Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Woodcock with Two Oldtimers

 Emma developed a limp after our last hunt so I decided to take Copper for a short hunt. She's 9 years old with bad hips and is losing her hearing but last year she showed me she could still handle a grouse with some dog work that I'll remember for a long time. I also pulled the Husky Model 44 from the gunsafe for her maiden hunt into my coverts.

Copper happy to be out and about.
We hunted some clearcut strips where Emma and I had moved some grouse on a previous hunt. The grouse were still there but they proved to be too smart for us with several wild flushes and Copper bumping one. We worked our way through some open aspen cover filled with goldenrod and bordering large spruce trees.

It was there that Copper went into a low crouching point that said WOODCOCK. I moved in with the old 44's hammers back but the point proved to be empty. Copper was certain a bird was there and began to trail through the goldenrod. 30 feet later she pointed again and this time she had it. As I moved in the woodcock sprang into the air, I dropped the right hammer on the old 44 and the bird dropped like a stone. The Husqvarna Model 44 with her first american woodcock.
I couldn't help but reflect back on who might have hunted with this old beauty of a gun and what type a game dropped to her shot back in her homeland 130 odd years ago when she was new. To take a bird with the first shot from her made me very proud and I felt privileged to be able to hunt with this old gun and know that with the proper care she would be taking game 130 years from today. The thrill of shots made, the beauty of forgotten coverts from the past, what tales these old guns could tell if only they could.

As I wander these Allegheny Mountains that I love I'm always taken by the beauty of a moss covered log or a lichen covered rock and sometimes I encounter something that is a complete mystery to me. Here are some pics of that days mystery.
A few pics placed on the internet and I had my answer. It's a porcupine den. I saw my first porky in the woods less than 10 years ago when Copper half-heartedly pointed one in a blowdown. Now I see several each season. My dogs ignore them so I let them continue they journey through the coverts. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Wanderings Nov 12 thur 16

I spent the first 4 days of this week hunting grouse in my northern coverts consisting mostly of reclaimed stripmines. If the grouse were there Emma and I couldn't find many of them. Most of the ones we found were wild flushes with Emma bumping the rest.

At one new cover that I stopped to try Emma found and retrieved a wounded hen pheasant.

This track had me scratching my head. I thought all the elk in Pa were north of I-80, but this pic is from southwestern  Clearfield Co. That's my size 12 EE boot for comparison.
Tired of driving 2 hours to hear a grouse flush, I stayed close home and hunted one of my woodcock coverts on Friday. I found just 2 birds in 2 hours one that I flushed and one that Emma pointed. I was carrying Elin again the 16 ga. Husky and her right barrel did it's magic. Emma with the retrieve.

The bird that saved the week.

Back at the truck for a pic of dog, bird, and gun.

The season's starting to take it's toll on the both of us.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Last Weeks Adventures

I spent a couple of days up in Tioga Co. in northern Pa with my nephew Jim and his dog Zeke. Although we had maps pinpointing the locations of clearcuts we didn't find many birds, moving only 6 birds in 2 days with 2 points on birds that flushed before we could get within gunrange.
Here's Jim getting Zeke ready to roll.
Some of the cover that we hunted.

Emma and I headed for the Shawnee Creek covert the day after I returned home. My SportDog beeper had died on me last week and I just received a new Lovett beeper collar. I don't know if Emma was mad at me for not taking her on my hunting trip, if the new beeper collar shook her up, or if she just was having a bad day, but she ran way too wide and bumped most of the birds we found.
We returned the next day with her shock collar on, to keep her hunting closer, the beeper collar set on point mode only, and her bell for me to keep track of her. Most of the birds from yesterday had moved on but we found 2 woodcock still hanging around. She got both birds pointed and I got a shot at one of them. I was carrying Elin my 16 ga. Husqvarna Model 51 for the first time this year and she didn't disappoint me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Exploring the Shawnee Creek Covert

I set out today to hunt the Shawnee Creek covert to it's end. After 2 1/2 hours I still hadn't come to the end of the cover.

We moved a fair number of woodcock, but it was one of those days when I walked into as many woodcock as Emma found. The one's she pointed were mostly in nasty thick cover and I only got shooting at one of her points. It turned out to be a two woodcock flush with me missing the first one but connecting on the second.
This covert has turned out to be the biggest one I've ever found, with cover also on the opposite side of the creek that I havn't tried to hunt yet.

I'm headed north tomorrow for several days of hunting in Tioga County with my nephew Jim-Bob and his setter Zeke, but I'll be returning to the Shawnee Creek for another go at it's woodcock.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Woodcock for Copper

On Saturday I only had time for a short hunt. I decided to take Copper for a little walk as her hips and hearing are getting worse and I know her hunting days are coming to a close. We were  only in the covet for a few minutes when she went on point and  I flushed a woodcock from beneath a small pine tree. Colette the little Belgium hammergun did her part and I dropped the bird with her right barrel. Here's Copper back at the truck with her woodcock.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Exploring new Coverts

Thursday I headed north to explore a new covert that I had found late last hunting season. It looked like it had the potential to draw in some migrating woodcock. After making a wrong turn I got my bearings and found the clearcut that I was looking for.

It was a beautiful cut with clumps of aspen mixed with golden rod openings, birch & oak saplings and areas of dense greenbrier and barberry. Emma and I hunted it hard but had no luck moving any birds until we had worked our way back to the dirt road that I had parked on. As I reached the road Emma's bell went silent and I turned and pushed my way back into the cut. A woodcock flushed off to my left, but I was sure Emma was somewhere off to my right. Suddenly a woodcock took flight about where I had thought Emma was and I heard her bell as she gave chase after the fleeing bird. A circle through that part of the cover produced no more birds so we headed for the truck. I'll visit this covert again someday in hopes of finding the woodcock that should use this as a resting stop.

Friday I hunted a covert that I had only been in a couple of times before. It's a large piece of land with some sections too thick with alders to hunt through, interspersed with pockets of  huge Norway Spruce , goldenrod openings, and hawthorn stands all bordered by a road on one side and a creek on the other. Although I had only ever moved a couple of woodcock on my previous attempts to hunt this covert today would prove that it was a covet worth hunting more often.

 The first 1/2 hour was slow with just one wild flush. Finally Emma's bell went silent and I found her pointing under a lone Jack Pine tree. As I went in for the flush a woodcock flushed and was around the pine giving me time for only one shot. I didn't feel that I had connected with the bird but we searched in the direction that it had flown. After a few minutes I was sure I had missed the bird as Emma expanded her search area. Then suddenly she was heading back my way and I could see the woodcock in her mouth. Lots of hugs and good girls were dished out as I was sure that I had missed the bird. A short time later her bell went silent again and I found her pointing in thick saplings. As I pushed my way in she broke point and relocated, a sign that we had a runner. I continued into the saplings and the bird flushed near my feet flying past my head making me twist around dropping first one hammer and then the other and I saw the bird go down. I began searching where I had thought the bird had landed but Emma reached out and found the crippled bird some distance away. Another bird that would have been lost if not for Emma.
We pushed on through the cover and soon came to a patch of open woods. As I pondered on heading back to the truck, I noticed what looked like nice cover where the creek should be. Walking in that direction I soon realized that the creek had taken a big turn and there as indeed a nice brushy field. Emma had already decided to hunt it and soon I couldn't hear her bell. I started looking for her in the thick cover along the edge when suddenly at least a half dozen woodcock flushed from a patch of cover near the center of the field and Emma's bell started to ring as she pursued the fast disappearing covey of birds. I've never flushed more than 2 birds at a time and have no idea what that number of woodcock were doing in that small area. We continued around the edge of the old field with Emma pointing another bird that I couldn't get a shot at and then bumping one. As we approached the corner where I had entered the field she went on point again and I walked up a woodcock that flushed out into the open giving me the best shot of the season. As I dropped the right hammer the bird zigged left and as I swung the barrels to the left and dropped the left hammer the bird zagged right and flew off unharmed as I stood there and laughed at missing the easiest shot of the season. By now the day was fading so I headed Emma toward the road and leashed her up as I walked back to the truck. It had been a Grand Day with some of the best dog work Emma has shown me yet. Here's to hoping that the birds will remain for at least a few more days so Emma and I can enjoy the experience called woodcock hunting.