It’s supposed to be spring here in Northern New Hampshire but this is what I woke up to this morning. April 24th and it’s still snowing. Spit snow all day yesterday as well but didn’t stick. Once again, like last year, the mating and nesting season of the woodcock and especially the grouse is being retarded by the late arrival of warm weather. I have heard little or no drumming grouse since I’ve been home and walking around the cut yesterday with the forester it was obvious that there was still a lot of frost in the ground. And still snow pack in the thicker shaded section of our woods. The one up side to this, is I think the grouse have a higher chance of chick survival the later the nesting season starts. That seemed to be the case last summer with a lot of good size broods.
The Woodcock behind the garage is still singing on the warmer evenings. He’s picked a spot somewhere along this skidder road and the other night, as I was listening to him, his display flight came right over me as I stood between the house and the garage. Let’s hope a couple of hens are around and answering his plaintive peents. If they nest here. and research claims that the nest sites are usually within a few hundred yards of the singing site, then would should have some woodcock here at the kennel all summer. I had assumed, when we planned the cut it would take a couple years for the native woodcock to move back in, so, we’re already ahead of schedule in that regard.
One of the dogs I took south with me was from Mel Pfeifle’s Hampshire Kennel where she is carrying on the breeding philosophy of her friend and mentor Bob Wehle. Dillie as we call her will be registered as Elhew Hampshire’s Sea Me Run. Dillie’s pedigree reads like a who’s who of Elhew breeding. Her breeding is Elhew Sea Man X Hampshire’s Maddie. Maddie is by Elhew Explorer and just a few of the other Elhew dogs in her pedigree are Strike, Snakefoot, Discovery, go back another generation and you find GuardRail, Hook’s Bounty Hunter, McGoo, Jefferson. Dillie is making good progress and Mel along with Nancy Whitehead came up to see her this week. Nancy is best known to the dog world for her photography which can be seen at www.sportingdogphotography.com and our friendship goes back many years when Nancy still lived here in New Hampshire. As you can see from the picture above (and below) Dillie is pretty photogenic. But what you can’t see is how she got to that lofty pose. When she hit the bird, She had almost run by it and slammed into a twisted but intense point. As she stood there she slowly straightened out until she was up on her toes with her head cranked up. I’d liked to take credit for that, and in fact George Tracy once explained to me how you can get a dog to improve its posture on point, but that’s all Dillie. The first time she did it in Kentucky this winter I was impressed and continue to be as she consistently puffs up on any bird she points.