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Ulvy

Can a great grouse dog be great on woodcock?

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MAArcher

Some of us are woodcock hunters because without these migrants, the only bird in town would be stocked pheasant with grouse too many miles away to be hunted with any regularity.  

 

For the record, I'll take a dog that naturally keeps its distance on grouse despite being raised on woodcock, breaks through skim ice to retrieve ducks, hauls back the occasional rabbit or squirrel and blood trails wounded deer over any "great" one trick pony; no contest.  

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Don Steese
1 hour ago, lee sykes said:

I hunt both with the pup that threw up in my car on the way to it's new home (they all do). 

 

Reminds me of a great story about my friend the late Tom Gingher.  He had this pointer named Ralph. I once asked him why he named him that, to which he replied, "because he throws up in the truck!"

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ryanr
11 hours ago, Ulvy said:

 

“I believe, by the fact that no truly great grouse dog is equally good on woodcock. He is born a specialist.” B.Spiller Grouse Feathers Again

 

 

Heard a Tom Gingher once say that very few dogs are truly great on both species, it's usually one or the other.

 

My Drahthaar is good on grouse but he shines on woodcock and seems to love hunting them I think more than any other bird we've hunted.

 

I don't have a long history with a string of dogs to know for sure if it's true though.

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Coalman
2 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

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.

 

Last fall hunting in northern NH I worked stream side while my hunting partner walked the parallel road. I watched Belle do as described above, was able to communicate to my buddy Belle was on hot scent when the bird flushed.

 

Cory shot and hit the bird. It was a long shot so when we got there I cast Belle and in no time she found the dead woodcock.

 

I read my flusher like a book!

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Craig Doherty
2 hours ago, MAArcher said:

Some of us are woodcock hunters because without these migrants, the only bird in town would be stocked pheasant with grouse too many miles away to be hunted with any regularity.  

 

For the record, I'll take a dog that naturally keeps its distance on grouse despite being raised on woodcock, breaks through skim ice to retrieve ducks, hauls back the occasional rabbit or squirrel and blood trails wounded deer over any "great" one trick pony; no contest.  

I admire the abilities of all bird dogs but I would say it all depends on how good that one trick is.  Went out to Montana once to hunt with father/son UJers and my one trick pony took his first cast ever in that country and stuck and held a covey of huns 400 yards away.  A certain evil clowne and a friend of our host each got a bird on the covey rise.  In my mind that bets the heck out of squirrel stew or hassenpepper (sp).

 

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Rick Hall

Perhaps my dogs have all been sorrier than I've thought, because I've always been a confessed woodcock addict.  Never mattered if we were targeting grouse, pheasants or quail, if I saw what struck me as potential woodcock cover during their time, we'd detour for a pass.  Will even admit not finding them easy targets and preferring them on the table to all else.  

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mccuha

I don’t know the answer but I have one dog that I haven’t found a bird she want point and hold with little effort. I have a young setter that is getting really good on quail but really struggled with wc   Hopefully shell see the light next season

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Ulvy
10 hours ago, lee sykes said:

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. 

 

This jogs my memory, however I cannot for the life of me find the excerpt as apparently I have read way to much Spiller. I remember now in the other place he talks about it, he basically says exactly this. Due to the cautious nature of a great grouse dog, they take way too much time locating woodcock. 

 

What is is apparent, is that great grouse dogs......seem to be few and far between.  

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nutmeg grouser

Ask the question in reverse and the replies could be different.

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Ben Hong
15 hours 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. 

We used to go out of my door and in a few steps the dog will start pointing so I am completely "ambi-dextrous" as to bird preference because no one knows what will be pointed. All of my dogs pointed both birds with equal efficiency, so I really can't see in them nor do I have, a preference for one or t'other. One thought though. I shoot woodcock because they are a refined target and a gustatory delight. Whenever I shoot a partridge, I usually notice an adrenaline rush and an elevated sense of animus.

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Brad Eden

As far as closet Woodcock hunters....it's not just that pointing dogs excel on Woodcock. Wingshooters do as well. No matter how you cut it, grouse are harder to bring to bag than are Woodcock. Certainly there are considerably more shot opportunities with Woodcock given they tend to be available in numbers if timing is right. And Woodcock aren't slouches but again, are easier to hit. After a string of grouse that avoid your shot string, and the frustration that follows, it's like putting your hand over a flame. Why keep torturing yourself? So, the tendency to start looking for and concentrating on Woodcock to ease the pain becomes routine. I've been there many seasons. Last fall was the exception. For whatever reason my normally Woodcock rich covers remained largely empty, so I was forced to go old school and become primarily a ruffed grouse hunter again. It was kinda nice. 

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Larry Brown
22 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

 But woodcock aren’t slouches and will sometimes walk out from a point and flush wild like a grouse. Be prepared to be surprised.



 

 

 

I experienced more of that this year than I've ever seen before.  Maybe the woodcock have finally started listening to what the pheasants have been telling them . . .

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Craig Doherty
11 hours ago, Ulvy said:

"Due to the cautious nature of a great grouse dog, they take way too much time locating woodcock."

 

My best grouse dogs were/are big-running, hard-charging dogs that have amazing brakes which allow them to pin birds -- slow and cautious usually means the bird is going to walk away and require relocation.

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Craig Doherty
1 minute ago, Larry Brown said:

I experienced more of that this year than I've ever seen before.  Maybe the woodcock have finally started listening to what the pheasants have been telling them . . .

My theory about the increase in running woodcock is natural selection -- the tight sitting birds are the ones we keep removing from the gene pool -- woodcock definitely run more now then they did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago.

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oak stob

Re scampering woodcock, rather than a hunter-killed influence on what may be a genetic behavior, I would wonder if the migration pattern of behavior has changed sufficently enough so that more woodcock are remaining along the flight path for longer periods of time.

Tired woodcock would be expected to run less, to me.

 

What would make woodcock hold in a covert and so recover oomph could be a question involving weather patterns and more.

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