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PA GROUSE AND WOODCOCK OPENS 10/17/2020...........


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Looking forward to it. Did a couple of SGL driving tours that past 2 Sundays and ran the dogs a little on each one. Hope to at least move some grouse and get into some woodcock. 

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Finally knocked one down over my pup!  He made a nice track & retrieve.  These PA birds are a challenge...  Missed another bird on a wild flush.  Hot dry woods made for tough conditions but I'm gl

Starting to find some woodcock. Fortunately, some held tight!

Last year In the one state game land where I do most of my grouse hunting I did not have my first flush until the third week of the season. It was on an old over grown access road in a former strip mi

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Wiffed on a WC

I'm hopeful to see decent numbers this year. I've moved some birds while scouting some new covers closer to home during late summer. Just got back from central NY and had anywhere from 4-8 flushes/hr on grouse with some local woodcock mixed in. We'll see what Saturday holds... no matter what it'll be nice to be able to get back in the home covers.

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I have been seeing more grouse broods this year so I am cautiously optimistic.  I have to work the opening day as penance for my recent western outing. Good luck to all.

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boon hogganbeck

Humbling morning in the grouse woods!  My pup is only 9 months old, and has only worked pigeons and chukars, so I tried to keep expectations low.

Hunted one of the traditional PA grouse strongholds, where I had a good tip on some birds.  Figured there'd be less greenery up there, and that was fairly right--still kind of lush, but it was 28 degrees this morning, and cold weather has knocked back the vegetation some.

I put in 8.1 miles in some extremely thick, nasty grouse cover that looked just perfect.  God knows what the dog ran--I haven't checked the Garmin yet.  We left a pint of blood in the woods.  At one point, the dog looked back at me like, "We're going into THAT?"

First three covers produced nothing.  One clear-cut was just perfect & I couldn't believe we didn't at least flush something, with all our blundering around.

Though the dog and I were tired, I decided to hit one last cover, an aging clear-cut that a bowhunter recommended.

In the last hour, I had 4 wild flushes way out, only two of which I really saw.  0 points.  0 shots.

I marked where the birds flew, but the dog found nothing--he really didn't seem to be smelling anything, which concerns me, as it had seemed he had a pretty good nose while training.  Hopefully scenting conditions will improve.  I don't know what to think. He was oblivious to the birds--they were out far enough I don't think he ever saw them, and when I led him where they had been, he seemed to notice nothing.

Well, I'll go back to that last cover when the leaves are down.  I ran into a couple more seasoned grouse-hunters who had only flushed a couple, so I guess it wasn't just me...

In the perfect (yet seemingly grouse-less) clearcut, I jumped a snowshoe hare just starting to get its winter coat (ears and feet were turning white), a first for me.  Then Vance and I jumped the largest buck I have ever personally seen, right off his bed at 20 feet. I about had a heart attack.  Huge buck, long beams, monster spread, looked like a 12-point. He was in a good spot.  Public land, too.  If some bowhunter wants to Venmo me some substantial cash, I'll send you the pin!  Okay, maybe not, but I'd be tempted.

Hardly any soft mast in the woods. We had a bad drought up here. 

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Hunted a gamelands in thr Northeast region, 9 flushes on 6 different grouse, 1 shot, 0 birds in the bag. But I was excited to move 6 different birds.

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I hunted my 3 best pieces of PA cover and not a sniff. I heard one drumming early. This is the same cover that 2 years  ago gave me one of the Hughes flush days of my life. Very disheartening ! 

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This was my first year in 25 without a dog. I walked six hours in nice cover. It was a good day. Thirteen flushes , nine different birds. So far it's better than last year. One shot, a miss.

 

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10 hours ago, boon hogganbeck said:



I marked where the birds flew, but the dog found nothing--he really didn't seem to be smelling anything, which concerns me, as it had seemed he had a pretty good nose while training.  Hopefully scenting conditions will improve.  I don't know what to think. He was oblivious to the birds--they were out far enough I don't think he ever saw them, and when I led him where they had been, he seemed to notice nothing.
 

That puppness - I  had a friend yesterday ( someone I had mentored into grouse & w/c a couple years ago) worrying the same thing. Myself I also was out with my youngster. The only difference between the three of us it sounds is I had a big smile on my face with the beautiful weather  , dog on the ground , bell piercing the autumn  air and not thinking about much else . 

 

A couple years from now your pup will fully get this game . Just some of my personal observations. Yesterday for us we had no bird contacts or wild flushs and still had an awesome day . It will happen .

Good luck next time out ! Fun is soon to come your way !  

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boon hogganbeck
1 hour ago, max2 said:

That puppness - I  had a friend yesterday ( someone I had mentored into grouse & w/c a couple years ago) worrying the same thing. Myself I also was out with my youngster. The only difference between the three of us it sounds is I had a big smile on my face with the beautiful weather  , dog on the ground , bell piercing the autumn  air and not thinking about much else . 

 

A couple years from now your pup will fully get this game . Just some of my personal observations. Yesterday for us we had no bird contacts or wild flushs and still had an awesome day . It will happen .

Good luck next time out ! Fun is soon to come your way !  

Yes, I think puppiness has a lot to do with it... Kind of like a kid going fishing when it's slow: "Why isn't anything happening? Can we go home now?"  Might have been a different story if we had hit the last cover first. He's one of those apocryphal "high-strung field trial setters" that covers ground w/ a lot of intensity and prey drive, but he's also used to finding training birds right out of the box.   Hopefully we can find some woodcock to train on this year.

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Upland_Hunter

Made it out on Saturday and it was a picture perfect day with sunny blue skies and a light breeze blowing at times. Temps started at 28 deg in the morning then made it a high of 58 deg in the afternoon. Hunted a full day from 8:00AM until about 5:00PM. Did not have any flushes on woodcock along the creek bottom and only had 1 flush on grouse. I was in a state game land that was stripped mined years ago and was on an old over grown access road where there were some wild olive bushes and pine trees. I saw a grouse no more that 10 yards from me under a wild olive bush with its tail half fanned out and it strutting. It was pretty neat to just stand there and watch the grouse. I inched towards it and it flushed in the blink of an eye. I then proceeded up the hollow to see if I could flush it again then after walking a good bit I turned around started to walk out and no more than five feet in front of me from under a downed pine tree the grouse rocketed out at light speed. It startled me and I was totally unprepared and could not get a shot off. A pretty neat experience to see a grouse that close up. It was a perfect day. Will be heading back there this Saturday and hopefully the woodcock will be there and maybe there will be a few more grouse to flush. Hoping to hook up with a couple of friends and their German shorthair pointers and go after a few pheasants. Who can complain!!

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20 hours ago, boon hogganbeck said:

  Hopefully we can find some woodcock to train on this year.

You will . If you keep at it you definitely will. 6-7-8 years from now you will forget all about getting pup started.

 

This year I took the Don Steese approach as I have interpreted it from years of coming here " Let a puppy be a puppy"  Don if I heard you incorrectly please feel free to call me on it.  My past pup's though they came out in the end to my liking I think bringing one along and taking it all in is enjoyable & productive.  So in my case I'm the old dog who may have learned a new trick.

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I have gotten a couple reports from some archery guys who hunt in Northcentral, PA.  They say they a seeing a few grouse, which is more than they have seen the last couple of years.  So there is hope!

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I missed the PA Opener as I was camping with the scouts but managed to get out yesterday afternoon for a few hours close to home.  It was pretty hot and dry in the Poconos and we only managed to bump 2 birds that I only heard and the dog never had a chance to even catch scent and no woodcock encountered.

 

Its tough in the early season but I have been hearing of some good reports in other areas of the state so I am still optimistic this season will be better than last season.

 

I will say that in my travels over the last month or so I have noticed allot more cutting in gamelands that for years have needed some management so I hope that eventually will translate into increased population.

 

 

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boon hogganbeck

Got out for an hour in a local cover before work this morning, before it got hot.   My young dog bumped 1 bird.  Might not sound like much, but I was happy to see it!  This is an area that is basically regarded as grouse-less now, but the cover has all the right features, so I knew there had to be something buried in there... Can't blame the dog, scenting conditions seemed poor & it was still green and lush in there. Will go back in November. Not seeing much soft mast, really--fair amount of acorns & sumac though.

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18 hours ago, boon hogganbeck said:

Got out for an hour in a local cover before work this morning, before it got hot.   My young dog bumped 1 bird.  Might not sound like much, but I was happy to see it!  This is an area that is basically regarded as grouse-less now, but the cover has all the right features, so I knew there had to be something buried in there... Can't blame the dog, scenting conditions seemed poor & it was still green and lush in there. Will go back in November. Not seeing much soft mast, really--fair amount of acorns & sumac though.

Good stuff ! Only gets better from here👍

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