Puppy Power

The first of the puppies left yesterday.  Peanut (aka Birdy / Wild Apple Blackbird) headed out to Montana with Alex Rickert who was here last fall and hunted with us and decided one of the Wild Apple dogs would be just the ticket to hunt the six species of gamebirds in Montana.  She’s still a puppy but I’m sure she’ll give him some opportunities when the season opens Monday.
Alex Rickert (left behind) and Steve Groy waiting for Tony to flush a woodcock out to them last fall.
Today at the Kennel I loaded up the truck and headed out at 6:00 with Maggie, Pete, Brandy, Jagger, Glo, and Sam.  Pete is the oldest of the group at two, Maggie will be two in October, Jag not until next spring, and the other three are all this year’s puppies.  Brandy got the Honey Hole and pointed four out five woodcock that she pointed she’s ready for a harness and a little drag rope so we can start staunching and steadying her.  Maggie and Pete both had both birds.  Maggie pointed a woodcock and stopped just before a pair of grouse flushed.  Pete had two nice woodcock finds and a stop to flush on a grouse that came out of a tree over his head.  Pete reminded me once again of the old adage that you should trust your dog.  On his second woodcock I flushed (I thought thoroughly) and couldn’t get a bird up.  I went back and tapped him on the head and he wouldn’t move, so I flushed again.  Still nothing.  I tapped him again and he still wouldn’t move.  In frustration I went to the whistle and tooted him forward.  He moved up about 15 yards and stopped to flush.  At that point all I could do was tell him he was a good boy and handicapped by his trainer.  Jag runs better all the time, listens well and is hunting hard.  He was rewarded today with a nice find on a woodcock which have gave an exuberant chase to when it flushed.  
Glo ran well in a tough cover for a puppy but couldn’t connect on a bird.  Sam made me realize why collar conditioning is such an important part of getting a handle on puppies at about this age.  She stayed relatively close for about 10 minutes and then started hunting her way out from me.  By the time I finally turned her she was 245 yards away and I had worked my way up to a high 3 on the Alpha.  Even at that level I barely got a yelp out of her.  It’s really interesting to see at what age and at what level one has to begin using the collar to keep a puppy within reasonable range.  I always try to keep puppies close their first season so we can kill some birds for them even if they don’t point them for very long.  of the five puppies Sam is the one that wants to run big and independently.  She going to test me and the equipment as we get ready for the hunting season.
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