Chasing woodcock, waterfowl, doves, and grouse while it lasts
Since I’ve got a six-month old pup at home I’ve been keeping a keen eye out for any and all bird hunting opportunities where she might have some quick success. What this has done for me has made me more cognizant than ever of the fleeting opportunities we face with much of our migratory bird opportunities.
For example, I’ve got a dove hunting spot that usually turns on during the end of September. This year, a few other hunters figured out the situation and the added pressure cut down on the flights. Luna got her teeth around a single dove before the spot went dry.
Not that I’m complaining, though. While staring at empty dove skies I found a few places to monitor woodcock as they flew from feeding to roosting areas. Never one to hunt woodcock because they are my least favorite bird to eat, and quite frankly, I’ve never thought they were too hard to hit, I thought I’d give them a shot for Luna’s sake. It turns out that hunting them on purpose is a lot like grouse hunting (which I love) and although they are sometimes easy to hit, they can also leave you with two empty barrels, the smell of gunpowder fading in the air and nothing else. For the first time in my life I’m paying attention to woodcock numbers and am aware that they will dwindle very, very soon.
And on that note, I’d be remiss to not bring up the first duck that Luna successfully retrieved in the water – a drake wood duck. Woodies are an early-season mainstay and since I’m more of a pond-sitter than anything else, they are much more reliable than teal so I’ve got a special place in my heart for them. There are still some woodies around, but once again, they are on their way out.
I guess the point of all this is to take advantage of what is going on at the moment. Just like the upcoming deer rut, the late-season pheasant hunts where they can still be found, and certain thickets that draw December grouse, many of our best hunting opportunities are short-lived. That’s the way it’s meant to be I suppose, so we appreciate the moments of feasting while unconsciously aware of how quick we’ll be fasting…