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.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

North American Woodcock Championship Day 1

We ran six braces today.  Got some good bird work in the first three braces but it got quite hot in the afternoon making it very tough on the dogs.  In the first brace we moved three grouse and three woodcock with both Whynot Belle and Richfield Silver Lining finishing clean.

In the second brace Beechridge Abigail and Hard Driving Rita had stop to flushes on pairs of grouse.

In the third brace Chasehill Ben Franklin had three grouse finds and Elhew Alexandra was picked up for failing to back.

After lunch the sun broke through and the heat (near 80) was the winner.  Magic Mist Charlie hunted hard but got picked up on a woodcock Elhew Wildfire was picked up by the handler near the 30 minute mark.

Handlers elected to pick up early in both the 5th and 6th braces.

Five more today in what is forecast to be cooler weather.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Judging Assignment

One of the many aspects of the field trial game is getting asked to judge.  Some guys love it and seek out judging assignments.  Personally I'd rather run my dogs, but once in awhile I say yes.  I've judge a number of different breeds in a wide range of venues, but mostly I get asked to judge in the woods.  I think a lot of people make judging too difficult and complicated.  Your job is to pick out the top one, two, or three dogs out of the dogs that entered.  If none of the dogs perform at what you consider a championship level then you revert it to a shooting dog (or all-age) stake.  I know what I want to see and I pick the dogs that come closest to that ideal.  In all the times I've judged I can't remember having a serious disagreement with a judging partner although there's been a couple a times that I've turned down judging assignments because I didn't think I'd get along with the judge they already had.  At the end of each brace you take a couple of minutes to talk about what you saw, what you liked, and what you didn't like, decide if you could use either dog and then go on to the next brace and repeat the process until you're done.  There should be no big rehashing of all the performances at the end as you have been carrying dogs from the beginning and replacing them when something better comes along.  Some handlers will try to work the judges and give them explanations of what the dog just did.  I never listen.  It's just about the dogs.  I'll help a handler find a dog, even remind him or her to keep the dog to the front, suggest they slow down and let the dog hunt -- I'm judging the dogs and often the handlers are their own dog's worst enemy.

So, today we head up to New Brunswick where Tony and I are judging the North American Woodcock Championship.  In 25 years of going to trials together, this will be the first time that we have judged together.  It should be interesting.  Sunday we have 4 dogs in the Woodcock Futurity -- LJ, Frankie, Trash, and Little Thuddy.  If I have Internet service at the motel I'll file a report from the trial tomorrow and Saturday.  If not, my next post will be Sunday night.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Redundancy of Systems

My Dog Training Gear bag was getting a little out of control so I pulled everything out to rearrange it.  
Some people like to brag about the fact that they don't use an e-collar or don't believe in tracking devices.  For me they are all tools that have helped me have better dogs and more fun training and hunting.  I can remember my first big running setter, Stokely's Diablo Buddy.  I lost him on point one day for over 45 minutes and kept thinking the worst as we were on an old farm that might have had an open well that I didn't know about.  I finally found him and the woodcock he was pointing was still there.  All the latest electronics are great and I never turn a dog loose without an e-collar and a GPS and now that I have the Alpha it's an all in one.  This morning we were in a relatively new cover that we don't know very well and LJ went on point about 100 yards down hill from us.  With out the GPS it might have taken us too long to find a young dog that is close to being broke, but we went right to him and flushed a woodcock.  However, the problem with electronics is there are always certain reliability issues and sometimes people forget to charge units.  That's when its important to have a redundancy of systems -- at least two of everything.  As you can see from the picture above, I have at least that.  There's my original Astro 220, the 320, and the Alpha.  There's a DC-30, a DC-40, and one Alpha collar.  There's a Tri-tronics Pro 500 and a Pro 200 with three G-3 collars.  There's my Gun-x primer blank pistol and my old 32 that I only use in trials (It's actually one I swapped for with Mike Flewelling when he agreed to plate mine.  I then one a couple of championships with it and Mike and I decided it would be appropriate for me to keep it).  There's 2 orange reflector collars that I use in trials and now that I have the Alpha am using in training for a bell collar.  Then in the upper right corner of the picture are a few (actually 13) of my bells.  I have some others that are with Mike for repair as my dogs seem to be a little hard on the equipment.  In addition, there are pliers and two hemostats, scissors, gloves, a lead, surveyor's tape, a stopwatch for judging, a flashlight (that proved invaluable when I had to crawl under Tony's FORD and re-attach the transfer case linkage), blanks and primers, batteries, and finally there's the plastic box with assorted parts and pieces from long gone gear as well as a few tools.

You may think this is kind of excessive but it's amazing how often we need something from the bag.  Yesterday Tony's Astro seemed to be getting confused so he grabbed one of my spares and I took his home to re-porgram it.  His spare DC-30 died last week and the replacement hasn't come back yet so this morning when his Astro (actually he still has mine as his was sitting on my desk where I had attached it to my computer) beeped, and came up with one of those red warning boxes he realized his collar was about to run out of battery.  When we got back to the truck I lent him mine.  If you just have one dog and run in wide open country you probably never break anything.  We run anywhere from 6 to 10 dogs a day and our equipment takes a pounding from the cover.  Redundancy isn't just good, it's mandatory if you want to consistently get things done with the dogs.

Mike "Booker" Groy is up training with us for a few days and we've been showing him and his dogs a lot of birds.  This morning in three braces we moved 34 grouse and 10 woodcock.  His dog Shine started with a back (pictured below) and then went on to have a 2 grouse and 2 woodcock finds.

One of the dogs we ran today was Bertha (pictured below on the tailgate after a good work out).  She had a nice woodcock find and a couple of grouse contacts.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cover Hunting

Google Earth is a great way to find new covers once you know what they look like.
Yesterday Tommy called to tell me that he had run Veronica in a new spot that morning and moved six grouse.  He tried to explain where it was and then said it would just be easier to show me on Google Earth.  He was only a few minutes from the house and came right over.  As we poured over the Google Earth images he kept pointing out additional cuts that I'd never seen that seemed to fit all of our criteria -- right age class, not too steep, a certain amount of wet ground, and most important of all, whole tree harvested and chipped on site.  I've said before here that Tony and I had been driving by miles and miles of cover to get to certain spots that often contained brooks and alders.  These have always been reliable cover for both grouse and woodcock but not the most user friendly.  Disproving the adage that "you can't teach old dogs new tricks" we are now looking for different cover and satellite imagery along with intel from Tommy has opened a whole new world to us right in our big backyard.

Today, with a print out from Google Earth, we went into one of the spots Tommy had suggested and with LJ and Booker Groy's dog Shine on the ground rammed around for a while learning where to and not to go.  In the process we moved a pair of grouse, a brood of about five, a single, and we heard at least one other flush.  Not bad for an hour in which we spent the last 10 or 15 minutes circling around a swamp that didn't seem to hold any birds.  We then had a couple heavy showers which we waited out but the birds seemed to had gone to ground when we got into the Dead Tree Cover where we ran Little Thuddy last week.

Before we went Cover Hunting we ran Jack and Little Thuddy down through Red Barn with Jack having 2 woodcock and a grouse and the Little Thudster having a grouse and a back.  Hopefully the colder weather (we have frost warnings tonight and tomorrow) will move some birds back into the Barn.  We also ran Zack, Tony's new camper, in one of the spots where we have the woodcock named.  He found three and needed a little training on the flush.  Nice dog -- it will be fun to see him get back down to his running weight and get tuned-up on his birds.  We also flushed a grouse out of that area that the dog never got close to.

Total for today, without using the Thudddd multiplier, a dozen grouse and 5 woodcock in a rain delayed and shortened morning.  Tomorrow we are planning to go find the cuts in the Google Earth image above.  You might notice that I cropped off the border that had the longitude and latitude.  You may not be able to find this particular spot but the image should give you an idea of what to look for anywhere in Northern New England.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday was summer hot and sultry here in the North Country with temperatures topping out in the low 80s.  A front came through last night and it suddenly feels like fall with the high for the next couple of days in the high 60s.  overnight lows may even drop into the 30s.  Knowing the weather was changing I didn't even set the alarm this morning.  I'll be able to run dogs all day and plan to take LJ out this afternoon.

Friday night the Big Thuddd came up bearing gifts for the grill as well as spirits. We had another convivial meal out on the porch talking about dogs, birds, and field trials.  Saturday morning we reported at Tony's at 6:00 am to run Little Thuddy and Trip down through Red Barn.  The woodcock have abandoned the cover for the most part and we only found one woodcock and a brood of about five or six grouse.  the Little Thudster ha a broke piece of work on the woodcock and busted the brood inadvertently as he came on from the wrong side of the wind.  The temptation was too much and he went with the birds which gave Tony the opportunity to do a little training.  Tim was torn about Little Thuddy -- hunting season is just around the corner and he wants to spend time hunting the little guy, but at the same time he is looking to the future and Little Thuddy's potential field trial career.  After many discussions with Tony (and some Italian brow-beating) Thuddy is going to stay in New Hampshire at least through the fall derby stakes.  This is a dilemma that many face with their young dogs.  If you have a field trial prospect you have to decide which comes first trials or hunting.

I have always hunted my field trial dogs and over the years we have developed a hunting style that keeps the field trial dogs sharp.  The main thing is whoever is running the dog doesn't carry a gun they just pay attention to the dog.  This is especially true with the younger dogs and is sometimes ignored with the finished adult dogs especially when they reach the age and experience of a dog like Jack, but even Jack can get a a little sloppy -- if you let him -- when the birds start falling out of the sky and feathers are drifting on the wind.  This wasn't always the case but it's where we've gotten too now that we're counting the time until the social security checks start arriving in months instead of years.

We also ran LJ and Rigby yesterday morning as it started to warm up.  LJ had a broke find on a woodcock and a good derby find on a single grouse.  Rigby was the star of the morning with a really nice piece of work on a big brood of grouse that would have given us a number of shooting opportunities.  Trash ran by herself up in the Orchard but it seemed like someone had been in there before us as she only found a single woodcock and we walked up a couple of grouse.  Unlike Tim's facebook report where he seemed to use a factor of two in reporting the bird count we moved around 15 grouse and a few woodcock including one in the road when we were on our way to Tony's.

We went for breakfast and then to the bird field to work a few more dogs.  Tony's three sisters -- Ginger, Trash, and Bertha -- have had just about enough work in the bird field.  They are standing the birds as we root them out of the cover but have developed the habit of trot around from objective to objective until they find the one the bird has been planted in.  It doesn't take them long to figure this game out.  If we were going to be doing more planted bird work with them it would be time to spread the birds out in more natural settings and make them hunt for them, but what we've started on the quail can now be transferred to wild birds.

Thursday this week Tony and I will be heading back to Canada to judge the North American and run the derbies in the Woodcock futurity.  That's followed by the Northern New England Woodcock Championship with a companion derby stake on wild birds, then the Midcoast Grouse and Woodcock Championship.  the first weekend in October takes me back to New Brunswick for the Leslie Anderson Derby Classic and the International Amateur Woodcock Championship.  Then we can just hunt until the end of the year unless I decide to go to the Grouse Futurity and the Grand which is looking unlikely at this point.