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Monday, October 20, 2008

Cast and Blast?

Well, not exactly, but given a couple of more hours today, it could have been.  As it were, it was definitely a blast!

Yeah, I know that this is the blog for Steelhead Alley Outfitters, but we do more than just Steelhead in our spare time.  Today I had some of that and with the Steelhead season about ready to hit full speed, it was now or never.  With the last few days of hard frosts and cooler temps to the north, I thought that I might be able to get into some flight birds.  With the desire burning deep within and a dog that was going ballistic at the sign of hunter orange, I looked at my son and said, "What do you think about going after some Woodcock?"  He had no clue what they were, but it seemed the better option when looking at staying home on his day off school.

After loading up the truck, dog included, we were off to a patch down the road from my house that I had never hunted.  We were excited to see some new ground.


Upon arrival, we got the guns out (yes, my son was donning the mighty Crossman BB gun), made sure we had all the necessities such as collars, leashes, cameras, and ammunition, and off we went.

In all honesty, I didn't expect to see a whole lot as my past trips (more than I would like to count) were less than productive.  In fact, in the last two years, for whatever reason, I went without a single flush on Woodcock.  Needless to say, it was getting under my skin.

After a a short time afield, we came into what I would consider prime lies for Woodcock.  My dog was working feverishly as this was her first time out this fall.  Within moments, she was getting birdy and all at once that magical moment that every upland bird hunter waits for happened.  I heard the pop of the get-up and the subsequent whistle of wings.  All at once, I was staring a fast little fatty right in the eyes as he flushed right to me.  Wanting to have a bird to put in the bag, I let him come and go....I swung on him and squeezed off as he raced away and that sweet little gun made connection.  At that point, I could have gone home content, but.....naaa....are you crazy?


I made my way over to where the bird went down and there he lay with my dog standing proudly alongside.  If you were to ask me, there isn't a better way to start the day.  I took the time to go over to my son and show him the bird as he had never seen one.  Of course, he was curious about the long beak, and so I gave him the biology lesson on Woodcock.  After the lesson, it was time to see if we could find more.

Just moments later....not more than 30 yards away, it happened again.  This time I wasn't so lucky on the flush as the bird went out and away while I was battling the thick brush around me.  No big deal though.  As with most other Woodcock, they don't go far and most often you can get a second flush if you watch closely to there flight.  Sure enough, after covering a bit more ground, we flushed that bird again.....I guess it wasn't meant to be though.  That bird was ready for us and didn't let us get nearly as close this time before taking to wing and making a hasty get away.

We carried on, overjoyed with the three flushes, and there was still plenty of prime ground to cover, so that we did.  We continued on and ended up with two more flushes, one of which I was able to connect with.  The last flush was one that caught me off guard, or I could have gone home with a limit.

THE DAYS BAG FOREVER CAPTURED (For those days you wish you were hunting)

This was the first time I had taken my son hunting for Woodcock in what I would call prime terrain.  For those of you who know what I mean, you understand the tenacity this young man had to have to keep up.  The photo below was the location outside that prime terrain where we shot some photos and took a short break.  As you can tell, I think my boy had fun.


So, it wasn't a cast and blast, but it was definitely a whole lot of fun.  Get out when you can in the next week or so.  The leaves are turning quick and soon we will be looking at the drab grays of winter.  Oh, and don't forget, take a youngster hunting or fishing with you anytime you can.  Afterall, they are the future of our sports.

Patrick Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

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