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advice on woodcock???


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Typical MN woodcock cover. Hunt the same general habitat as grouse but a size class smaller(younger). Definitely focus on bog edges with tag alders and other low areas. They are not as difficult to sh

Here are a few things you need to consider: Stem Density - Woodcock need a fairly high stem density to feel protected from above. When migrating the species of the cover isn't as important as th

You might find the following article I wrote for Game & Fish magazine of interest.   Mixed Bag hunting Tips for Grouse and Woodcock   ...It's that keenness for connecting on a

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Can’t remember exactly everything I wrote in that article. But by far, the most spine tingling Woodcock gunning I have experienced is the year or two after a piece of woods was cut off or selectively logged. Which is the common Practice up here. (Not moonscaped) Especially if that piece straddles any wetland, or Marsh area. Walking muddy skidder roads and popping up Woodcock one after the other is exciting...

 

ALTHOUGH, as is the quirky nature of Woodcock...probably the craziest short hunt Ive experienced was with a fellow UJer and his dad. We were  checking out some old logging roads with two Springers when all hell broke loose. The dogs started flushing Woodcock from a section of dry briars and brambles. We coined that hunt “The circus”. I can’t remember how many shells we spent, but not nearly as many Woodcock hit the ground. It was about 10 minutes of chaos. 

 

 

 

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All I can say is "Woodcock alley" in Maine , introduced to me by Tony ( hayslope ). They're always there but an hours walk to get there .

I ran out of shells !

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2 minutes ago, gunsrus said:

All I can say is "Woodcock alley" in Maine , introduced to me by Tony ( hayslope ). They're always there but an hours walk to get there .

I ran out of shells !

Should have had your Limit by then. 😉

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1 minute ago, dogrunner said:

Should have had your Limit by then. 😉

I agree but it's funny when there is that many birds flying , there is no concentration . The dog points , I shoot , five seconds later the dog has moved 10 feet and he's on point again . Repeat till shells are gone . 

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I thought I had them patterned, until last year.  In VA, generally you look for level ground with puddles they can probe around.  I've also found them in swampy land.  However, last year we found them in bone dry pines with little understory, just lots of pine straw.  I've also flushed them in a wide open cutover, adjacent to very mature oak forest.    

 

I haven't found them in the stems like they seem to prefer in the Midwest, although we really don't have a ton of that type cover in VA so likely due to availability.  

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Mike Connally

In Virginia I find them near. clearings and pastures. Always in thick cover within 100 yards of the clearing. Moist ground hasn’t been a factor for me. They fly out at night to feed. 
Young pine with an understory has been my best bet. 
But I’ll repeat...always near open ground. 

60F03410-37CF-49E5-B1B6-EB0FAF895EFD.jpeg

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Cooter Brown

Woodcock seem to defecate a lot.  If you're in an area holding woodcock you'll find splash.

 

If you find an area you feel should hold birds, don't give up on it if you don't find them the first time, or even the second.  That same place might be covered up in them the third time.

 

The best covers will not be too far from the open fields and meadow areas they use at night.  You might find in your region (I've never hunted the NE)  that they prefer specific plant types for much of their daytime habitat.  This likely has to do with soil and worm type.  In the SE these conditions combined with a creek or river bottom can be dynamite, but don't neglect to hunt in the upland areas around the bottom--at times they loaf there as well.

 

My dogs, especially when young, have false pointed more in woodcock cover than anywhere else.  Lots of scent and poop.

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37 minutes ago, gunsrus said:

All I can say is "Woodcock alley" in Maine , introduced to me by Tony ( hayslope ). They're always there but an hours walk to get there .

I ran out of shells !

 

That breaks the old 20 min rule if you remember that.

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boon hogganbeck

Thanks everybody--this is awesome advice!  Extremely helpful.

 

I haven't found any spots that have the stem density that you seem to find in the lake states, but I do know some nice briar thickets near cut fields and water... Hopefully they produce.

 

More than anything, yeah, I just want to train my dog and get him contacts... My other local option is stocked pheasants on our local gamelands 10 minutes from my house, but honestly when I checked it out, it was a little too much of a circus for my taste--lot of dogs, lot of guys, lot of guns in a small space, at least on the weekends.  (I recently saw a rooster that made it through the season out there & I was impressed he ran the gauntlet...)  Judging from the numbers it's stocked quite a bit for its size & so it draws in a lot of people.  I'm not confident enough in my dog-handling skills to put my young dog in that situation.  I'd rather get him alone someplace quiet & build up his (and my) confidence.

 

So the flight birds come through PA and WV in November? Is that right?

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Mike Connally
11 minutes ago, boon hogganbeck said:

Thanks everybody--this is awesome advice!  Extremely helpful.

 

I haven't found any spots that have the stem density that you seem to find in the lake states, but I do know some nice briar thickets near cut fields and water... Hopefully they produce.

 

More than anything, yeah, I just want to train my dog and get him contacts... My other local option is stocked pheasants on our local gamelands 10 minutes from my house, but honestly when I checked it out, it was a little too much of a circus for my taste--lot of dogs, lot of guys, lot of guns in a small space, at least on the weekends.  (I recently saw a rooster that made it through the season out there & I was impressed he ran the gauntlet...)  Judging from the numbers it's stocked quite a bit for its size & so it draws in a lot of people.  I'm not confident enough in my dog-handling skills to put my young dog in that situation.  I'd rather get him alone someplace quiet & build up his (and my) confidence.

 

So the flight birds come through PA and WV in November? Is that right?

You will have plenty of WC by mid-October. 

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boon hogganbeck
1 hour ago, Mike Connally said:

In Virginia I find them near. clearings and pastures. Always in thick cover within 100 yards of the clearing. Moist ground hasn’t been a factor for me. They fly out at night to feed. 
Young pine with an understory has been my best bet. 
But I’ll repeat...always near open ground. 

60F03410-37CF-49E5-B1B6-EB0FAF895EFD.jpeg

 

Interesting. We have a couple spots on our farm that resemble this, but I would not have thought "woodcock" looking at them...

 

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boon hogganbeck

That woodcock recipe looks amazing... In one of Jim Harrison's books, he talks about precious cooking stock he made from the carcasses of 15 grouse & woodcock "that was so good it deserved its own armed guard."

 

My shotgun is a fixed choke 20 with the more open barrel at IC, so hopefully that will do the trick...

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Mike Connally
6 minutes ago, boon hogganbeck said:

 

Interesting. We have a couple spots on our farm that resemble this, but I would not have thought "woodcock" looking at them...

 

That’s resting cover for migrating woodcock. When they drop in after flying all night they just want a thick hiding place. 
 

PM sent. 

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