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, November 9, 2012

Henry's Woodcock

Henry and Dave McCarthy after a hunt with Jack.
Dave McCarthy from Maine has been thinking about getting a Wild Apple puppy and asked if he and his 11 year old son Henry could come over and see the dogs run.  We started out with Trip on the Home Cover and she pointed some grouse and a couple of woodcock.  Henry got one of the woodcock with his 20 gauge SxS.  We then went out to the No Name Cover and ran Jack.  We heard a bird get up and then could see Jack on point before we got to him a total of ten birds had gotten up around him.  He went on to point about eight more birds.  The best one got up right at my feet and flew directly at Henry's head.  I could see his eyes get big and then he had the presence of minds to spin around and empty both barrels at the fleeing grouse.  I think he was a little startled as the bird got away unscathed.  We ran LJ last and for the shortest run.  He nailed a pair of grouse that afforded Henry another shooting opportunity.  

Dave currently has a Llewellyn setter that scoots around pretty good and was concerned that moving to pointer might be more than he was ready for.  What he saw with all three of the dogs is that they are biddable, want to stay with you, are extremely athletic, and that they find birds.  You really can't ask for much more no matter which breed of dog you're looking at.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grouse Dogs

A few days ago I wrote a post "Making Grouse Dogs" in which I stated that three factors go into making a grouse dog.  They are genetics, shoe leather, and grouse.  The shoe leather and the grouse are fairly obvious -- you have to spend untold hours in the woods with a dog for it to become an elite grouse dog and during those many hours the dog has to find and handle 100s and 100s of grouse to really get it.  That's not to say that most dogs can't point a grouse.  Most pointing dogs, given the opportunity, will point just about any game bird some times on their first try.  The first time I took Wild Apple Jack to Texas he wasn't a year old yet and he pointed the first covey of wild quail he found and then went on to point three more while the experienced adult dog he was with only found one.  I would imagine that he would point sharptails, huns, pheasants, etc with equal aplomb.  What he might not do right away is handle a running pheasant or huns on one of those days when they flush out plum thickets 200 yards away and rocket down a howling prairie wind into the bottom of coulee or even worse over the top into the next coulee.

But pointing a grouse doesn't make a grouse dog.  Yesterday was the perfect example of what it takes to be a virtuoso grouse dog.  It was cold and windy when we broke Jack away yesterday morning in a cover none of us had hunted before.  It was a big cut with lots of raspberry canes in the skidder roads that will be dynamite in a couple of years.  As we got deeper into it I was thinking about cutting our losses and heading back to the truck.  Then the Garmin beeped and Jack was 165 yards away on point. He'd dug out a pair of grouse and kept them pinned on a hillside until we got there.  Then he started working birds in an area with more open cover and nothing on the ground to hold the birds.  On three separate occasions we got to him only to find the birds had run out.  As we flushed he would whimper a little to tell me the birds had moved when released he moved up on each bird until he had it pinned and we were there for the flush.  We ended that hunt with six grouse pointed and one walked up when I had the dog in heel.  Jack is almost 9, and has learned his craft through many, many repetitions but equally important is the natural ability and intelligence the dog has displayed throughout his career.  That's the genetic aspect of the equation, you can't teach it and ten thousand grouse won't impart it to the dog.

Yes, most bird dogs worth feeding will point a grouse but very have the full package.  The young dogs we've been hunting his fall may become as good as Jack in the future, but then they have the genetics that I'm talking about.  LJ is Jack's son.  Frankie is a frozen semen breeding of one of Dave Hawke's bitches to Stokely's Al B who was one of the best grouse dogs I've ever hunted over -- definitely in Jack's class.  Trash is out Stokely's Ginger B by Quail Trap Tom both are proven grouse dogs in front of the gun and in competition.  And the Little Thudster isn't exactly riding the short bus, His sire Beaver Meadow Benjamin is also the sire of Chasehill's Little Bud, Sunkhaze Maggie Mae, Sunkhaze Fastbreak, and a number of others.  The point being that if you want a great grouse dog you have to start with the right genetics and then put in the hours and have the grouse for them to learn on.

Speaking of which in addition to the 7 grouse we moved with Jack yesterday we also moved 9 with Little Thud, 6 with Bee, and 10 with Frankie for a daily count of 32 grouse, but let me tell you, grouse at this time of year are holding advanced seminars for grouse dogs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dog on Fire

Every once in a while one of the dogs will have a very special run.  Today it was Trash.  She started with a pair of grouse, followed by a pair of woodcock, followed by three grouse, followed by a single grouse, and so on and so on until she had racked up ten pointed grouse and the pair of woodcock.  She was definitely a dog on fire -- unfortunately I can not say the same for her owner and his wingman.  I knocked down one of the woodcock but all ten grouse escaped unscathed.

Trash in a workout last spring.
We then ran LJ who reminded my of a couple of things we all sometimes forget.  First this was his fourth day in a row on the ground for at least an hour, and second, yesterday was his half-birthday making him all of 18 months old.  He's had so many remarkable outings this fall -- in trials, in training, and now in hunting that I forget how young he is.  He was just not sharp today, causing 3 of the four grouse he found to flush before we got to him.  And then the one pointed came up well to my right and almost behind me but was in the thick stuff before I could get my gun on it.  I shot (twice) anyway mostly out of frustration.  Tony emptied his gun as well.

G III was the last dog out of the box and got a area we hadn't tried before.  The cover looked great but we only moved one bird and that flushed well ahead of the dog and we only heard it go.  Tonight I plugged in the kennel and bowl heaters as the temperature is predicted to be down in the teens -- our coldest night of the fall.  Chances are we'll get a late start tomorrow.

How Many UJers Does Thudd Know?

Ted Moore and Tim Kisielski part of the endless seeming parade of UJers through our covers this fall.
For the third weekend in a row, Big Thudd asked if he could bring another of his Upland Journal buddies up to hunt with us. That makes five in the last three weeks -- is there no end to these folks?  So far they all seem alright and I can attest to the fact that all but one of them can shoot -- to give "Checo" his due he didn't get a chance over Jack as Carnoski beat him to the spot and killed the only shootable grouse.  When he was carrying during Rigby's run Montana Alex beat him to the birds and killed a grouse and a woodcock.  Yesterday Big Thudd and UJer Ted Moore were the designated gunners.  Ted killed two woodcock for LJ with his Sterlingworth 16 ga.  While Thuddy claims to have knocked down a grouse over Frankie that no one saw him hit and we could not find it.  When Thuddy had a chance on a grouse over Rigby he claimed that it flew to close over Katie and Kathy's heads for a safe shot (Actually the bird was so low they ducked).

The Little Thudster ran twice yesterday and pointed a grouse the first time and a pair of them the second time down but neither time afforded us a shot.  Frankie looked more like himself as we ran him in some pretty open cover and he really stretched out to the limits of the bell (and he wears a big bell) and had the above mentioned grouse that Thudd "shot."

It was a cold day with the temperature in the mid-30s while we were hunting and the mountains around us were pretty white.  The highlight of the day was a hot lunch of steak and cheese sausages provided by Big Thudd and cooked on my tailgate while Ted and Tim ran one of Ted's red dogs. Rigby had a good run in the Home Cover with the grouse mentioned above which was  part of a pair and a nice piece of work on a woodcock that didn't provide us a shot.   She was just a little late on a grouse that flushed wild and then had a stand almost back to the house where we frequently have a grouse.  We couldn't flush it (it's been pretty well educated) and most likely beat feet out of there.

Tony listening for Frankie's bell as he was ripping it up on Sunday.

Frankie is slowly returning to the form he had last spring when this picture was taken.