September 24 Update

Beautiful day out there today - the leaves are changing as you read this, insuring some brilliant outings in the days ahead. Not much leaf drop yet, so we’re hearing the grouse as they escape, and rarely viewing them in the act. Still seeing broods now and then, so the fall dispersal is still probably a couple weeks away. We did encounter a few grouse in old apple tree cover, so if you have spots like these you go to, there could be some birds there already.

We have continued our schedule of four days a week hitting the woods in search of birds in areas old and new, with varying results. Seems like our tried and true covers have been producing as usual, but the new spots have yielded fewer sightings of grouse and woodcock. Sometimes they’re not there at all, and sometimes we’re just in the wrong part of the cover at the wrong time. Rudy and Monty have certainly done their part in our scouting searches.

As one of the best grouse hunters I know says,
“A grouse cover is like a house - we just have to find out what room they’re in.”

Vermont opening day is this Saturday, and New Hampshire opens a week from today - hope you’re ready!

September 17 Update

Fall’s in the air for sure now, folks. 38 degrees this morning, chilly enough to get the woodstove going and also to contemplate all of those great days ahead. Yes, we’re all getting excited for the Vermont and New Hampshire seasons now, and the wait is almost over. The leaves are slowly changing, a bit more rapidly in the uplands, but there’s still a lot of green out there right now. Hopefully we have some more cold nights soon to hasten the colors.

Nearly four hours in the woods of Vermont this morning yielded 14 grouse pointed / sighted. Most were singles at first, then Monty made a nice point on a pair in the shade. That started us off on an hour in which we ran into most of the grouse that we saw today - first Rudy made a nice point on a lone grouse, then he got in to a brood of probably four more that made their escape in waves. Did I mention that the woods are thick right now? That means we didn’t see too many, just heard the whirring of their wings on take off.

The majority of these birds were in an “old faithful” kind of spot, then we checked a few smaller covers prospecting for grouse, in which we only saw one more. No woodcock today, but there was some evidence that they had been there recently. The woods are dry again, but we’re expecting some weather to come in tomorrow and Wednesday, so that should help things out a bit.

More updates to come as we get closer to September 29 (VT opener) and October 1 (NH opener).

September 14 Update

Rudy pointing a woodcock on 9/14/2012
Another good scouting session this morning - approximately 10 woodcock pointed / moved in about 1.5 hours. Not too bad for Rudy and Monty, and they did a good job for the most part of helping each other out by honoring each other’s points. We still have some work to do there though, so that will be the focus of our efforts heading in to the season. My preference is to hunt them alone once the season arrives, but with the temperatures warming quickly lately, running them at the same time to get their work in has been the best option for them.

Monty on one of his many woodcock points - 9/14/2012
I was able to take a short video this morning of the dogs on point. It was actually Monty who was first on point, with Rudy dangerously close to busting the woodcock (that’s why I’m yelling “WHOA!” on the video), but thankfully they held their points and the bird fluttered away. Once again, sorry about the camera action, but these birds don’t hold too well for a hack like me, but you will hear the whistle of the woodcock if you listen hard. This video also illustrates why I use beeper collars - they are indispensible in finding your pup when he’s on point!

We checked out a couple new spots this week that looked like they had some potential on Google Earth, but unfortunately they turned out to be rather slow. So, we turned our attention to a couple of areas that we haven’t hunted in a year or two and they were surprisingly good - 13 grouse were pointed / moved by Rudy and Monty in merely two hours. I’ll take those numbers every time and this season is looking very good for our pursuit of grouse and woodcock.

Land of Plenty

That’s Rudy pointing a grouse from earlier this week - they’re already starting to run too, as we caught up with this one about 40 yards down a hill from us. We’ve been out for scouting sessions several mornings this week, before the coolness burns off and it starts feeling like summer again. Temps are okay until about 10 A.M., then starts heating rapidly after that.

Our first morning out this week was a great one, as we moved / pointed 5 grouse and 9 woodcock in around two hours out there. A few of the grouse held very well for the dogs, and the woodcock were also holding, as you would expect. The next time out was a little tough, as we only encountered 1 grouse and 2 woodcock in a little over an hour - it warmed quickly that day, and I wasn’t willing to get in to the deeper cover, as Rudy and I were panting heavily.

This morning was amazing, and probably the best scouting session we’ve ever had. In two hours, Rudy and Monty managed to point / move around 25 grouse, most of which were from three broods of 6 - 8 birds each. Monty also had a great point on a pair of grouse in heavy cover, which was very exciting. The area we were in usually yields one to two broods each season, so seeing three broods in limited time in this area was amazing, and mindboggling when you think that if the temps were cooler and we were actually hunting, what else would we have found?

It was great to be sure and we’re anticipating a fantastic and plentiful upland bird hunting season in 2012. More updates to come ...

Spring Training, 2012

We’ve been seeing lots of birds lately, so it appears as though they had a mild and pleasant winter, like the rest of us. There’s been birds crossing roads, both on foot and through the air, apparently excited to finally have some spring. Read More...