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advice on woodcock???


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12 hours ago, RuffChaser said:

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 the stem density or the amount of stems/acre. The higher the stem density the better the chance it'll provide the cover they seek.
  • Soil: Since they probe the ground with their beak they mostly eat worms. Therefore, they need soft ground for probing. Many times they feed in this cover and fly to another cover to rest. If so they'll be feeding in the mornings and in the late evening typically. I have hard the type of soil can impact the number of earthworms it holds but I don't test soil so I can't help you there. You may be able to find some info online or maybe someone else will post info.
  • Ground Cover: While there needs to be a lot of trees the ground needs to somewhat clear so they can move around easily.
  • Misc: Many people say WC are were you find them. I agree with that. They can be seemingly anywhere. Growing up in NW PA I used to find them regularly in rows of field corn. It seems crazy but if you think about it there is good overhead cover and open ground below.

If I were you I'd contact the local  PGC office and let them know you new and if they would have any recommendations for you for places to go. If you are in an area with resident birds you can scout likely areas by walking with the pup, if allowed by state/local laws, or by simply watching the areas at dawn/dusk and see if any birds fly in/around there. 

 

Are you familiar with splash, poop, or probe holes?? If not I will try to find some images I may have and post them.

 

Contacting local PGC is great advice. I have contacted area managers in my state and found most to be very helpful. 

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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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I don't particularly look for woodcock, I just go grouse hunting and sometimes I find more woodcock than grouse and sometimes I don't find any woodcock. I do seem to find them more often near water however.

 

Another recipe for you (Ben Hong's recipe sounds marvelous BTW)...woodcock is a tad gamier than grouse is, but I am actually a kid that grew up liking liver with onions and bacon. I still do.

 

I just marinate the breasts in something called Salameda State Fair Spiedie Sauce for a couple of days. Then I take half a jalapeño (sliced lengthwise with the seeds and webbing removed) that I slather the inside of the pepper with some cream cheese, I put the cheese side down on the breast, and then I wrap a half a strip of bacon around them and I put a toothpick through to hold the bacon and pepper on there. I heat them on the Weber with indirect heat on high with the cover closed.  I slurp these with cold beer.

 

 

The legs go into a collection of grouse and woodcock legs into the freezer and then when I get enough of them they get all cooked together in a stock pot to make soup base and stock that I freeze in quart tubs.

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39 minutes ago, boon hogganbeck said:

That woodcock recipe looks amazing

It truly is! Good on Pheasant also!

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Old sandpit edged with alder bushes = woodcock.   Use google aerial maps to find them.   Also try any spot that looks like its being "overgrown", especially if its near water.  Edges of a any field thats growing back in.  Basically take the dog for a walk through anything but thick mature forest with no undergrowth or wide open fields.   

 

The easiest way to find woodcock spots is to do it in the spring.  The migration is more concentrated and they give themselves away by singing.   And since you can't shoot them then, there's no reason not to walk around in all those spots where you can't typically hunt in populated areas, but are full of birds.   Spring training is actually as much fun as gun season.  You go home empty handed, but there's no pressure to be successful either.   I have one spot a quarter mile from my house where I got 20 something points in just over a half hour.  Can't shoot a gun there because its in a town that requires written permission to discharge, and some of the area is within 100 yards of houses and some of its town owned.  Tripple wammy of no shooting.   But it sure is fun to walk the dog through that little patch of woods bordering a fresh water marsh.  Another spot that's almost as good is a couple acre strip along a kids soccer field.  Its growing in with alder bushes, grape vines and black berries.   

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1 hour ago, DennisMcFeely said:

They may hold tight or they may run like hell.

I guess if you have a pointing dog that holds Woodcock that is true. I haven’t seen the sprinting Woodcock that everyone talks about these days...and that a lot of people see as a new phenomenon. Occasionally I see them bee bopping along after a short initial flight. But I run flushing spaniels so they don’t have much of a chance to walk or run.

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2 hours 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 !

Not sure where to start with this one..absurdity comes to mind!

 

First off...that's hotspottung for some of us and not condoned around here...15 minute time out and three Hail Mary's (no guff or I'll add a couple of Our Fathers!).

 

Second off...clearly your shooting plain out sucks and you need to hand over your dogs, your covers, and maybe even your man card (Marc and I will get back to you later on that one).

 

And finally...don't discourage the poor guy!

 

As for OP...lots of good info here. Consider using spreaders in the second barrel if you reload or move to 8s if you know you are into WC especially on second barrel as I don't think letting them "get out there" will be an option LOL.

 

Public Stocking Areas can be a zoo and terrible for a young dog...some areas have a known stocking schedule and if so go the day BEFORE and look for holdovere that have dispersed to the edges where few will walk and hopefully no one is around...no need to have shot rain down on you, risk your dog/self, etc. I now avoid them!!

 

Resident birds often now run like grouse and fly dodging through their covers just like grouse...seems they have adapted to pressure while migrating birds are as described and may still "tower" before flying off...and if they have just arrived they may not fly far due to being tired so you may have a follow up opportunity...and they are here today/gone tomorrow! If you do get into flight birds remember the spots as they may frequent them on their return flight north next spring and offer great spring training opportunities for your young dog...in all cases ENJOY!!

 

And yes they taste great...even simply marinated in red wine and grilled rare...yum!!

 

J4B 

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26 minutes ago, Brad Eden said:

I guess if you have a pointing dog that holds Woodcock that is true. I haven’t seen the sprinting Woodcock that everyone talks about these days...and that a lot of people see as a new phenomenon. Occasionally I see them bee bopping along after a short initial flight. But I run flushing spaniels so they don’t have much of a chance to walk or run.

 

I had never seen a woodcock run until this past spring.   It ran so fast for like 10 yards straight up a steep little hill, it was just a blur.  I thought it was a red squirrel until it took wing.    

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Wiffed on a WC

From what I have seen in PA woodcock can be in some surprising places but I have found soil moisture to be one thing that is pretty constant. My best covers are brushy old field habitat, edges of swamps and along lowland streams. 

 

My best WC cover is a place where the game commission stocks pheasants and I usually try and only hunt it the week before pheasant season opens to avoid the crowds.

 

I put a lot of time into spring scouting which is great for finding new ground and nearly doubling the amount of bird contacts for the dog. In eastern PA seems like they are typically coming back north in large numbers (15-20 flushes an hr) early to mid march. 

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3 hours 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

That's about what the dry pine area looked like where I found them, but it had almost zero briar and less of those 2-3" thick trees, just some holly and small sapling pines.  

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6B2194A9-9BBF-44AB-8D32-30D5B36D3836.thumb.jpeg.2b7224d7ca11a9ee9dec971aace2491c.jpegwoodcock point from last year in NE OH. IF You miss the first shot (or can’t even take one) pay attention to the direction it’s heading. If there is a clearing in or by the cover, I’ll find them landing in there after the first flush a lot of times.

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I will give you all the help I can but unfortunately I haven't hunted locally for a long time or PA at all for the last couple years.  Our cabin, where I did  my hunting, was 1 1/2 hours from you. One cover crop I've found birds in is goldenrod. I'd check out any patches of that stuff I could find. No idea why they like that stuff but I've found that they do! I'd start looking for flights in early to mid October and continue as long as they last into November. A lot depends on weather with favorable winds being as important as actual temperature and precipitation. All the advice so far has been good. Open chokes and small shot are the way to go. If there's also a chance you might get a chance at a grouse or stocked pheasant you might want to opt for shot slightly bigger than #8. You need no further cooking instruction than Ben's no fail recipe. No matter the recipe, the most important factor is don't overcook, even a little bit!   Good luck!!

Some PA. woodcock points. 

 

 

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finsfurfeathers
2 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

I guess if you have a pointing dog that holds Woodcock that is true. I haven’t seen the sprinting Woodcock that everyone talks about these days...and that a lot of people see as a new phenomenon. Occasionally I see them bee bopping along after a short initial flight. But I run flushing spaniels so they don’t have much of a chance to walk or run.

when I get home I'll try and post a utube vid of a spring point you'll see one pull out all the tricks.

As for cover, when I see little forest puddles in older young poplars too young older growth poplars with them little red shrubs look out.

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finsfurfeathers

I've always said fall birds are great to train a young dog, except if you hit a flight than it might be too much for a young dog to sort out, it takes spring birds to finish or proof a dog.

Took a bit of vid and although this is a spring bird it behaved much like a fall bird.

 

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20 minutes ago, finsfurfeathers said:

I've always said fall birds are great to train a young dog, except if you hit a flight than it might be too much for a young dog to sort out, it takes spring birds to finish or proof a dog.

Took a bit of vid and although this is a spring bird it behaved much like a fall bird.

 

Where that saying "Trust your birddog" came from , a holder and a runner . Thanks for that , it was excellent especially early August . 

Gives me goose bumps thinking of Fall . 

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finsfurfeathers

Once you believe woodcock can run all them false points start to make sense. 

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