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      TO THOSE REGISTERING FOR MEMBERSHIP ON UJ   01/06/2018

      To the Guests who have decided to register for Membership. PLEASE add more info than just  "hunting" or "Upland hunting" or "birds" or "outdoors" or similar nebulous terms in the required INTERESTS field. Despite this Boards strong spam filtering it is not bullet proof, so Spam registrations do sneak through. I need an inkling that you are a warm blooded human being not a Spam Bot tagging onto key words. Thank you.
Mike Connally

The new Southern game bird

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MAArcher

Hunting pressure pales in comparison to habitat loss as it relates to woodcock population.    Lets not reduce limits on woodcock, instead lets change zoning laws to limit new construction to half acre lots or 10 acre lots and for every half acre of development twenty has to go into public open space.  Lets also limit human population growth to less than 1% per annum (which currently means we'd have to stop most immigration).  Or at least some similar model that provides a long term solution to the demise of open space and the all the creatures that live there.

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Steelheadfred
2 hours ago, Mike Connally said:

How does that work? They know that every WC hunter in Virginia shot from 0-30 WC. 

How did they get 1.6 per hunter?

 

 

Mike, I'll try, while a Bell hop as a career, I do have a minor in Natural Resources Management, and I took NRC Statistics my Sr. year in college, but that was a long time ago. The class I took was fairly focused on statistical modeling of waterfowl, and of course deer. 

 

Essentially they gather enough data through license sales, HIP, and other metrics (hunter days), average length of effort, and build a statistical model. 

 

I agree the 1-30 number seems to big of spread, but my guess is they have some sort of data that breaks down that number again and they start with averages. My question would be with such low statistical numbers, 1400 hunters, 2400 hundred birds harvested, are those numbers even statistically significant. 

 

Just like I don't think banding WC is statistically significant either, and has become just a socially acceptable way to run your dogs during quiet season. 

 

http://fwspubs.org/doi/pdf/10.3996/012014-JFWM-009?code=ufws-site

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Mike Connally

I agree with the hot spotting observation. About 10 years ago Frank Jesorio pinpointed a spot in the Canaan Valley. The local hunters were furious. With flight birds that’s not a big deal but Canaan is a major breeding area. 

George Evans hotspotted many covers in Canaan. I was able to find them from his books years later. 

I don’t know that there are huge numbers of WC hunters in the south. I do know that there are more today than in years past. 

 

 

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Mike Connally
3 minutes ago, Steelheadfred said:

 

Just like I don't think banding WC is statistically significant either, and has become just a socially acceptable way to run your dogs during quiet season. 

I think banding is more valuable in determining migration models than harvest numbers. 

Dan Ross and I each shot banded WC near TC about a day apart. His bird was banded close to where it was shot and was a yearling. Mine was banded the year before in tidewater Maryland. I always assumed the Michigan birds flew the central flyway. My bird flew the eastern flyway. 

I think that information is valuable.  

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Steelheadfred
1 minute ago, Mike Connally said:

I think banding is more valuable in determining migration models than harvest numbers. 

Dan Ross and I each shot banded WC near TC about a day apart. His bird was banded close to where it was shot and was a yearling. Mine was banded the year before in tidewater Maryland. I always assumed the Michigan birds flew the central flyway. My bird flew the eastern flyway. 

I think that information is valuable.  

At what statistical number does it become model able?

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Mike Connally
1 minute ago, Steelheadfred said:

At what statistical number does it become model able?

 I don’t know. But it’s one precise piece of information. And every time a band is called in they have another piece of data. After a while they get s sense of what routes these birds use to migrate. 

 

 

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RuffChaser

From my banding experience I believe the return of banded birds is at 3%. That's not a lot considering only a few hundred are banded per year. In my opinion the best opportunity for data is the GPS systems that have been in use the last 4/5 years. Last Spring some researchers shared some findings at our Banding Workshop. Information on areas where they are resting, how long their flights are, etc will be invaluable. You can start to target the areas they are using now to maintain them as good cover to help them rest up before they fly again. How long they fly on average so you know how frequently you need to maintain good cover, etc. One thing banding seems to give you is age. Some birds have been recorded to live up to like 8/9 years. That's a long time for a prey species. If you think that a 2/3 year old grouse/pheasant is an OLD bird then what does that make an 8 year old woodcock, ancient?

 

In terms of harvest information I am asked how many I shot. I keep good records and give an exact number but I don't recall ever being asked if it is within a specific range.

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bkelble

I started chasing woodcock in North Carolina 10 years ago.  It was a year before I met another woodcock hunter, and we wee both surprised to find another doodle hunter.  We started hunting together after that.  Now, in coverts near where we have always hunted, we will run into 3 or 4 other woodcock hunters every weekend.  Bird numbers have fallen over the years, but I think it has more to do with aging covers and weird weather.  

 

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mccuha

From what I’ve seen in sc is the lack of weather around here.  This year has been the best I’ve seen in several years. One of my best spots from the past is usually a wet bottom but due to lack of good rains it is dry.  A guy with the scdnr is a specialist with sc woodcock and has done several studies. He says there’s more suitable habitat here than there are woodcock to use it.  I’ve seen this as well.  I’ve hunted a lot of places that are identical to my most productive spots and have never found a wc.  

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shoot-straight

It's not just wc that is experiencing this. The availability of information nowadays is so easy people are traveling more than ever. Maybe not just out of state- but instate too. A trip to say mt to go bird hunting would take tons of work years ago- lots of calling, getting mail, buying maps, planning. You can literally now plan a trip in a few hours.

 

Ive seen evidence of it bird hunting in ks, and duck hunting here in

Md, fishing too! BTW my md wc covers are getting inundated too. 

 

Hunter/fisherman numbers are down, but pressure has never been higher. I dont like the road we are headed down. 

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RuffChaser

This past year I saw more people in the grouse woods than I have in the last 5 or 6. I don’t talk to people often but those I do rarely mention hunting WC. It’s almost always grouse. I actually have spoke to some people and mentioned I shot a WC and they don’t even know what they are. Seriously I’ve had to show them one describe them. Now, I don’t want to sound like a snob or elitist but how can you call yourself a bird hunter when you don’t know what a Timberdoodle is. 

 

I do do know some people that prefer to hunt them. I can see how increased hunting pressure down south could be an issue but I also think there are more than they estimate. I walk covers that have so many birds I stop counting. I know they are probably flight birds but I probably could flush a hundred if I tried. I hope I’m right. I band them and adore them.

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RuffChaser

Thanks Treerooster. I corrected it. I guess after I shoot them and eat them I then $@#* WC.

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WDGS

This is a great subject and something I have thought a lot about in recent years in several facets. Whether or not they are more popular a game bird in the south, due to lack of other quarry, is hard to deny, but how much more popular? 

 

I was raised bird hunting in the northeast, south and midwest as my family moved around. My dad and I loved all upland birds but woodcock was always really special to him and thus me. Why? I dont know but probably because they were different and a mysterious bird that seemed to be an after thought to those hunting grouse, quail and pheasant. And you could often get away from other hunters by focusing on different covers not as attractive to the other gamebirds. 

 

Now down in North Carolina.....I cannot type the horrrible things, with often racists connotations to demean their value , that I heard quail hunters call woodcock. When I was a kid in the 80s and 90s some of our friends would whip their dogs for pointing woodcock instead of bobwhites. Now this is clearly far from everyone but it was clear that few hunted them and even fewer regarded them as game. We just shrugged, enjoyed some great quail hunts with friends and went looking for woodcock on our own in our coverts. Recently a work aquaintance who has a game preserve trained dog, asked me to take him woodcock hunting I thought quickly to all the horrible insulting things he had called woodcock over the years and I quickly made an excuse as not take him. 

 

Are they more popular now? I live and hunt in eastern North Carolina and we have good woodcock hunting - its my opinion the birds winter here and no matter how severe the weather gets it just seems to push them  towards the coast. Warm weather it what often gives us poor hunting. Now - are they more popular? Do I see more hunters? I hunt a mix of public and private land and while Im secretive about where I go, I may run into one hunter or two every year. Sometimes the same guys, occasionally a new person, often guys who took a weekend trip from other areas of the state or up north. But I live in a rural area with a smaller population and fairly abundant public land and, also, lots of timber lands and agg land that is rented out to hunt clubs. One can hunt private land very affordably here so youll be less likely to run into other small game or bird hunters anyway.

 

While I still find a few bobwhites around i have not run into another quail hunter who told me they were targeting quail in at least a decade. 

 

That being said - while less people keep birds dogs now than in the haydays of the bobwhite, I still know a lot of guys who have Labs, GSPs, wirehairs, brittanies, cockers, WPGs and setters as "upland hunting" pets. These are all great breeds to have as pets/companions and while most folks I know farm the majority of their training out "Hunting" is almost exclusively on penned birds or maybe some destination trips somewhere. If I take my setter on a walk around town I will often get into a conversation with a hunter who asks me about my birddog, but i rarely talk with anyone who hunts wild birds and woodcock at that. 

 

On the other hand - when I run into other hunters in the woods whether they be deer, squirel or rabbit....the stupid questions I get asked, often by younger hunters in their 20s or younger, are beyond stupid. A local boy deer hunting asked me two weeks ago if i was hunting "pheasant" when I replied woodcock he said "dont know what they are" and I asked him if there were any pheasants that lived here and he said he wasnt sure. Before that two kids asked me "man you deer huntin' with that dalmation?" as I walked down a road with a small bore SxS and an english setter with a bell on her collar. Last year, as I was decked out in orange with my setter and its bell, a guy in his 30s with a deer rifle who was hunting hounds for deer asked me "are you duck hunting?"  Now I dont blame any of them them but it saddens me that even other hunters cant even recognize a bird hunter or a bird dog?  If someone asked me if I was squirrel hunting at least that would seem to be a more reasonable guess? 

 

The same goes for a good buddy of mine who hunts WC in the charleston SC low country. He rarely sees anyone on public land and hes closer to a large urban area,

 

I do see more social media posts from friends of friends doing a couple NC woodcock hunts so i scratch my head and wonder if its becoming more popular - because if it is Im just not seeing it in my outdoor circles or in public land. Now If I lived in the Raleigh, Charlotte or Piedmont areas of NC  with their rapidly growing populations I would not be surprised to run into folks hunting particularly if you're trying to do it within an hour of home. Just more people... 

 

Now as far as folks hunting deer, turkey and ducks? More than you can shake a stick out - Im amazed how many folks I see hunting all of these species even when the areas they are hunting as essentially devoid of their target species. 

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Spin
On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 7:53 AM, Mike Connally said:

When I first started hunting woodcock in Virginia I never ran into another WC hunter. We all hunted quail and grouse. Those two birds went away. Bird hunters from here traveled north and west to hunt wild birds or hunted preserves. Or gave up their dogs. 

 

Today, I find woodcock hunters everywhere. Bird hunting has been reborn in the south on the woodcock flights. 

I wonder if this change is really being documented and researched correctly. When I get my yearly HIP survey it’s always only for Virginia. Most years I take only about 1/3 of my WC here. And if I remember correctly they ask in increments of 30. I remember speaking to one of our biologists who told me that there were only 2300 WC harvested in Virginia each year. That’s a ridiculously low number. 

 

Do do you think the current reporting system is valid anymore? Do the seasons and bag limits need to be looked at? 

    Absolutely, The fact that woodcock were largely overlooked as table fare was their greatest asset. Now with the demise or greatly reduced gamebird populations public attention has shifted considerably to the humble woodcock and there are several factors working against it. Habitat loss is one. Number two would be the fact that the Woodcock population cannot be bolstered nor hunting pressure somewhat relieved by stocking pen raised birds in high hunting pressure areas of large human populations.

Three these birds are largely at the mercy of drastic weather changes and the subsequent rises and falling of direct food supplies and the semi migration movements of top predator's of this gamebird.

     The numbers of hunters out after these little guys has lept up by very large proportions from, let's say, twenty years or so ago. Worse yet there is a significant number of hunters shooting these birds and simply leaving them lie in the field or simply dumping the carcasses. The logic? Simple. It's something to shoot and there simply isn't much else.

     So they let them rot. likely to move on and continue shooting more birds regardless of bag limits. Don't like the taste? Don't shoot them then. Eat what you shoot? Swell

Gilford Pinchott that might seem to fit some twisted logic. Perhaps supply those who do with seeming higher moral ground but take a minute to dwell on the whole picture with a little more depth than a finger bowl.  A dead bird is still a dead bird - Period. It has been removed from the general population which endangers it, as a prey species for the most part, it relies and finds safety in numbers. It also removes these birds from the Breeding Population and with that, the gene pool.

 

It's a Damn shame that human intelligence, reason, and conscience just don't often enough get the weight that they deserve. Ego and apathy just out weight common sense and reason.  I sometimes wonder if the Grand Architect of this universe will let us play out this Fatal human flaw and wait to see us finish our apparent role as some cosmic deadly form of parasite or virus to simply confirm this obvious fact? Maybe at some "Not as distant as you'd think" point, we will be eradicated as vermin who had everything they needed to make a "Heaven of Hell" but instead chose to go with a Hell out of possible Heaven. Maybe the slate will be wiped clean, Humankind will become a failed and forgotten experiment, and the stage will be reset.  Who Knows?

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Steelheadfred

The growing attention to WC is most likely a very good thing, if you don't have a user it's hard to have a reason for management. 

 

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