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.

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.