Monday, October 31, 2011

A Happy Halloween Hunt

Emma and I headed north to explore some new coverts. This grapevine covered ridge should have held some grouse but if they were there we couldn't find them. Note the rare October snow. Nothing like some places got but enough to make for some slippery walking.

Our next stop was an old field growing back nicely in hawthorn. Woodcock cover but nobody was home today.

Our third stop finally held some birds. Emma had a nice point on a woodcock. She had her nose almost touching the ground and I was sure she was pointing a mouse or a mole. I went in and kicked around to no avail and tried to get her to move out. She held steady and as I took one more step the woodcock went up almost at the toe of my boot. My first shot was open and I missed it clean, the second shot mortally wounded an autumn olive bush as the bird fly away unscathed. The lesson for the day "always trust your dog".

We had two grouse wild flush in this cover.

Walking back a gas well road I noticed Emma below me worrying something. I call her in and she brought me a set of pheasant wings, the only thing left from some predators meal.

As we drove to the next cover this doe simply would not move off the road. She won't be in the gene pool long it she doesn't wise up.

The day was fading as I pulled into a parking lot with a thin line of aspen running along side it. As Emma went into the cover she stopped and moved her head back and forth testing the air for scent. She moved a few yards further in and went on point with one paw raised. I quickly circled around her and came in from the front and a woodcock flushed straight up and dropped at my shot.

Our first bird of the year and we couldn't be happier.

Heading back up north in the morning for another day in paradise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Dolls Head Covert

I went birdless in my last two hunting trips so today I headed for the Dolls Head with my nephew Jim-Bob and his setter Zeke to try to change my luck. Emma stayed at home and Hattie my 10 year old setter got to come along. It's been a wet fall and water was laying in every depression.

Jim-Bob pulling some burdock heads off of Zeke.

Today was Zeke's day to shine. He gave us several nice points on woodcock but Colette and I were out of step today and missed the two chances we had. At one point Zeke started barking out ahead of us. He had developed the habit of barking at porcupines in Michigan several years ago and we hurried ahead thinking the worst, only to have a grouse flush out of a tree that Zeke was looking up into.

Hattie checking in.

Jim-Bob working his way through cover that only a woodcock hunter could love.

Several hours later we had moved 6 woodcock and 1 grouse but had only empty game bags and two tired dogs to show for our efforts, but it was still nice moving some birds even if our shooting left something to be desired.

It's been several years since I've happened upon the reason this covert is called the Doll's Head. Today I was lucky and spotted this passing it's days away in the fallen leaves.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Windy Opener

The opening day of Pa's 2011 season started clear but with a howling wind that made for some jumpy birds.Several times Emma went on point but when I approached with hammers back she broke point, racing around for scent but the bird, I guess, had already flushed ahead of us. I did manage to see one woodcock that looked to have run from her point flush ahead of her , then as she cast around another bird took flight. That was the extent of my bird sightings.

Emma working a hawthorn thicket.

Some of the aspen cover that proved to be empty today.

I was carrying Colette, the little 16 ga. Belgium hammergun, today.

The food was there, so where were the birds?

By the end of the day Emma and I were both tired but happy to have spent the day doing what we love.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tune-Up for the Big Dance

Fall has come on much too fast for me this year. Work and my elderly parents have kept me busy with little time to plan for the up-coming hunting season. I had an hour or so free this morning so I took Emma and headed for the Warrior Ridge covert. Not very big, only about an hour hunt, it's as reliable as a woodcock covert can be.

Soon after entering the cover Emma's beeper went to point mode. I desperately waded through multi-flora rose, goldenrod, and saplings to get to the point but it flushed before I could catch sight of Emma, so don't know if she bumped it or my thrashing around scared it into flight.
Later I saw two different woodcock rise from the area that Emma was hunting and I walked into one for a flush.

White wash on damp leaf pack, that's what gets a woodcock hunters blood pumping.

Emma tearing up the woods. So much for the plodding Ryman setter stereotype.

Something smells good.

One happy dog doing what she loves to do, hunt.

My season starts Saturday so it was nice to see some birds. I'll be hunting with a new set of hearing aids this year. My old "behind the ear" hearing aids were turned up to the max and still I was having trouble hearing so now have moved on to the "in the canal" hearing aids. Much more powerful I heard the woodcock twittering flight when they flushed this morning ,that's a sound I haven't hear for several years. It brought a smile to my face.