Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Emma's Turn

Poor Emma has been sitting patiently in her kennel as I give Thicket all the woods time this spring. Yesterday she got her chance and made the most of it. I went to a new covert. It didn't look like much from the road and had driven by it for years. Yesterday proved that had been a mistake. We moved 7 woodcock in about 1 1/2 hours with Emma giving me 3 solid points, I flushing 2 birds, and 2 birds giving Emma trouble running and flushing ahead of her. It's a narrow hollow with a stream running up it with scattered large pine and barberry and multiflora rose beneath.




Here's Emma's points.


 
It was a wonderful day afield made extra special by the discovery of a new covert.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Vernal Pond Happenings

The vernal pond was alive with frogs last Friday due to the warm weather.
video

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thursday & Fridays Woodcock Walks

Thursday I headed for the huge Raystown Lake bottoms. Filled with hawthorn and alders they look to be the perfect cover for woodcock, but in the 12-13 years that I've hunted them they have never produced many birds. With a local church, sportsman club and road all bearing the name Woodcock Valley this area must at one time been a woodcock hotspot. The game commission now stock large numbers of pen-raised pheasants in the fields that border the bottoms and I wonder if disease has spread to the wild bird populations. This day proved to be another disappointing walk with one woodcock flushed by me and one pointed and then bumped by Thicket, showing me that she's still a pup with much to learn.

 
A pet peeve of mine are signs like this posted throughout the bottoms yet I have never seen any sign of management being done :(.
 
 
 
Friday we headed for the Doll's Head covert with Thicket redeeming herself for yesterdays bump. She had two solid points that she held until I walked in for the flush.


 
Thicket has really impressed me with her hunting style always seeking out the thickest cover in her search for birds.
 
After the walk she strikes a pose on the tailgate.
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Piney Creek Once Again

I hate to "pound" a covert and am trying to go to Piney Creek only once a week, so yesterday was that day. Saw a lot of splash but only found 3 birds. Thicket pointed 2 nicely and I "over handled" her on the other bird. She had went on point and then started in creep forward so I whoaed her. She started to relax and I think she lost scent of the bird. I released her and she worked her way around a large barberry thicket as I walk around the opposite side. The bird flew out on my side "of course". I probably should have let her work the bird until she was sure she had it located. Memo to self  "let the dog point the bird, she's the one with the nose". :)

Here are her points for the day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Shawnee Creek & the Buffalo Covert

The woodcock proved to be scarce today. We started along Shawnee Creek. With it's spring flow we can't hunt the far side and have to make due with the cover on the near side of the creek.  We were probably 45 minutes into the hunt when Thicket's beeper finally went off. She was out ahead of me and I had two routes to take to reach her. As usual I took the wrong route and got hung up in an alder mess. When I finally broke free I saw her still holding point and quickly made my way to her. Just I drew closer she took several steps forward and the cock lifted without a chance for a pic of the point.



We hunted on to the far end of the covert where an old field is going back to brush. There she found another bird and held it for me to flush.
 
 
 
We moved on to the Buffalo Covert with it's nice looking cover.
 


 
 
Although Thicket hunted it hard all we managed to find in this cover was one bird that I flushed.
 
Back at the truck we still celebrated a wonderful day field.
 

 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wednesday and Thursday Woodcock Walks

On Wednesday Thicket and I went back to the Cumberland Dam covert. Nice looking cover but last spring Emma could only find 1 bird on two trips there. I didn't make it down there last fall to hunt and this spring Thicket and I found nothing on our 1st trip. Thicket hunted the cover thoroughly but after an hour and a half I was beginning to think we were going to be "skunked".

 
Finally within sight of the truck Thicket who had just circled and was coming in behind me suddenly stopped.
She had found the only woodcock in this large beautiful cover and held it for me to flush. It's a mystery to me as to why a cover like this, that looks so much like my other woodcock covers fail to hold birds. I'll try to make a trip down in the fall and see what I can find then.
 
 
Thursday I headed for the Piney Creek covert where Thicket had held her first point last week. It turned out to be the day I had been dreaming about. A hundred yards from the truck Thicket when on point and I walked up a nice woodcock.
 
And so began my dream walk. When it was all over Thicket had 5 solid points and no bumped birds that I could tell. Once I did see a woodcock lift off in front of her but I don't think she had yet smelled the bird. Here are pics of her next two points.

 
Her 4th point was in cover too thick to get a good pic, but here's her last point of the day all the more special cause 2 woodcock flushed out when I walked in.
 
At the end of the walk there were lots of hugs, kisses, and ear rubs on the tailgate.
I think this dog is going to be very special.
 
 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Last Couple of Days

On Monday Thicket and I headed to the Shawnee Creek covert with hopes of finding it full of birds. Alas it wasn't to be. Thicket bumped one woodcock early in  our walk and the next 2 hours provided to be birdless. Despite the lack of birds Thicket continued to hunt the cover aggressively.



Feeling desperate to find Thicket some birds I headed for the Buffalo Creek covert. Although the cover looked excellent we only found 1 bird here that she also bumped.

 

 
After a hard day of hunting a girl needs to cool herself off.
 
 
On Tuesday I only had time for a short hunt so we headed for the Warrior Ridge Covert.  Minutes after we left the truck Thicket found one and held a nice point.
 
The wind was blowing hard that day and the next two birds flushed in front of her. That proved to  be all the birds in this small covert but Thicket continues to hunt hard and "smart" going to thick pieces of cover in search of birds.
 
 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Magic Along Piney Creek

After spending 3 days walking through 5 of my woodcock coverts and not finding a bird, Thicket and I headed south to the Piney Creek covert. I just discovered this covert last fall and had good luck there and it didn't disappoint me today.

Thicket hunted like a seasoned veteran.


 
She found and pointed 4 woodcock. On the first 3 birds she crept forward and flushed them before I could reach her. Here she is on one of those birds.
 
On the last bird I saw her come to a sliding stop and twist her body to the left. She held the point and I walked in and flushed the bird.
 
Thicket is 9 months old, has never smelled a pen raised bird and only a handful of wild birds but today she showed me the magic our future holds.
 
 
 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1st Woodcock Run of the Spring

Thicket and I went to the Warrior Ridge covert yesterday in search of that elusive 1st woodcock of the spring migratory flights. The snow lay in patches in the covert with enough bare ground to give me hope of finding a passing woodcock.


 
Thicket hunted beautifully searching through the brush and brambles like a seasoned veteran. The Tek 1.0 tracking collar is a blessing to compensate for my poor hearing, telling me how far and in which direction Thicket was hunting. At times she would reach out to 150 yards before she would circle back to check in. Several times she exceeded the 150 yard limit and I would use the vibration mode on the Sport Dog shock collar to turn her back to me.
At the far edge of the covert I discovered a recent cutting by the game commission to release some wild apple and crabapple trees. The moist ground along a small brook  should make some nice woodcock habitat in years to come.


 
I wish I could tell of the woodcock that we found, but alas the covert was empty, but it didn't stop Thicket and I from having a wonderful walk in a nice setting.