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, November 17, 2012

Slow Friday

You can tell we've been hunting for over six weeks straight.  Tony and the Great Carnoski don't even show up until after 8 am and we only take four dogs instead of 6 or more.  In fact Tony suggested yesterday that maybe would should start only taking three.  The fact that riffle deer season started Wednesday here makes us a little cautious especially at either end of the day and if there are any deer hunter's trucks near our spots we drive on.   Today is the first Saturday of rifle season and I just kept the dogs home today.  Hopefully we'll stay on bare ground and be able to keep hunting until the grouse season ends at the end of December.  The snow has held off the last two years, but it wasn't all that long ago that it snowed on Veteran's Day and we didn't see bare ground again until mid-April.  

Yesterday, we hunted some covers that are new to us this year and we are still trying to figure them out.  In the first one Bee pointed three grouse in a part of the cover that we hadn't gotten to before.  Then LJ ran in the Dumb Grouse Cover, but the birds are getting a little educated.  His first find had him relocating twice to end up pointing solidly with four grouse spread out around him.  As the dog handler I wasn't carrying a gun and hit the ground when bird #2 flushed in front of me but it never got up high enough for Tony to have a safe shot.  Birds #1 and #3 flushed without affording either wing a shot.  Tony got one off at bird #4 but it too escaped unscathed.  LJ had another find where the bird flushed well behind him and really didn't give anybody a good shot.  We had a 6th bird flush when LJ was working into it but it was near the end of the hunt and flew right at Tony's new truck.

Trash, the dog that was on fire one day recently, wasn't on this day which reminded us that we really are hunting a whole string of young dogs.  G III was the last one out of the truck and surprised us all with a nice find on a woodcock that got to fly free as the season closed on the 14th.  Ten grouse and one woodcock maybe our lowest bird count since the season opened.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Rookie Season

As many of you know, I am now writing regularly for Pointing Dog Journal, so I have somewhat of a vested interest in what I'm about to say.  In the current issue there is an article by Ronnie Smith and Susanna Love titled "The Rookie Season."  This may be one of the most succinct pieces I've read on how to get a bird dog started properly.  It used to be that many people didn't even start training their puppies until after the pups first birthday.  That first year was considered playtime and puppies were pretty much allowed to run free.  they sure as heck weren't expected to point any birds.  But genetics and training methods have improved over the years and it is not unusual for winter puppies to be handling well and pointing birds their first fall.  I know our current crop of derbies here all had pointed birds shot over them last fall, and 45 days into this year's grouse season they are all handling grouse on a regular basis.  None of them are broke but they are all staunch and allow us to get to them and flush the birds sometimes at pretty great distances.  So, if you get PDJ make sure you read the article.  If you don't get PDJ, this one article might be worth the price of a subscription -- especially if you are thinking about get a young dog in the near future.

Wednesday was a work day and Tuesday I had to go to Manchester for a meeting so I hadn't been out since Monday.  Today Tony and the Great Carnoski picked me up and we headed out to the woods.  We had to skip a couple places because of deer hunters but there's plenty of room around here where we can safely run a dog without interfering with someone's deer hunt.  We heard some shots well above us on a ridge, and who knows, we might have even had an assist.  LJ was first out of the truck in a place we hadn't hunted this fall.  The cover looked good but we didn't put up any birds.  Bee was next out of the box at the Dead Tree Cover and she had a couple of finds and we moved three grouse.  The Little Thudster drew the Shine Cover and ran really well.  He was rewarded with a stellar grouse find shortly before we got back to the trucks.  The grouse had moved away from him and I almost stepped on it before it flushed at my feet.  The bird startled me and I missed what should have been an easy shot.

Frankie was next up at the Rambler Cover and we had a grouse get up wild just after we left the truck.  He then had a nice limb find where there were four grouse spread out around him.  I saw him on point and tried to direct Carnoski into position but the first bird flushed before he got into position.  He missed the second bird and we only heard the 3rd and 4th birds go.  We then headed back towards home and decided to throw LJ down one more time in a pie-shaped cut behind a gravel pit.  we had never hunted this cover but had walked up into it in September and had been meaning to give it a try.  When we left the truck we walked down the road a little ways and LJ dove into the cover across the road and stopped about 65 yards in.  A grouse flushed before we got to him.  We then headed him into the cover and he stopped again.  This time there were two grouse and I killed another tree (I'm going to start hauling out the wood I harvest and see if I can't make a soup out of it or something).  When LJ went on Tony walked up a third grouse in the bunch.  On the way back to the truck LJ had another find on a bird that managed to put some big pole timber between it and me before I got a good shot off.

By the end of LJ's run we had moved 14 grouse and was home in time to make a run to Walmart to get groceries.  Frankie, LJ, and Little Thuddy are all under two and after playing in the minor leagues as puppies last year are all having exceptional rookie seasons.  But since I no longer do dog-of-the-day you can be assured that I won't name a rookie of the year.

Monday, November 12, 2012

28 Gauge Morning

Tommy recently got a CZ Mini Ringneck in 28 gauge that is identical to mine.
I've been shooting a 5 1/2 pound 28 gauge CZ Mini Ringneck for a number of years.  Tommy has tried it out a number of times and always shot it well.  There has been a lot of controversy over the 28 gauge this fall as one person that I hunt with a lot has no faith in the ability of the smaller gauge gun to kill birds.  He also thinks I shoot my old 6 1/2 pound 20 gauge Winchester 101 better than I do the 28.  He's wrong about the 28's killing power.  He might have a case about my ability to shoot the 101.  I've shot it for over 20 years and its fixed choke skeet and skeet barrels are pretty deadly on both grouse and woodcock.  The extra pound of weight also makes it a little easier to swing the 20 smoothly but it's a load for an old man to carry.  I have to concentrate a little harder with the 28 but it has killed many birds and 3/4 of an ounce of 7 1/2s is plenty for both grouse and woodcock.  If you're on them they die.  This week I had switched back to the 20 for the late season grouse shooting where the ranges are longer and the 1 ounce high-brass Remington 20 gauge shells are our standard load.  So I carried it Saturday and shot a grouse for the Little Thudster.  Yesterday, the Big Thudd brought a really sweet European-market Beretta 20 with double triggers that tips the scale at 5 pounds 13 ounces and is easy to carry.  It's been a long time since I shot a gun with double triggers regularly except for occasionally shooting a 2 1/2 inch 12 gauge hammer gun. But today when it was just Tommy and I, I pulled the 28 back out of the cupboard.  There's a few minor changes (the barrel selector and the opening lever) I thought mine had 28" barrels but has only 26".  Tommy's has the 28" barrels and a little more grain in the stock.

We went to a cover that seems to hold a lot of birds late in the season and put Veronica down first.  We moved 10 grouse that were often in islands of evergreens which made the shooting a little tough but Tommy managed to knock one down.  We ran LJ in a cut we hadn't tried before and decided it was still a little young to be holding birds at this time of year.  He did point one bird that almost outsmarted us.  Tommy and I both walked out in front of the dog and nothing happened.  When I released him he made a big swing around and then came back through the ground right between Tommy and I.  The bird flushed, LJ stopped to flush and I folded the bird with my 28.  When we got back to the truck it was already getting warm so we cleaned the birds.  Both crops were full of Cinquefoil leaves and ferns.

Ferns like these are part of the diet of grouse here at this time of year.

Cinquefoil is another green that is often in the crops of late season grouse here in the North Country.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Slow Day in the Grouse Woods

I know that some find the flush counts that I post here hard to believe, but as much as I can remember they are accurate.  And, as if to prove that we don't have a grouse under every bush, we had a pretty tough day.  We hunted six dogs and Rigby got the short end of the cover-stick so she went out again at the end of the day.

Tommy started out with Veronica and had one grouse that he shot for her.  Then it was Rigby's turn.  She was the last one out of the box last Sunday so she got what should have been a good cover early in the day.  The best we could do was one bird heard getting up wild when we were still a long way from where she was pointing.  Tommy stayed with us for Jack's run and the best he could do was two finds near the end of the hunt.  The first was a single that Tommy shot and the second was a pair of birds and neither Tommy nor the Big Thudd got a shot at the first bird off the ground.  Thuddy got the second bird.  When Tommy left us he had then fired four shots with his new CZ 28 gauge and killed four grouse on the wing.

Bee was up next in the Dead Tree Cover and where we had a dozen grouse last time we were in there we only found three today.  The Little Thudster was on deck but before we ran him we had a great lunch of Venison Chili heat on the portable propane stove that Big Thud had brought along.  After Lunch the Little Thudster had a good outing as we moved a couple of grouse and he stuck a woodcock that escaped by flying right into the sun, just as I was pulling the trigger on the first barrel.  When I could finally see again it was well out and the second barrel was ineffective.  LJ was next with four grouse moved but the birds really didn't give us much in the way of shots.  We came back to the house and ran Rigby again at the end of the day.  She slammed a woodcock that I shot at extremely close range.  We also moved a couple of grouse that she didn't really get an opportunity on.  The sun was setting as we walked back into the yard and it had taken us all day to move 16 grouse and 2 woodcock.  Not typical for this season but all the dogs ended with bird work and we got in some shooting.

30 More

Saturday it was just Tony, Carnoski, and I hunting and we had 5 dogs on the truck -- Little Thudd, Bee, LJ, Trash, and Trip.  This time of year we often find grouse bunched up in spots that have food and we walked walked into one spot where there were 8 spread out over a 20 yard area right out on an open landing.  Friday we had a group of 10 in one spot.  It was a great day of grouse hunting.  Including the bunch of eight and the two the Little Thudster pointed we had 10 in the first cover.  On the bird I shot for Little Thuddy he retrieved it to within three feet of me.  He's turning in to quite a grouse dog.  Bee was up next with a couple of nice finds and a couple wild flushes for a total of 5 more.

LJ was the third dog out of the truck and got to point what was the dumbest grouse I have ever seen.  We had just left the truck and were walking on a 4-wheeler trail when I saw a grouse standing on a stump in the brush next to the trail.  I pointed it out to Lloyd and Tony and then called LJ in.  He flew by us with out winding the bird that was still on the stump.  It finally walked off into the brush and I called Lj in again and sent him directly on the line the bird had taken he immediately got birdy and then pointed about ten feet in.  Lloyd took the right wing and Tony was on the left.  The bird was walking around in front of the dog like a throw-down quail at a trial on a rainy day.  When I flushed it, the bird flew right at Tony who spun around and knocked it down going away.  LJ's next find was on a bunch of four grouse that he had to relocate on.  His third find was on a single grouse, which I didn't see but the boys killed it with both of them claiming they hit it.  Unfortunately we don't have instant replay.

Trash was next with probably the find of the day as she was 125 yards away when the Garmins went off.  The bird had moved on her and she pinned it on a relocation.  I was out of position so there was no controversy on who killed this one. Lloyd gets full credit.  Trash went on to have another grouse find and a woodcock.  Trip was last out of the truck and ran in a cover that has seen a lot of pressure.  In spite of that she handled four grouse finds one of which was a pair and we had one flush wild.  That gave us a daily total of 30 grouse and 1 woodcock.  Not a bad day for three old guys in their 60s.

Back at it today with the Big Thudd and another truck load of dogs.