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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Many training books and articles talk about adapting training to individual dogs and letting the dog tell you when they are ready for the next step.  The thing they often don't tell you is what are the specific indicators for moving on with a pup or older dog.  So, I thought I'd share a couple of examples.  I had a cal from someone who was having trouble getting a pup to wear a bell without displaying a major amount of trauma.  This person put the bell on the dog in the kennel and the dog immediately ran into its box and wouldn't come out and stayed in the box for an extended period.  I never put a bell on a puppy until I think they are ready and I usually introduce the bell by having the pup run with an older dog that has a bell on, than introduce it in the yard on a leash, and then when the pup is run.  If the pup balks at all I take a step back and don't force the issue as the bell is an important aspect of the cover dog game and all the dogs have to see (and hear) the bell as an indication that the fun (or Work) is about to begin.

The same thing with gunfire.  I want a pup to already be hunting and finding wild birds before I fire over them.  All four of the puppies that were born inn February that I'm working were just introduced to gunfire this week.  Part of the reason for this is that although they have been finding grouse fairly regularly I've been running them in pairs and didn't want to fire for one finding birds while the other was somewhere I couldn't judge its reaction.  So this week I ran them individually and waited until they were in hot pursuit of a woodcock to fire the gun.  All four reacted as expected -- they just ignored the shot and kept chasing the bird.

The boldest of the four went on to make a shooting dog type cast out of bell range (the bell she had on carries about 200 yards) and took her own sweet time coming back.  That tells me that she is ready for e-collar conditioning and then being shortened up through the coming hunting season.  A lot of people get enamored of watching their puppies run big even in the woods and then really have to lower the boom later when they want them to handle.  I'd rather make them handle when their six months old and then let them extend their range later when they can be trusted to hold birds until I get there.  This maybe the one draw back to gps tracking.  We don't worry about range as much because we can look down at the handheld and know exactly where the dog is.  Some even seem to have developed a perverse thrill of letting their dogs run 300, 400, or more yards in the woods.  I guess my question would be why?  If our top field trial dogs ran that big we'd never be able to find them.  I let my shooting dogs ramble and run big as long as it's to the front.  Puppies and derbies that aren't staunch yet need to be kept on a much shorter string.  To e-collar condition them I start in the yard with a 50' checkcord and work more on come -- at first I put the collar on them and don't even turn it on.  When they come regularly with pressure from the checkcord I start overlaying that with a very low level of stimulation.  Soon I use the stimulation when I say come and hold the button down until they get to me.  This teaches them that the safest place to be is with me.  For a more detailed discussion of this for a older dog that didn't learn the basics as a pup see the post Rope-a-Dope from a couple of summers ago.

There's no real rush with puppies to accomplish these lessons, it's better to take your time and do it right so you don't have to do it again later.


The cool morning yesterday allowed me to get all six dogs on the truck worked and everyone found birds.  Max was the day dog with broke finds on both a woodcock and a grouse.  Jagger ran well and found four woodcock each time he is holding them longer.  Brandy had a couple of grouse contacts that fired her up even more than normal.  Trip had a single grouse.  Then Peanut and Sam got to run late in the morning after spending a long time in the dog box (all part of the learning process)  they each had a woodcock and Sam might have had more on her big cast.

This morning I went to one of our fall hunting covers that I can run two dogs in opposite directions Pete had a grouse and Lucy had three woodcock before I had to head out to the vets to get a shot for Brandy.

Tomorrow will be a Red Barn morning with Tony and four dogs each.  There should be plenty of fireworks as the birds have been filtering in to the cover as the summer progresses.  I'm thinking that I may send some of the training customers a surcharge for the 209 primers I have expended so far this summer -- it's a good thing I don't have to use my .32 in training -- I'm about to finish my third box of 100 primers since June 1.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Felt Like Fall

The high temperature today was in the 60s, there was a stiff northwesterly breeze, and the birds were cooperative.  Started the day with Lucy who had 9 woodcock as well as a pair of grouse that I walked up.  Maggie was up next with 3 woodcock that I know she found and a little rambunctiousness when she may have had a bird I didn't see.  Then came Pete with 8 woodcock and a grouse.  Pete had the find of the day as I found him standing high and tight but could not get a bird up.  When I sent him on he executed a perfect relocation on a woodcock that had run down the hill about 15 yards.

Today was also the first day that Glo and Ruby have been on the truck.  They have both had numerous encounters with the house grouse but it is now time for them to be run individually and in different covers.  Glo went first and I was able to put her on a couple of woodcock and fired over her for the first time as she was following the flight of the bird.  Ruby was up next and hit the mother load as she found 6 woodcock and grouse in a relatively short run.  I shot over her a number of times as she chased birds that she flushed.  Both pups hunted and handled well.

Cider also got on the truck this morning to make for a full six pack of bird dogs.  Cider is a littermate to Lucy and LJ and is kind of a rescue dog.  He ran really nice.  Listen wells and charges hard it will be interesting to see how he develops as we move into the fall.  I haven't decided what I'm going to do with him yet.  He may be looking for a new home soon as a started dog that will make someone a great hunting dog.

Finished the morning (it was actually afternoon) with Sam and Peanut up at the dam.  Being away from the home course did not seem to deter their exuberance as together they were a handful.  Tomorrow they'll go on the truck and get a couple of good puppy spots where they should find some birds.

Temperature in the morning is supposed to be in the low 40s.  I should have plenty of time to run another whole truckload of dogs.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Training in the Rain and other topics.

Saturday Big Thudd was with us to run dogs.  He and I started up into a cut with Max and Rigby and we're soon getting a thorough soaking as a gentle shower turned into a downpour.  It didn't seem to bother the two setters as they covered a lot of ground but it may have hampered scenting conditions as Max was the only one to come up with a bird -- a nice find on a woodcock.

Tim and Tony then went off to one cover to run Little Thudd while Dave Hawke and I went around the corner to another one.  Jagger and Daisy hunted well in a cover that had been consistently producing both grouse and woodcock.  Jagger was feeling his oats and got behind a hill to the tune of 400 + yards before I climbed up to the top where I had better GPS signal and e-collar connection.  Once I got him rounded up and we headed back down through the cover he had a picture perfect find on a grouse.  She didn't sit long and Jagger went in hot pursuit.  When he came back around he flash pointed and then chased a 1/2 size young grouse.

After breakfast Katie, Tim and I took Brandy up on Sanderson Hill for a run.  She hunted hard but couldn't dig out a bird.  This cover is suffering from too much cutting and clearing.  It will probably be a few years before it fills in and starts holding the number of birds it did in the past.

Today Tony, Dave and I joined a group of 20+ people out at the Kilkenny grounds to clear courses for the Grand National in November.  We got the Lonesome Ridge course that Jack won the Grand on in 2007.  It was fun to go around and remember his run.  It was also amazing how much the cover has changed in the last six years and even more dramatic when I think back to first cutting the course in the early 90s.  You can really let a dog roll on that course but you're going to have to be lucky and get a bird in the last 15 minutes when the course drops down along the Upper Ammonusuc.

The really amazing thing today was the number of people who turned out to answer Joe Dahl's request for help.  Joe is very generous with his time helping other put on trials and today he got reap what he's be sowing.  People came from all six New England state, New York, and New Brunswick to pitch in and get six courses ready in one morning of work.  Many hands do make light work.