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 21, 2013

Merry Christmas

Katie and Jason (mostly) found a side benefit to the rising temperature here at the kennel, the snow was perfect for rolling a snowman.  The snow, extremely cold temperatures (-23 F. the other morning) have pretty much put an end to the grouse hunting here in Northern New Hampshire although the actual season doesn't end until the 31st.  It was a long and good bird season with a little field trialing thrown in.  I was in the woods (or on the prairies) with dogs for 58 days this fall and we moved . . . a lot of birds and shot our fair share.  Some of the highlights of the fall included killing first birds for all the puppies (Ruby, Sam, Glo, and Brandy) that went through the program here last summer.  We also got some good hunts with Jack despite the fact that he will turn 10 shortly after the first of the year.  He still has all the bird sense that helped him win his five wild bird championships and a runner-up but he has slowed substantially as the years begin to catch up with him.  He seems to be in good health and hopefully we'll be able to spot him into some of our easier covers again next fall.

I'm also looking forward to starting some more puppies next summer.  I really excited because Ken Delong in Michigan is planning to breed Wild Apple Faith (a five year old sister of Jack's) to Elhew G Force as soon as she comes in which should be soon.  Jim Tande has also bred his bitch Cassie to G Force and I'm on the list for one of those puppies that should be born in February.  Scott Chaffee has Trip now for Jack Harang and she will be bred to either Autumn Snow (a Autumn Moon son) or possibly to Wynot Ace (AI).  If that breeding happens I'll be getting one of those as well.  Also talked to Fred Potts in North Carolina the other day and he is still breeding Elhew dogs.  Fred was a close friend of Bob Wehle's and may be the one breeder who has stayed closest to Bob's breeding ideals.  In fact, I leased a bitch of his a few years ago to breed to Jack but she didn't take.  He has some litters planed for early next year and I plan to take a look at those as well.  I'll probably keep a couple of these as field trial prospect and will offer the others to hunters.

I was going to sell Wild Apple Annie but it looks like she maybe staying here with me.  If that's what happens I may breed her when she comes in again or maybe next fall.

I have already had a number of calls and people making reservations for next summers Grouse Camp.  As of today I only have a couple of spots left.  If you interested in sending your dog up to be worked on wild birds next summer you should get in touch with me soon.  I will also be taking a few dogs to work in the spring if winter lets go early enough.  We can get a lot of good work on return woodcock and the holdover grouse when the snow is gone.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Champion Mr Ted Stokely

In summer and early fall of 2011 Tony Bly and I were working a bunch of dogs trying to get them ready for the fall wild bird trials.  I had Wild Apple Jack and Wild Apple Deuce.  Tony had Stokely's Ginger B,  Stokely's Kir B, and John Bilodeau's Mr. Ted Stokely.  It was a pretty good string of dogs with Jack and Ginger already having won multiple championships in the woods and the other three were all strong contenders.  I always enjoyed the workouts when Tony would run Teddie with Jack or Deuce.  We had one spot where we got a good hour plus run in and out of cover mixed with sections of more mature woods.  It came close to resembling many of the courses our wild bird trials run on and gave the dogs a really good workout.  As the summer progressed Teddy got in great shape and could do the hour with ease.  Like his littermate Kir B, Teddy was an eyeful on point and was often found locked up on a grouse or a woodcock in one of the birdy sections of the course.

Shortly before it was time to run at the Northeast Grouse and Woodcock Championship, Tony developed an eye infection and could not go to the trial to run Teddy, Kir B, and Ginger, so, I took the whole string.  Kir B and Ginger didn't have good performances but the other three all finished their hours strongly with bird work.  Jack had run one of his usual big races albeit a little rough in few places with two grouse finds and Deuce put down a nice hour with a couple of finds.  But Teddy went around his course like he was on a string -- hitting all the right spots and looking good when he would cross to the front.  He needed very little handling and had three or four beautiful finds.  I went home before the trial was over and got a call from Al Ladd (one of the judges) the next day.  He wanted to be the first to tell me that Jack was named Runner-up and Mr. Ted Stokely had been named champion.

It was a well deserved win for a really good dog.  The sad news came yesterday that John had to make the hard decision and Teddy was put down after a long illness.  I'm glad I got to be a part of Teddy's life and field trial career.

Three littermates from left to right: Rip with Kit Foster, Teddy with John Bilodeau and Kir B with Tony Bly.  The picture was taken in Michigan in the parking lot of Alibi Hall.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bonus Days!

In the 26 years I've bird hunting here in Northern New Hampshire, I have always considered any days we could run dogs in December as bonus days.  The earliest we've been shut of the woods was one year when it snowed about 10" on Veteran's Day and we didn't see bare ground again until well after the middle of April.  That was a long winter.  Another year it was well below zero every morning from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It's not that you can't find birds in the snow it's just that usually get a crust on early snow that is really hard on the dogs.  Other years we've been on bare ground right to the end of December.  Looking ahead at the 10 day forecast we've got both snow and cold coming our way next week. This week Tony I hunted Sunday, Wednesday, and today (Thursday).  Each day has been better then the previous one with relatively mild temperatures for the time of year which means above freezing.  Sunday and yesterday were both in the mid-30s and today the temperature topped out at 41.  All three days have been overcast and relatively calm giving the grouse a sense of security that they dog have on bluebird days or in the wind.  Number have been good but the birds that have survived to this point in the season are pretty well educated and usually flush far out ahead of the dog and rarely provide good shots.  That said, it's always exciting to hear the thunder of grouse.

Today, called for rain late in the afternoon and we only put three dogs on the truck.  All three dogs got into birds, but Wild Apple Samantha gave me the best shooting opportunities and I manage to knock down two for her.  Both were over staunch points where I was able to flush the birds before she broke.  Both times Tony was in perfect position but the birds flew my way.

Last year I was able to get a picture of Tony with a nice string of bucks.  This year the best we could do was find a meat pole with only a couple little bucks.

The deer Tony "claimed" last year.

This year's he could only find two! ;-)

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Perfect Cranberry Day

One of the most interesting aspects of grouse hunting is where you find them at different times during the season or even during the different hours of the day.  The first and last hunts of a day are usually the best for grouse as they feed before and after a night's roosting in a fir stand.  As the weather gets colder they have to feed more and can be caught out at just about anytime if you know where to hunt.  In early October we often find them in the raspberry canes that choke the old skid trails in many of the cuts we hunt.  This year we had a great mast crop and there was a two week period in the middle of October where the grouse were almost exclusively to be found where there were mature beech trees mixed in fairly recent regeneration.  We don't have too many old farm covers but you can also catch the birds concentrated in the apples once they ripen and begin falling.  After fruits and nuts,  it was winter ferns and cinquefoil along with some birds that had alder catkins and even raspberry buds in their crops.  As the season progressed the birds moved into the high bush cranberries and could be caught in them late in the day.  Here at the kennel you can usually see 3 or 4 grouse at either end of the day in a row of cranberry bushes I left on the edge of the lawn to the south of the house.  In the morning they arrive in the pre-sunrise light and fill their crops with berries then fly back into the softwood stand behind the house.  At night they are there just before sunset and on at least one occasion when we flushed them with a dog, they came back to finish eating within a few minutes.

Yesterday was a perfect Cranberry Day.  The first cover we hunted had no cranberries and we were only able to move three grouse, two of which came out of trees high over our heads.  The second cover had birds in it a couple weeks ago but was empty of grouse Sunday.  The third cover had cranberries in it and produced 8 grouse a bunch of five and then a bunch of three.  The last cover had cranberries but at first we didn't find any grouse.  After we got back to the truck we went a little further down the road, Sam jumped into the cover then locked up.  That's when all Hell broke loose and eventually six grouse flew out of an area with cranberries.  Heartened by that we went a little further down the road where the same scenario was repeated with another half-dozen grouse coming up one at a time in different directions in cover so thick you could hardly swing a gun.  One finally made a fatal error and gave me a shot.  The bird was hit pretty solidly and flew about fifty yard before dropping.  I had it marked and Sam came in and pointed the dead bird before I got to it.  Not a bad day, 23 grouse on the first of December with snow on the ground and a high temperature of about 35.  After that Tony and I made a list of the covers we have that have high bush cranberries in them.  A couple we haven't even been in this year, but we'll probably try them this week.

A couple of conclusions we can draw from this: one there are still a lot of birds around as we head into the winter, and 2, they should be in very good condition considering the mast crop this year.  The scientific literature suggests that in years of good mast crops the hens produce more eggs the following spring.  You can't have broods of 10 or 12 if the hens only lay 7 or 8 eggs which we believe was part of the reason for the decrease in birds this year over the last two.  that and a cold, wet spring combined for very low brood size.  Tony has already started whining about how we need to have a good nesting season to get back on track with our grouse numbers.  He thinks it works.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Last Woodcock of the Season?

Tuesday we ran Wild Apple Samantha here at the Kennel as Katie was home for the week and wanted to go for a walk around the property.  Sam started out with a beautiful find on a grouse that was about 30 feet in front of here in some furs.  She's now holding some of them until I flush which is great progress for a nine month old puppy.  She went on to have two more grouse contacts and a stop then flush on a woodcock that Katie heard whistle out.  The last woodcock I'd seen before this one was November 12th.  The bird Tuesday was right next to one of the many seeps on the hill behind the house.  This is one of the spots I often find an early returning bird in March.  This year I probably won't have to wait until March to see more woodcock as I'm planning to spend some time in Kentucky this winter hanging out with the family and working a few dogs.  

After resting the dogs this week (except for the short run for Samantha) I expect to be back in the woods this weekend.  Although this time of year we usually have to wait until late morning for it to warm up a little bit and then the sun sets pretty early (4:07 today) making for some short hunting days.  It means that we only run three or four dogs a day but after a long season that's probably enough.

Wild Apple Samantha in the bird field last summer.

Monday, November 25, 2013


After a very long and relatively mild fall, it suddenly seems like winter here in Northern New Hampshire.  Yesterday the high was in the mid-teens and the wind howled all day long.  In fact it's still blowing pretty hard.  Hunted Saturday up in Pittsburg with temps in the mid-20s and it was a typical late season grouse hunt.  Many of the places we wanted to go were already occupied by deer hunters and hunted much of the day with only one bird seen but not pointed.  The final hunt of the day with Big Thudd handling his little namesake saved the day with five points -- three singles, a pair and a group of five when we were back insight of the trucks after climbing well up the side of a mountain.  Sunday we came south but it was so cold (mostly because of the wind chill) that we only lasted 20 minutes and then threw in the towel.  Have family plans this week and then plan to get back at it next week if the weather lightens up a little.  There's no such thing as normal weather in late November and early December here in Northern New Hampshire -- we can have snow, rain, below zero temps, or days in the 40s and some weeks you'll get all of that within a couple of days.  Looking at the 10 day forecast we have 49 and rain on Wednesday and a low of 2 on Saturday morning.  Any warm afternoons I'll be taking out the puppies but the older dogs have earned a rest after a long fall and more hunting to come down South.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

50 Days and Counting

Counting the five days I hunted in Montana in September and the four days I spent with Scott Chaffee running and scouting dogs for the Grand National Grouse Championship (including scouting the winner Moss Meadow Traveler), yesterday was the 50th day I've spent chasing birds around this hunting season.  My goal was to get my feet wet with the guiding end of things and do a couple of hunts.  I guided 22 of those 50 days and still have more on the books for November and into December if the weather holds.  It's been a great season with lots of birds moved, some great dog work, and even some birds in the bag.

Sage Grouse in Montana

Wild Apple Brandy and a limit of woodcock I shot for her.

Good Hunting with Tim and Alan

DJ's first grouse.

This time of the season really requires a lot of effort to rack up any numbers.  I haven't seen a woodcock since last Tuesday (11/12) and the grouse seemed to be deeper in to the covers and definitely hard to get good shots at as they are running and flushing way out ahead of the dogs.  Although we got some great work out of Sam on Sunday where she pinned two groups of three birds each.  Tim and Frank got one on the first point and two on her second to give her day honors.  Monday I brought the old man (Wild Apple Jack) out and he showed he still knows how to handle late season grouse.  He worked one running bird for over 100 yards before Frank was able to cut it off and get it in the air.  Unfortunately it's still in the gene pool.  Sam shined again on Monday as we put 9 grouse in the air as she pointed a few and a number flushed wild in an old orchard.  It's 29 and snowing here this morning seems like a good day to take a day off and get caught up on a few errands.

Jack and Brandy taking the day off as well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Now comes the hard part of the season

We've hit the hard part of the season.  The woodcock are all but gone, although we still found four yesterday and a couple on Monday, deer rifle season started this morning, and the grouse are really getting tough.  This time of year grouse seem to bunch up in food patches.  You'll hunt a cover that you know has grouse and instead of five single finds you'll have one find with five birds.  All the dumb grouse have been eliminated from the gene pool or have smartened up.  In cover that looked like a jungle on October first, you can now see a dog a 100 yards away.  When you do find birds the shots are much longer as the birds seem to move well out from the dog and flush early.  Many of us switch to hi-brass one ounce loads in our 20s this time of the year and will often put a 7.5 in the first barrel a an ounce of 6s in the second barrel.  Yesterday we hunted in snow with temperatures hovering in the mid-20s most of the day with a good stiff wind.  Brrrrrr!!

Last week I didn't get a chance to blog because Scott Chaffee and Bernie Bauman were staying at the house for the Grand National Grouse Championship that started November 5th with 41 dogs entered.  Scott brought along six dogs and won the championship with Moss Meadow Traveler.  Traveler ran on the Pancake Course and was always to the front often on the edge of bell range, dug out a grouse find in the middle of the hour and finished with a big cast at the end to give a true championship worthy performance.

Moss Meadow Traveler
After a day off on Friday it was back to guiding for four days.  Tim K. was in with Bob Little and we had good days both Saturday and Sunday.  Then Bob Friedl and Joe Faux joined us for a two day hunt that Tim had donated to Woodcock Limited to help them raise money for their woodcock management and education initiatives.  Joe had been up earlier in the season with Tim and made the trip to Canada with us.  Bob Friedl is a long time friend from the grouse and woodcock trial circuit where he was very successful for many years.

Guiding has worked out well this year and given me the opportunity to meet and hunt with some great people.  I am already starting to book dates for next season and you can email me for rates and dates.  Wild Apple Kennel Guide Service.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hard Day at the Office

Today was a hard day at the office as we have reached the part of the season where the woodcock can be few and far between.  By lunch time we had run four dogs and only moved 3 woodcock and 3 grouse.  The first dog on the ground after our roadside hot lunch of soup and sausage subs with peepers and onions was Rigby and we put up two more woodcock.  Fortunately Trip was on her game and handled  9 grouse and 2 woodcock for Tony and I as Carnoski took a break and moved one of the trucks to the end of the cover so we didn't have to loop back.  On one find I went to Trip and Tony was on the right wing.  As I shot at a woodcock, Tony shot at a pair of grouse and then two more got up after we'd reloaded. A lot of shooting for one point.  Got the woodcock.

To give you an example of how unpredictable the flights are -- a cover we hit on Monday that had 14 woodcock in was empty when I went back yesterday with Sam who checked it out thoroughly.
Tony kibitzes as The Great Carnoski cooks lunch

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

13 Days

When I got my Guide's License I thought I'd do 5 to 10 days the first year just to get my feet wet.  So far I've Guided 13 days and have a bunch more booked for November.  It's been really good with some great people who have brought along some good dogs and some great memories.  One that will last was taking nine year old DJ and and his Dad out we moved a bunch of woodcock and then DJ connected on his first grouse.
DJ and his Dad on the tailgate with DJ's trophy.
Another high point was having Ed Nicholson and his crew spend 4 1/2 days with me.  Ed has Ruby and I was fortunate enough to kill her first wild bird.  Th week Ed was here showed what a difference a couple of days can make.  Early in the week it was still Indian Summer with highs in the 60s and tough bird finding conditions.  16 birds Monday and only 12 on Tuesday, the the weather cooled Wednesday we had 22 birds and Thursday we posted a big number with 42 birds moved.  Ed and his buddy Brian hunted Friday morning with me and then Tim and Alan joined me mid-day.  Late in the day we hit an old orchard and some old fields with lots of high bush cranberries -- With Tim's puppy we moved 2 woodcock and 17 grouse and then with Little Thuddy we moved 21 grouse and 3 woodcock to end the day with 49 grouse and 19 woodcock.  Saturday we went at it hard and ran nine different dogs with some of them going twice to ensure they got into birds that gave us a total of 23 grouse and and 20 woodcock.
Ruby in the bird field this summer.
Stokely's Little Tony B

Some of the birds that Tim and Alan scratched down.

Yesterday was another big day.  We're never sure when the flight birds are going to come through and we seem to have had some already and thought we might be done but we got into some yesterday as Tony and I started slow with one woodcock in the first cover and 5 and a grouse with the next dog.  Then we hit a flight with 14 birds moved in a small cover along the river.  Then we hit a couple of grouse covers with 4 grouse each then we took a couple hours off with 20 woodcock and 9 grouse in the book.  At the end of the day we hit one of our "Ecological Traps" and moved 16 more grouse and 4 more woodcock to give us a daily total of 25 grouse and 24 woodcock.

All the puppies that are still here -- Brandy, Sam, and Glo -- are having a great time this season they are all pointing birds and and have had birds shot for them.  The future looks bright.

I'm already thinking ahead to next summer and our second summer wild bird program.  Slots will be very limited as we already have a list of dogs scheduled for Camp.  If you have a dog that you're thinking of sending to Camp don't wait until I'm full to call.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Statistical Analysis

Back in the early 90s, I kept a hunting log.  Now that I'm guiding I'm supposed to keep a log again.  I thought it might be interesting to see how things compare at the middle of the month.

As of today, we've moved 200 woodcock and 113 grouse.

According to my old logs at about the middle of October I had the following bird counts:

1991 198 woodcock, 52 grouse
1992 226 woodcock, 30 grouse
1993 240 woodcock, 42 grouse
1994 176 woodcock, 38 grouse

Grouse numbers are down substantially from 2011 and 2012 but obviously much better than they were back in the early 90s.  It's interesting that the woodcock number is relatively consistent and had I kept records for the years in between would probably be pretty close to the numbers above.  Back in the early 90s I was teaching full time but got out until dark almost everyday after school.  Now I'm out early and many days this year have stopped hunting in the early afternoon as the weather has been quite warm.  So, the total hours hunted is probably not all that different.

This morning I was scouting new cover as I have hunters coming in starting Thursday and will be busy all through next week.  Found birds with Annie and Trip but didn't shoot any for them as I was saving my woodcock kills for Brandy.  She pointed three and I did my part.

Wild Apple Calvados (Brandy) checking out the birds I shot for her this morning.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Puppy Day

After their trip to New Brunswick to hunt and run in their first field trial the three Wild Apple puppies -- Brandy, Glo, and Samantha got to go hunting today with Tony, The Great Carnoski and me.  Brandy pointed four woodcock, Glo pointed two, and Sam pointed one.  My two wingmen were a collective 0 for 7.  In the past a lot of pressure has been put on people to kill birds for young dogs.  All I got today were excuses.

We did shoot a bird for Peggy that belongs to Tim and Francis Tufts and one for the caped crusader G-3 that belongs to Dave Hawke out in Ohio.  I think the orange cape on a good sized white dog is a little silly, but she does look stylish.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Success Story from Grouse Camp

One of the dogs that attended our summer wild bird program was Jagger, Justin Evan's young setter.  Jag got a lot of exposure on wild birds and settled into a good hard hunting, forward pattern.  Justin messaged me that Jagger placed third in the Derby at West Branch today.  I'm sure that this will be one of many placements for this very nice young setter.

I've been hunting with Tony and the Great Carnoski the last couple of days and we have been having good luck finding woodcock although it does not seem like the flights have really started yet.  We always seem to get a lot of movement early in the season as the the native birds become more active as they try to feed more and add fat for the migration south.  The birds I cleaned today were the first I have seen this year with any substantial fat deposits.  As of today, including the three days in New Brunswick, I have seen 180 woodcock in front of the dogs.  Most of those have been pointed although many of the puppy points have been brief.  Grouse numbers are definitely down from last year which was exceptional.  To date we have counted 98 grouse.  
A limit of woodcock from today's hunt.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Catching Up

The season is just screaming along and has left very little time for keeping up with the blog.  Have hunted at least part of everyday so far with the exception of yesterday when I was driving back from New Brunswick.  To date we have moved 82 grouse and 153 woodcock.  Some of the highlights have been with the puppies in New Brunswick where on Monday morning they all got into a bunch of birds and pointed many of them giving us the opportunity to kill birds for them.  Bob Little did a great job of getting all the dogs into birds Glo has the puppy find of the season when she pointed a pair of grouse in the 100 Bird Cover and Joe Faux of Woodcock Limited knocked them both down for his first true grouse double.  Earlier in the day he had shot a woodcock with his first shot of the season.  

Today was also fun as I took Dan Roberts and his 9 year old son DJ out for the morning.  We flushed 14 woodcock in front of Jack in about an hour and a half.  DJ got a little frustrated with his inability to knock one down but did manage to get a grouse that hopped up on a limb in front of Trip during the second run.  

NEWS FLASH from New Brunswick -- Timmy just called from New Brunswick with news that Wild Apple Calvados was runner-up in the Miss Leslie Derby Classic and Wild Apple Moon Glow and Wild Apple Samantha placed third and fourth in the Cronk Farm Puppy Classic.  A good day for Timmy and our Wild Apple puppies.  Wild Apple Jack also placed in the Miss Leslie when he was a puppy -- I take that as a good omen for his niece.

Wild Apple Samantha

Wild Apple Calvados Runner-up in the Leslie Anderson Derby Classic

Joe Faux with a woodcock he took with his first shot of the season.

Joe shot his first ever double on grouse Sunday morning over Wild Apple Moon Glow.  Not bad for a puppy.

The crew in New Brunswick earlier this week Tim K., Bob Little, and Joe Faux.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And So It Begins

Rich Claxton and Maggie had the honors of being the first brace of the new season and Rich killed the first grouse with his first shot.  They were also my first guiding clients.  We had a good day although we had to quit early in the afternoon as it started to get too hot for dogs and people to be tramping about in the woods.  This was Maggie's first wild bird killed over her and later in the day Rich shot a woodcock for my puppy Glo.

Today the weather was even worse as it stay up in the mid-40s over night and was much more humid than yesterday and we quit before lunch.  18 birds the first morning and 15 the second got us off to a good start.

Word from Rangeley is that LJ had 7 grouse and 9 woodcock his first morning with his new owner Lynn Mosely.  I expect that will be the first of many great days afield for the two of them.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Annie wins a big one

In 2011 I judged the North American Woodcock Championship and got to see Tim run Annie and Rigby in the event.  I liked Annie a lot and encouraged Tim to keep trying with her.  She is fast and stylish over the ground and hit all the right places. That next summer he sent her down to Bruce Schaffer in West Virginia and Bruce made a lot of progress with her but she was still having a little trouble handling the big birds.  After another summer with Bruce in WV and up here for a month she had matured into a top level grouse and woodcock dog.  When Bruce went back to WV Tony took her on and the picture tells the rest of the story as Annie was named Champion at the Northeastern Grouse and Woodcock Championship.  That's Chasehill's Little Bud standing in the #2 spot so you know Annie beat a high quality field to earn her first championship.  Congratulations to Tim, Bruce, and Tony for a great team effort.
Tony Bly poses Jonesey's Rebel Revenge (Annie) the winner of the Northeastern Grouse and Woodcock Championship

Annie in a more relaxed pose last June.
On another topic Wild Apple LJ has a new home. He left today with Lynn Moseley and after a week in Maine will be spending his time hunting grouse in the Southern Appalachians.  I wish them well.  Greg Marcum was along with Lynn and picked up Pete.  Pete had a stunning find on a pair of grouse this morning, stayed steady to wing and shot, and looked like a million doing it.  Pete made a lot of progress over the summer and it was great to have Greg see and appreciate what the dog had accomplished.

The long guns come out tomorrow and Rich Claxton will be up to hunt with Mike and Maggie.  Mike is a younger brother of Jack's and Maggie spent the summer here at the kennel in the wild bird program.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  There's a rumor that Mike and Maggie are going to get romantically involved in hopes of Puppies in the winter of 2015.  I'm already on the list for one of those.

Maggie in the birdfield this summer.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back to "Work"

Some people think that you either have to have prairie dogs or woods dogs.  This morning showed that you can have both as I got the dogs back into the woods.  Both Glo and Sam stayed in range and had a woodcock a piece.  LJ showed that the transition from the prairies to the woods is no problem as he had 2 grouse finds and 5 woodcock this morning.  The first picture below shows what it looked like in Montana and the second one shows LJ on one of his woodcock finds this morning.

Pete didn't get to go on the road trip but showed that a 12 day rest didn't make a difference as he went out and handled three grouse and a woodcock perfectly this morning.  On the woodcock find I went way out in front of him and heard a grouse come out a tree and fired.  Then as I walked backed to tap him on the head and send him on I flushed a woodcock right into his face and then fired again.  Nice work from a two year old dog.

Switching from the wide open spaces of Montana back to the woods of Northern New Hampshire wasn't a problem when I worked Glo, Sam, and LJ this morning.

LJ on one of his 5 woodcock and 2 grouse finds this morning.

One of my traveling tricks is to carry enough leads with snaps on both ends to hook all the dogs to a chain link fence when the opportunity presents itself.  This picture was Thursday in one of the rest stops along the NY Thruway.  From left to right: Jack, Rigby, Glo, Sam, Brandy, and LJ.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Home Again

It was a long way out to Montana and back.  I think I put over 5,000 miles on Tim's truck and the young pups we took are now accomplished travelers.  Despite the distance it was a great trip.  Bird numbers were quite low and it took an old dog like Jack who has years of experience on the Texas prairie to find and hold birds.  His first find was most memorable as he was 407 yards away when the Garmin beeped and it took us a while to get to him.  He was standing in a mowed hayfield.  Tim and Allen each knocked down a Hun when the covey flushed.  Some people think a find like that is unusual or even impossible.  This was the first time Jack had ever pointed huns but I have seen him point and hold Texas quail at twice that distance (fortunately in Texas I was usually on a horse).  So called "meat hunters" who never break their dogs and keep them in close don't believe and/or don't understand that a find like that is what you should expect from any good pointing dog.  

One of my objectives on the trip was to add a Sage grouse to my list of birds shot (I had shot huns and sharptails on a previous trip to Montana).  I managed to accomplish that on the first morning.  It may have been the best eating game bird I've ever had.  I lightly covered the fillet breast meat with flour, added a little salt and pepper, and the seared to medium rare in a hot skillet.  

We covered many miles of prairie and I was amazed at the access that the state of Montana provides for it's hunters.  There are hundreds of pieces of private land that are part of the Block Management Area program as well as lots of state and federal land.  Alex Rickert and his father Al hosted us and we stayed at their Table Rock Ranch.  The ranch is a testament to what good management practices can do to help bird numbers.  It was on the ranch that we got into the most birds.  It's where Jack had his 407 yard Hun find and LJ had a find on a covey of 20 huns that that ran out in front of him and the shooters didn't go far enough.  They busted when LJ tried to relocate on them.  On the last evening we ran Glo by her self in part of the same field and she got into some sharptails.  Between the ones she pointed and the ones we walked up we moved about 18 grouse.  Brandy and Sam were also really getting to like the prairies by the end of the trip.  On one run we moved a bunch of hen pheasants and a few sharptails and Sam got all cranked up ripping off 300 to 400 yard casts but still handling.  Alex's puppy Birdy has adapted well to the prairies and was actually running a little too big for a 7 month old puppy.  By the end of the five days Alex was keeping her a little closer and she will get more chances on birds as the season progresses.  

So, Tuesday is the first of October and it will be time to put the blank gun away for three months.  It's going to be tougher than last year finding grouse but the woodcock hatch was good and the flight birds will be through later in the month and early in November.  I'm looking forward to shooting some birds for the young dogs as well as guiding.  I still have some open dates if anybody is interested in coming up.

If you click on the picture and look at it full sized you can see Sam at about 350 yards coming along the fence line right in the center of the picture.
The sage grouse I shot the first morning.

Unfortunately, Montana has its share of porcupines.  Fortunately Brandy only got a couple dozen around her mouth.  Hopefully she'll be smart enough to avoid them in the future.

Timmy found me a Beretta S56e that has sling swivels.  When I first got the gun I was tempted to remove the swivels.  After five days in Montana I was glad I kept the swivels and the sling.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sage Grouse hunting this am

Tim and Al Rickert heading out this am with Rigby and Birdy. Found one covey  knocked one down. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Barber, MT

Made it to Montana without any real problems although Tim's truck took a bit of a beating in a hail storm in south Dakota this morning.  Hail was bigger than golf balls and the hood has a few new dimples. I'll try to post some pictures tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the road

On the chain gang in KY

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Road Goes on Forever

Robert Earl Keen has a country song and album titled "The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends" and the road trip is an iconic part of the American Cultural fabric.  We seem to take them for any number of reasons.  But the idea of crossing vast parts of the continent to hunt feathered creatures is reserved for a few of us out here on the lunatic fringe.  Over the years I've driven from New Hampshire to Texas at least 15 times and most of those by myself.  I think the most I ever hauled by myself was 10 dogs -- six in a dog trailer and four in two crates in the back of the truck. So,  when the thought of heading out to Montana to hunt prairie birds, I started making plans.  Right now I'm 1,000 + miles intothetrip with two night stop in Kentucky to visit family.  Tuesday morning I'll head out for the other 1,700 miles of the trip. I'm actually looking forward to driving across apart of the country I've never seen before.  My other trip to Montana was by air.

It's amazing how fast the puppies -- Brandy, Sam, and Glo -- have adapted to life on the road. Last night was the first time they've slept in the back of the truck and today is the first time Sam and Glo have ever been on a stakeout.  I think that having three well travelled dogs on the truck makes it easier for the young dogs to figure it all out. Right now they are quietly laying in my daughter's backyard.  Hopefully they'll attempt as easily to sharp tails and Huns. I know. When I took Jack to Texas for the first time he found four coveys the first time I ran him and he held them all until I flushed and shot -- he was just over a year old at the time.

I'm not sure what I'll have for Internet access in Montana but will try to keep everyone updated.  Pictures may definitely have to wait until I get back.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Over the years many dogs have come and gone from the kennel.  Some I saw periodically and others I never saw again.  From the first litter of Wynot Ace X Elhew Liebotschaner there was a big pup that first went to a guy in Canada and then came back as the guy was worried about the dogs tail.  I told to wait it out but he was convinced that it wouldn't be good enough for field trials.  The dog was bigger than his brothers Wild Apple Jack and Autumn Moon, so much so that we called him Dually.  Jack Harang took him to Texas and gave him to Steve Willy.  Dually didn't get worked a lot but he was always fun to watch.  With his long legs he could just eat up the Texas prairie.  I remember one day on the Vest Ranch at the end of the day I was just sitting back in the saddle enjoying watching him roll when he suddenly swapped ends and landed in as perfect a point as one could wish for.  I could drive you to that very spot tomorrow even though it happen 6 0r 7 years ago and I seen many dogs point in many places since.  There was nothing wrong with his tail on that day or on many others when I saw him.  Got word yesterday that Steve found him dead in his kennel the other morning.  Dually was a good dog, loved Steve and his wife Sandra, and was loved back.  He left me with many fine memories.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Return of Summer

Summer has not quit yet.  Despite two mornings with frost recently, it was already 60 with high humidity when we headed out this morning.  After two braces of dogs it was pushing 70.  Now, at 11:30 it is 86 headed to over 90.  The dogs we ran this morning still did okay.  Rigby had two woodcock finds with Pete backing on one of them.  And then Trip and Little Thuddy had a divided find on a brood of grouse with Trip having a second brood near the end of the brace.  I had other dogs on the truck but most of the customer dogs are gone now so I didn't feel guilty not running LJ and Glo as they both went yesterday.  After another 80+ degree day tomorrow things cool back down.  The Saturday I'm heading out to Montana with a detour to visit my family in Kentucky for a couple nights on the way.  Should be in Montana by this time next week.  I'll try keep you all updated with how we do in Montana but I'm not sure what I'll have for Internet access or even phone coverage where we're going.

Yesterday I ran LJ who had a single grouse, Trip who had a brood of grouse and a single grouse, Sam who had two woodcock and a grouse but had some handling issues that we're trying to get straightened out, and Glo who gets dog of the day honors for digging out five woodcock finds in a nasty little corner that we reserve for puppies.

Bruce and Tony were out working dogs as well yesterday and I caught up with them just in time to help pull quills out of Big Thudd's foster dog Maggie.  It's never fun, but at least she only had one in her face.  As you can see from the picture most of them were in her left front leg and shoulder.

It could have been a lot worse!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wild Apple Kennel Guide Service

As of today I am officially a licensed New Hampshire Guide.  Today was the culmination of a process I began last winter as I had to get first aid and CPR certification before I could apply.  There was a written test I took in the spring as well as an oral exam.  I had a little trouble with the map and compass section of the exam (I've been depending on my Astro and now my Alpha too much) which required I retake the oral exam today.  Still struggled a little bit with the map and compass stuff but passed the other parts without a problem.  In fact I score a 98 out of 100 on the lost hunter scenario and I only needed a 70 to pass.  (so if you come up and wander off,  I know what to do to eventually find you.)  I've been hunting Northern New Hampshire with pointing dogs for 25 years and now that I'm retired from teaching I thought it would be good to share these experiences with others.  This first year I'll be offering discounts to my training customers (a few have already tentatively booked dates) but I still have openings.  I will also give discounts to anyone who mentions the blog when they contact me.  You can reach me on my cell at 603-381-8763 or email me at wildapplekennel@gmail.com

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Feels like Fall

From the house and yard you look across the valley to a large hill.  Have noticed in the last few days that it is just starting to change color.  There is a little hint of red and yellow mixed.  This morning it was 57 when I got up and that was the high for the day as a cold front came through with some heavy showers that slowed us down for a while.  The low in the morning is supposed to be in the mid-30s.  After the front passed we were able to run the rest of the dogs.  Ruby and Maggie have gone to their new homes and seemed to be settling in nicely.  Maggie had her best work out of the summer the day she left.  With three woodcock finds and a back on her new kennel mate Mike (who is a younger brother of Wild Apple Jack).  Ruby had a number of good runs before Ed headed back to Maryland with her.  We also shot a pigeon for her as Ed was curious what her reaction to the gun would be.  She ran out and grabbed the pigeon which had been hit pretty hard.  She then happily carried it around in her mouth as we led her out of the bird field.   I'll see both dogs in October when their owners come to hunt with me.

Tim was here for the weekend and was so impressed with the progress Max has made this summer that he wanted to take him on our trip to Montana.  I think Max is headed home instead where he can get some TLC before Dennis gets a chance to take him out hunting in October.  Jagger is also headed home on Tuesday via Bruce Schaffer who has been up here training and has got his string of dogs into a lot of birds.  Rafael Franco was up to see his dog Biscuit and seemed pleased with the progress that Bruce has made with him this summer.

Once Jagger and Max are gone I'll be down to a very manageable 8 dogs in the kennel.  A bunch of those will be going to Montana to visit Alex and Birdy who pointed her first covey of Huns this morning and was just a dot on the horizon in a video that Alex posted on Facebook.  It looks like I may have a couple of adult dogs for sale in the near future.  I'll post particulars here once I know for sure whose going to be available when.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Camp is Winding Down

Birdy (aka Peanut) is already hunting in Montana and Lucy left Monday.  Ed Nicholson is here for a few days and then is headed out with Ruby.  Rich Claxton is coming up today and taking Maggie home tomorrow.  Cider went to Henry and Dave McCarthy a couple weeks ago.  Max and Jagger leave next week with Bruce.  That will get me down to five of my own and Brandy, Sam, and Pete.

Yesterday was a puppy day with Jagger making a breakthrough and holding two different woodcock finds until I got to him to tie for day dog with Brandy who found two grouse and two woodcock in a cover that is pretty tough running.  Glo and Ruby each had woodcock finds and I ran Sam in a spot that doesn't have many birds to try and rein her in a bit.  She's definitely a hand full.

Already been out this morning and ran Pete and Max.  Both had finished work on birds.  Pete had a really nice limb find on a woodcock.  Max had a good woodcock find and then dug in deep and stopped.  I went into him and he was still high and tight when I got to him.  When I got in front of him a grouse lifted and then another and another I fired and he stayed tight.  More grouse lifted and just to tempt him to screw up I fired again and then again on the last of six grouse.  That was too much and he finally broke.  I set him back up and did a little training but I was pretty easy on him as I had forced the issue so I could get a correction in.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Old Dog

Wild Apple Jack entered retirement after his appearance at the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational last spring and has been laying around the house all summer.  I do plan to hunt him this fall so after I came back from working dogs this morning I threw him and Brandy in the truck and took them up to the dam for a run.  This is a spot that Jack has run many, many times in his going on 10 years of life and seems to enjoy the fact that he gets to just run down the gated road from the truck.  Today was no different.  He went over 600 yards before he came back and started hunting.  Ant just to prove that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve, he dug into the edge of the woods and pointed a grouse with the same style and intensity that helped him win 5 coverdog championships and a runner-up.  He doesn't have the foot speed he once did but he still seems to love his work.

Earlier this morning birds were tough to find.  There is one honey hole I think we've used too many times because this morning Maggie only dug out a couple of woodcock where there has been as many as 9 or 10.  The birds are starting to move around and conditions have been very dry which probably contributed to their absence.  LJ had a good run with a tough piece of work on a grouse that kept running up the mountain until he finally pinned him a hundred yards away from his original point with a couple more relocations in between.  He went on to have another grouse and a woodcock.  Pete got a relatively short workout as it was already warm when we started and getting warmer.  He had two nice pieces of bird work on woodcock.

Max ran next with his usual full head of steam and was rewarded with what I consider an exemplary find on a brood of grouse.  I heard his bell stop and then a bird flushed.  He was off to my left in fairly open woods and when I was almost to him another grouse lifted, then another and another and another until I lost count at somewhere close to ten.  The birds were all around him and in sight as they thundered out one by one and he stood for all of them.  Pretty exciting.  He then went on to have two nice woodcock finds.
Yesterday, I spent the day working on my next PDJ installment (which is already late) and have that just about finished up.  Friday I ran puppies.  Everyone had bird contacts and Brandy, Glo, and Sam each had a woodcock down in Red Barn.  It was dry as a bone Friday morning and barely enough dew to wet the very bottom of my chaps.  It was nice to not be wet but the rain we had Friday and Saturday night was needed.  The star of the day Friday was Ruby as I ran her in a small cover just down the road from the kennel.  She proceeded to stick three woodcock and I would have had good shots on all of them.  She should be a lot of fun this fall.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

100 percent

No I'm not talking about the dog's performances this morning, although they were pretty darn good considering the conditions.  Last week we had two mornings in the high 30s and it was great for working dogs.  This morning as I loaded up before 6:00 the temperature was already pushing 60 and the humidity was reported at 100%.  I was soaked by the dew on the raspberry canes and had sweated through my shirt before we had climbed up to the top of the first cover.  Lucy and Will were up first and were on a mission despite the stillness of the air, Lucy had 4 perfect woodcock finds and one stop to flush on a relocation while Will had two grouse and two woodcock contacts.  In the next cover we ran Little Thudd and Max.  They make quite a pair with both of them running big powerful races.  We didn't have any bird work going up the mountain although I had one grouse flush out of a tree right over my head.  Back near the truck Max had a really nice limb find at 138 yards away according to my Alpha.  He was in pretty heavy cover and it took me a while to get to him.  He was still high and tight when I got there and the woodcock flushed right between us.  I fired and he never moved until I led him out by the collar.  Thuddy had one woodcock in the cover we ran in and then crossed the road and had another below the trucks.  We hadn't run on that side of the road yet this summer as it appeared to drop off pretty fast.  With our curiosity piqued Tony and I threw Ruby and G III in there.  I walked up a woodcock and G III pointed one.  Ruby came in and pointed where I had just flushed the bird.  What was really amazing was how little the density of the cover or the steepness of the terrain deter Ruby.  She might be the lightest in stature of the puppies here this summer but her heart and desire to hunt matches any of them. No Fear!
Ruby in the birdfield earlier this summer.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Puppy Power

The first of the puppies left yesterday.  Peanut (aka Birdy / Wild Apple Blackbird) headed out to Montana with Alex Rickert who was here last fall and hunted with us and decided one of the Wild Apple dogs would be just the ticket to hunt the six species of gamebirds in Montana.  She's still a puppy but I'm sure she'll give him some opportunities when the season opens Monday.
Alex Rickert (left behind) and Steve Groy waiting for Tony to flush a woodcock out to them last fall.
Today at the Kennel I loaded up the truck and headed out at 6:00 with Maggie, Pete, Brandy, Jagger, Glo, and Sam.  Pete is the oldest of the group at two, Maggie will be two in October, Jag not until next spring, and the other three are all this year's puppies.  Brandy got the Honey Hole and pointed four out five woodcock that she pointed she's ready for a harness and a little drag rope so we can start staunching and steadying her.  Maggie and Pete both had both birds.  Maggie pointed a woodcock and stopped just before a pair of grouse flushed.  Pete had two nice woodcock finds and a stop to flush on a grouse that came out of a tree over his head.  Pete reminded me once again of the old adage that you should trust your dog.  On his second woodcock I flushed (I thought thoroughly) and couldn't get a bird up.  I went back and tapped him on the head and he wouldn't move, so I flushed again.  Still nothing.  I tapped him again and he still wouldn't move.  In frustration I went to the whistle and tooted him forward.  He moved up about 15 yards and stopped to flush.  At that point all I could do was tell him he was a good boy and handicapped by his trainer.  Jag runs better all the time, listens well and is hunting hard.  He was rewarded today with a nice find on a woodcock which have gave an exuberant chase to when it flushed.  

Glo ran well in a tough cover for a puppy but couldn't connect on a bird.  Sam made me realize why collar conditioning is such an important part of getting a handle on puppies at about this age.  She stayed relatively close for about 10 minutes and then started hunting her way out from me.  By the time I finally turned her she was 245 yards away and I had worked my way up to a high 3 on the Alpha.  Even at that level I barely got a yelp out of her.  It's really interesting to see at what age and at what level one has to begin using the collar to keep a puppy within reasonable range.  I always try to keep puppies close their first season so we can kill some birds for them even if they don't point them for very long.  of the five puppies Sam is the one that wants to run big and independently.  She going to test me and the equipment as we get ready for the hunting season.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Crazy Busy

Big Thudd was here for the weekend and we got a lot of dogs run Saturday and Sunday with everybody getting into birds.  Alex Rickert and his family arrived yesterday to pick-up Peanut at the end of their East Coast vacation and are flying her back to Montana so they'll have her for the hun, sharptail, and Mountain Grouse opener next Monday.

You can tell fall is not far away as the woodcock are starting to move around.  There really isn't any flight activity yet but it will seem at times as the birds move about in their normal range.  Haven't seen a woodcock here at the kennel for about three weeks and then flushed one going down the driveway yesterday morning.  This morning we took Peanut to a cover that had double digit woodcock numbers earlier in the summer as well as some grouse and didn't move a bird.  Lucy found 4 woodcock deep in the spruces in one cover.  and LJ had 2 woodcock and a grouse in another. Then Ruby ran and had a really nice grouse find that she held until the bird flushed when it heard us getting close.

Some of the dogs are looking a little beat up from busting through the raspberries.  Max looks a little bit like he's gone a couple rounds of MMA as he attacks the cover with reckless abandon.  He's running strong and had three woodcock and two grouse finds yesterday.  Maggie had a couple of grouse and and Brandy also had strong outings yesterday.  On Saturday Pete went around one cover like he was on autopilot running strong on a cool morning (it was 39 when we broke away) and stuck 6 woodcock on five finds and was broke on all of them.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brood Size

It's been a somewhat disappointing summer for grouse.  We've had plenty of grouse contacts but they've been a lot of single birds and relatively small broods with 3 to 4 chicks on the average with an occasional brood of five and one of seven.  Today Peanut pointed and then took a couple steps and three quail size grouse got up.  She chased them and then circled back to the spot and pointed again.  I could see birds on the ground but they weren't in front of where she was pointing when she moved three more got up.  She circled back and repeated the process twice more until she had put a total of 10 grouse chicks in the air.  I'm pretty sure they were all from the same brood as they matched size-wise and most of young birds are close to full size now.  She also had two woodcock contacts that she pointed briefly and would have given me shots at.  Ruby had run just before her and pointed a woodcock and ran into at least two grouse that I heard go.  So that was 3 woodcock and a dozen grouse for the puppies.

Lj had a pair of woodcock and a real nice relocation on a running grouse and I walked up a grouse.  Lucy had a find on one of each and Pete backed Will and then had a grouse and a woodcock of his own.  Frankie had a big morning as Tony wandered into a new part of the cover I ran Lucy in and found 13 grouse and a woodcock.  Tony reported that the grouse were all feeding in the raspberries.  That ran the count to close to 30 grouse.  Tony and Bruce went of and moved some more grouse in another area to put our grouse count for the day somewhere around 35 birds.  Ad that to the 16 or so woodcock we moved and you have a 50+ bird morning when it was in the high 50s at 6:00 am and was already in the mid 70s when I got back to the house with high humidity.

Front is supposed to come through this afternoon and evening to cool things back down.  Frankie should probably get dog of the day but I didn't see him find all those grouse so I'm giving the nod to Peanut!!!
Peanut earlier this summer on a quail.  Today on grouse her tail was straight up at 12:00!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Natural Dog

Back in the the late 1990s Bill McFadden introduced me to Earl Crangle and helped us publish Earl's book Pointing Dogs: Their Training and Handling.  One of the chapters in the book is titled "The Mexico Method" in which Earl describes his program of running young dogs on the abundant wild quail in Central Mexico where he lived for a number of years.  In the chapter he talks about letting a dog bump birds and chase them until it finally realizes that they always get away and starts standing them.  It's a method that most trainers are unlikely to have the opportunity to use.  But it's something I always thought made sense and have used with the young dogs here at the kennel.  We have genetically programed our modern bird dogs to point game birds and if given enough opportunities they will do it on their own.

Maggie had obviously had a lot of work on planted birds when she got here and was very dependable as long as I was on the other end of the checkcord.  But it can be dangerous letting a dog drag a cord in the woods unless you use a harness.  So, I decided that I would let the birds teach her.  At first she put every woodcock and grouse she found into the air with hardly a pause to the point that I was beginning to loose faith in what I'd learned from Earl.  But I hung in there with her and in the last few workouts it's starting to pay off.  Her first good day she pointed and let us get to her on 2 out of 6 woodcock and it has improved with every workout and has pointed some grouse as well.  Today she pointed 7 woodcock the furthest one away was almost 90 yards and held it until I got to her. Had it been October we would have had good shots at most of them.  Brandy is making the same sort of natural progress and even stood the other day while one of the older dogs came in behind her and backed.  Both of them are starting to stop on their own when there is a backing opportunity.  Jagger is another one who bumped a lot of birds earlier in the summer and will hopefully make the same kind of progress before he heads home in a month.

The little puppies are on the same basic program.  I work to control their range and spend a little time on planted birds but they all want to and have pointed wild birds.  They are still puppies though as Peanut proved today when she pointed what appeared to be a baby thrush on the ground in the woods today.  I lead her away and the baby bird was unharmed although probably pretty traumatized.

Earl introduced field trials to Mexico and is still remember fondly by those he mentored.  He trained on the grounds where the Mexican Shooting Dog Championship is run.  I still have copies of his book if anyone wants one.  They originally sold for $15.95 plus shipping.  Send me a check for $15.00 and I'll take care of the postage.
Craig Doherty
Wild Apple Kennel
1500 East Side River Rd
Dummer, NH 03588

Saturday, August 17, 2013

42 degrees

The outside temperature a little after 6:00 am Friday morning in Red Barn.

The cool August mornings made it really good for running dogs this past week and with high temps in the low 70s I've been able to run longer into the middle of the day.  We've developed about a four day rotation on our covers so we don't put a lot of pressure on the birds in any one area.  Red Barn is back being very productive and Friday morning we moved somewhere between 20 and 30 woodcock.  I really did lose count.  We also continue to try new areas.  We've found numerous covers that hold birds.  Some we'll not go back in until October and one cut we tried was just a little too dry and maybe 3 or 4 years past prime age and stem density.  With grouse and woodcock it's all about stem density to provide them shade, clean walking at ground level, and protection from avian predators.  All the dogs are making progress as they find more and more birds on every outing.  Maggie and Brandy made big jumps today both allowing me to get to them on finds and flush the birds.  

The little puppies are continuing their collar conditioning both in the yard and out in the woods.  It's none too soon either as a couple of them were pushing 200 yards on a couple of casts this week.  Next week I'll be able to use the collar to keep them closer and steer them into birds a little better.  It's interesting to watch the differences in the puppies develop as some continue to be more independent but all four of them are hunting hard and have no fear of attacking the cover even when they have to go through raspberry canes that are shoulder high on me.    

Sam being worked on a 50' line as part of her collar conditioning

Peanut getting dressed like a big dog for a workout this week. 

Sam was the second one out of the truck.  In addition to the traveling to covers they are also learning to stay on the tailgate until it's time to run.
One of the over grown fields that I worked the puppies in.  There are usually woodcock and the occasional grouse in the alders and woods in the old fields and around the edges.
I'm not sure who ate all these hazelnuts, but they are just one of many mast crops that are in abundance this year.