Wednesday, November 22, 2017
My friend Russell and I hunted the Shawnee Creek Covert with Emma yesterday and had a wonderful hunt. The birds were there and Emma was at the top of her game. Three of her points resulted in double flushes with Russell and I both downing a bird on one of the points.
Russell was shooting his grandfathers 16 gauge Model 12.
"The Twig" the little Belgium 16 gauge hammergun did her job today.
Emma making a retrieve.
After a season of mostly empty coverts the woodcock seem to be moving south.
It was a hunt that Russell and I will recall for years to come.
Friday, November 17, 2017
I met up with Eric Rinehart yesterday to hunt the Canaan Valley in West Virginia. Made famous in George Bird Evans writings as a grouse and woodcock mecca in the 50's and 60's. It's a mere shadow of it's former glory days drawing hunters now who are more interested in it's history and wild desolate scenery than killing a ton of birds.
I brought Emma to hunt with Eric's 7 month old Tucker.
As expected Tucker still has a lot of "play" in him but with experience he should grow into a fine birddog.
Emma found us one woodcock which gave me "the slip" flushing out behind both Emma and myself. It was a windy day which no doubt hindered Emma's scenting ability. Later Emma had a strong point that proved to be empty, the bird must have flown before I reached her.
Although I would have liked to hunted longer my knee started to "complain" and I had to call it a day. Hopefully next year we can hit a "flight" of birds and have more shooting. If not we'll still enjoy the immense solitude that the Valley offers.
Friday, November 10, 2017
I had expected to find more birds this week, but the woodcock proved me wrong. Appointments and the weather kept me from hunting until Weds. when Thicket and I headed for the Church Hill covert. A thin covering of snow clung to everything.
Although we hunted hard the woodcock were few. I did end up with this pic.
I had the camera out taking a pic of a hawthorn tree when Thicket came in from my right and bumped a woodcock. When I got home I found this pic on the camera. When the bird flushed I must have had my camera pointing at just the right angle and instinctively hit the shutter button. I didn't realize I had even taken the pic. It was truly a one in a life time shot.
I cropped the pic the get a nice "shot" of just the bird.
On Thurs. Thicket and I headed to the J & K covert. A huge reclaimed strip mine sitting on top of a mountain growing back with locust, spruce and a scattering of aspen. I've never found a lot of birds here but do have some wonderful memories of hunts with Emma.
This day no birds were found.
On Friday my friend Russell and I hunted the Piney Creek covert with Emma.
Usually my most reliable covert we didn't find a single bird today.
So what I thought would be a good week for woodcock turned out just the opposite.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
High winds on Monday kept us out of the coverts, but on Tuesday Thicket and I head for the Lloydville covert.
Although the cover looked good and I flushed two grouse out of pine trees the woodcock were absent.
On Thursday Thicket and I headed to Piney Creek.
Sadly she slipped back into the habit of pointing the bird until I got near her and then walking away from the point. On her third point I called her back into the area where she was pointing and she repointed the bird. I walked in and flushed it and dropped it with the right barrel. She hunted hard and found the bird and carried it away from me about 20 feet, dropped it and looked back at me. Although frustrating I'll be patient and keep exposing her to woodcock with the hope that the "light" will come on and she will become more solid on her points.
On Friday Emma and I hunted the Shawnee Creek Covert and the birds were there.
The hawthorn are carrying a good crop this year with many fruit on the ground.
They proved to be wiley and used the thick cover to their advantage. I missed the first two birds and then had several flush without giving me a chance to shoot. I finally had one flush back just over my head. I turned and fired and saw the bird drop into an opening. Emma ran into the opening and went on point. Suddenly the bird reflushed and flew over my head again. I saw one of it's legs dangling and I waited as long as I could before firing another shot which connected. Emma ran to the bird but wouldn't pick it up and as I walked to it I saw that my close shot had completely decapitated it.
Emma found several more birds with me missing another one and several flushing without giving me a shot. We ended up back at the truck tired, wet but happy never the less with the number of birds we encountered.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
On Thursday my friend Russell and I took Emma and headed north to the Church Hill Covert. Just out of the truck Emma pointed a woodcock that used some trees to it's advantage offering Russell no chance for a shot.
We soon came upon a couple of rabbit hunters who were hunting the cover that I had intended to hunt so we changed our direction. We found a large number of recently stocked pheasants who ran ahead of Emma's points and mostly flushed wild. After a large circle we returned to the cover that I had intended to hunt and started to find some woodcock. Russell put his grandfather's Model 12 16 gauge to good use dropping this bird that eluded me, with Emma making a nice retrieve.
Russell and the old Model 12 proved to be deadly this day and he dropped another bird over Emma's point. Emma found and retrieved the bird no where near where we had thought it had dropped. Without her the bird would have surely been lost.
Emma found us a few more birds, but our shooting skills left us and we made it back to the truck with no more birds in the bag, but with some wonderful memories of a memorable day afield.
On Friday Thicket and I made the long trip north to the Muth Covert.
We only found 2 local birds with Thicket pointing one of them and I making the too close, too well centered shot.
We tried a couple of "marginal" covers but no birds were found so with the temps rising we called it a day.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
On Monday Thicket and I hunted the Doll's Head covert.
The old road leading in.
The cover looked inviting.
Thicket hunted hard.
We found no birds until we made our swing back through the top part of the covert where Thicket's beeper went on point mode. As I walked in from the front she relocated and pointed again. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and the bird flushed off to my left and behind me. It had been a runner and my reflexes proved to be too slow for me to get off a shot. We finished our push through the cover finding no more birds. Never the less I was pleased with Thicket's performance on the running woodcock.
On Wednesday Thicket and I headed to Piney Creek. In my haste I forgot my camera so no pics of this hunt.
We found a few more birds on this trip with me flushing two and seeing one flush from cover that Thicket was working through as we made our first swing through the cover. Soon after we turned back in the direction of the truck, Thicket went on point. The bird was a runner, as more birds seem to be, but she relocated nicely without flushing the bird. As I walked in for the flush the woodcock showed me that this was his "neighborhood" and dodged around a clump of maples making good his escape before I could get the gun to my shoulder.
Not long after this bird Thicket went on point again. This bird was in thick saplings and although I dropped both hammers the bird flew away unscathed. We made it back to the truck with no more bird contacts but I considered it a very successful hunt with Thicket's two solid points.