My friend Rich Norman has a great woodcock cover behind his home and he lives on a dirt road with little traffic - perfect for a young, learning setter. Not a big cover; it provides a solid one hour hunt...which these days is pretty much my limit. We hit the ground around 1pm on Tuesday, October 25th. Recent cold, wind and rain brought most of the leaves down; conditions were ideal.
We moved 13 woodcock that day, likely all flight birds. In the early going, Brodie blew right through a pair of birds, but then came back to see what the fuss was all about - he'd never heard me yell "BIRD!" before. He sniffed around a little and moved on. Towards the end of the hunt, I almost stepped on a bird..and then another...and then a pair. All that BIRD! yelling brought Brodie in. And then he locked up into the most beautiful point I've ever seen. OK, OK, I say that about just about every point any of my dogs, over the years, have made. Better still, he held his point until my few steps towards him flushed the bird, and away he went. Which is fine with me; I've never been a fan of "steady to wing and shot." I like to give my dogs every advantage when it comes to finding grouse and woodcock; holding them back until they are released seems like cruel and unusual punishment!
I did not get a photo of that point, but it's etched in my brain! Brodie works a great range, and is really good about checking in with me:
I have to say that his first hunt was a total success...Brodie became a bird dog that day!
But he's still a pup, and puppies gotta play. Brodie is a master thief; I've picked up enough of Bridget''s panties in the backyard to prove that! We call him a "self-amuser"; he'll play for hours in the backyard with real puppy toys, or twigs, or rocks, or a garden hose:
Back hunting at Rich's today, with our mutual friend Mark Mahoney along for the fun. Those flight birds seemed to have moved on, but as we were heading out of the cover, I flushed a bird. At the sound of my "BIRD!", Brodie came running in and pointed the exact spot where the bird had been seconds before. A minute or so later, another bird got up. I didn't think Brodie was in the vicinity, but Rich had a better vantage point and said that he was definitely working the bird when it flushed.
All told, a great first two hunts for Brodie, and I thank Rich for his hospitality (that 14-year old Oban at the end of the hunt was a really nice touch, Rich!) And it was great to get out with Mark, too! Quite the threesome: