Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World
Simply - if they're in, they'll be in a five to seven acre brush and brier lot. Flat terrain carpeted with some mossy ferny greenery. And when they're there, Rida and I will spend the entire hunt about the area. This allows for an ease into the more strenuous quest for grouse.
After 45 minutes of casual hunting it was apparent we were going to hunt a little harder than usual on opening day. For the next hour or so we stuck to relatively easy grouse cover. Still the up and down, over and under, through and around, was getting to the knees. Rida was showing signs of tiring too. It was definitely time to hunt towards the house. That's when it happened. A bumped Woodcock caught us off guard. Here's the simplified version:
flush__flush/fire/miss__follow-up__flush/fire/miss__follow-up__flush__flush/fire/miss__follow-up. From the birds' perspective - no harm, no fowl.
OK! if these birds were where they 'weren't supposed to be', maybe there's more where they're not supposed to be. So foolishly we head to "the pasture". We don't hunt this area when the temps are approaching 60. And definitely not when the knees are the focus. Within a half hour we near the homeward end, with dog behind and gun at the side, one - then two in unison - and a fourth, Grouse go blasting up and off.
Again, no harm, no fowl. We'll be that much more prepared and focused next time. When We Have A Deal!
After last weekend's 'changing of the rules', the timberdoodles held up their end of the new deal. I did my part by not hurting the population. We put up six (one over a rare classic point), shot twice, had one misfire. A grouse exploded out of the same cover.
The knees held up, and the rain held off. Mom's meatloaf with Lex and a visit with the Ex-laws rounded out the day.
Rida, Stevens, and I took a quick hike around my 15 acres (really 11 +/- when subtracting the lawn) yesterday morning. The mix of swamp, meadow, ole pasture, and hardwoods (quite a variety for so small a space) makes good potential cover for woodcock and grouse. Both have been there in past years. Alas, it was an enjoyable walk. One I think I'll repeat......soon. Because, they could be there.
When they're there, they're really there. Today they were where they were the last couple weeks, except in true flight numbers. Rida, Stevens, and I put up so many birds I lost count. If it weren't for the empty shells, I'd have no idea how many times I shot - eleven,.....and missed - nine. Two woodcock soaking in milk as I type. One four inch puffball mushroom sliced and diced to go with them.
Besides the harvest (long 'bout morning the farmer boy gets lucky) it was the dog work that stood out. Rida is starting to 'get it'. The first bird was taken over a legitimate "bird-dog" point. Then, after numerous flushes and misses, she locked up on, and worked four birds in a row. Picturesque type points. The type that affords good hunters ideal opportunities at the shot. Being less than a good hunter, I get to tell you about the dog work, which included, arguably the most important role played - finding the downed birds and bringing them to hand.
In any event, with the birds there, the dog work, and the lucky shots - we sealed the deal.
After squeezing off 11 shots with two hitting the mark a week ago, my shooting percentage dramatically improved Saturday. Five woodcock took wing (one over a beautiful point)__Two shots fired (none over a beautiful point)__One bird in the game pouch. How's that for spin?
What are the odds there will be any stragglers still in the area next weekend? Slim to none!
One of the highlights of Spring is the drum of the the Ruffed Grouse - the males' showy display, put on for the purpose of courting the opposite sex. Its not uncommon to hear this from one hill, while a tom turkey is gobbling from another.
Saturday, while in pursuit of Woodcock, I heard this for the first time in the Fall. Two birds, one from the north, the other from the south were seemingly responding to each others' chest beating. I'm guessing this is normal behavior, though new to me. Is it an observation when heard.
Today, taking a back hill road to town, I came upon a pair. The trailing bird was in full display - ruff ruffled and tail fanned - fully as impressive as any tom turkey showing off in the Spring.
I've read about these behaviors occurring this time of year, but never witnessed either.
Suffice it to say, once again, I did no damage to either the Woodcock or Grouse populations. And at fifty cents per shot, I spent much more on gas than shells.
However, Rida did perform two grand points. One over a well mannered Woodcock that lives to continue its flight south.
Speaking of manners, the Grouse were far more cooperative than in days past. For the most part they sat until Rida was given a snout full (earlier they all went up 'wild'). One did go up off to our side as we were prepping to take the climb up the gully wall. Watching its flight path gave me incentive to at least follow it up once. I thought, but wasn't sure I heard it take flight again. So we continued in the general direction - the easy part of the ole pasture. Shortly Rida went on the prettiest staunchest point of the year. I scanned the ground and checked all the low branches - nothing! Rida still holding point.....and holding.....and holding (shoulda, coulda, woulda, didn't take a picture). Assume I did hear that last flush.
So, an unproductive 'day off', and unproductive few shots, and an unproductive point. Damn good day.
What does it mean when, on the Sunday after the closing of the early season, in town (down town if there is such a thing) a Ruffed Grouse explodes from just off the front porch, providing a nice crossing shot -- when all I want is the paper?
Is it a sort of 'in your face' gesture? Seems he would have just strutted his stuff....to mock of my lack of hunting prowess.
This will give me something to dwell on between now and the opening of the late season.
And That Pretty Much Sums Up The 2010 Season