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Can a great grouse dog be great on woodcock?

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Rick Hall
31 minutes ago, Cass said:

I hunt a cocker and he is a fantastic grouse dog. He lives for them.  I know if we're hunting an area that if the King is there he will find it. No doubt in my mind.  Woodcock on the other hand I would not even call him "good".   I think there's a few reasons for this.  I had never even seen a woodcock until I started hunting with my cocker Jake.  So since he has started bumping them (and I believe this is the case, I don't think he is seeking them out) I have made it my mission to bag one but I haven't yet.  I think if I were to kill 1 or 2 over him he'd be fine with them but neither one of us really know what we're doing when it comes to timberdoodles.  Grouse is where we connect with every fiber of our beings.  

 

Pretty sure you're right.  It's been more pronounced, or at least readily observable, with my pointing than flushing dogs, and while some seem to come out of the box pointing anything with wings and some things without, others have inherently more specific instincts.  Has been my experience and resulting strong suspicion that pointing instinct is most apt to be triggered by the scent of birds from the gallinaceous order, as I've seen a pup that tried to tackle every pigeon I put before it point the very first quail scent it encountered and subsequently point its fist pheasants and grouse.  But he ignored charadriiformes until I'd shot a couple woodcock for him, after which he automatically started pointing snipe and rails.  And getting him started pointing training pigeons also made a dove pointer of him. 

 

 

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Coalman

I have no pointy dog experience.

 

Partridge or woodcock,  my flusher Belle puts them to flight.

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GB Jack

I think at this point point in my life , I’m a mediocre grouse hunter, I once was pretty good .

i just don’t have the physical stamina I had in my 30’s or the want to kill them as much as I once did. So my attention to making “ the perfect dog” has certainly  waned also.

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Craig Doherty
7 minutes ago, GB Jack said:

I think at this point point in my life , I’m a mediocre grouse hunter, I once was pretty good .

i just don’t have the physical stamina I had in my 30’s or the want to kill them as much as I once did. So my attention to making “ the perfect dog” has certainly  waned also.

 

Actually I think the opposite has been the case for me --as the blood lust has lessened, I find myself much more interested in the dog work then the dead bird.  I therefore put more time and effort into getting the dogs to realize their full potential  -- the fact that I also compete in cover dog trials has forced me to up my game as a trainer.  

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Larry Brown

Great woodcock dogs are far more common than great grouse dogs.  I don't know if the adjective "great" is the one I'd use, but I've owned several that were very good on woodcock.  For one thing, if you spend much time hunting woodcock where there are decent numbers, your dog is going to get a lot of contacts.  Grouse . . . if your dog comes along when the infamous cycle is in the tank, especially if you don't live where there are many grouse to start with, your dog is likely to have far fewer opportunities.  In contrast, if you hit the flights right, a dog can have more contacts with woodcock in a couple days than he will on grouse in a down year.

 

But I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever owned a great grouse dog.

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lee sykes

I hunt both with the pup that threw up in my car on the way to it's new home (they all do). If lucky, for many years.  I do not fear mediocrity at pleasurable recreation.  You don't get to decide if you or your dog, possess greatness. Other people do and even then, it's likely to be exaggerated.  Too great and shaky a burden to bear.  I have had dogs that seemed better at one bird or the other and it mostly depended on what was most available at the time.  In a quest for canine greatness, it is too easy to lose sight of what a dog, any dog, does for the soul.  

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Brad Eden

Fun Topic. Here's an excerpt from an article I had published in Game & Fish magazine...I'm striving towards being the poet laureate of Upland Mediocrity.

 

 

I can tell when my flushing spaniel is tracking woodcock scent. Woodcock bop and weave around the forest floor like a wind up toy while feeding or moving about a cover. A flushing dog will twist and turn itself into a pretzel when on that ground scent. When I see this I get ready because a flush is imminent.

 

Not all dogs will share exactly the same body language, but you can become good at reading your dog. My current springer spaniel has a unique behavior that gives me an extra second or two to prepare for the Woodcock flush. When approaching the feathered source of that scent trail he will suddenly stop and look up into the air to watch the bird flush — as it inevitably does. Although under most hunting situations a hard flush is expected of a spaniel, I have come to rather appreciate this unique “heads up” for woodcock.

 

Pointing dogs and woodcock go together like birds and flying. The woodcock often sits patiently under the pointing dog’s nose, allowing ample opportunity for the gunner to approach, look around for shooting lanes, and close in for the flush. That’s the perfect scenario and happens enough to be typical. But woodcock aren’t slouches and will sometimes walk out from a point and flush wild like a grouse. Be prepared to be surprised.



 

 

 

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Don Steese
4 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

 

 

I will say. A truly great grouse pointing birddog is worth its weight in gold or more. Woodcock can make a mediocre birddog look like its great. That's why many "grouse hunters" are actually closet Woodcock hunters. 

 

I'm loathe to disagree with Spiller or Eden, so I'll only 50% disagree.  I think there are also those who hunt woodcock simply because they love the bird and certainly many an upland day would be pretty uneventful were it not for some timberdoodles sprinkled in. I also believe the "closet" part is the result of the fact that few want to admit to being a woodcock hunter rather than any desire to make their dog look great. 

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Scott Berg
1 hour ago, Craig Doherty said:

I'll agree that grouse make a grouse dog -- but great grouse dogs are born then realize their greatness through opportunity.  I've had many very competent grouse dogs and probably only three of those would I argue were/are great.  

 

As far as woodcock are concerned all of my dogs do well on them, however there have also been a couple of dogs over the years that always found more woodcock than any of the others.

 

Right with ya Craig.  I hear/see the theory that most dogs will be become good grouse dogs given enough exposure.  I think dogs are like golfers.  The more someone plays the closer to their potential they become but only a small percentage are going to become a single digit handicap and even fewer are going to be a 0-2 handicap.  Some are never going to break 90 or even 100 no matter how much they play.

 

My questions is what would possibly prevent a dog that can find and handle a bird as difficult as ruffed grouse from finding and handling woodcock?  It makes no sense.  Like Tony, I have had a couple that ignored woodcock but that is an anomaly. 

 

SRB

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lee sykes
5 minutes ago, Don Steese said:

 

I'm loathe to disagree with Spiller or Eden, so I'll only 50% disagree.  I think there are also those who hunt woodcock simply because they love the bird and certainly many an upland day would be pretty uneventful were it not for some timberdoodles sprinkled in. I also believe the "closet" part is the result of the fact that few want to admit to being a woodcock hunter rather than any desire to make their dog look great. 

Woodcock hunting gets more appealing as the gathering years create a decided bias toward flat ground. :)

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lee sykes
6 minutes ago, Scott Berg said:

 

Right with ya Craig.  I hear/see the theory that most dogs will be become good grouse dogs given enough exposure.  I think dogs are like golfers.  The more someone plays the closer to their potential they become but only a small percentage are going to become a single digit handicap and even fewer are going to be a 0-2 handicap.  Some are never going to break 90 or even 100 no matter how much they play.

 

My questions is what would possibly prevent a dog that can find and handle a bird as difficult as ruffed grouse from finding and handling woodcock?  It makes no sense.  Like Tony, I have had a couple that ignored woodcock but that is an anomaly. 

 

SRB

A cautious dog that can handle spooky grouse will often be too slow at locating a woodcock.  The hard charging ones that handle grouse by slamming into a point in midair, probably handle any bird well if they have a good nose. 

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Don Steese
1 hour ago, lee sykes said:

Woodcock hunting gets more appealing as the gathering years create a decided bias toward flat ground. :)

 

 

I agree as to the flatness part but some of Hong's New Brunswick alder thickets would make one long for a side hill grouse covert! As Gene Hill once said " if you dropped your hat it'd never hit the ground! :P

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Brad Eden
4 minutes ago, Don Steese said:

 

I'm loathe to disagree with Spiller or Eden, so I'll only 50% disagree.  I think there are also those who hunt woodcock simply because they love the bird and certainly many an upland day would be pretty uneventful were it not for some timberdoodles sprinkled in. I also believe the "closet" part is the result of the fact that few want to admit to being a woodcock hunter rather than any desire to make their dog look great. 

I'll take 50%...my point is that I do believe that some if not many Upland hunters start to gravitate to Woodcock and seek them out because their dogs do so damn well on them compared to grouse. (And there can be a whole lot more around depending on flights) This is without really knowing it. Even though they say they are grouse hunting, they are really Woodcock hunting. And yes, there are some who readily admit to being Woodcock hunters over being grouse hunters. I know some of them, nice people. 

 

 

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Don Steese
1 hour ago, Brad Eden said:

 And yes, there are some who readily admit to being Woodcock hunters over being grouse hunters. I know some of them, nice people. 

 

 

 

I know at least one. Little Asian fella! I'll leave it to others to decide if the "nice" part applies!!:x

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GB Jack
28 minutes ago, Craig Doherty said:

 

Actually I think the opposite has been the case for me --as the blood lust has lessened, I find myself much more interested in the dog work then the dead bird.  I therefore put more time and effort into getting the dogs to realize their full potential  -- the fact that I also compete in cover dog trials has forced me to up my game as a trainer.  

That makes sense.  In my case , it’s harder to put tons of dog time in, when the actual act of killing the bird doesn’t mean as much, like going through two a days if you never play in the game 

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