The Third Time Around

Grouse nest Tony and I found a couple years ago.

The woodcock should be all hatched out and the chicks should be flying soon (it only takes them a few weeks to get airborne) and the grouse should be hatching now.  So, to avoid disturbing nests and having puppies chasing chicks I limit my training runs to a loop on the bottom of the home grounds.  I know we have grouse nesting up the hill from the house but haven’t found any hens along the loop so far this spring (it’s not summer yet here).  So, today I worked dogs in the yard and on the loop and will do some pigeon work near the house if we get a little breeze this afternoon.

On my third trip around the loop this morning I had the two wonder pups — Dottie and Molly.

Dottie pointing a quail with Molly backing.

They were together in the brush right on the edge of the field next to a small island of poplar and apples when they both slammed on point.  Then I saw something scurry through the brush and immediately realized that it was a hen grouse trying to attract the attention of the puppies away from what I assume was a brood of grouse chicks.  both puppies followed her when she thrashed around like her wing was broken and then started squawking.  When she had them headed away from the chicks she flushed low and slow so the puppies could see her fly across the small field opening.  They both gave chase.  Dottie gave it up first and came on with me.  I heard Molly flush the hen one more time before she finally responded to the whistle and came flying forward looking for another bird.

I’m staying in the yard for the rest of the morning to give her time to get back to the chicks.  What I’ve found in the past is a hen will move out of an area if she gets flushed a couple of times.  There’s plenty of edges on the property where she can take the chicks bug hunting and I’ll be surprised if I see her in the same spot again.
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