Ok, excuse me, gotta go back out to Michigan. (Don’t I wish) My friend says the Woodcock migration is in full swing!
If upland hunting over bird dogs interferes with your work, quit work. Dogs don’t point nor birds flush in the cemetery. – American Brittany Guy (apologies to Sparse Gray Hackle)
Friday morning greeted us with ice. Skim ice on the puddles from last night. The trees were heavy with the rain that was clinging to the branches overnight. As we made our way through the tag alders and jack pine it sounded like it was raining. Then, the dogs would pull up short and lock in to a scent cone from a grouse or woodcock. Mostly grouse today. Maybe the warm weather has kept the woodcock content to stay in the norther latitudes longer but maybe this cold front will get them moving.
We will not enjoy their transient presence, as today is the last day to hunt.
Over the week the dogs made, perhaps, two dozen points. Two times that flushed wild, escaping our approach 50 yards away or more. Sometimes we only heard that tell tale beating of wings as the bird made a hasty exit. Like miniature fighter pilots the birds weave their way through the trees, seemingly able to put a tree between them and you at just the right moment.
As the week went on the dogs became more circumspect. Cautiously is the appropriate way to move on these birds and the dogs have to re-learn this every year. We will make this journey again, or another one like it….soon I hope.
Today I hunted all day on my friends farm in St. Helen. It was not as good a day as yesterday, but we probably had 10 – 15 flushes. All Woodcock this morning. Mostly Grouse this afternoon. Sorry, no pictures as it was drizzling most the day.
Today we set off to visit a field trial at the Gladwin Field Trial Grounds at Merideth. On the way, my dear friend Mark called from St.Helen saying he was only cutting wood this afternoon and could be convinced to grouse hunt. I went to the Firld Trial grounds looking for my Dad’s friend Roger Johnson (president of the Beaverton Field Trial Association). The place is a maze, so not finding them, I headed up to St. Helen. I found my friend Mark in the back of his property, splitting wood with a PTO splitter on his tractor. He told me to take the dogs an make a little loop while he finished up. Eight flushes, two solid points, in a 20 minute loop! I actually shot (and missed) at two of the flushes.
After my buddy Mark finished up we went on an hour or two hike and flushed another 6-8 birds. Most were grouse. Most, we did not get a point out of, but in the drizzle, it was great.
At one point my Male started yipping. Scared me. He was limping bad. I called him over and I went over his ‘bum wheel’ and discovered a big thorn. Pulled it, and he seemed fine. Bit of a scare at the midpoint of our week. I am glad it was minor.
Tonight, the truck is REALLY dirty, and the dogs are REALLY tired. Tomorrow is an all-day hunt on the same 200 acres my friend owns.
Driving back to Beaverton I really noticed that the colors are peaking. A beautiful day all around.
What a blessed day. Hopefully I will have some photos tomorrow.
Today we hunted 4 spots near West Branch. Dogs did well. First spot yielded a ‘wild flush’. I don’t think the dogs bumped the bird, more like the bird got nervous before they got near it. I did not see it depart. Two other spots with no flushes. Last spot, about 2:30 (I like to get out of the woods by 3, Michigan’s archery deer season is on and I don’t want to booger up a spot for their evening hunt.
Last spot had some nice cover. Nim was on point, in a way that told me ‘this bird is here somewhere, and I am not moving another inch.’ After a few seconds, I released him and he was definitely birdy, tracking the bird on the ground. He was working a small area out in front of me. And, I was letting him work out where this bird was. Then, behind me, not that far, the sound of a bird flushing. Still, a great day in Northern Michigan.
“I regret spending so much time with bird dogs,” said no one. Ever.
Today was our first day of the 2013 Michigan trip. We hunted this afternoon near my dad’s place in Beaverton MI. The first place wasn’t as my friend described, so we moved on to some known coverts. (Did I say my Gazetteer should be in my will?) we did a few loops and so as to not booger up the archery hunters we left about 3 pm. Two ‘wild’ Woodcock flushes. That’s all. But, truck is dirty and dogs are tired. A good day.