What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, I got home from a disappointing morning hunting Hera and felt my enthusiasm for going out the next day evaporate. She pointed woodcock and jumped the gun yet again. I planned on going duck hunting with my hunting buddy Omer, but the threat of inclement weather made him lose interest and he cancelled. My hunting buddy Jason wanted to go out to the farm near Spencerville the next day to add more corn to the bait piles in anticipation of deer season next month and I agreed to accompany him. I suggested we bring our dogs and take them upland gunning before we tended to the bait piles. I wanted to see if there was any change in Hera, whether she would remain staunch on point this time. Jason accepted my suggestion even though the weather forecast called for high winds and light rain. Jason is off to moose camp next weekend and this is our last chance to tend the bait piles before the opening of deer season. I met Jason at his house at 8:00 AM on the Ides of October and off we went to see what fortune would bring.
Jason was dismayed as we drove through light, yet steady rain toward Spencerville. I remained hopeful that weather conditions would be better in Spencerville and sure enough, the skies cleared as we neared Spencerville and the winds were nowhere near as high as forecast. We brought Jason’s ATV and trailer with us along with sacks of corn for the bait piles. We arrived at the farm in good time and took Hera and Nos (Jason’s dog) into the grouse and woodcock cover. We walked the familiar trail as the dogs quartered through the poplars. I stepped off the trail to push through a promising stand of cover while Jason continued on the trail. As I reached the end of the cover I flushed a woodcock. It flew into a stand of pines and offered neither of us a shot. As we continued, I found a fresh pile of deer dung where there was none the day before. It was across from one of our stands, a good sign, I daresay.
We crossed into the swampy corner by Rick’s deer stand and I found a Jefferson Salamander on the ground. I hope the salamander finds a spot to hibernate before long. Colder temperatures are on the way.
I wanted to sweep the thicket behind Jason’s deer stand as I found lots of woodcock sign the day before. I observed at the start of the season that conditions on the farm are excellent for the woodcock migration. The earth is wet and boggy and there are pools and puddles of water throughout the cover. This is very much to a woodcock’s liking as they are essentially shorebirds.
As we walked up to Jason’s deer stand Jason jumped two deer in the swamp in front of the stand. This was exciting, yet more proof there are deer in the area. We found Jason’s deer stand in good order and as I swept the thicket with Hera she suddenly locked up on point. “Steady” I called to her and she remained staunch. I walked up her point and she carefully walked up, edging closer to the bird, a woodcock, until I flushed it. The bird succeeded in putting trees between itself and me when it flushed, but I got two shots off, missing spectacularly. I did not care, Hera was staunch! I praised her handsomely and I caught the action on camera.
Jason saw where the bird flew and landed so I asked him to follow it up with Nos. I followed with Hera as Jason and Nos went on ahead to make a second try on the woodcock Hera pointed. Jason flushed the bird himself as he approached its hiding spot in a group of pines. He fired twice with his semi-auto, dumping the bird cleanly with his second shot. Nos made the retrieve.
We did not turn up any more birds on our way back to the car and by then the temperature was rising and the wind picking up. We left the dogs in the car as we took Jason’s ATV with the trailer laden with sacks of corn in tow. We completed our mission, leaving the corn by the four deer stands we have in place. On our way home we stopped in at TSC Stores in Kemptville to pick up supplies. Jason found suet packs on sale for his bird feeder at home and I found a horse comb, good for grooming burrs out of Hera’s fur. In all, it was a good day in the field and my enthusiasm for hunting the rest of the season is restored.
Posted by Geoffrey