Got out to Lester’s Square in the Marlborough Forest with my Brittany Hera and my buddy Jason Quinn with his German Wirehaired Pointer Nos on a fine Sunday morning, September 29th. We were on the road at 7:00 am as it is about an hour’s drive from Centretown Ottawa, where we live, to the hunting ground we chose for this outing. It was sunny and calm when we set out, a bit warmer than usual for this time of year, so we chose a cover that holds ponds and puddles in which the dogs could cool off. As we drove up to our desired spot, we discovered we had company. This is to be expected in public hunting grounds and we are happy to share the area with fellow hunters. I am acquainted with the group we saw and heard during the hunt. I have come across them in seasons past. They are hard to miss as you can hear them shouting at their dogs in Arabic and amongst themselves. We just made a point of keeping clear of them, so as not to interfere with their hunt, and to enjoy our own.
No birds were flushed in our sweep of Lester’s Square, though the conditions in the woodcock cover are the best I have seen in the past few years. The bogs are nice and wet and the earth soft enough for the migrating woodcock to probe for the earthworms that make up their diet. I think we are just ahead of the migration. We will return to hunt the cover at Lester’s Square as often as we can through October in hopes of intercepting a few migrating woodcock. Hera and Nos run well together and Hera has really taken to hunting with great enthusiasm. She turns one year old in the first week of October and is coming along nicely in her training.
We made our way to another patch of cover in the forest we call Paden. It is with some trepidation that we bring Nos there as a couple of years ago during a training run he attacked and killed a porcupine, suffering grievous injury in the process. I remember speeding back to Ottawa to the emergency veterinary clinic where Nos was sedated and in surgery for hours, having hundreds of quills removed from his face and mouth. We avoided the area where the attack took place and in the course of the hunt turned up one woodcock in a pocket of cover I expected to find birds. The woodcock was bumped by Nos and Jason dumped it cleanly with his new Beretta over and under. By then it was almost noon and the temperature had risen to 25 degrees C. The wind was picking up also, so we called it a day. Hera had a good morning afield, running and hunting hard. I cannot wait to get back in to the field with her.
Woodcock season opened the 25th of September this year, the day Mika and I returned from our holiday in England. The next day, the 26th of September, I took Hera on her first hunt. She is almost one year old and been in training up to this date. My hunting buddy Jason Quinn and his dog Nos, a German Wirehaired Pointer, joined us for Hera’s first hunt. We left Ottawa after work for the Marlborough Forest, driving to a patch of cover I call Lester’s Square. This is a spot in the forest that can be counted on to attract woodcock during their Autumn migration, especially when the terrain is nice and wet. We arrived at about 4:00 pm and set out. On the drive out I noticed the water levels in the marshes and beaver ponds along the way were higher, which I found encouraging. Sure enough, the cover at Lester’s Square was nice and boggy. It should make for a good season.
Hera and Nos run well together, they quarter through the cover with enthusiasm. We made our way anticipating points and flushes, but woodcock proved scarce. We had two ruffed grouse flush wildly and unseen in thick brush. Ruffed grouse in the Marlborough Forest have adapted to being hunted every Autumn, making them very challenging game. As we were well into our sweep of the cover, Nos pointed a woodcock. Nos remained steady to wing and shot and the bird was dumped cleanly in view of Hera by Jason, using his new Beretta over and under. We let Hera examine the downed woodcock and continued the hunt, though no more birds were seen. The woodcock migration likely has not started yet. We will return to hunt Lester’s Square as the season progresses in hopes of intercepting some of the migrants. It was a good first hunt for Hera and I look forward to taking to the field with her anew very soon.