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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Bitter Sweet

My granddaughter (along with her mother and father) left yesterday morning after a five week visit.  At two years old she's quite the character -- she goes out with me (in a backpack that a parent wears) when I run the puppies here, rides the four-wheeler when I'm planting pigeons, and imitates the way I "sing" to the dogs.  She'll be back in September for a few days when her mother comes for a friends wedding and then I'll spent time with them in Kentucky this winter.  They have friends who have a 400 acre farm about 15 minutes from the house and I'm going to be able to use an old tobacco barn for a kennel and have room to work the dogs on the days I can't go over to the Berea trial grounds.  All of you who are grandparents can empathize with my wish that the lived closer but that's rarely the case in this day and age as there are no jobs up here in the woods for a pair of college professors.

Brandy, yesterday on a pigeon.

So, it was back to work with a truck load of dogs this morning -- and it was a good morning.  Brandy is just off IR after being treated for heart worms and only got a 15 minute run.  She came close to "Dog of the Day" honors as she had three nice woodcock finds.  Sam was next out of the truck and carded two small broods (or more likely, two halves of the same brood as the finds were pretty close together) and a woodcock find.  Glow was out next with a woodcock and a nice brood of grouse that was probably 6+ birds.  "Dog of the Day" honors haver to go to Birdy who had a woodcock and two broods of grouse.  One brood was about three-quarters grown and the other was quail sized.  Glow and Sam's grouse were closer to full grown.

Birdy, a couple days ago on a pigeon.

The last dog out of the truck was Spiggy who found the biggest brood of birds I've seen since early in the season.  There was somewhere close to double digits as the 1/2 size grouse kept lifting in bunches.  She also had a woodcock.  And this was in a cover that I've driven by many, many times and never gone in.  It's just reaching the early stages of being good cover -- lots of skidder roads loaded with ripe raspberries lined with thick clumps of hardwood whips, as well as an edge of more mature woods.

The total for the morning was 7 woodcock and somewhere around 30 grouse including one single that I walked up.  The numbers should continue to improve as we make our way through August and into September.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Coming Soon

In the very near future there will be a new blogsite which will include our webpage www.wildapplekennel.com with this blog.  There maybe a period of time where the blog will be down as we transition to the new platform.  While the blog is down I post on my Craig Doherty Facebook page.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August -- In The Home Stretch

As August rolls in things are turning for the homestretch here at the kennel.  We ran in some different spots and had some better bird numbers this morning moving 9 grouse and 10 woodcock.  All three of the Bud Bros had bird contacts in what was really still, humid air.  Tick had a great back on G-III and got a good look at a grouse fly back past him and then bumped a woodcock that he and G-III were both trying to sort out.  Steve had a really nice piece of work on a woodcock that was 50 yards away and he held the bird until I got to him.  He took a step and the bird popped then he stayed steady to wing and shot.  The puppy of the day was Spot with three woodcock finds two on his own and one when he failed to back Trash and got the bird in the air.  He had two other opportunities to back and handled them well.  On his best find he let me flush the bird and it would have been one of those shots for a puppy where I tend to try a little harder and usually get the job done as the woodcock climbed up through an opening in the poplars giving me (and Spot) a really clean look at it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Bud Bros

Over the years I've had some very precocious pointer puppies.  Wild Apple Jack in 2004 and Wild Apple Calvados last year both won the Miss Leslie Derby Classic on wild birds while still puppies.  Wild Apple LJ won three out of four derby stakes he ran in on wild birds in the fall of 2012 and showed adult manners on both grouse and woodcock along the way.  Both Wild Apple Molly McGee and Wild Apple Polka Dot have pointed grouse already this summer and Molly at least will get some opportunities against this year's derbies.  That said, the three Bud Bros pictured below may be the most advanced puppies I've ever worked.  All three are steady to wing and shot on pigeons and a couple have already had broke woodcock finds.  They were bred by Derek Caudill from Kentucky using his Diamond Straight Flush "elhew" bitch and Chase Hill's Little Bud as the sire.  Bud and his sire Beaver Meadow Benjamin are not for throwing pups that develop early.  The plan is for Derek to get one back to try cover dog field trials with and I'm planning to keep one which means that one of these pups will be available at the end of the summer.  They all will make great wild bird dogs and will be ready t hunt this season.  They should also be excellent cover dog prospects.  If I had to choose today which one I'd send back to Derek and which one I'd keep, I'd probably have to draw lots.  Call me at 603-381-8763 or email me at wildapplekennel@gmail.com if you want more details.



Steve Jobs

Friday, July 25, 2014

Unintended Consequences

Brandy backing Tick.
Brandy is still recovering from a procedure and is only allowed yard work at least for another week or so.  So I went out and planted some pigeons for her and took her out on the checkcord.  I was halfway down the yard when a big white dog streaked by and then pointed Brandy's pigeon.  It was Tick, one of the six and 1/2 month old Bud Bros.  He had broken out of his Kennel even though I had put extra snaps on the door to keep him in (it wasn't his first escape).  I flushed the bird from its remote launcher and he stood for the flush and shot.  He only released when I walked up behind him with Brandy.  I took Brandy on for two finds on her own while Tick zigged when we zagged.  He then went back and pointed the pigeon trap.  I didn't have a spare lead with me so I walked Brandy up to the kennel put her up grabbed a Wonder Lead and then went back to find Tick still standing pointing the empty pigeon trap.   I slipped the lead over his head and then walked him back to his kennel which I secured with the extra snap and a couple of heavy duty zip ties.  That seem to work as he did not make another appearance as I worked the other dogs.  Here's a bad video of our youngest puppy Dottie pointing a pigeon on her own.

Earlier in the day, I ran Birdy, Fiona, Spiggy, and Hattie.  All had wild bird contacts some handled better than others.  We're making progress but still not finding the wild birds in the numbers we need.

Tomorrow the Bud Bros and Sam and Glow will be on the truck as we try a few spots that got good about this time last year.

Monday, July 21, 2014

19 and 2

Every summer we go through the same thing.  It seems like birds are next to impossible to find and then they seem to appear out of nowhere.  This morning was like that in Red Barn.  Birds have been hard to come by until Saturday when Tony ran by himself and had 17 woodcock with Big Frankie.  This morning we ran seven dogs and moved 19 woodcock and 2 grouse with three braces of dogs. I was running the Bud Bros and they all had bird contacts with Spot finding a couple on his own and getting a few chances to back G-III who just came in from Ohio early yesterday.  Of the Bros, I'd have to give the edge to Tick who ran with Tim K's Dottie puppy and they both had finds on their own.  Tick was broke on his -- he's been broke on pigeons in the yard but really didn't expect it to happen on wild birds as well.  No wonder his sire, Chasehill Little Bud, has won over 30 championship placements.  All three of his boys that are with me this summer are going to be all about finding birds. When I got back this morning I got out the pigeon traps and ran some more dogs.

Spot, one of the infamous Bud Bros backing G-III this morning. (Tony Bly Photo)
Wild Apple Calvados is still on restricted duty but is staunching up nicely on pigeons.
Wild Apple Molly McGee runs even bigger than the Bud Bros and has almost as much style.
Yesterday we tried more new covers and had birds in all the spots we ran dogs.  Although we have a couple of hot spots, we still keep searching for new covers as well as checking out existing ones.  All the good covers will eventually have birds in them but we have to wait for the grouse to rotate into the available feed.  The raspberries are just starting to ripen and we should start finding grouse feeding on them in the next week or so.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Almost Half-Time

As the middle of July fast approaches, we mark the halfway point in our summer wild bird program.  So far all the dogs in camp have had opportunities on wild birds -- both grouse and woodcock -- and, since we have so many young dogs, they have also been getting regular work on pigeons.  The wild birds have been relatively fought to come by with only a couple of exceptions.  Looking a t the blog reports from the last two summers it is likely that things will be picking up soon.  We have also had a couple of nice mornings this past week.  It was in the mid-40s the morning I took the picture below of the brook and of Tony.
Stearn's Brook meanders through a set of old fields that have been one of our most reliable training areas over the las 27 years. 

Tony modeling his Purina chaps.  These lightweight chaps make walking through the wet grass and brush a lot easier.

Wild Apple Calvados return to the kennel yesterday to get ready for the fall wild bird derby trials that will start in Canada with the New Brunswick Grouse Classic Labor Day Weekend.

Wild Apple Blackbird started out here last summer but spent the fall and winter running the prairies of Montana.  It was amazing how quickly she adjust her range back to the woods.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wild and not so wild birds

My daughter and granddaughter helping with the bird planting. 

I've got added help here at the kennel for a while.  my daughter Meghan and Granddaughter Ellis are here visiting.  Mostly Ellis just rides the four-wheeler and her mother makes sure she doesn't drive off while I'm planting birds, but it sure is fun having them here.  We've been getting out into the woods and all the older dogs are starting to run and hunt well, but we're not finding a lot of wild birds yet.  The most consist birds have been up behind the house on our 30 minute training loop that we save for puppies.  yesterday and today we had at least one brood and a single grouse.  Wild Apple Polka Dot is one of those pups that always seems to be around the birds and had a great piece of work on a brood yesterday.  Saw here on point and when I head towards her a 1/2 grown grouse got up behind her and she didn't move.  I took a couple more steps and the one in front of her flushed with Dottie in hot pursuit.  Then Willow swung in and pointed a third one.  A little further along Mollie pointed a single.

Wild Apple Polka Dot pointing her first pigeon.

A couple of hot and humid mornings kept us in the yard and working the youngest puppies on pigeons after a trip around the training loop.  Willow may not have the style of our FDSB setters but she definitely has the nose and is now pointing and holding her birds.

Willow an Orange Belton English Setter has started pointing.

Tim K's pups from the breeding of Stokely's Frankie B X CH Jonesy's Rebels Revenge got to see some pigeons today as well and both were looking good.  As I'm typing this there is a front passing through bringing cooler, dryer air in for the next few days.  Forecast calls for highs in the 70s for the next three days and lows in the morning of 50 or less.

Tim K's Angie on a pigeon in the bird field.

Tim K's Dot pointing her first pigeon this morning.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pigeon Power

One of the major pluses of living here in the North Country is that I get to work dogs in the summer on native grouse and woodcock.  There is no better teaching tool then to get young dogs out in the woods and have them come in contact with and learn to hunt for and eventually handle wild birds. It's what makes great hunting dogs and great cover dog field trial dogs.  All the puppies we started last summer had pointed birds killed for them last fall.

Tim Ks dog Wild Apple Calvados with a limit of woodcock she pointed and I killed last October.  She was also Runner-up in the Miss Leslie Anderson Derby Classic last fall with a nice woodcock find in a callback. 

Woodcock Limited President Joe Faux with his first true double on grouse pointed by Wild Apple Moon Glow  in early October when she was seven months old.
Wild Apple Samantha was turning into a veritable grouse finding machine near the end of the season when Tim K and Frank Illianic killed three grouse out six flushed on two points in one cover in mid-November.  Fortunately for us, she also dug one of the downed birds out of the tall grass for us when we were having trouble finding it.  Ruby, Glows sister, and Birdy, Sam's sister, also had birds shot for them last season.  All of them are a testament to effectiveness of getting puppies out on wild birds in the spring and summer.  This year, Dottie, Molly, and the Bud Bros have all seen wild birds in fact we had two broods today on the 30 minute loop here at the kennel.

But that is not always enough.  You need to be able to supplement the wild bird experience with controlled work in the bird field especially early in the summer when the woodcock and grouse are still bunched up in family groups and broods.  Once those family groups start spreading out later this summer it will give the dogs more opportunities to find wild birds.  In the meantime, they are learning to run in the woods, are getting in shape, learning to handle, and finding a few birds or being called in to back a more experienced dog.  But really, that is not enough for them.  They need to go through the whoa breaking and experience pointing.  The best way to do that is to use pigeons especially for puppies either from this winter and spring or those that will be derbies in the fall but didn't get much opportunity last year.

I have been using pigeons for a long time.  In fact one of the first dog related articles I sold was about Tony and I using pigeons and a belly band to break dogs.  I still use both, although I don't automatically turn to the belly band or use it on every dog anymore.  This year I was down South and saw Harold Banks using his Dogtra pigeon launchers and decided it was time to upgrade.  My two old Innotek ones still work but I wanted more.  and really like the Dogtras.  As it turned out, Will Sanborn whose Lucy dog came from here and came back last summer, had four launchers and a remote that he was willing to swap me for some future considerations.  The launchers work great.  they're quiet and launch a pigeon high enough to get it out of the dog's reach quickly.  To start out, I put them in a covey or two and work the dogs into them on a spiked collar and a retractable 30' lead.  I used a check cord for years and still do on occasion, but the heavy duty retractable can easily be operated with one hand and rarely gets wrapped around a dog's legs.

A "covey" of pigeons planted along the edge of the mowed bird field.
Hattie, a French Brittany, has some experience in the woods but busted a lot more birds then she pointed.  Learning to stand for longer and longer times before the flush of a pigeon will help transfer her pointing instincts to wild birds.
Spiggy, a really nice GSP, is just a year old and pointed the first pigeon she scented.  She's going to make the owner a nice gun dog.
Tee, along with the other two Bud Bros. -- Spot and Tick, are all pointing pigeons from a distance and standing steady to wing and shot.
Once the pups are reliably pointing on the lead, I'll let them hunt the bird field just dragging a rope.  Molly and Dottie haven't had any pigeons yet as they are still running the home loop and finding wild birds.  Mollie no longer gets quail put out for her as she's decided they make a pretty good snack.

Our newest camper is Willow who is a more traditional-type orange belton English setter (her sire weighs 85 pounds) and with her we are using the pigeons in a different way.  To fire her up I throw pigeons in front of her as we walk around the field with her.  She drags a little rope so we can grab it when she comes across one of the planted birds.  If she stops on her own -- great.  If she smells the bird and moves in I pop it.  It's up to her to learn that the bird only stays if she does.  She's making progress.  And thanks to the pigeon coop which you can see in the background of Tee's picture, All the dogs we're working are going to get a jumpstart on their wild bird work.

Friday, June 27, 2014

International Day

Today was the first day where we loaded up both trucks with dogs and headed out to one of our training covers.  I took all customer dogs as they all seemed ready for a change from yard work and the bird field.  It's quite the international gathering here at the kennel this summer.  Today the truck had Hattie -- a French Brittany, Spiggy -- a German Shorthair, Fiona -- a Gordon Setter, and Birdy -- an English Pointer.  All four got good runs although the birds were a little tough to come by this early in the season.  The woodcock are all still in family groups and you'll often have multiple birds on a find.  The grouse chicks are still real small although the ones I've seen in the last week or so are all flying well enough to get up in the trees if rousted by one of the many young dogs we're working.  Collectively we moved 6 woodcock and a grouse.

I would have to give day dog to Fiona, she wasn't always where I wanted her to be (that will come in time) but she ran hard with a lot of style on the ground.  She also had the find of the day as she wheeled right in front of us in clear view and slammed in to a beautiful, although brief, point.  She moved up and stopped again then a grouse blew out and she went with it.  The most impressive part of that was the fact that it was near the end of her workout and she was in the last brace.  The day started out at 45 degrees and had warmed quite a bit by the time she came across the grouse.  She was well off of it indicating the quality of her nose.  With some more bird field work she should be holding birds like that at least long enough to give me a chance to get to her.

Hattie, Spiggy and Birdy all ran well with Spiggy getting to back on a nice find that Tony's Trash do had.  Hattie got a section of the cover that was pretty thick and she showed her willingness to bust some brush in pursuit of birds.  Hattie just turned three and is the oldest dog in the program this summer.  Birdy is a daughter of Wild Apple Jack and showed it.  Covering lots of ground and getting around a couple of birds.

A few days ago she was pointing the pigeon coop.  Today  she earned Day Dog honors with a nice "Puppy" find on a grouse.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


The weather forecast for this morning was rain and drizzle with high humidity.  Not exactly prime conditions for getting much accomplished in the bird field so Tony and I did some exploring.  We live where there are fairly extensive tracts of privately owned industrial forest that is open for hunting and other recreational activities.  Over the years we tried many different spots in an attempt to expand our inventory of good bird covers both for training and hunting.  Obviously we are always looking for early successional forest areas that have the appropriate species and stem densities for grouse and woodcock.  Sometimes these covers overlap for the two species others are more suited for one or the other.  The problem with early successional forest is that it grows rapidly and its capacity to hold birds grows for awhile and them begins to diminish as the trees fill in and mature opening the understory for again and other predators.  What was our honey hole "money" cover a couple years ago is already on the down side.  With that in mind we are always looking for hew covers that are just reaching good holding capacity.

In addition to the qualities mentioned for the trees there are a couple other aspects to the cover that are also important.  It can't be too steep (which rules out a lot of mountainsides) and it has to have been harvested in such a way that the skidder trails and the strips of trees are clean enough for the dogs to run through without getting too banged up.  It's a constant search that goes on from spring through summer training season and into the fall when new spots have to prove their worth before they are added to the regular rotation.

This morning the wildlife was fairly active as we cruised the back logging roads looking for cuts that are reaching that optimal age.  Tony spotted a grouse as we were a few miles down the road and we stopped and watch as four of her chicks followed her across the road.  There were likely more that had gone across before we spotted her but we drove on without disturbing them further.  The chicks were still quite small but seemed to fly well as the crossed the road.  Lots of song birds were along the roads and we also spotted a couple of hares sporting their summer brown coats.  On one road we walked down two cedar waxwings were picking wild strawberries out of the road.  One of the most promising spots we saw this morning had a mud puddle that was covered with woodcock borings and splash.   just before we got to it at the end of a spur road I saw a big bear run down the road in front of us and then jump into the woods and disappear.  After we had scout the spot and found the borings we headed out and the bear popped out in the road again giving us a full view of his rather ample size.

The most amazing event of the morning was when we popped into a side road only to see that it was gated.  When I looked down the road there were two woodcock right on the edge.  The rest of the family was probably nearby.  One of the birds ducked back into the cover while the other one strutted around in the road and let us get quite close before it fluttered up and into the woods.  It never got more then chest high indicating it was a young bird.  It's beak look long so our assumption is that it is a recently hatched female.  We think of woodcock as being active at night and at either end of the day.  This was around 10:30 this morning.  

Finally, we stopped at one more piece of cover and walked in a little bit to check it out.  It looked even better then the Bear Cover and we will definitely be back sometime in the next couple months of training to see what we can find for birds.  It usually takes a couple of tries to find the sweet spots in some of these really big cuts, but after 27 years of doing this together Tony and I can usually decode a spot relatively quickly.

There are two woodcock just on the edge of the road and probably more in the bushes.
This one strutted around in the road for a couple minutes while Tony and I watched.  From it's size and beak length we're pretty sure it was a female born this year.
Tomorrow we're going to make our first foray into one of our prime training covers.  I hauled my tractor down their three times in the last week and Tony and various other friends have put in some hard days with weedwackers and brush saws.  It looks like it's time to get back in the woods/

Also got a report from Katie that she was out for a walk today between appointments and was attacked by the hen grouse pictured below.

Attack grouse that was most likely trying to distract Katie away from her chicks.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Brood Alert

Wild Apple Polka Dot (Autumn Snow X Indian Creek Triple Rail) 
Dottie pointed her first brood of grouse today.  They were feeding along the edge of a small clearing where I'm sure there were ample grasshoppers and other bugs.  There were at least 10 chicks which is a really good sign.  Big broods, beautiful June weather, and lots of bugs mean lots of healthy birds for the summer training season as well as the fall hunting.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Attack Grouse

Grouse can do some pretty amazing things.  Over the years, I thought I had seen and heard it all.  Drummers in the spring, clucking birds in the brush, and hens whine so loud to attract you away from chicks that they sound like a cat about to get in a fight.  I've also seen birds flop around on the ground feinting a broken wing too attract a dog away from chicks and a couple times I've had hens puff up and run right at me to try and scare me away.  But yesterday morning tops all.  Tony and I were out working dogs and were pulling up to a landing where we planned to run our last dog.  We were in two trucks with him in the lead.  Just as we got to the landing a grouse blew up from the side of the road and flew right at Tony's truck.  Tony didn't see her so he continued to pull over.  The grouse banked hard to the left following the truck and landed right on the roof of the truck.  She then flew back into the tall grass of the landing followed by a series of flushes of 20 - 30 feet as she drew our attention away from the area where there were no doubt a brood of chicks.  We took a quick look for the chicks but couldn't find them and then decided we didn't want to disturb them or further aggravate the hen as she was no doubt still on the edge of the landing where she had last landed.

On another note Pat and Loyd Carney were up for a couple of days this week and we got the lions share of the trail work done in one of our main training covers.  We'll probably wait another week before we start going in there regularly with truckloads of dogs.  Tony has been running his puppies in the first part of the cover quite a bit and is moving a few woodcock.  Yesterday, in addition to the attach grouse we moved three woodcock -- one with Big Frankie and one each for Sam and Little Frankie.  

Looking forward to getting out of the bird field with the dogs and back into the woods.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Preseason Cover Checkup

It's probably going to be a couple weeks before we start going into the woods full-time for training but Tony and I check out  few of our regular covers and a couple new ones.  It seems that every summer the birds are hard to find in June as the grouse hens keep their broods in pretty tight cover only coming out briefly to the edges to feed on bugs and pick gravel.  The woodcock are also bunched up in family groups and in a few weeks will be spread out and a little easier to find.  Spiggy and two of the Bud Bros were on the truck yesterday and birds were tough.  Fortunately for the youngsters that I have Tony has a couple of experienced shooting dogs to help us find the birds.  Yesterday Frankie had a couple of woodcock finds and Spiggy got her nose and eyes on one of them and thought it was pretty interesting.  She runs pretty hard but her application into the cover kicked up a notch after seeing that woodcock and being shot over.  Trash and Spot went birdless while Tee was nearby when I walked up a grouse.

Today we had Birdy, Fiona, and Tick on the truck along with Frankie, Little Frankie, and Trash.  Little Frankie and Birdy were down first thing and both ran hard in a cover that had a number of woodcock nesting in it.  Now that everything is fully leafed out it was extremely thick in the cover and the birds may have moved out as Birdy had one find and that was it.  Frankie and Tick were up next in what is more of a grouse cover and although Frankie had one stand we never heard or saw a bird.  The last brace today was Fiona and Trash.  Fiona continues to impress me as she really goes at the woods and seems to be hunting hard.  She got brought in twice to back Trash, once on a woodcock and once on a grouse.  She got good looks at both birds and was a bit of handful for awhile afterwards.  She did have one woodcock on her own.  I heard the bell stop after a short period of time she moved up and bumped the bird.

Most of the dogs will continue with the pigeon and yard work program as we get ready for going back into the woods for the majority of the training.

Birdy busting cover this morning.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Smart Dogs

Fiona on a "COVEY" find at the end of her run this morning.
Right now I have the five puppies (Molly, Dot, and the 3 Bud Bros) plus 5 dogs that are 15 months old to just about a year.  What is most amazing about all these young dogs is how fast they learn things.  Both quail pens and the pigeon coop have electric fences around them and out of those 10 young dogs I thing only one or two has hit the fence more than once even though they can see the pigeons through the screened windows and in the aviary and can often see and always smell the quail.    It's not because any of them lack prey drive because when there are birds out on the course or in the bird field they are hunting and pointing (and chasing when they can) with intensity.  They are all smart enough to quickly discern the difference between the place we keep the birds and the birds they are supposed to hunt.

Some like Fiona (pictured above) would really like the rules to be different and has taken to staunchly pointing the pigeon coop knowing the consequences of what will happen if she gets any closer.  I was able to walk up to her and lift her up and away.  Had the fence not been there she would have wanted to flush and chase the birds.  Knowing that she is willing to respect the fence, which isn't all that hot, means that properly applied pressure will get her to stand her birds when there's no fence in front of her.  

We all tend to get a little breed-centric and I'll admit my preference for pointers but dogs like Fiona and Spiggy, a GSP, remind me that there are good dogs in all breeds.  Fiona runs hard and is extremely light on her feet.  Spiggy has a typical GSP gate that is more lope then hard run but she covers the ground well and is quite impressive when she hits bird scent and stacks up in a point.  There is no doubt when she has a bird in front of her.  

All the dogs are making progress on yard work, handling, hunting, and working birds in the bird field.  I'm looking forward to getting them out on wild birds when we go back in the woods later this month.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Third Time Around

Grouse nest Tony and I found a couple years ago.

The woodcock should be all hatched out and the chicks should be flying soon (it only takes them a few weeks to get airborne) and the grouse should be hatching now.  So, to avoid disturbing nests and having puppies chasing chicks I limit my training runs to a loop on the bottom of the home grounds.  I know we have grouse nesting up the hill from the house but haven't found any hens along the loop so far this spring (it's not summer yet here).  So, today I worked dogs in the yard and on the loop and will do some pigeon work near the house if we get a little breeze this afternoon.

On my third trip around the loop this morning I had the two wonder pups -- Dottie and Molly.
Dottie pointing a quail with Molly backing.
They were together in the brush right on the edge of the field next to a small island of poplar and apples when they both slammed on point.  Then I saw something scurry through the brush and immediately realized that it was a hen grouse trying to attract the attention of the puppies away from what I assume was a brood of grouse chicks.  both puppies followed her when she thrashed around like her wing was broken and then started squawking.  When she had them headed away from the chicks she flushed low and slow so the puppies could see her fly across the small field opening.  They both gave chase.  Dottie gave it up first and came on with me.  I heard Molly flush the hen one more time before she finally responded to the whistle and came flying forward looking for another bird.

I'm staying in the yard for the rest of the morning to give her time to get back to the chicks.  What I've found in the past is a hen will move out of an area if she gets flushed a couple of times.  There's plenty of edges on the property where she can take the chicks bug hunting and I'll be surprised if I see her in the same spot again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

That's What I'm Talking About!

Last summer I started a bunch of puppies, 2 for myself and three for customers.  They came from three different litters.  Ruby and Glow are by Autumn Moon out of Creek's Elhew Lucy.  Brandy (Wild Apple Calvados) is by Autumn Moon out of Coverdog Cover Girl (I called her Mariah when I had her here at the Kennel).  The other two were Wild Apple Samantha and Wild Apple Blackbird and they are by Wild Apple Jack out of Wynot Belle.  Sam and Birdy were whelped 2/5/2013 and were both with me through last summer when Birdy headed West with Alex Rickert and family to be a prairie bird dog.  I got to see her roll in September when Timmy and I went out and hunted with Alex.  Birdy thought nothing of stretching out 500 plus yards and looked good doing it.  She came back for training last Friday and after a few days to get reacquainted got her first run here at the kennel today.

Birdy at 8 weeks.

It was a very interesting outing as the puppy I saw chewing up the prairies never went out more than 150 yards as we made the loop.  I thought she might want to run the open edges of the small fields on the training course but she hit the cover just like she did last August and to top it off had a grouse find.  About every third day we'll put up a grouse, usually within 100 yards of the same spot each time.  I heard Birdy's bell coming towards me and then she stopped.  When she stopped I heard the grouse rustling across the leaf litter and then saw it about the same time it saw me.  The grouse did a quick 180 and headed back towards Birdy.  Caught between us it had no choice when Birdy took a step but to flush.  Birdy came flying out of the cover in hot pursuit.

Birdy doing barrel work a couple days ago.

One of the the most important aspects of breeding dogs for me is getting dogs that have intelligence.  Both Jack and Autumn Moon (litter mates) displayed it during their illustrious careers that included each of them winning the Grand National Grouse Championship as well as other wild bird trials.  Birdy and the other pups that were at the kennel last summer all show it.  And it looks like it's a trait that is going forward.  Our littlest one her at the kennel (12 week old Dottie) is by Autumn Snow (Autumn Moon X Creek's Elhew Lucy) X Indian Creek Triple Rail (Guard Rail daughter) she is already show great bird sense as she keeps looking in all the right places and using her exceptional nose to find quail on the training course.

Spiggy sporting the two inch reflector collar.

Fiona, Spiggy, and the Bud Bros were all out for a run early this morning before it started to warm up.  Fiona is a Gordon and Spiggy is a GSP I usually use a two inch reflector collar for my bell and on those two it really makes a difference seeing them in the woods.  This was Fiona's first time off leash as she arrived with a split pad.  I attended the Gordon Setter National Field Trial Championship once in Connecticut and saw a few nice dogs but also saw a lot of larger dual-type dogs.  Fiona probably doesn't fit the the breed show standards but she sure gets over the ground nicely, runs mostly to the front, and listens pretty well for her first time out after just doing yard work since she arrived.  She also seems to have a good nose and at least flash points when the opportunity presents itself.  Spiggy is also making nice progress.  She'll turn one later this month and at times acts like the puppy she still is, but she also is showing that she's going to be all business as a bird dog.  She runs harder all the time and seems to have a really good nose.  She hits her birds hard and should staunch up without too much pressure.  The Bud Bros are an interesting trio.  Which one I like best changes from day to day and fortunately I don't have to make up my mind until fall.  They all run with style and handle well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sunny Days

Sunny days have been few and far between lately, but today was beautiful with a nice breeze and temperatures reaching the low 70s.  Spent time on yard work with a little pigeon pointing thrown in at the end for the older pups.  Molly and Dottie still did a quail walk and looked pretty good doing it.

Both Spiggy and Fiona saw their first pigeons today.  Both showed that have good noses.  My photographer missed Fiona at here most intense moment but still got a picture of her as she focused on the the birds.  Spiggy showed really nice intensity.  She's been here a couple weeks and the more I work her the more I like her.  She runs hard and obviously shows some intensity on point.

Fiona pointing her first pigeon.

Spiggy showing some nice style.  Although the retractable lead looks taunt, there's no pressure on her to stand her birds.

Molly and Dottie are definitely looking good.  I put out two quail for them and they found three (some of the birds are not recalling but are staying around the bird field.).  Dottie at 11 weeks seems to be the best bird finder of the this year's puppies.  She just always seem to go to the right spot.  In the top image (below) she actually stole point from Molly.  In the bottom image she held point long enough for Molly to come in and back.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Visitors to Wild Apple Kennel

This morning I worked the Bud Bros over my Puppy course and we found a couple of grouse and the quail I had released.  Then we had a couple of visitors.  Angie and Dot (Frankie X Ch Jonesy's Rebel Revenge) came over to go around the puppy course with our Dot and Molly.  It was a little bit like herding cats at the beginning as the four puppies wanted to play and explore in various directions but we eventually got them all going in the right direction and they looked good.

Angie closest -- Molly next -- Setter Dot and then Little Dot out on the limb.
Polka Dot thinks she's hiding in the grass in hopes of tackling the next puppy to run buy.

After running the puppies we headed out to run some of the bigger dogs.  Glow ran with Little Frankie and Sam and Trash made up the second brace.  Trash pointed a grouse that hopped up into a tree and Sam cam in and pointed as well without seeing Trash.  On the way back out of the woods we came upon the spruce grouse in the video below.  I walked right up to it and then switched from pictures to videos.  We usually see spruce grouse along this same road once or twice a year.  When you see them up close it's easy to see it's not a ruffed grouse.  When they flush in front of a dog in thick cover it's possible to confuse them.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Puppy Progress

I always find spending time with the puppies at the kennel fascinating.  They grow so fast and develop quickly.  The Bud Bros have gotten to the point where I can't gang run them anymore and still keep track of them.  I can still run Molly and Dottie together.  This morning I threw out a couple quail for them.  It took me a few minutes to get ready to go as today was Ivermectin and tick prevention.  Used Biospot on the bigger pups all the dogs.and used something for smaller dogs on the littler pups.  By the time we got over to the bird field the quail had moved from where I put them and we didn't find them on the way out.   I don't like to use tip-ups or other devices to hold the quail in place as I want the flush to be as natural as possible when they do find a bird.  I try not to stand around where the bird was planted and let the pups find the birds off the flow of the walk.  On the way back in Dottie found one of the birds that was making its way back towards the pen.  She was pretty excited when it flushed and chased a little bit before going back and smelling more where it had been.   I marked the bird down and called Molly who loves to carry things in here mouth.  She came by me with a rather respectable piece of firewood in her jaws and started into the woods when she hit scent and slammed on the brakes.  She dropped the stick and styled up really nice for about a two count and then flushed and chased the bird which she quickly lost in the woods.  Seeing those two little puppies Molly is 16 weeks old and Dottie is 10 weeks old use their noses to find birds and at least flash point shows that the genetic programing is intact and operating.  They also run to the front and stay up there with only a little reminding with voice and whistle.  yesterday Dottie had a quail find on the edge of the bird field and Molly put up a grouse in the poplar stand that is part of my puppy loop.

At their age "training" is all about providing opportunities.  Once they discover their purpose in life then the training actually starts.  My goals for all five puppies is to have them ready to hunt over this fall.  They'll handle and in some fashion point birds.  Last summer's puppies progressed similarly over the summer and early fall and all of them had pointed birds shot for them.  The woodcock are either hatched or about to hatch and the grouse should be hatching in the first two weeks of June with the majority of them around here at the later part of that window as they seemed to get a late start with their drumming.

Dottie in Hot Pursuit

Monday, May 5, 2014

Molly and Dottie in Grouse Land

Molly and Dottie learning the way around the Home Cover.
Yesterday was rather interesting here at the kennel.  Tony and I have agreed to stay out of our main training covers until at least late June to give the grouse and woodcock chicks a chance to get to the flying stage (although the woodcock will be flying long before then). So we ran in a cover near the house that is usually just a flight cover in the fall with an occasional resident woodcock or grouse in the summer.  It's always been someplace that good to just let the dogs get some exercise.  Well, yesterday we ran a couple pairs of dogs through this cover and found to separate woodcock that at this late date are definitely resident birds.

Then After Tony left I decided to make a loop up behind the kennel to give Molly and Dottie some exercise.  In the past we have had very few spring and summer grouse in the home cover.  It is usually a lot more active when the apples, cranberries, and other fruit and nuts are ripe.  I reported early on the two grouse win the yard the other evening, while yesterday we didn't disturb those two as we made a larger loop, but we moved six grouse in less then 30 minutes and  heard three drummers that were in theWild Apple cover or nearby.

I going to have to reach deep in the bag of tricks to find places to run the pups until we're back in the woods full time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The King of the Woods

It has recently come to my attention that “The Friends of Dave Hughes for the Field Trial Hall of Fame” have used my name in an ad that appeared in the May third issue of the American Field.  The ad states, “Craig Doherty in a feature article called Hughes The King of the Woods.”  That was the title of an article that ran in the Winter 1999 issue of Field Trial Magazine as a sidebar to the main article on the Grand National Grouse Championship which had run in New Hampshire for the first time in November 1998.  Had my name not been used in this context to promote the Hughes campaign for the Field Trial Hall of Fame, I would have quietly stayed on the sidelines, but since it was I feel compelled to let everyone know that I do not endorse Dave Hughes for the Hall of Fame nor do I plan on voting for him.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Coitus Interuptus

Just at dusk yesterday my friend Tommy stopped by and we let Jack and the two puppies (Molly and Dot) out loose in the yard. As we were standing next to the house Tommy pointed to the edge of the lawn and there was a male grouse in full display strutting like a turkey Jack saw him and when Molly saw Jack get interested she came over and flushed the bird then followed him up into the woods behind the house. She came back around a couple minutes later and flushed what we assume was the hen. Hopefully they had done the deed before we interrupted them. Those are probably some of the house grouse that we flushed from the cranberry bushes that are about 30 yards from the house every time we ran a dog here last fall.  The hen is probably nesting nearby hopefully far enough from the house that she won't be bothered by the puppies during play time.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nesting Season

New Hampshire has no closed season for bird dog training, but Tony and I self-impose one for May and into June.  In the last three days we have had birds, both grouse and woodcock, in three of our primary training covers which means we should have an excellent summer with the dogs.  As the picture shows the woodcock already have their full clutch of eggs and one woodcock we pointed today we didn't even flush as she was obviously sitting on a nest.

A full clutch of woodcock eggs.
 In addition to hearing drummers everywhere we go we are also seeing grouse along the roads and the dogs are finding them in our training covers.  I have not been out here at the kennel without flushing at least one grouse.  There is one that seems to live very close to the house as we flushed it again today just off the edge of the lawn in a big patch of high bush cranberries.  Tony flushed one yesterday when he stopped at the end of his driveway to get his mail.

There also seems to be a good number of grouse that have wintered over.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Drummers Everywhere

The town I live in is named Dummer (after a colonial governor Massachusetts) but this time of year it should be called Drummer!  Tommy and I spent yesterday clearing the spot where the new kennel building and puppy shed will eventually go and every time the chainsaw was off we could hear grouse drumming.  Over the course of the time we were working we identified at least five different locations a couple relatively close to the house the rest up the hill in and around the Wild Apple Kennel home cover which is 100 acres with a number of training loops through it.

Friday when Tony and I ran dogs we had three grouse finds and a woodcock and could hear multiple drummers the whole time we were working dogs and we had 10 dogs between us that we got out.  Later that afternoon I drove out to the pit, where we target shoot, with my pistol to get in a little practice and could hear drummers all over the woods out there.  on the way back I saw a bird in the road and it was good enough to hop up in a tree and pose for a picture.

There aren't many grouse that are this cooperative!
Yesterday when I took the two little puppies, Molly and Dot, out on the puppy loop we flushed a grouse before we were out of the yard.  The long winter and cold spring seem to have delayed the start of the drumming season which means the hens are only now starting to lay eggs.  It takes the hens about 2 weeks to lay a full clutch of eggs and then 24 to 26 days to incubate them.  With the males just starting to drum last week, shouldn't have any grouse chicks hatching out until early June with some hatching even later than that.  As far as fall grouse numbers are concerned the later the hatch the higher the chick survival rate and the more birds we'll have to hunt.  Really rotten weather during the hatch can drastically hurt the hatch.  But considering the number of birds we're hearing and seeing and the late start to the nesting season I am cautiously optimistic about this years hatch and next falls grouse numbers.  We'll know a lot more this summer when we start seeing just how big the broods.

I hope there aren't a lot of people out there still planing to call me for hunts this fall because right now all I have left between opening day and Thanksgiving are mid-week days and possibly one weekend.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grouse Everywhere

Saw this grouse on the way to run dogs. Sam and Little Frankie had work on one and we could here multiple drummers the whole time we were out this afternoon. I heard one earlier in the day at the house as well. Today was the first drummers I've heard this spring.

Dot is settling right in after only 24 hours.  She got to get out and explore the world a bit today.  She rode in the dog box with Molly and the rest of the gang and went for a couple short puppy walks.  The Bud Bros had a good run today and showed a little more independence.  I won't be able to gang run them for much longer.

Dot and Molly playing hard.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Polka Dot?

Newest arrival at Wild Apple Kennel. Tony and Marie Bly delivered her from Michigan today. Autumn Snow X Indian Creek Triple Rail -- whelped March 7th. This will give Molly a playmate. Tony and Marie called her Polka Dot as she has five body patches and a dot on the top of her head. the name may stick.