We have had a short spring here in Northern New Hampshire. We had substantial snow that stayed late into April which put a damper or our usually productive training on returning woodcock. They started arriving in late March but the singing grounds didn’t open up until well into April. By the time we were able to get into the woods many birds must have already been nesting as we weren’t finding them in the usual spots. However, the early May training on grouse was the best I’ve seen it for a long, long time. The older dogs were getting birds pointed on just about every outing.
On one occasion we were scouting some new cover and could hear three for sure and maybe four separate grouse drumming. We got some substantial rains over Memorial Day weekend but the weather has turned dryer and warm and should stay so for the next ten days which are usually our critical time for the grouse hatch. The difference between a good grouse hatch and a great one is the weather in the first few weeks of June. It’s a simple mater of arithmetic. If a 1,000 grouse hens have small clutches of 3-4 compared to a good year where the have 5-6 or a great year when you see numerous broods with 8-10 there’s a substantial variation. There were a lot of hold over birds and it shaping up to be great hatching and brooding weather. Keep your fingers crossed. Tony’s already stocking up on 20 gauge 7 1/2s.
It’s shaping up to be a busy month of September and early October with six grouse and woodcock championships in September:
Northern New England Woodcock
New England Open Grouse
Northeast Grouse and Woodcock (which is leaving Calais for new grounds)
North American Woodcock (club has reorganized)
International Amateur Woodcock
We had a litter of pups born on May 4th that are looking great and growing fast
There is still one male available. They will be ready to go soon.
This time of year we stay out of the woods in hopes that the wild birds will settle into our regular training covers un-harrassed. So, we do the more mundane stuff like steadying dogs up on pigeons and working on quail as soon as they get here. The pigeons that I have are new and probably would not return to the coop yet, so we tethered them to the traps. It worked well. They would pop up three or four feet, fly to the end of the 30′ tether (I find old fly line works great) and then set down in the tall grass.