Hit up an area I suspected would have a decent amount of woodcock. Lilly and I hit this nice little covert with high hopes of flushing some doodles and maybe a few grouse. Here is the attempted bird dog selfie on the way in
I remember seeing the Aspen trees in this area and it popped into my head what these trees really were when looking at some of my grouse prints and such. Hey every piece of artwork has grouse and these trees in it
I figured that because the terrain is pretty flat, with no really large trees, and mixes in with some marshy habitat, I would see some doodles. I looked up the leaves and believe these are small sawtooth aspen.
Well we hit the covert in the marshy area first and I decided given my time frame, we would only make one pass up the outside edge of this area I wanted to check out. I belive this covert to be about triple the size of what I had actually hit.
Well my expectations to see some woodcock being flushed were shattered. We didn't flush a single doodle. The ground was quite marshy with a pond and a few small , nearly dry feeder streams but no water in them. They were quite muddy but did not see any sign of woodys. A lot of the ground was marshy with moss on top, and even a few wild strawberries.
I really enjoyed looking at all of the types of food and such that were available for grouse. I did notice that we did not flush a single grouse where there were ferns. Not sure if that is common or not. I was expecting they would love to be able to just hunker down in the ferns to avoid avian predators.
here are a few pics of the covert. I love the looks of this already
not sure what kind of berries these are but there were quite a few of them.
When we got out of the ferns the aspen the woods took on a different look. Picture a decently open floor but small islands of trees grouped together. I have never seen this type of cover but the instant we got out of the Ferns there was a nice patch of hemlocks. I was thinking in my head this could be a decent place for the grouse to roost. Right on the edge of their cover and the outside edge of food.
As soon as we got out of the ferns Lilly began to get extremely birdy. I have never seen her get this birdy on grouse before. Sounding like a vaccum pump taking on scent. She was almost to the point of trotting. Watching her path revealed a bit of how the birds were using this cover. As I was saying about these little islands, Lilly would be scanning for scent with her head at about straight out and in line with back. Not to the ground but her head was pretty much level with her back. She would be weaving in and out of these small islands of trees and pretty much go completely nuts in the center of these islands. I would say the patch of trees would be in a cluster of about 15 ft diameter, and about 30 feet of open ground between clusters.
My assumption is the grouse flew out of the trees and would weave in between these islands to feed and such, and could take to the cover of these little clusters in the event of danger.
Lilly was working really hard when all of sudden, WHIIRRRR, WHIIRRR, WHIIRRRR, She put up 3 grouse. Each flew out of a separate cluster of trees to my left and flew out from my left and took out back behind us. ALRIGHT! We kept moving up the covert and WHIRRR, WHIRR, 2 more took out behind us. Lilly was going insane right now as was I as I just found my opening day spot.
We kept working up the covert and put up 5 more. These were all singles. with about 40 yards or so between flushes This was just the farthest edge of this covert. I know these were different birds as the ones that flushed went out behind us. This was my best ever grouse "hunt" I have never seen Lilly act like this on wild birds, nor have I ever put up so many in groups like this. I am imagining that many of these birds are juvenilles from this year. 10 flushes in an hour in a covert was just spectacular to me, and we were just on the outside edge.
Now that I know what this type of covert looks like, it gives me more insight on some other places to check out. I have at least 4 spots on my radar for this year for grouse. Last year I hunted a lot of wild grapes and pine edges. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day as I know this was just the edge of this covert. I was testing some of my newly acquired grouse gear and was very happy with how they all performed.
My cabelas upland pro jacket was awesome. I did not even break a sweat but was never cold in it. Perfect for lightweight and active hunting. I never got pricked by any of the blackberry or jagger bushes. I picked up a pair of their brush pants they had on sale as well. These worked great. I did not get wet in some of the golden rod areas and such as it was really dewey on that morning. I am going to pick up some of the yellow bright shooting glasses as well. I really liked wearing glasses as I was not conscerned with sticks and branches hitting my face.
What a great morning and awesome find. I love learning on each of these scouting trips. Learning new cover to look for., learning how Lilly reacts birds, and overall how I need to watch for birds when she is birdy.
I am now even more insane awaiting opening day. This covert was also nice as there is no places for archery hunters to climb a tree, so I don't believe we will be interrupting anyones hunt. I can not wait to hit this covert on opening day. I am hoping to have a bit better visibility as well. These birds would have been really tough to hit as the canopy is only about 20ft. I think we can cover this whole covert in about 3 hours and should be able to make 3 passes through it. I believe we will hit this around 9 30 on opening day.
I am just hoping we can find some doodles as well. I have never got one, and really want to add one to my gamebag this year. October 18th cant get here soon enough!!