Saturday morning we left the house and headed to an old farm nearby. My wife snapped this picture when I was working Mariah out in the mowed field. You have to feel fortunate just to be able to enjoy the day when the scenery is a beautiful as this. Add that to the fact that we had some great dog and bird work and life doesn’t get much better. In the first brace we ran Teddy and Trip. We started out with Teddy having a stop to flush on a grouse within 100 yards of the trucks. The bird flew across the trail and looked like it set down so I sent Trip in for her first experience on a grouse. It must have been running as she stopped and started a couple of times before she got too close and the bird flushed. Teddy went on to have a woodcock with Trip backing. She also backed him on a couple of nonproductives in an area where there was recent turkey sign. (I will never understand why the state of New Hampshire stocked these birds this far north and keep hoping for a good old fashion winter with lots of snow and an extended deep freeze that will wipe the out. ) Trip then found a grouse on her own and again crowded it. She learn quickly enough if there are as many grouse around this fall as we are expecting. When we got back to the trucks the dogs went into the cover just along the field edge. This time Trip pointed and held a woodcock with Teddy backing. Two grouse and two woodcock to go with the scenery is pretty darn good but we weren’t finished.
The second brace was Ker-b and Veronica. Ker-b was feeling his kibbles and took Veronica with him until they were about 500 yards away. He found his way back and Veronica took a wrong turn and Tommy eventually had to go out and round her up. He then went into an area where we had recently mowed some paths and had two amazing pieces of birdwork. The first was on a woodcock and the amazing thing was the woodcock had walked away from him and was standing on top of a large (about four foot tall) rock in play view to Tony and I from the trail. Katie and Marie caught up with the camera just as the bird left and we missed the chance to get a picture. Then a couple minutes later Ker-b had an apparent stop to flush on a grouse. When we got to him 6 0r 7 more birds flushed. These birds were all full size and there was no way to tell which one was the hen, but if all the broods this season are around that size we will have very good grouse year. There were a lot of birds around at the end of last season and we had a relatively mild winter.
Friday was another good day for some of us. Rick Despins drove up from Maine to train with us and got hung up by a tractor trailer that separated from its load in the middle of the road and then discover his phone had died and couldn’t reach me to tell me that he’d been delayed. I waited for a little while but when he didn’t call we headed out to Red Barn. He missed a good morning. It was an especially good morning too. Trey and The Missile ran in the first brace with both dogs having finished bird work. Trey had three finds and a stop to flush with The Missile backing and she had two finds with Trey backing. We then ran Abbie and Jack, two of our best bird finders. Jack had six woodcock and Abbie had three to give us 15 finds for the morning. We found Rick when we came out of the woods. After breakfast we ran his Pebbles puppy behind the house with June. We walked up a grouse and a woodcock, the woodcock was right in the path which led me to believe that one of the dogs had bumped it and it had just landed there. A little further on Pebbles had a good puppy encounter with a single grouse.
The cover behind the house was clearcut in the early 90s and is starting to go by. We have four small patch cuts planned for this winter to create some new openings and then will do more every couple of years to be sure we have adequate cover for the wild birds. In addition, I keep some of the old fields mowed for a bird field and puppy walking.