Friday, October 30, 2015

Shooting Slump

My shooting has been mediocre this year and yesterday it took another dive. Emma and I headed north to hunt a new covert. A clearcut ridge that was growing back nicely with an immense variety of trees and shrubs it held a nice number of woodcock for us to enjoy. We moved 9 woodcock in about an hour and a half with Emma having 7 wonderful points. I had shooting at 5 of the birds but could only drop 1. I was shooting my newest acquisition the Jones Underlever mystery gun. With no proof markings on the barrel flats, only the Sauer & Sohn stamp (a German gunmaker) on the barrels gives me some idea as to it's origin. It has a 3 inch drop at the heel which could have been part of my problem yesterday, although I've shot clay birds fairly well with this gun.

Some pics of the cover. This should have held some grouse besides the woodcock but as with most of my southcentral Pa coverts the grouse are mostly nonexistent with only a few wild flushes so far this season.

Emma is never happy about having her picture taken, but she's the reason the day was a memorable one.

The Tek 1.0 tracking collar continues to show me just how bad my hearing is. On several points I was sure Emma was in one direction while the Tek should me that she was if fact in just the opposite direction.  It's no fun getting old :(.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Back To Piney Creek

I don't like to hunt a covert too often, but seeing that I didn't hurt the bird population at Piney Creek on my last hunt I decided to give it another try with Thicket. The woodcock were still there but Thicket had a harder time handling them with several bumped birds. She finally pointed one along side the creek and I dropped it with the right barrel. I saw it drop into the creek but we had to search for several minutes to find it camouflaged amongst the floating leaves.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Irish Run Covert

I took Emma and headed north to a new covert that I discovered last spring. A nice looking cover with some beaver dams and a ridge growing back with aspen.

Had two grouse wild flush and Emma pointed one that made it's escape without a shot being fired. No woodcock were found.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Doll's Head-Benny Run Coverts

Hunted Thicket in the Doll's Head and Benny Run coverts yesterday. She had a point in the Doll's Head soon after we entered the cover, but as I worked my way toward her, she went off point. I didn't see the bird flush so have no clue as to what happened to that bird. She hunted hard but it was over an hour before she found another bird. She went on point then slowly relocated about 20-25 feet away in a god awful alder run. As I tried to reach her the woodcock flushed with no chance for a shot, but Thicket had put on a fine piece of work to point that bird.
Thicket's slower, more cautious style of hunting is so different from Emma's flat out, full speed style.  Not that Thicket is a plodder, she covers the ground nicely at a trot as compared to Emma's flat out run and so far has bumped far fewer birds than Emma did at that age. I also love the way Thicket will slide through a thorny cover without a scratch while Emma comes out bleeding from torn ears and tongue. 
We finished hunting the Doll's Head without any more bird contacts and moved to Benny Run which held only one bird who flushed as I moved through the cover so we called it a day with the memory of Thicket pinning the running woodcock the high point of the day. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thicket's First Bird

Thicket and I headed for the Piney Creek covert yesterday to start the Pa bird season.

I was surprised that we moved 10 woodcock in 2 1/2 hours with Thicket giving me 5 beautiful points, two bumped birds (which I didn't mind due to her inexperience) and several birds that I "bumped" who got to fly away unharmed (for I only shoot at pointed birds). Her first point was in fairly open cover and I felt sure that I would drop the bird for her, only to have the 'cock use a big pine to make it's escape. The second point proved to be a wickedly fast, low flyer who also dodged both of the loads I threw at it. Finally as the third pointed bird tried to make it's escape I fired just as it disappeared behind some pines and I felt as though I may have hit it. When I made my way in search of it I found Thicket sniffing the fallen woodcock.

Her fourth pointed bird was in a multiflora rose hell and as I fought my way in the bird flew out over my head and I missed with one barrel before it was gone. Her fifth point was on a bird who was able to make it's escape without me ever getting off a shot and so ended our hunt with my shooting average dismal but with Thicket putting a big smile on my face with her superb bird work, showing me that she had the instincts to become a good solid bird dog.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SportDog Comes Through

I received my new SportDog Tek 1.0 tracking collar to replace the faulty one in less than a week. Kudo's to SportDog for the quick service. I did have to call their helpline for help in getting the transmitter "tuned in" to the collar, but had a very friendly girl walk me through the procedure. This weekend is the start of Pa.'s grouse and woodcock seasons but I'll be letting the opening day crowd have the woods and start my season on Monday in quiet coverts.  Hopefully I'll be seeing sights like this in the upcoming weeks :) and a few stories to tell.

Galarina Apple

I left one apple on a young Galarina apple tree this spring. Too many apples on a young tree will "stunt" it's growth, it's better for the trees long term health to pinch off any small apples in early spring. This variety is a cross between Gala and Florina bred in France. It's touted as being a disease resistant mid season medium sized apple. This one is large because it was the only apple on the tree.
As soon as I took these pics I took a bite out of it and was very pleasantly surprised by the crisp, juicy flesh with just the right amount of tart and sweet flavor. Before I was done with this apple I had decided that I'd be grafting several more next spring on to G-30 rootstock a semi-dwarf precocious   rootstock. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Finally Some Preseason Birds

A number of things have kept me from getting Thicket into some preseason woodcock.  First was my kidney stone surgery which laid me low for about 3 weeks. Then very dry weather sent the woodcock somewhere other than my usual woodcock hotspots, and finally my fall apple tree plantings have kept me busy trying to get all my trees planted before the grouse and woodcock season starts.  We have gotten some good rains recently and I got a good many of my apple trees planted so today Thicket and I headed for the Doll's Head covert.

The vegetation is still thick.

She found 4 woodcock. Two points that I had a hard time getting to her through the alders and hawthorn and she either bumped the bird or it flushed on it's own, I don't know. Another bird flushed in front of her as she was working some cover, and one bird she pointed nicely in some thick cover which made getting a pic tough.

It was a nice morning afield with Thicket showing me that she hadn't forgotten everything she had learned about finding and pointing woodcock from last spring.

It's going to be an exciting fall for us both.

Monday, October 5, 2015

SportDog Tek 1.0 Woes

I went to put the SportDog Tek tracking collar on Thicket yesterday and it would not turn on. Panic immediately set in. With my deteriorating hearing the tracking collar is as essential as my gun for a successful hunt. Luckily I still had a few weeks left on the 1 year warranty and a call to SportDog has a new unit on it's way to replace the broken one. Always hate it when something breaks down but SportDog was very courteous and will ship the new unit out today with delivery in 5 to 10 days. With the  grouse and woodcock season starting in 11 days I should get it just in time so that I can find Thicket or Emma when they go on that first point of the season.