Haven’t had a chance to post for a while as I’ve been out of the woods since December 5 and had to deal with the end of the school semester, writing deadlines and recover from a little mishap. Now the snow is starting to pile up outside and looking at the 10 day forecast I doubt if we’ll be getting the dogs back in the woods before the grouse season is over at the end of the month. The dogs deserve a long winter’s nap what with spring trials, summer training, and fall hunting they could all use a rest.
As a recap it was one neck of a bird season here in New Hampshire. In September we got out to a number of trials and had LJ win three derby stakes on wild birds in four starts. He didn’t have a bird in the fourth event and still got an honorable mention based on his race. Not sure if I’ll run him in any quail trials this spring as he really has nothing to prove and would rather spend the time breaking him for the fall championships. He’s definitely ready to be broke as he was getting close to that in September before the birds started falling out of the sky. Too warm at the beginning but we still got a lot of good shooting opportunities on both grouse and woodcock. The woodcock peaked around the third week of October and were pretty much gone by the end of the first week in November. They seemed to have a good nesting season this year and if they don’t get hammered my the weather down south, we should se plenty of birds back here in March and April. The spring weather is the largest determiner of bird populations for both grouse and woodcock in this area. From the bird counts the last couple weeks here there should be plenty of adult birds going into the winter and which will give us a healthy breeding population for the spring. The grouse numbers for next fall can go up or down significantly based on breeding success and brood size. For a simple example — imagine an area with 10 nesting hen grouse if the broods are small say 2-3 then your looking at gaining only 20 to 30 birds in that area. In instead you have perfect weather and great nesting conditions with double digit broods you could end up with 100 + birds in the same area. We’ve seen both kinds of nesting seasons and when it goes really bad you might as well quit hunting once the woodcock are gone in early November.
Speaking of Early November, the Grand National Grouse Championship will be returning to New Hampshire with Joe Dahl as stake manager. It starts the first Tuesday of the month and is an opportunity for anybody willing to walk for an hour to see the best competitive grouse dogs in the country.
On the breeding front, Steve Forrest dog Belle was bred to Jack on December 5th. Trip is still in the first stage of her heat cycle as she was still spotting yesterday and was not ready to stand. We are going to start progesterone testing tomorrow morning so we don’t miss her. Veronica is not responding to the ovuplant as quickly as expected and we are still waiting on her. In case she doesn’t get bred and/or so we’ll have more puppy options to look at we are looking at a second LJ litter. I gave Mark and Scott Forman a sister to Wild Apple Jack out of our last litter and she is four now. they named her Wild Apple Annie and I’ve arranged for her to come home to be bred to LJ. That gives us three possible litters for the spring. Wild Apple Jack X Indian Creek Triple Rail, Wild Apple LJ X Wild Apple Veronica, and Wild Apple LJ X Wild Apple Annie. I start accepting deposits once we get someone bred.