew the horn.  I'm not sure I can convince Tony to move up as it's taken quite a bit of tutoring to get him comfortable with the Astro.   Also he frequently has a second e-collar on a dog's belly and the ALPHA collar might be a little much for that use.

The ALPHA does have a really interesting feature that should appeal to hunters and trainers who work with a partner.  Not only will the ALPHA track a bunch of collars, it will also track other handhelds.  One thing I do miss with the ALPHA is the Birdseye satellite maps that I have on my Astro 320, so that will be my first upgrade.  

For field trialers I would have to assume that the ALPHA collars will not be allowed as they are e-collars as well as GPS, but as a training/hunting device my first impression is the ALPHA will be a great tool.  It will definitely be in use for the rest of the fall and I'll report back when I've had more experience with it.  We're also going to put it on one of Tommy's hounds as soon as the baiting season is over.

Oh, by the way, we moved 15 grouse and 10 woodcock this morning while I was testing out the ALPHA.  Jack was feeling his oats in Red Barn and was close to 500 yards away in heavy cover at one point and I never lost contact.  That may be due in part to the longer antenna on the collar which has a bright orange cap on the end of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to Work

Little Thuddy earlier this summer.

After getting home around 1:00 Monday morning, yesterday was a bit of a recovery day for me and the dogs.  The only dog I ran yesterday was Trip who got left home over the weekend.  We moved 5 grouse up behind the house with her late in the morning.

Today, Tony and I were back to work.  We met at the church at 6 and headed out to run some dogs and scout some new covers.  The first cover was a new one and we moved 8 grouse and a woodcock with Trip and Bee.  It will definitely go on the list for the fall.  We then went into the Bad Back Cover with LJ and Frankie and moved 9 more grouse and another woodcock.

Then it was the Little Thudster's turn in what we are going to call the Dead Tree Cover.  We had never been in this cover and had marked it last spring when we were working dogs down the road from this spot.  Thuddy started out with a really nice limb find on a woodcock.  Then he bumped a woodcock and then he did something that he has been having trouble doing -- he had a broke find on a grouse that was in a tree over his head.  Then as if to prove it wasn't a fluke he had a second find on a brood that was all around him as well as one right over his head in a tree that he was staring up at.  He never moved as birds flushed all around him.  I think there was a total of 6.  Tony and I finished the morning with 27 grouse and 4 woodcock.

We then went back to the house to work the three sisters in the bird field they all did well.  I came home and Tony went off to run Rigby in Red Barn where she had two nice woodcock finds in a 45 minute run.

I had to laugh this weekend as one guy suggested that I might be doubling our numbers just to make for good reading.  I assured him that the numbers were accurate.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Wild Apple LJ on a find back in July.
It was a good weekend over in McAdam, New Brunswick at the inaugural running of the Maritime Open Grouse Classic and Bob Little deserves a big thank you for doing the lion's share of the work to make this happen.  Originally, the trial was to take place on other grounds where the course were already established but that plan changed and Bob laid out three relatively even and fair one hour courses.  Had he been able to control the weather we would have been able to see a lot more birds.  The warm temperatures and blue bird sky made it tough for the Classic on Saturday The winner and runner-up -- Magic Mist Bandit (Dahl) and Peace Dale Duke (Frissella) -- came out of the first brace with a number of the other dogs having trouble digging out birds as the day warmed.

Sunday morning was still warm and dry with the judges only giving out two of the three placements in the 12 dog 1/2 hour shooting dog (Bear River Shea, first -- Beech Ridge Abigail, second).  Then the weather changed after lunch with a couple of light showers and suddenly there were birds around.  Out of the seven young dogs in the derby at least five of them had chances on birds.  Winning a seven dog derby stake, in some ways, isn't really a big deal, but in other ways it is.  Wild Apple LJ won in convincing fashion with a strong race and two broke woodcock finds one of which was out on the limb and he was found standing in open woods by his scout with a woodcock coming up in clear view.  This is LJ's fourth start in a field trial.  He ran three times as a puppy and placed twice.  This weekend was his first go as a derby and now he's qualified for all open and amateur cover dog championships except the Grand and the Lake States (those two require a shooting dog placement).  So, the pressure is off and the important reason for running derbies is accomplished.  I'll still run him in the woodcock futurity, the Leslie Anderson, and possibly over in Fryeburg where they're holding a wild bird derby in conjunction with the Northern New England Woodcock Championship.  Now though if the wheels start coming off or LJ needs to be corrected during a trial the temptation to overlook something because he's still not qualified is gone.  Now we just run for the fun and the glory.

If I had any doubt about wanting to repeat the breeding of Jack and Trip (which I didn't) I definitely want a chance to get another LJ after seeing him this weekend.  In fact, I'm thinking of finding a bitch and getting some LJ puppies this winter as well.  A mistake I made with Jack was I waited to breed him myself assuming that after he won the Grand I would be able to build the kennel with stud fee puppies.  But for whatever reason we have not had the opportunity to get a lot of Jack puppies out there.  My fault and I'm going to try and make sure that doesn't happen again with LJ.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Quick note from McAdam, New Brunswick.  Maritime Open Grouse Classic -- winner Magic Mist Bandit -- Joe Dahl -- Runner-up Peacedale Duke -- Richie Frisella.  Both dogs ran in the first brace Bandit had a woodcock and Duke had a grouse.  They backed each other on the finds.  As the day progressed it got warmer and birds were hard to come by.  Wild Apple Jack ran in the last brace and went birdless although he stood at the end of the hour and a bird came out that neither I nor the judge saw or heard.  As of noon time they had four braces of the 30 minute shooting dog done with one dog -- Bear River Shea with Bob Little having a bird in the first brace.  There's two more braces to go and then the derby will follow.  It's not as warm today and it's starting to cloud up -- should help the derbies.