North American Woodcock Championship
Wild Apple Calvados won her second championship in the fall of 2018 by besting a field of 33 dogs in tough conditions.
Kentucky Derby Classic
The Kentucky Derby Classic has been the companion stake for the ABHA National Championship for a number of years and is generously supported by Jim Humphrey’s with a $1,000 guaranteed purse. The entry was rather light this year but it was still a quality event with two dogs placing that showed advanced manners on birds and the ability to handle the long edges and big fields of Miller Welch. Judges Jim Fisher and Ronnie Rogers named pointer male Branscum’s Cash Delivery that is owned and was handled by Mike Branscum winner and this reporter’s pointer male Wild Apple Spot On as runner-up. I scouted for Mike and Banker as he’s called and found him multiple times out on the limb with birds accurately pointed and shooting dog manners. The most memorable of his finds was after the cement creek crossing where he was seen headed up the left edge. I was sent to look for him when he disappeared into the creek bottom. I eventually had to go out on the road and back up the other side of the creek before I spotted him standing in a ticket along the creek. It took Branscum and Fischer a while to get to him and by then the birds had moved off. Banker was sent on and quickly located and pointed a large covey. When they flushed a woodcock was heard to depart as well.
Wild Apple Spot On had, 10 days earlier, won the ABHA Midwest Regional Championship and had I not agreed last spring to judge the National would have been entered in that. Spot is a big going dog that loves the wide-open spaces of Miller Welch where he has run regularly in training for the last two winters. This makes him a bit of a handful to hang onto but with the help of Mike Branscum’s scouting we found him five times with birds accurately handled. On a sixth occasion his brace mate came in and failed to back causing Spot to act more like a derby and although a bird was not seen in the air this incident kept him out of the top spot.
The other derbies ran well but did not display the manners on birds of the winner and runner-up.
Wild Apple Spot On’s first championship win, March 18, 2016 ABHA Midwest Regional Championship
The morning of March 18, 2016 was frosty and clear when judges Brian Ralph and Chad Wheeler signaled for the first brace of the ABHA Midwest Regional Championship to be turned loose on the farm of Will Dunn in Lebanon, KY. Mr. Dunn is well known in field trial circles for his winning all-age dogs and was gracious enough to allow the Kentucky ABHA clubs to host a weekend of club trials and this championship to run on his training grounds. Mr. Dunn has obviously gone to considerable effort to turn his farm into a place that allows one to show a dog to advantage. The course was laid out in such a way that dogs could often be spotted working the edges well to the front while at times requiring them to handle as we moved from big field to big field through a variety of gaps and one creek crossing.
Great grounds make for top performances, but you can’t put on a trial without a hard working group of people. Adam Thomas, Jim Duncan, and Mike Branscum all provided support. Jim drove the dog truck throughout the trial except for the brace he was in and provided one of the judge’s horses, Mike Branscum provided horses for the other judge and the reporter as well as riding most braces as a scout and helping all in need. As reporter I rode and scouted as well. Adam’s own dog came into heat just before the draw and he could not run her but that didn’t keep him from helping throughout the trial. He was tasked with playing host to the judges, making sure they had rooms and meals as well as getting them to the grounds the first morning. He was also the main bird planter throughout the trial and made the run to town to get lunch on Friday. Thanks to these three, the trial went off without a hitch and all seemed satisfied with the opportunity presented to their dogs. Entries included dogs on the string of Scott Chaffee from Michigan as well as dogs from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.
Winners and Others
At the conclusion of the trial on Saturday, Craig Doherty’s pointer male Wild Apple Spot On was named champion and Ronnie Roger’s male setter Guard’s Two Dollar Bill (call name Luke) was named runner-up, both owners handled their own dogs. Doherty now spends the winters in Kentucky training dogs and attending local trials, and Wild Apple Spot On is no stranger to the field trial scene there. Last year as a puppy he was the Kentucky ABHA runner-up Puppy and Derby of the Year and had already placed in a number of shooting dog stakes this winter while still a derby. Last fall he was second in the Woodcock Futurity and first in the Miss Leslie Derby Classic on wild birds in New Brunswick. Spot has roots here in Kentucky as he was bred by Derek Caudill of West Liberty, Kentucky. Derek is a grouse hunter with an interest in cover dog trials who wanted to try and produce a litter that had the potential to compete. He chose to breed his bitch, Diamond Straight Flush, to Chase Hill’s Little Bud. Diamond is Derek’s personal grouse dog of Elhew breeding and Bud should need little introduction as he has amassed over 30 championship placements that have ranged from the coverts of New Brunswick to the piney woods of the South. Bud has succeeded in every aspect of field trials from cover dogs to horseback all-age and shooting dog.
Wild Apple Spot On ran in the first brace ironically with another dog from New Hampshire – Bog Brook Okie Dokie (setter female) owned by Thom Richardson and handled by Michigan pro Scott Chaffee. Spot started off filling the course and was soon spotted off to the right on a hillside in an adjacent field on point. Shortly thereafter Okie pointed in the middle of the first big field on a covey of Mr. Dunn’s training birds that flushed like wild birds. Spot went on to have two more finds in the first field and continued to test the limits of the course racking up seven finds before he finished the hour as he began running hard with power and style to the front. Okie finished her hour with another find and a few backs.
Over the course of the trial, many dogs had trouble handling the birds and in a couple of cases required the tracking collar to be called for. Dogs that finished the hour and may have been carried or considered by the judges along the way included Hypointe Left Turn (Chaffee) a setter male who will be running in the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational in April and Nelson’s Van Max (Chaffee) a pointer male with a number of championship placements both in the woods and single course quail trials. Lefty had a good race and four finds on Friday and was most likely being carried at the end of the day. However, on Saturday morning Max pushed the eventual winner with a good race and a half dozen finds most memorable of which was one where he was way up a hollow and I was sent to scout for him. He had been gone for a few minutes and I had turned to head back when I just caught sight of him up in the woods pointed on the hillside. It took Scott and the judges awhile to get to him. A bird was eventually flushed and all was in order.
Long Gone Wallace (setter male) yet another dog with New Hampshire roots ran in the second brace with his co-owner Kelly Sheppard from Ohio handling and had a strong race with a number of well handled finds. However, the proverbial fat lady had yet to sing as we broke away the last brace with the setter male Guard’s Two Dollar Bill (Rogers) and Wild Apple Samantha (Doherty). Ronnie Rogers is a long time field trailer from Tennessee and is as likely to be found at a horseback trial as a walking one and Luke is from his own breeding program. Samantha was on the lead early after a couple of non-productives in the woods and a race that was not up to what was probably being carried at that time. Luke on the other hand went around the course on a mission filling up the course and accurately pointing a number of birds. At time, the dog was missing and Mike Branscum was sent to scout. The call of point came from the left and the dog had been found out on the limb with a bird accurately pointed in front of him. This was the exclamation point on a fine hour that found Luke in the money.
The ABHA clubs of Kentucky want to thank everyone who entered a dog or came to watch a few braces. It was a successful event that will hopefully be back on the same grounds next year.
Video compilation of Wild Apple Spot On’s finds at the Elkhorn FTC NBHA trial February 2016. Spot won both the open shooting dog with five finds and the open derby with two more.
Reports on Wild Apple Dogs from The American Field
From The American Field 11/28, 2015
Miss Leslie Anderson Open Derby Classic
By Austin Parsons
. . . Winner of the Miss Leslie Anderson Open Derby was Wild Apple Spot on, pointer male owned and handled by Craig Doherty of Dummer, NH. Spot was sired by Chasehill Little Bud and whelped by Diamond Straight Flush.
In his half hour, Spot was in the cover adjusting his race to the canopy. The course he drew can best be described as a windy path through thick cover. He was mostly heard and not seen. When he was spotted (no pun intended), he ran with a high tail. He had two broke grouse finds with a high head at 22 and 25. At 28:30 Spot went on point and his handler flushed through time, at which point he elected to pick up. At the end of the brace, the reporter told the judge he heard a grouse lift during the flushing attempt
39th North American Woodcock Futurity
Long Gone Mersadies Bests a Strong Field
The 39th renewal of the North American Woodcock Futurity ran on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Cronk Farm, Nackawic, New Brunswick. Joe Dahl of East Grand Lake, Maine and Dale Hackett, Fredericton, New Brunswick judged six setters and five pointers out of a North American Woodcock Futurity pool of fifteen nominated dogs and fifteen nominated litters. As per custom, the judges awarded four placements.
The winner of the 39th North American Woodcock Futurity was Long Gone Mersadies handled by Mike Spotts of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and nominated by Lloyd Murray of Stark, New Hampshire. Second place was awarded to Wild Apple Spot who was handled and nominated by Craig Doherty of Dummer, New Hampshire. Wild Apple Polk Dot was awarded third place. Dot was handled by Tim Kisieleski of Amesbury, Massachusetts and nominated by Craig Doherty of Dummer, New Hampshire. Fourth place went to Cairds Little Macy Mae who was handled and nominated by Bob Little of McAdam, New Brunswick.
1) front course, cloudy and cool, Ruff Grouse Lilly ESF (Christopher) & Wild Apple Polka Dot (Kisieleski)
Lilly started her race with a divided find on a grouse at 4. She hunted forward and was in the cover the majority of the half hour. She kept close to her handler, under his control, checking back as she crossed the trail. She finished as strong as she started.
Dot ran an aggressive race hunting in and out of the cover as she pushed forward of her handler. Dot has good ground speed covering all the likely locations where a woodcock or grouse would hold. She pointed a woodcock at 4, 5 a deep woodcock find at 14 and a grouse point at 26
4) front course, cloudy and cool, Wild Apple Spot On PM (Doherty) & Springbrook Maximus PM (Ogilvie)
Spot pointed a grouse at 2, a pair of grouse at 10, a stop to flush on a woodcock at 29 and an unproductive at 5 and 19. He had two broke finds and points with a twelve o’clock tail. This bird work was the result of him hunting the cover. He kept forward of his handler, was within bell range and hunted the half hour.
Maximus dove into the cover at the start of his brace. He was temporarily lost on point at 4 where he was found pointing a spot that produced a grouse earlier for Wild Apple Polka Dot. Over the half hour, his race developed into one where he would push forward and then work back to his handler through the cover.
Cronk Farm Puppy Classic 2013
The third annual Cronk Farm Puppy Classic was run on October 11, 2013 immediately following the Miss Leslie Anderson Open Derby Woodcock Classic.
The Cronk Farm Puppy Classic is organized and sponsored by the New Brunswick Field Trial Association.
The Puppy Classic is run on a single course on Dave Palmer’s Cronk Farm grounds in Nackawic, NB. The puppy course on the back farm is ideal for showing puppies with long stretches of open hardwoods with very little underbrush to impede the youngsters.
The Puppy Classic was started in 2011 and continues to draw very worthy entries.
A beautiful rotating trophy is awarded each year to the winner of this stake. The trophy was donated by Dr. David Calcagni to the Maritime Bird Dog Club several years ago for a puppy stake they held at one time. The trophy continues on in memory of his great champion, Elhew Autumn Whisper.
I want to thank my fellow judge, Joe Dahl, of Bangor, ME for working this stake with me.
First place went to Wynot Whitney, a pointer female owned and handled by Steve Forrest. Whitney is nicely built and is as fancy running as they come. Whitney had a strong, forward race and moved with ease. A very nice dog on the ground. She ran in the 5th brace along with the second place dog, Bella, described below.
Second place went to Chasehill Baby Bella owned by Erin Stolgitis and handled by Mike Flewelling. Bella and Whitney (described above) traded cast after impressive cast. Bella hit the cover hard and was very quick footed. At the 9 minute mark, Bella’s bell went silent and the woodcock was held by the young pointer long enough for the handler and judge to get close enough to watch it fly off. There was some hair splitting by the judges on this brace with both young dogs showing great promise.
Third place went to Wild Apple Moon Glow, a pointer female owned by Craig Doherty and handled by Tim Kisieleski. Glow ran in the 4th brace as a bye dog as the original brace mate was scratched. Glow worked the cover nicely and had a nice controlled forward race. Glow made contact with a woodcock at time after a couple of self relocations.
Fourth place went to Wild Apple Samantha also owned by Craig Doherty and handled by Tim Kisielaski. Sam ran a nice race and dug into the cover albeit at a more moderate range. Sam ran in the 1st brace.
Excerpt from the 2012 International Amateur Woodcock Championship
By Deb Kennedy
The American Field 02/2012
Pointer male Wild Apple Jack (Doherty) and setter female Old River Glory (Parsons) drew the last brace of the trial. They broke away in the deep woods on the upper half of the Wishart land. The ‘birdy” part of this course tends to be later on, and Jack had read the play book, taking off at a blistering speed. He ran beyond his bell and then came in just enough as if to say, “Of course, I’m still here!” This was really wonderful to watch. Once in awhile you get a chance to see someone who raised and trained his own dog, who knows and loves his dog, who knows and loves him back. They put on a show that demonstrates not just a well-trained dog and his man, but the love they share made visible in the way the dog and the man sing and dance through the woods. There is an intimacy that comes with trust, trust that the dog will run to hell and back, find a bird, stay there for as long as it takes for his person to find him. Jack always knew where Craig was; he knew where the birds were, and he knew how to get everyone in the same place when it really mattered. Jack ran hard and big for the first 40 minutes. His bracemate ran much closer, making it difficult to hear Jack’s far flung bell. Austin picked up his charge well before time, so Jack had the remaining course to himself. At 40 Jack stopped in some young popples that always hold a woodcock or two. Craig flushed for awhile, sent Jack on and then Jack stooped again. Craig did another cursory search and moved Jack back to the course. At 44 Jack stopped again and was found on point by scout Mike Flewelling. Jack remained rooted to the ground as Craig flushed. Ever vigilant, Mike saw the bird sneaking away and called out to Craig, who finally flushed the woodcock and fired. Once released Jack exploded forward over a rise and then, nothing. The bell stopped before 50 and the search began. Both judges, Craig, his scout Mike Flewelling, and this reporter fanned out into the woods looking for the dog everyone knew was there somewhere, but where? Craig walked fast and kept up a quiet patter, “I’m coming Jack, I’m coming.” Finally there was a ghostly whisper of a bell next to a beaver pond where the alders grew thick as grass. Craig waded into the stand to find the bird hew knew was there. The hour had run out. After several minutes Mike Flewelling joined the group starting at the far end of the grove and found Jack standing. Craig ran to his dog, the woodcock flushed, the shot was fired, thus capping a championship performance by man and beast.
A short list of Jack’s notable placements includes the 2007 Grand National Grouse Championship (winner); 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship (winner); 2010 Lake States Grouse Championship (winner); 2011 Northeastern Grouse and Woodcock Championship (runner-up). Jack is a full littermate to Autumn Moon which is also a multiple (5X) champion. When not competing or hunting, Jack lives in the house.
By Russell Ogilvie
On Sunday morning, it was time for the young dogs to take the stage at the 36th annual North American Woodcock Futurity. For many, watching the next generation of shooting dogs hit the cover is as much fun to watch as the older dogs. There is something about a young dog’s youthful exuberance that makes everything so much fun. The four courses were part of the hour championship courses designed in a way to see the young legs go but to give each dog an opportunity to find birds. This morning, dogs were called to the line by the watchful eyes of Steve Smith and Chris Mathan. When the dust settled, Wild Apple LJ PM(Doherty/Doherty) took the Blue Ribbon, followed by Stokley’s Trash Can SF (Bly/Bly), Stokley’s Frankie B SM (Bly/Bly), Woodcock Haven Stella (Ladd/Ogilvie) respectively.
Excerpt From the 2008 Grand National Grouse Championship Report
By David Fletcher
The American Field 12/13/08
New Champion and Others
Pointer male Autumn Moon was the clear cut winner. His performance was sensational, featuring three grouse finds, albeit an unproductive, but his overall talents in getting through the inviting cover of the grouse woods, his size, power, stamina and eye-catching way of going in the timber were all combined to top the field. Jack Harang bought the pup from Craig Doherty, his good friend . . . hunted him on his Texas lease one winter then turned him over to Scott Chaffee for development. His learning sessions came in Michigan and his qualifying win came at the Ralph Warrington Memorial Shooting Dog Stake hosted by the Beaverton Club on the Gladwin grounds. Last year’s Grand National Champion Wild Apple Jack, owned and handled by Craig Doherty, is a littermate to Autumn Moon.
Autumn Moon (Chaffee) was wonderfully athletic, spectacular on deep casts and he handled. Taz (Ecker) was taken up at 38, resulting from a show of insufficient manners around a grouse. Moon had a grouse a 42, relocating nicely on a crippled bird, his composure in this situation excellent. Moon logged an unproductive at 46. Moon scored his second grouse find at 55 . . . a nice cast to good looking cover and he was high and tight with good location. Moon had a third grouse find, superbly done, to close an hour of memorable hunting and great bird work. So far Moon was the dog to watch in this historic stake.
Excerpt from the Northern New England Woodcock Championship
By Craig Doherty
Submitted to The American Field
The Winner and others
Having judged and reported this and other events in the woods on numerous occasions, it is with the greatest humility I present the following. When you judge and watch an event of this magnitude, you see many exceptional performances, and as the judges walk along they are hoping to see something special. A performance that stands above the norm, that you can clearly and unequivocally say is what you came hoping to see. At this year’s Northern New England Woodcock Championship it came in the 22nd brace which ran on the number one course first thing Tuesday morning. This would be the ninth time over the course during the trial. Braced together were Wild Apple Jack the reigning Grand National Grouse Champion handled by his owner and the reporter of this event, Craig Doherty, and Texas Cherry Bomb handled by Scott Forman for Pennsylvanian Kevin Klein.
The dogs were sent away close to 7:30 and before the stopwatches had reached 20 seconds both dogs were stopped and then a brood of approximately four grouse began lifting one at a time. Both handlers fired with all in order and the dogs were sent on. Wild Apple Jack’s bell went quiet again at the seven minute mark and he was found to the front with a second grouse find. Cherry experienced a nonproductive at about the same time and another at 46 to end her bid. Jack went on to hunt the likely cover around the course until his bell fell silent for the third time at the 50 minute mark. After flushing thoroughly in front of the dog it looked like a nonproductive was about to go in the book. When I headed back to the dog, Jack turned his head to the left and back. When I stepped in that direction the woodcock, which had most likely been running around under the ferns, flushed within three feet of the dog. Although the club rules allow a champion to be named on either grouse or woodcock, it was good to have the woodcock in the book to top off a very strong hour. But Jack wasn’t done yet. Sent on he swung forward to the left side of the course and his bell went silent again. Another woodcock was produced as the dog’s fourth find and the exclamation point of his championship winning performance. Matt Mentz, who had judged Jack when he won the Grand National, said he was even better on this day. Andy Kalgren, who has judged this event two times previously over these same courses, said it was the best he had ever seen a dog handle course one. Personally, I just feel fortunate to follow this dog, flush his birds, and fire my gun.
Excerpt from the Grand National Grouse Championship Report
By Ryan Frame and David Fletcher
The American Field 12/8/2007
“Topping the field was Wild Apple Jack, a good sized, upstanding white and liver pointer dog owned and handled by Craig Doherty of Milan, NH. Jack laid out a big, forward, easy handling race, hunted the cover and had one grouse find with faultless style and perfect manners. The dog moved strong and hunted well throughout. He was bred and raised by Doherty. His dam [Elhew Liebotschaner], which ran in the fourth brace, came from Elhew Kennels and his sire, 2X cover dog champion Wynot Ace, is largely a combination of Elhew and Guard Rail breeding. That combination of Elhew and Guard Rail has been a potent one in successful cover dogs.
This was the first championship win for Wild Apple Jack but it certainly was no fluke. I, Ryan, reported the Southern New England Woodcock Championship at the beginning of the season and Jack’s performance there would have won that stake in most years, but was edged out. He was solid in several other trials and it was clear that he ‘had one in him.’ And if a dog has one in him, the Grand National is the one you want.”
Wild Apple Jack Winner of the 2007 Grand National Grouse Championship
“Tehaar’s Elvis (Hughes) and Wild Apple Jack (Doherty) were loosed on Lonesome Ridge. Jack went big and laid to the front with little handle required. Elvis checked back close three times early and then laid out in the cover by 12. Both carried themselves well, the pointer checking in from the distance. Neither handler said much from 20 to 40 but both dogs worked well forward and in the cover, handlers stopping to listen now and then. When seen both were going well and very stylish. Jack’s bell was missing forward at 40 and he was found well forward and right, pointing back [towards] the course. He looked good and had a grouse pinned neatly, the dog never wavering at the flush or shot. He continued his big going, easy handling effort, through the swampy stuff and into the bigger woods. Elvis continued well to the front and when seen looked good. We ran out of course at 54 and turned left down the dirt road. Shortly after Elvis dug into the right and stopped near some evergreen trees. He was a picture and a grouse flew out to his left, all in order. Both dogs finished well down the road. At this point, according to the judges, Jack and Elvis bumped out Maxima.”
Excerpt from the Miss Leslie Open Derby Woodcock Classic
By Ron Ashfield
The American Field 12/11/04
“. . . And so it was in the late afternoon on the second day of running that Craig Doherty was summoned to display the bird handling skills of his precocious young pointer male, Wild Apple Jack.
It was do or die. The blue ribbon had already been claimed; runner-up laurels hung in the balance.
Jack was cut loose in the alder rims boarding the left side of an old field that angled from our parking area to heavy evergreen woods beyond. Despite his tender age, Jack tackled this venue with purpose and vengeance, undeterred by occasional blackberry tangles that can quickly draw blood and scratches on all trespassers. With eye-popping style, a high-cracking tail and an obvious desire to please, Jack totally shredded all the available cover the field rims had to offer and before long we were back near the vehicles but without having moved birds. Twenty minutes had already expired. Jack was quickly watered and sent down along older alder rims bordering the car path on our entry route. Toward the bottom of old fields the heavy alder swales gave way to the alder and popple pockets intermingled with open spaces and Jack was quickly swinging beautiful casts, on the end of a ringing bell, through seductive pockets in complete rapport with his anxious handler. The judges, trusty scout (spouse) and your scribe were bringing up the rear.
Wild Apple Jack R/U Miss Leslie Derby Classic 2004 (Jack was 10 month old at the time)
Given the ease of navigation through the open areas between the alder pockets, the handler adopted a somewhat twisting path of travel that on occasion required his handsome pointer to come in from the side in order to regain the front on an altered travel route. It was on such a ‘route adjustment’ that the final curtain call came.
Jack was working in from the left side of an alder pocket, his merry bell indicating game. Handler meanwhile was leading the field trial party around the right edge of the same alder grove. Then came the rush of rapidly beating wings as a woodcock narrowly missed colliding with the handler; the colorful but unprintable expletive of the startled handler; the realization of sudden silence accompanied by the judge’s order to ‘fire that gun!’ and a glimpse of a regal young pointer locked solidly on bird scent. It was an exciting climax to a most memorial renewal of the ‘Miss Leslie’ and as we withdrew from the ancient meadows of Henderson Settlement it seemed most fitting that that a coveted red ribbon, emblematic of runner-up laurels, together with a framed print of flying woodcock were bestowed on the stirring performance of this young pointer, so aptly named – Wild Apple Jack!