Every bird season is a little different, you may notice with enough of them under your belt. For me, this has been the season of the early season woodcock. I welcome their grand migration down from Canada each fall, usually in mid-October. This year I’m finding thickets lousy with them in the young aspen. But these are some new covers for me, so they could be native birds. Either way, it’s an eye-opener. Not that I shoot a lot of woodcock, but they make a nice accompaniment to a few ruffed grouse in the bag.
Signs in the Mud
At a muddy creek crossing we found the evidence of probing woodcock. Not quite sure what we were looking at, the cover 75 yards away gave it up. Woodcock everywhere. We just found their buffet table.
Grouse Food, Too
This seems to be a banner year for dogwood berries in my neck of the woods. Not that i’ve seen many of the little white berries, they are all eaten. Some fat and happy grouse are sure to be nearby. This year I haven’t been seeing them along the trails or in coveys like last year. Go figure. They are around, more often deeper in the wood along alder thickets.
Human wants to walk trails for clear leaf-free shooting.
Smart grouse wants to avoid human.
Seems simple enough.
Dog Work in the Dogwoods
Some things never change about early season, it’s hot, buggy, sweaty, wood ticky, and briary. Fortunately there’s plenty of mud puddles for Levi to plop into. He’s going to need his legs wrapped next weekend to protect them from the blackberry canes. The canine athlete never rests.
Acorns and Leaves Dropping
Ever heard an acorn fall on a metal roof? If you are in a camper or cabin when they drop, it can be like a gun shot or large hailstone. Loud, and relentless.
A good stiff breeze liberates the leaves from their perch, crinkling like a candy wrapper when they fall. I give thanks to the bounty of fall, the sights, sounds, smells and tastes.
Now is the Time
My boots get just enough time to dry out before heading out again. It’s prime time for the bird hunter. Early season has it’s pleasures, but I’m looking for twenty degrees cooler and less leaves on the trees. The woodcock moon beacons.
October in the Minnesota Northwoods is the grandest place on earth.
By Joel Schnell
Posted October 4, 2016.
Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com