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, December 8, 2012

The Longest Hour (fiction)

November in northern New Hampshire can bring just about anything in the way of weather – mild Indian summer days, torrential rains as the last tropical storms of the year bump into the White Mountains and the moisture collected over warm Atlantic water is wrung out causing the local streams and rivers to flood, and snow.  Some years, snow can start well before Thanksgiving and bare ground will not appear again until April.   Although it was only the eighth of the month, the weather had already run the gamut.  Five inches of rain on the first and second had forced the Grand National Grouse Championship to start a day late on a clear crisp Indian summer Wednesday, and the grouse had been out feeding in bunches.  There were 68 dogs in the stake and it would take them almost six days to run them over the six courses of Kilkenny. 
            By Monday morning, the last day of the trial, many of the participants had already returned home.  They had come from all over New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as a few from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  Sunday had been the worst day of the trial as far as birds were concerned.  The wind had blown as a cold front spit rain and sleet at those unlucky enough to be drawn to run in those braces.  Birds that had been predictable in the first four days disappeared on Sunday as they roosted high in the trees to avoid the changing weather.
            Monday morning there was a thin coating of snow blanketing the mountains and valleys of the North Country. When Al Fowler parked his truck at the breakaway for the Ammonusuc Course, his long time friend, Steve Randle, sat next to him drinking coffee.  Steve had run a dog earlier and had hung around to scout for Bess, Al’s setter, who had settled down in her box now that the truck was stopped.  Bess was pushing seven and had finally broken through last season, winning twice and then winning the Invitational in the spring.  This fall she had won in New York and at the Amateur Woodcock in Woodstock, New Brunswick, but in 30 years of running dogs, Al had yet to win the Grand National.  He thought Bess was his best shot in a long time.
            As he sat waiting for the first brace to end and the judges to arrive, he thought about where he wanted Bess to be at different points on the course.  He knew the birds would be feeding this morning.  If they were there, she would find them.  She always found birds.  It was one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.  She wanted them pinned in front of her.  If they tried to walk off, she would move up to keep her nostrils full of that intoxicating scent.  It had been her undoing many times.  She had finally found the line she couldn’t cross and rarely crowded a bird into flushing anymore.
            He worried about his bracemate.  The dog was more of a gundog and the handler was loud.  It didn’t bother Bess, she always stayed focused on finding birds to the front, but it made it hard to keep track of her bell.  Al would never do anything to intentionally take out a bracemate, but he gave it some thought on this morning.  At 8:45 the trucks from the first brace came rolling down the hill – which meant that both dogs had been picked up early.  Al and Steve got out of the truck and went to get Bess.
            “You got your gun?”
            Al touched the .32 caliber blank pistol that he had stuck in the back pocket of his jeans and nodded.
            “Which bell?”
            “The one with the orange reflector collar.”  It was the same one she had worn every time he had run her since she was a puppy.  Win or lose – he thought of it as his lucky bell.
            After the announcement of the dogs in the brace, the judge said, “Let’em go.”
            Bess and her bracemate, Mike, burst forward at full speed.  Immediately the other handler started yelling and blowing his whistle.   Mike stopped about 50 feet down the trail and lifted his leg.  He then went into the woods on the right.  Al could just hear Bess’s bell as she ran out to the front.  If she was running to form, she would be back in a minute or two, and then she’d go to work.  When Bess came flying back up the path, she dove into the woods on the left and headed for the large cut.  The trail would follow the edge of the cut for about five minutes and then would make a left turn around the bottom of it.
            Despite the yelling behind him, Al could clearly track the bell as Bess worked her way down through the cut.  As they approached the corner, Mike came in from the right about 25 yards down the trail.  He started to slow as he reached a bunch of high bush cranberries that still had a few bright red berries on them.  He almost stopped before a grouse came boiling out and shot right up the path and over the gallery.  Mike came up in hot pursuit, and then slammed into a picturesque point as he realized John was right in front of him.  The closest judge told John to put the lead on his dog.  By the time John had the bell off and was headed back up the trail, Al realized that Bess’s bell had stopped.  He wasn’t sure where.
            He turned to look at Steve who had stepped off the trail away from the commotion.  Steve nodded to Al indicating that he had a pretty good idea where the dog was.
            “Send my scout, Judge?”  Al asked as form dictated.  Steve was on his way before the obligatory consent was granted and was headed out along the bottom of the cut.  Al continued down the trail in hopes of being close when Steve found the dog.
            With his bracemate out of the way, Al felt his chances of getting a good performance from Bess had just increased exponentially.  Some dogs need a bracemate to fire them up.  Bess always seemed to be running on jet fuel whether there was a bracemate or not.  As Al, the judges, marshals, and gallery made the turn at the bottom of the cut, they heard Steve call, “Point.”
            Al and the judges went quickly away from the trail towards Steve’s voice.  He was about 50 yards away, just outside the thicker cover of the cut.  As Al got close, Steve pointed to their right, “She’s about 25 yards down along the cut and about 15 feet in from the edge.”
            Steve had backed off from the dog before calling point in hopes of not spooking the birds.  Al and the judges quickly went to the dog.  She was standing with her head high and her tail pointing at twelve o’clock.  Al took one look at her and knew the bird was there.  He could see the loose skin on her muzzle fluttering in and out as she sucked in the scent of the bird.  He took another step towards her, the bird thundered out, and he fired his blank gun.  She never moved.  Al took her by the collar and led her back towards the trail.  When they were almost back, he cast her off to the front.  It was up to her – she had a great limb find, now she needed a great race to go with it.  Her next cast took her deep to the right across a steep valley and onto the next ridge.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Successful Breeding

We had successful tie-up yesterday between Wild Apple Jack and Wynot Belle.  Belle is a solidly built black and white bitch OUt of the breeding of one of Al Robbins Wynot Kennel bitches and Chris Mathan's Mike dog (Autumn Elhew Gold X Elhew Autumn Whisper).  I'm looking forward to getting one of these pups.

Veronica has come into heat with the aid of Ovuplant and should be bred to LJ next week.  For those of you who might be interested Veronica is Wynot Ace X Angela's Wild With Style.  Style is Black Magic Buzz X Honky Tonk Tiara.  Buzz, if I remember correctly was by Rockacre Blackhawk you can see a picture of Buzz at http://www.meyerkennel.com/Content.asp?id=2968 . Tiara obviously was from Stan Wint's Honky Tonk line and again based on memory I believe her sire was Honky Tonk Attitude whose pedigree and picture you can see at http://www.shadymeadowsgundogs.com/PedigreeView.aspDogID=14083&HDR=9x+NC+Honky+Tonk+Attitude

Trip's heat is progressing naturally and we should breed next week as well.

You can go to the kennel website for more information on Jack and Wynot Ace. www.wildapplekennel.com

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

18 More

One of the problems of having a blog is the people who hunt with me have certain expectations about how much ink they and their dogs should get.  Tony, who has a computer that may still be running the original Windows and accesses the internet via dial-up, felt slighted yesterday when I didn't give him more ink on a shot he made to kill a bird for Bee.  The bird was a long ways out and Carnoski and I were both amazed but I thought the job Bee did of giving him the opportunity was a lot more impressive.

Today, like all days we can hunt in December, was another bonus day with no wind, no sun until around 3:00, and mild temperatures in the low to mid 40s.  We started off with Trash in the No Name Cover and she pointed a bunch o four and three singles for a total of 7 to start the days count.  I really don't understand how guys hunt their dogs all-day day after day and have them survive the season.  Trash has hunted one to one and half hours about 3 times a week since the opening of the season October 1.  Like many of the dogs in Tony and my strings she is just about due for a break.  She's rockhard but rail thin and is starting to pace herself a bit.  Because we also field trial our dogs we want them going full bore all the time.  It will take a long rest in the off season to get Trash back in high gear.

LJ was up next and we went over to the Ursula Cover.  Thud and I had been in there on Saturday and found no birds but saw quite a few grouse tracks.  Today LJ proved that those tracks were actually made by grouse as he had a number of finds and we moved a total of 8 grouse (although Tony didn't hear one of them and didn't want me to count it).

Bee ran in the Milan Hill Cover and we moved a total of 4 grouse.  the last run of the day was a bit of a disappointment as we ran G III in Red Barn which has been hot lately -- 24 with Frankie last Monday and 19 with the Little Thudster on Wednesday -- but today G III could only connect on one despite a really thorough effort on her part.  School tomorrow and then I actually have some other work I've got to do on Thursday and some of Friday.  If the weather holds I'll be back out over the weekend.

Monday, December 3, 2012

15 Grouse

Today was overcast and in the low 40s.  All the snow was gone and Tony and the Great Carnoski picked me up at 9.  We headed out to woods and some of our good late season covers with four dogs in the truck.  The Little Thudster was first up and had to cover a lot of ground before he started connecting on some birds.  On his first find he had a group of two -- one we never saw and one that flushed way out in front of us and our shots were much more of a salute than a real attempt to knock down the bird.  Then he moved up about 30 yards,  pointed again, and there were two more in front of him.  We didn't get shots at either of those.  On his next find, my Garmin said he was 343 yards when we started to him.  Amazingly, two birds were still in the vicinity when we got to him and one of them died.  When he got the bird, he ended up with so many feathers in his mouth that it looked like he had a beard.  He stuck a seventh bird just off the road as we were going to the truck.

LJ was next out of the truck and started off pointing a bird that ran out on him and that we walked up before he could relocate it.  He was down for quite awhile and and had two more single grouse both of which provided difficult shots that were missed.  But anytime a dog his age goes out and handles three grouse you have to be pleased.

Frankie was next and ran in the Lost Frankie Cover.  He ran well and had a really nice grouse find on a pair of birds and Carnoski knocked one of them down.  He ran strong for the rest of his hunt but didn't find any more birds.

Bee was last out of the truck (in part to prevent Carnoski from opting out of the last hunt in favor of a little nap) and she ran in a new cover that tony and Thudd found the other day.  Bee's had a couple of weeks off as Carnoski took her home for Thanksgiving and just came back up yesterday, but she didn't miss a beat.  She had three really nice grouse finds two of which required relocations.  The last one she must have traveled a couple hundred yards obviously in tracking mode before she finally pinned the bird.  Tony and I flushed and both shot when the bird got up.  I knew it was still flying and then I couldn't see it for a second shot.  Tony finally fired again and knocked the bird down and thankfully Bee rounded up the cripple.  So that gave us 11 finds for a total of 15 grouse with Bee the only dog over 2.  Not bad.

Tony wanted me to tell you that he shot the biggest of these three bucks.  But the truth is, they were hanging from the pole next to one of the camps near where we were today.  The picture was taken with my phone.

48 Degrees and Light Rain this AM

I guess the weather gods are smiling on us.  It was 48 when I woke up at 5:30 and any snow that didn't melt yesterday was washed away overnight.  Looks like we'll be hunting again today.

If Jack is any indication, he's following Belle around the house panting, that breeding is about to take place.  I'll report in tonight on how the hunting goes today.