Friday, October 31, 2014

The Woolridge Covert

On Thursday Emma and I headed 2 hours north to investigate a new covert. It's a state gamelands that had an aspen cut done several years ago. A reclaimed stripmine  with fields on one side of the access road and pines on the other.  As I drove deeper in the the gamelands movement ahead of me in the fields proved to be elk heading for the pine cover. Six bull elk crossed the road. The pics aren't too good as I had to take them through my windshield with the little point and shoot camera's telescope lens extended at full length. A special treat to see in the wilds of Pa.

I didn't see the aspen cut so I pulled over at a blocked road and decided to hunt back it and see where it led.
It led me to the type of cover that I've been finding woodcock in on these reclaimed stripmines. Cover that I once would not have hunted but now know better.

About 1/2 hour into the hunt Emma's beeper went off and I found her pointing in open cover. The woodcock gave me an easy shot and I dropped it with the right barrel.

The next two 'cock proved to be runners who flushed out ahead of Emma before I could get into position for a shot. The fourth woodcock Emma pointed was in armpit high goldenrod with just a couple of scraggly locust trees one of which the cock used perfectly to dodge both of my shots. By now we were back close to the truck so I drove out the road farther and reached a Y in the road that led us to the aspen cut.
Surrounded on three sides by fields obviously stocked full of pheasants by the number of hunters I could see I made several passes through the cut but didn't find any woodcock there.  Being a solidary woodcock hunter the barrage of shooting was making me nervous so Emma and I decided to call it a day with the memories of the bull elk and the woodcock that we did find fresh in our minds. On the drive out I passed a young hunter with an autoloader groundswatting a pheasant and thought that although we could both be called hunters what different hunters we were.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Morning along Shawnee Creek

I spent the morning hunting part of my big Shawnee Creek covert. Patches of hawthorn, alders, and assorted briers intermingled with large spruce and white pine it's a beautiful covert but never holds as many birds as I think it should.

With several days rest and in a familiar covert Emma was running big and by the time I reached her first several points they were empty.  We reached the far end of the covert and crossed the creek and started back through the cover on the other side. She soon went on point again and as I walked in I spotted the sitting woodcock.
It sat patiently while I took it's picture then almost let me step on it before it corkscrewed away with me missing it with both barrels. I laughed as I pulled the empty shells from the smoking chambers and was glad I had missed the obliging little fellow.
After several more empty points I had reached the shallow riffles that I use to cross back across the creek. As I climbed the steep bank Emma's beeper sounded just ahead. I found her in semi-open cover and as I walked in a woodcock lifted in front of me and I dropped it with my right barrel. Emma making the retrieve.
 As I prepared to take pics of the bird Emma's beeper sounded again off to my left and I hurriedly stuffed bird and camera into my game vest and dug two shells from my pockets. I found her in heavy briers and had to circle around to find a route into her. I finally reached her but couldn't put up a bird. As she relocated I tried again to flush the bird when suddenly it lifted behind Emma and was gone without a shot. By now the day was warming up and we were both tired so I called her to heel, to some pics of the bird we had taken and headed for the truck.
Shawnee Creek had given us another memorable morning.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

End of Day

On my way to some of my northern coverts with Emma I stopped at CAC Associates, my shotgun powder supplier to purchase their last two 1 lb bottles of SR7625 powder. It's a powder well suited for loading low-pressure 16 ga. loads just right for my old girls, but sadly it is being discontinued by it's manufactuer. With 5 lbs. squirreled away hopefully it will be enough to supply me with hunting loads for a long time to come.
My first stop was at the Vampire covert named after the road it's located along. A part of it is being logged off along the side of a moist ridge in the hopes of regenerating the scattered hawthorn and apple trees located there into woodcock habitat. It will probably take at least 5 or 10 years for it to become suitable woodcock habitat and hopefully I'll still be following a setter if and when this piece of land starts to attract some birds.
The area that Emma and I were headed to was a long walk in to large fields with islands of cover consisting of aspen, hawthorn, locust, and goldenrod that usually attracted some woodcock.
This area is also stocked with pheasant and I thought that I would hunt it before the pheasant  season started so that I would have the covert to myself. What I didn't figure on was the area being loaded with newly stocked pheasant which turned my steady woodcock dog into a out of control pheasant flusher!!! The game commission must have dumped out several crates of birds in the last day or two cause there were pheasants standing around everywhere tempting Emma into flushing and chasing cackling cockbirds all over the cover.
 It was noon by the time I had rounded up Emma and got back to the truck so after a quick sandwich I headed to a recent aspen cut that a forester had told me about. His directions were a little vague but I finally found the cut at the bottom of a steep ridge that was covered with loose rock hidden under newly fallen leaves making for a rough walk. What the forester had failed to mention was that they had left the big aspen trees lay where they fell making for an impenetrable mass of fallen timber, young aspen, and blackberry tangles. Emma and I made an effort to penetrate the forbidding cover but it proved too much for us and we gave up and headed back up the ridge to the truck.
It was now midafternoon and I was tired and disappointed with the days efforts. I figured I had about an hours worth of walking left in these old tired legs of mine and the ride home would take me past a reclaimed strip mine that several game commission biologists had told me that at times held some woodcock. My idea of woodcock cover is the classic stream bottom with hawthorn, goldenrod and a scattering of apple trees not a windswept grassy strip mine with its scattering of red pine and stunted locust trees but I figured I'd give it a half-hearted try and walked back an old mining road with Emma hunting the sparse cover. I walk for a half hour daydreaming about where I would hunt next week and then turned and began to retrace my steps. As I neared the truck I heard Emma's beeper far off in the distance. It took me awhile to find her due to the wind noise but I finally located her pointing in a thin line of locust. As I walked in front of her a woodcock lifted and flew away low dodging my right barrel shot but dropping to my left one.

                                      Emma letting me know she found our bird.

                                                       Bring it in.

                                     Laying down with our bird. Letting me know that she too was tired.
The cover. Not my idea of woodcock cover but I'll be spending more time here this fall.

A few moments of success at end of day can make a discouraging day oh so sweet.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Wonder of a New Covert

A vet appointment for Thicket's booster shots kept Emma and I out of the coverts until 11:00 today. We headed for a covert that I had just found last year in the late season that I named the Heifer Lick covert. A beautiful looking piece of cover with a diverse variety of trees it looked like it had everything a grouse could want. Emma and I hunted it hard but moved no birds.

We moved up the road about a mile to the Bennett Cemetery covert. A small patch of mostly aspen, rare in my southern coverts just a couple of miles from the Maryland border.  I thought I heard a grouse flush as I let Emma out of the truck and she proved me right with an empty point 20 yards inside cover. We made several passes through this covet but found no other birds.

With the day looking bleak I remembered a creek bottom that I had always wanted to investigate but never found the time. The bottom is thick with barberry, multiflora rose and goldenrod with a good number of downed trees that made for tough walking.

Just off the truck Emma went on point. It proved to be a running woodcock that flushed out of range, but it was a good sign. The next bird she found used a tree to it's advantage giving me no shot and shortly thereafter I walking up a big woodcock that I let fly. Soon she was pointing in some barberry and I flushed a woodcock that flew away after I had emptied both barrels at it. Her next point was a repeat with me missing badly with both barrels. Finally Diana the Hunting Goddess smiled on me and I brought down the next two birds that she pointed for me. I decided two was enough and we made our way up to the old dirt road that led back to the truck tired but experiencing  that wondrous feeling of finding a new covert that held some birds and just maybe would hold some the next time we decided to give it a try.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 2

Emma and I headed to Huntingdon County to try our luck in the Brumbaugh Covert. A big thick bottom full of hawthorn, multiflora rose, and alders.

Not long into the hunt Emma showed what a good retriever she was by bringing in a woodcock still limp with a broken wing and leg.
The birds were there. Some were runners who flushed wild and others who held for Emma's points didn't give me a chance for a shot in the thick cover, until finally I connected with a left barrel on a bird who flushed in open cover. Back at the truck I took pics of the gun, bird, and tired dog.


Another Season Begins

On Monday I headed north to Clearfield County to start my season. First stop was the Brady covert.

This nice cover proved to be empty of birds with us finding only one woodcock in this open pine cover which I sadly missed with both barrels.
We than moved on to the Muth covert.

We found one wild flushing grouse and several woodcock here with Emma giving me two good points and me missing one again with both barrels and the other flushing back over Emma with no chance for a shot.
So ended our first day of hunting with Emma doing a better job of it than Me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Twigg is my latest shotgun purchase. A Belgium built hammergun from the 1880's she's my lightest shotgun weighting just under 6 lbs. even with her 31 inch barrels and she feels like no more than a twig in my hands thus the name. She came home near the end of last years late grouse season and although she made a couple of trips into the woods she didn't see any action. I finally got around to patterning her today and was pleased with the results. Hopefully I'll be able to leave "Colette" my favorite hammergun home once in a while and give Twigg some time in the woods to prove herself.