Thursday, October 2nd I got out to the Marlborough Forest with Hera in hopes of intercepting some migrating woodcock. We arrived at Lester’s Square, my preferred cover for woodcock, shortly after 8:00 am. A coyote ran across the forest road as we drove in. It was much cooler this morning than the previous Saturday when the heat and humidity was stifling. We had the cover to ourselves, also. We made our way through the cover, checking areas that I consistently found woodcock over the years, but we turned up up none in the first two. Finally, Hera locked up on point in a stand of birch and poplar. I walked up the point, but the bird made good its escape, putting a tree between me and itself. No shot was fired.
Moving on to a stand of mature hardwood where a grouse or two can be found, there was a wild flush. I heard the grouse take off, followed by the “putt, putt, putt” sound of a clucking grouse. Backtracking to the cover where Hera pointed the woodcock, she bumped a woodcock, possibly the same one she pointed earlier. It made good its escape. We gave the cover a thorough sweep and no more birds were found. Although, I saw a grouse at the edge of the forest road as we were driving out to Roger Stevens Road. The grouse scurried into a woodlot that was posted “no trespassing” so I let it be.
As the morning wore on the temperature rose, but I decided to try another patch of cover, Cowan’s Corner, in hopes of turning up birds. It was late in the morning when we set out at Cowan’s Corner and it was at the entrance of the forest road I first noticed the sign with an illustration of a hunter aiming a gun with a line crossed through it. I stopped to read the print under the sign and it states that there is a ban on the discharge of firearms in the Marlborough Forest, except for lawful hunting. There are a couple of sand pits in the forest I know of where people go to sight in their rifles and to shoot clay targets. One of these sand pits is strewn with litter left behind. I think this is what the regulation is intended to address; however, I cannot help wondering if this is just an incremental step toward banning hunting in the Marlborough Forest altogether.
The sweep of Cowan’s Corner turned up two woodcock, one of which Hera pointed. I fired haphazardly and missed most spectacularly. At 1:00 pm it was uncomfortably warm so I called it a day and we headed home. I hope we turn up more birds as the season progresses.