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PENNSYLVANIA GROUSE / WOODCOCK OPENING DAY SATURDAY, 10/16/2021


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I hunted just south of PA yesterday. Woodcock everywhere. Gunner had 15 points in about 3 hours. We had shots at 6 and knocked down 4. I took 2 home for snacks.   

Well, the PGC grudgingly gave in and started allowing a couple Sundays to be hunted last year. Not all mind you, just select ones. Of course, only big game hunters were deemed worthy to hunt those pre

The opening day of the Pennsylvania grouse and woodcock seasons is next Saturday. 10/16/2021 and I am getting excited and cannot wait to get out in the field. I cannot wait to see if the grouse number

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Huntschool

I sure hope there wasn't any yellow infected type stuff coming out of his nose....  My thought before you posted this was to have his nasal passages checked by your vet.

 

That eye stuff sounds like infection and years ago was a sign of distemper infection, I think.

 

Best of luck....

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17 hours ago, boon hogganbeck said:

 

Well, it is apt that we are discussing medicine, as I write you from the parking lot of the ER vet.  My boy woke up this morning with both eyes swollen shut & thick yellow discharge--it looks pretty bad, especially the right eye, and he is not acting himself.  They are checking him now to make sure he didn't get a stick in the eye or something.  We were in nasty cover.  I am worried sick.  It looked bad enough that I wasn't comfortable waiting for his regular vet. I know that eyes tend to look worse than they are, but even so.  

 

...you know, the drop off in scenting ability made me wonder if there has been some kind of illness, but honestly I haven't noticed anything, besides some summer sneezing/hacking with all the pollen we have locally.  He did have an ear infection this summer that needed antibiotics (I had to work out of town for a month, and he was being watched by relatives, so I couldn't catch it early).  But that was 4 months ago now.  It's hard to tell when he's sick, though, because he's very stoic in the face of pain & has a heavy prey drive--I mean, he has ripped himself open on barbed wire twice and come up to me with tail wagging, oblivious to the strings of blood pouring down his head, and as a very young dog, he stepped into a coyote trap & freaked out.  Not 5 minutes later we were hunting again--it didn't phase him. He's a dog with heart & drive.

 

I don't know. I've been talking it over at length with my mentor, who has been training bird dogs for 50+ years and has pretty much seen it all, and we worked my dog alongside its littermate, who stood birds from a greater distance from the start--and I keep in touch with the breeder whose nephew kept another littermate and competes it in PA and Michigan, and I try to check in on that dog's progress.  Let's just say the "closeness" with which mine points birds has always been the issue--he's had regular bird contacts from 12 weeks on.  And I've popped up pigeons when he blows by him, walked him back to point of error, etc.  Walked him back a few points yesterday (and carried him when I could).  Looking at my notes, I see he's had 70 grouse contacts this season and last thus far, so I can't blame the PA bird population, I think that's pretty good for a newcomer to the state.

 

Like I said, I hope to put him on quail and see what happens. My friend now has a recall pen, and so they should be sufficiently spooky and wild. We shall see. My dad has a deposit down to do a bunch of quail hunting down in Kentucky in January, so for better or worse, we'll have a better sense of his handling then...

 

If I do get another dog one day, I'm sure I could teach Vance to honor--he's an intelligent dog & he likes the woods, so maybe I could run them together.

 

 

 

 

 

If you can teach that pup how to honor and also how to retrieve, then he would certainly be fun to hunt with.  I know a fellow who had an outstanding bird finding setter, but who has zero interest in finding or retrieving a bird that has been knocked down.  Great when you run him with another dog who loves to retrieve and can find dead birds.  

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boon hogganbeck

Geez... sorry for derailing this thread with my dog woes.  I don't know any other grouse hunters "in real life" so this is the only place I can talk about this stuff.

 

Vet thinks the dog just got some debris or some other irritant in his eyes. No big physical trauma, thank god.  He still looks rough (keeps rolling his eyes back like a blind man) but it's definitely better.  On ointment & eye drops for 7 days. So that's the end for awhile, unless I can sneak out Thanksgiving week or the late season, or maybe I'll try to hit the last rare Sunday hunt b/c I believe in it, just to say I did.  I asked the vet about the scenting issue, and he basically looked at me like I was crazy: "Besides the eyes, this looks like a healthy dog to me."  I guess I could ask his regular vet.

 

There's a bell curve in all things, I suppose, and maybe I just got one from the wrong end. My dog's littermate has placed in a couple derbies, including recently at Marienville (not sure if they found wild birds or quail were placed), and he spent the summer up with one of the Foreman brothers in Michigan on wild birds, so he must be working out for the owner. I've seen pics of him pointing woodcock.   

 

Last year I had this "pet grouse."  Walking to a more promising cover, I bumped into a family group of 6 birds in a surprising spot that I'm sure no one else would hunt. After that, a couple of those birds were always camped out behind a downed pine, some of the only decent cover, and I flushed those birds many times over the season, I used them as training birds.  My dog never pointed any of them.  I thought, "Heck, he's just running full bore past them out of excitement, I'll fix that."  So one morning, I left the gun in the car, walked him past that pine on the check cord, and he never picked up scent.

 

Yet when he runs through the woods, his has his head high, he pauses and scents the wind (or tries to).

 

... but even so, maybe this dog entered my life for a reason.  Without getting into it, the last couple years have been pretty hard--lots of personal & professional disappointments--moved to a new place for a job, Covid hit, didn't know anybody, no family nearby, and suddenly I was basically a single parent trying to home school my kid & also work my real job, it made for some long, grim months. The one thing I would look forward to was working the dog on Saturday mornings, that was my glimmer of hope, gave me something else to think about. It got me out of bed a lot of mornings. So for that reason, even though the outcome hasn't exactly been what I wanted, he's got a place here--even though I know my grandpa (no nonsense WV pipeliner who raised a long string of grouse dogs) would have sent him down the road in 2 seconds flat.

 

 

 

 

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On 11/6/2021 at 8:24 PM, boon hogganbeck said:

Well... the day was beautiful, conditions were great, and many a grouse made an appearance.

 

Spent the morning trying for woodcock, but despite the kindness of strangers & even a dropped pin, I didn't find a one... but my dog & I never find woodcock so that's okay, I've never figured them out.  Was in an area I don't normally hunt, but had done some e-scouting.  Decided to try for grouse.  On the way to a familiar cover, I saw a grouse crossing the road and figured it was fate giving me a nudge... We killed ourselves climbing the mountain, into a nasty shelterwood cut, then another, then another.  The dog was good & tired, so I thought, "A-ha, he can't blow by them, he's just going at a walking pace in his search, I'll get a better idea how he's doing, the conditions are perfect..."

 

Put up 9 grouse.  All in new covers.

 

0 points.  Including a couple my dog should have had, and one was the easiest grouse point on earth, the one hunters dream about at night, that you'd expect the most mediocre pointing dog to make, heck, even the neighbor's lap dog to make. Like, he moseyed past 10' from the grouse and never scented it.  I saw the entire thing happen--indeed, the bird blew up went I walked by it the 2nd time.  I couldn't believe that bird held, it was like a pigeon in a launcher.  Had a couple other easy opportunities.  Like, my dog really isn't smelling these birds, his body language doesn't change at all, he's not blinking them.  He did get interested in a drumming log covered in a mountain of grouse sh#t so he does know what they smell like at least.

 

After sticking my head in the sand these last couple seasons, and trying to come up with theories and excuses... and watching other dogs point at much greater distances in the same conditions... I'm accepting the fact that my dog basically needs a bird shoved up his nostrils to scent it, even planted birds and preserve chukars, and that after this season, he's probably gonna become "just a pet" rather than a gun dog.  He just doesn't find birds. I lead him to birds--not exactly what you want from a pointing dog.  I kept thinking, man, somebody could have amazing hunting right here.

 

But it wasn't wasted time, I think, I learned an awful lot over the last two seasons, got great advice & generosity from experienced trainers, I found great grouse covers, and besides his nose, my dog basically has every other ability you'd want.  He taught me a lot.  I have burned up the phones of my two experienced trainer friends with much late night dog anxiety... LOL. 

 

I do love him though he drives me crazy in many ways, he's my companion & he'll always have a place in my home, and it would kill him to go elsewhere, he's really attached to me... I'll probably keep running him in the woods from time to time, because he enjoys it, but the writing seems to be on the wall.  

A dog can be right next to a grouse but if it's on the wrong side of the wind it's not likely to even know it's there. I've had both my dogs go down a trail and I'm following behind and pause for whatever reason and had a grouse flush almost right next to me, within foot or two of where the dogs just passed by.

 

Have you tried using pigeons in launchers and knowing they're exact position so you can launch the bird when you think the dog should have the scent? After several reps of launching the birds like that and seeing if the "point" starts happening further out?

 

Eh, nevermind I should've  finished reading thru your other posts before I replied.

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boon hogganbeck
41 minutes ago, ryanr said:

A dog can be right next to a grouse but if it's on the wrong side of the wind it's not likely to even know it's there. I've had both my dogs go down a trail and I'm following behind and pause for whatever reason and had a grouse flush almost right next to me, within foot or two of where the dogs just passed by.

 

Have you tried using pigeons in launchers and knowing they're exact position so you can launch the bird when you think the dog should have the scent? After several reps of launching the birds like that and seeing if the "point" starts happening further out?

 

Eh, nevermind I should've  finished reading thru your other posts before I replied.

 

No worries. I'm hoping to see how he does on quail, might be more of a "wild bird" experience.  I haven't popped pigeons several times in a row like you suggest. It might be something to consider.  I have to be careful, because sometimes while training he'll pick up on my physical cues and know that it's bird-pointing time.  I'd have to make sure the pigeons would be planted in different areas--he's a smart dog, he figures out where they are pretty fast, so we've always tried to rotate the spots a lot.

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boon hogganbeck

Well, the problem child (my dog) and the problem adult (myself) got back on the horse, now that he seems healed up.  Some stuff at work got canceled, so I was able to sneak out to the rumored local woodcock spot for an hour this afternoon.  No woodcock were moved.  Dog had 1 unproductive point--doesn't sound like much but I was happy to see that. More in a pheasant spot.  If you hunt stocked birds, then you are in for a treat.  The state poured them out with a firehose for Sunday hunting.  My dog surely bumped a dozen pheasants while we looked for woodcock.  It kind of drove him into a frenzy.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I didn't shoot anything.  

 

Tonight my son & I are going to "Clifford the Big Red Dog" in 3-D, and I'm hoping to learn something about dog-handling.

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I'd keep him away from that state stocked poultry.  Those running roosters won't help to get him where you want to go.

Just my 2cents.

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boon hogganbeck
34 minutes ago, Curt said:

I'd keep him away from that state stocked poultry.  Those running roosters won't help to get him where you want to go.

Just my 2cents.

Yeah, I figure you are right. Alas, my “close” prospective woodcock spots are on SGLs so if I want to get out midweek, it’s what I’ve got. On the weekends I go further north. 

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boon hogganbeck

Well, that was an eventful 35 minutes of hunting… When the weather suddenly cleared up, sinner that I am, I wanted to take advantage of our first legal Grouse Sunday in hundreds of years. Conditions were marvelous. 
 

Not 50 yards from the truck, my dog went on point. My heart thrilled—this was it!  To my horror, I walked up one a huge porcupine waddling past 15’ in front of the dog. Thank god he didn’t charge in. I kept my mouth shut & gave him a good jolt—broke him off the porky, the day was saved. 
 

Climbed the mountain to the grouse honey hole. Just as soon as we hit the cover, I noticed a good deal of blood dripping off his foot. Must have stepped on something and got a cut between the pads. Looked bad up there. Bloody footprint with every step. Didn’t want to risk it. I have more elaborate hunting planned next weekend. Walked him back to the car,  went home. The wound has opened and closed a couple times, but it doesn’t seem emergency vet worthy—he seems okay now. Will reassess in the morning. I really didn’t want to do two weekends in a row at the emergency vet!  

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I walked for 4.5 hours. I think I looked at 20,000 snow covered logs, looking for tracks, saw none. I did flush 5 grouse, but didn't get a shot.

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I got out but only for a short hunt, maybe and hour or so.  The dog had two points, both woodcock, never saw a grouse. I felt that I had to make the effort so I could say that I'd hunted on the first Sunday hunting day in modern Pennsylvania history.  I imagine those woodcock are heading south this morning as I woke up to 1-2" coating of snow this morning.

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Boone, so happy the pup didn't get quilled! Pretty sure we're all pulling for you.

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