Red Barn Preseason Report

Today seemed to be a good day to take a couple of broke shooting dogs down through Red Barn to see what was around for wild birds.  This is our training cover that is about 2 minutes away from Tony’s house and has been featured in previous blog posts.  On the truck today were Wild Apple Jack and Stokely’s Kir-B.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get started until later in the morning and it was already 70+ degrees when we broke away at 10:30 this morning.

Tony and I get Jack and Kir-B ready to go.

The adult dogs often take a couple of really big casts when we first break away in this cover. You have to understand that they have literally run this cover hundreds of times in their lives.  They know it well and know we’ll find them when they point birds.  However, today Jack and Kir-B were more in hunt mode and Jack went on point about 165 yards from the breakaway.  When we got to him he was standing high and tight.

Jack pointing shortly after the breakaway.

Tony and I both tried to flush and it took us a while to finally get a hen woodcock in the air.  She just fluttered and set down about 10 yards away.  And then she did something that I hadn’t heard before.  She tried to attract us towards her by peenting in a very distressed tone.  We really didn’t look for her chicks but we are pretty sure they were there.  While we were looking Kir-B came in and stopped.

Kir-B pointing the area where the hen woodcock had just left.

Before we left section 1, Kir-B had a stop to flush on a woodcock and Tony flushed to see if he could put up some young birds without success.  Katie, Marie, and I went on into section two and just as I turned into one of our trails that leaves the edge of the field and goes into the cover a brood of grouse flushed wild I saw 4 or 5 chicks before the hen flushed into an alder bush and clucked at us to distract us away from her chicks.  We did not try to get any more birds in the air.  After we crossed the bridge into section 3, Jack stopped on the right and a hen grouse fluttered out and landed 25 feet in front of him.  I did not try to flush the chicks but I’m sure they were there somewhere.

At about the same time, Kir-B had a grouse on the left side.  As we moved up through section three Jack seemed to be working birds but then went on with out pointing.  Katie and Marie were behind us and flushed three grouse chicks as they came along the trail where Jack had been unable to pin the birds.  When the quite large chicks flushed the hen hid in the cover and “whined like a dog” according to Katie and Marie.  I have heard that whining before and thought it would make an excellent call for predator hunting.  Further on in Section 3 Jack pointed and Kir-B back.  I flushed quite a bit before I looked down and spied a young woodcock on the ground.  Katie had the camera so I backed off until she caught up.  With camera in hand I moved in for the picture.  After I snapped a couple of shots, Tony stepped in to look and the entire family flushed out of the area.
This young woodcock was depending on its camouflage to protect him.
Despite the fact that this is a young chick it already has most of its adult
plumage.  It was about 75% of the size of an adult bird
It finally flew when the rest of his family departed the area.

As we made the turn at the end of section three both dogs were showing signs that they really weren’t ready for a hot summer day.  The trip back to the truck did not produce anymore birds.  In actually saw or heard 6 woodcock and 11 grouse and were pretty sure that some of the adult grouse and woodcock we flushed had chicks all though we did not flush them.  If we get a chance we will take an early morning run later in the week.  The young birds need a couple more weeks before we turn the puppies loose in the cover.  This is a pretty good showing considering the time of day and temperature.  Also, as the summer progresses more and more woodcock filter down into this cover.  There are also birds that are feeding in some of our tilled strips that we didn’t find today.  Things are looking good for the five puppies — Little Thuddy, LJ, Frankie, Trash, and Abbie — and the adults dogs that we also need to work this summer.  We already know that a few of our other training covers have their share of birds as well.  Things will start to get serious in a few weeks.

Posted in Current News.

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