Saturday, November 21, 2009

Foggy Big Savage Mountain hunt

I headed down to Big Savage Mountain just above the Maryland line for a hunt with Copper. In the nearly 30 years that I have known this cover it has changed little. Much of this cover was at one time a high mountain farm. Old stone fence rows and scattered orchards are the only reminders of the hard work done by long gone farmers eking out a living in this wild land. Grape vines, bittersweet, multi-flora rose, autumn olive, green briers and treetops broken off by ice storms and high winds make up much of the cover.
As I worked my way up the old logging road toward the top the fog became thicker.

Copper appearing out of the fog.

The old bones of a farm house. Once alive with a man and a woman and probably a litter of children, now slowly pasting time alone and empty with only its memories to fill its decaying rooms.

A bear marking its territory. These claw marks were 6 feet high.

No birds were carried off the mountain on this trip although I missed a wild flush and Copper found several, she just could not get them to hold for a point, but it was enough to know that the birds and the cover are still there waiting for the next time I decide to tackle Big Savage Mountain.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This weeks wanderings

Here are some pictures from this weeks wanderings. I had high hopes in getting Emma into the woodcock flights on this the last week of Pa.'s woodcock season, but my woodcock covers have been bare. The native birds seem to have flown south even though the weather remains warm. The flight birds from up north are nowhere to be found. Have they already slipped through? Are they still holding up north waiting for colder weather to push them southward? Such is the mystery of the woodcock.

On Monday while hunting a woodcock cover Emma pushed out a pheasant with a broken-wing. After a chase through some thick pines she made a nice retrieve.

On Tuesday while hunting a cover in Centre co. I took a shot at a wild flushed grouse (the only bird of the day) and broke a wing. Emma did her part and make another nice retrieve.
The Grulla and the grouse. Emma was a little hard on the grouse's tail so no fan picture.

After the hunt Emma waits to have the ticks combed out.

On Wednesday while Emma was nursing a sore paw, I took Copper to northern Cambria co. to hunt some nice aspen cover I had discovered in the spring. Midway through the hunt she locked up on a nice high-headed point. As I walked in a grouse flushed some 30 feet above and behind her. She remained rock-solid on point so I circled around in front of her and moved in. I could see her eyes searching the ground for the bird she was so sure was there. Suddenly a woodcock flushed between us spirling up in the textbook corkscrew flight. I pulled the front trigger then the back and made a textbook miss with both barrels :( .

Copper after the hunt waiting to be combed out. The ticks this year have been horrible.

On Thursday I hunted Emma in a series of nice thick clearcuts in Blair co. I walked into a large woodcock at the start of the hunt and later Emma flash-pointed a grouse in a spruce tree that flushed without a shot and that was the only action we had there. We then drove to the top of Snake Spring mountain to a cover that I have memories of a wonderful hunt some years ago with Hattie that resulted in a nice point, shot, and retrieve on a grouse. I walked out a well used logging road for 1/2 hour and then took this faint logging trail up toward the top.

The cover is steep, rocky and littered with grape tangles and blown down tree tops.

Emma hunting the steep cover. We moved 3 grouse for no shots in the rocky terrain.

Emma drinking in scent from below.

A view from near the top of the mountain.

Today I'll spend my time in my local woodcock covers in a last minute attempt to find the elusive woodcock.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Roaring Plains

I made the long drive back into the Roaring Plains of West Virginia for the first time in several years. Other covers closer home had kept me satisfied for awhile, but the call for a wilder type of hunt led me back to these high mountain haunts. The birds were there, but as usual they used the thick spruce-rhododendron cover to make good on their escape route and although Hattie has several productive points I was never able to get off a shot. Hope you enjoy the following pictures of my adventure. The pipeline is the path to the top of the plateau. Pushed through in the early 70's, it prevented this area from becoming a wilderness area. So while the Dolly Sods wilderness area gets overrun by backpackers looking for the wilderness experience this 20 some squaremile area, which is just as wild except for the long pipeline scar running through it, gets few visitors.
A view of the pipeline on top stretching eastward.

The mountain holly were a bright red against the green spruce background.

A windswept hawthorn, a living testament of the harsh weather that rules this land.

Springs abound in this high mountain plateau.

Hattie working through some open cover.

The walk back to the truck.

Hattie at the end of the hunt.