The day started off with a duck hunt on the Castor River with my hunting buddy Jason and his dog Nos. The duck hunt proved a bust; it is too soon after opening day for the northern birds to be moving through. We sat on the edge of the river and watched the sun rise, packing up early enough that I could get into the field with Hera for a late morning, early afternoon hunt for grouse and woodcock. It was blustery and rain was in the forecast. I hoped the rain would hold off long enough for us. I arrived at Lester’s Square at about 11:00 am and we set out.
I found a new trail in the cover I sweep which led to a pair of permanent deer stands. The trail led to another patch of the cover I hunt and along the way three grouse flushed wildly. I put Hera on the spots they had flushed and she checked the area thoroughly. She had pointed a grouse, her first, the day before and was very determined to find the birds. The rain had started, a light rain that was not too bad. I swept through some promising woodcock cover, but no birds were found. I took Hera toward a spot my buddies Jason and Nicolas and their dogs Nos and Cocotte had gotten into grouse the day before. A grouse flushed wildly from some cedars at the edge of a stand of birch. I made a snap shot and the no. 6 shot from my Browning 12 gauge over and under with 26″ barrels, choked skeet and skeet found the mark with one shot. I knew I got the bird when Hera emerged from the cedars with the dead bird in her jaws.
She proudly carried the bird around for a bit, before giving it up to me. I heaped praise on her. It was a proud and happy moment for the two of us. That she pointed a bird the day before is impressive as the grouse here in Eastern Ontario have adapted to hunting pressure over the generations in being so very skittish they rarely hold for a pointing dog, even the most seasoned dog. Wild flushes are common and bumped birds especially so with a young dog like Hera. I got my first grouse over her on the eve of her first birthday. Not long after the rain started falling in earnest, so we started back to the car. Along the way there were two more grouse flushes, but still no woodcock. We wrapped the hunt at about 2:00 pm. She is coming along nicely in her training as a gun dog. I look forward to our next hunt.
Got out to Lester’s Square in the Marlborough Forest for an impromptu grouse and woodcock hunt with Hera. Left Ottawa at 4:00 pm, after work, picking up Jason and his dog Nos on the way out. We arrived at our desired hunting ground at about 5:00 pm which left us about two hours before the end of legal shooting time at 7:11 pm. It was warm, about 25 degree C and a slight wind was blowing. We set out and before long had a grouse flush wildly and unseen in a stand of pines. We moved on to an edge I expect to find woodcock and sure enough, Hera flash pointed one. I called out to Jason there was a bird up and he fired twice, missing cleanly. Hera checked the area where the woodcock flushed with great interest. A moment later I heard another shot from Jason. This time he found the mark, a woodcock, dumped cleanly when Jason pivoted to make the shot. He marked the spot where the bird fell, or so he thought, Nos found the downed bird a few yards farther then where Jason thought he had seen the bird fall.
We continued the hunt, pressing on to another edge, where a Wilson’s snipe flushed. Jason noted where it touched down in the distance and we followed it up. We got a second flush, Jason shot and missed. With about twenty minutes left in legal shooting time, we made a sweep through another boggy patch that usually holds a woodcock or two. This time I put up a bird and managed to fumble with the safety on my 20 gauge Winchester side by side and not make the shot. This happens on occasion and has saved the life of many an upland game bird. I took it in stride, aside from the roar of exasperation I let out. We made our way back to the car in the last of the light and though Nos made a series of points, no more birds were seen. It was a good outing. Hera is coming along nicely in her development as a hunting dog.