Hunting and Training on Woodcock in the Carolinas

Woodcock Opener

December 2016

Woodcock season in North Carolina begins and ends three days sooner than it does in South Carolina (thanks to Mr Andy Weik for catching my previous error regarding season discrepancies).  The birds have been slow to arrive and I fear that the harsh drought that we experienced through much of the summer and fall has effected the migration this year.  We only flew one bird on the NC opener, but had clean dog work on two the following Monday in SC and brought one to the bag.  According to the Ruffed Grouse Society’s online migration map there are plenty of birds in Central Virginia.  Let’s cross our fingers that they find their way into our covers as the season progresses.

 image2

Training Pointing Dogs on Woodcock

Woodcock are, in my opinion the best trainer of bird dogs anywhere.  They tend to tolerate the mistakes of exuberant, young, or inexperienced dogs in a way that most game birds won’t and if you figure out where and how to hunt them, you’ll often get more opportunities for bird work than you deserve.  Upon switching to more challenging game bird species the fundamental lessons necessary to make a meat dog will be burnt into the dog’s psyche and all that’s left is finesse and polish.  Usually, if we walk quietly and only shoot at cleanly handled birds, the birds will teach the dogs how to be staunch (steady to flush).

From now until spring we will stay in the woods, try our hardest to keep our mouths shut, and let the birds teach the dogs the important lessons. 

image1