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how bad does it get until you quit hunting


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Find another place to hunt.  There are some spots with good birds in TX.  If it means paying to play, well maybe it's worth it this year.
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I do most of my grouse hunting in the Alleghany mountains of western VA.  Just west of the shenendoah valley.  I mostly go with my father, which allows us to have our own time to talk and discuss father son things.  I value these times more than ever now that I have graduated college and I am three hours away from home working in the "big city".  Hunting for us is so much more than flushing birds its about the release and reward that is offered by having a day of enjoying nature and time with my father.  I know that one day when he is gone I will look back and these are the days that I will treasure most.  

With that said, I don't believe that a lack of birds will ever deter us from hitting the woods. though it has made us second guess our strategies once or twice.  Being 23,having only one or two flushes (sometimes no flushes) a day is all that i have really ever known but for my father he talks about the days of 10 -12 flushes of not only grouse but some quail and woodcock.  I have only flushed one woodcock in my life!  

This is a great topic and i've enjoyed reading alot of the stories and I think for the most of us, there is so much more embedded in the idea and act of hunting than flushing and killing birds, though it sure is  a trip!

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When I first moved to my area over 20 years ago the grouse population was much more robust. I specifically hunted grouse and concentrated on their haunts with woodcock being totally incidental. As the years wore on and the grouse pop got thinner I began gravitating to grouse/woodcock crossover type covers with woodcock being the focus and grouse becoming incidental. Now I basically hunt Woodcock in October and switch to grouse in November when the WC season is over. I think that as long as there are grouse-no matter how thin--I will get out and hunt them but am happy I found myself in a prime flyway for Woodcock.
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I live in an area where bird contacts are a given every day we venture out, so the dogs are bell and beepered and in  the hunting mode as I exit the back door of the house. But bird contacts are a very distant secondary consideration for me as just being out every chance I get is great for the dogs and myself.
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8 hours of driving?  I'm not sure I'd do that regularly even in good bird years.  As was said above, that's a once-a-year trip for me.

I'll never live away from my Appalachian mountains, and there will always be a bird or two for me and a dog to harass.  But if the nearest bird was 8 hours away, I think I'd have to find a better way to spend my time and money.

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Its interesting to me how many replies you have gotten to this topic.  It shows you how poor the hunting is in so many areas.

I just went through the same agony last weekend.  I live in Tulsa, Ok and had a lease in Spur TX.  A solid 6 plus hour trip.  I found 5 coveys on my best  day and 0 to 2 on the others.  I dragged my 17 year old son with me last weekend and it was hot and dry and terrible.  I debated back and forth and decided to hitch up the trailer and call it a season.  Everyman has got to make his own choice but for me I will not be like the last buffalo hunter shooting the last buffalo.  I find it interesting that so many people take some kind of pride in refusing to quit and shoot the last covey to pieces.  Sorry, I am on my soap box.  Good luck

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What Don and Curt said.

The older I get, the more I savour the hunts; even if it turns out to be just a long walk with the old dog.

Don't know how many more hunts the good Lord has for you. :)

But I wouldn't drive that far for a one day hunt.  I'd just go to the preserves.

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Whenever I get frustrated with this type of thing, I just remind myself that if I can't appreciate a nice walk in a field with my dog, I shouldn't be doing it.

I agree that if there isn't a chance at bird contact, than you're not really hunting. That bird contact can be a remote possibility though, and I'll still enjoy it.

I doubt that I'd drive 8 hours to have poor hunting though. I can get that much closer to home.

Could it be that your covers just aren't the great covers that they used to be, and you need to find new ones?

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VA grouse are hard to come by this year. I still go every chance I can just for the dogs which generally means anywhere from a 1.5-2 hour drive one way.

There aren't enough years left on those two, one is 11 and the other 8, for me to consider the number of birds at this point. We've killed alot of birds together and the few we put up now are just as special in a different way even if we don't end up with one in bag by the end of the day.

Bottom line I just enjoy the time out there and realize that I will never be able to repay those two dogs for the enjoyment they have provided me. Hence we continue to make the trips.

If they were younger I'd schedule preserve trips with chukars if I had to.

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walks with gun
Not going hunting would mean, yardwork, neverending remodling projects or time with the relitives.  Nope even if I don't see a bird I'm still happy and can scout for new covers for next year when the birds come back thicker than flee's.
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As I probably mentioned somewhere else, my wife and I repeatedly make day trips to hunt.  Is right at a 3 1/2 hour drive each way.  Is worth it to me even if I can or get to hunt only a few hours.  Why?  How many seasons do the dogs have in them and how many left for me?  If we find birds, fine.  If not, at least we went and still had a great time.  Yeah, seven hours of driving for only a few hours hunting.  Worth it to me.
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