This past weekend, I hunted with two dedicated flushing dog enthusiasts from Maine - Krystal Coombs and legendary Maine guide and breeder Jo-Ann Moody - whose springers scoured my grouse coverts for two days. Krystal’s 3 year old Levi (at left) and Jo-Ann’s 7 month old pup Pepper brought me back in to the world of hunting grouse and woodcock with a flushing state of mind, which is quite different from where I usually reside.
In short, we had a great time and moved a lot of birds over our two mornings of hunting Levi and Pepper. The cover the first day was a little more open and we saw, glimpsed, or heard around 24 grouse and woodcock, quite a few of which presented nice shooting opportunities. Jo-Ann made a nice shot on a woodcock (which Pepper retrieved), and Krystal bagged a couple of grouse as well. Quite a few shells were expended on that first morning, as the dogs were working close and hunting hard. Both Krystal and Jo-Ann have a relaxing (quiet), yet precise way of handling their dogs in the grouse woods, which helps us get closer to the birds.
Sunday brought new challenges, as I brought them to one of my best (and thickest!) woodcock coverts. The amount of woodcock and splash in this covert got the dogs fired up, so there were birds in the air, but sometimes too far out of the range of the guns. Pepper was really firing on all cylinders, which is great to see from a young dog. Needless to say, both Levi and Pepper (at right) earned their rest at the end of each day.
In the afternoons, we hunted with one of my dogs, just to give Krystal and Jo-Ann a taste of how we do it up here. While things were slower each afternoon, both Rudy (2 grouse and 2 woodcock moved) and Monty (6 grouse moved, with a couple of great points) acquitted themselves well in their time out there. While the weather was cooler, it was also still cloudy, rainy and windy, making for another challenging weekend out there. The good news is that we lost much of our foliage last weekend, so now we have one less excuse for all of those missed birds!