We were there. But where were the birds?

Me & Lexi
Me & Lexi

I’m in a funk. My big hunting trip was a couple wees ago and things did not go well – bird wise, anyway. This annual trip is my bird binge for the year, and I put a lot of hope into it. The ways things turned out left me depressed.

I’ve hit the western part of Maine for several seasons now, and in years past, the end of October was prime: the leaves were down, the woodcock flights were in, and the grouse were abundant. This year, the leaves were down, but the birds were hard to find.

Weather may be been the problem. We arrived after two days of heavy winds and flooding rain, and all week the temps were in the upper 50s (instead of the normal 40s). Lexi and I hit covers all over the place – alders, pole poplar, overgrown cuts bordering bogs, etc.

For the first few days, the woodcock were nowhere to be found. Spots where Puck and I used to move 10-20 birds were empty until the end of the week. Then they just had 4-5 flight birds in them. We saw some grouse, but not many. On the last day, we bumpedĀ  a covey of six, all sunning and feeding at the edge of a clear cut.

On top of this, one of my favorite spots was overrun by an active logging operation (so much for that), and another was inaccessible due to a bridge being out. Lexi and I struck out to some new spots, but the birds just weren’t there.

Fortunately, Lexi did see some birds — enough to turn the light on in her head and start her on her way to being a hunting dog. She handled beautifully: Quartering naturally, turning on command, and coming when called. After she had a few whiffs of bird in her nose, she was even hunting objectives. With a couple of seasons and a lot of birds under her belt, I’m sure she’s going to be a great dog.

And I did get a chance to do some fishing with my Maine-guide friend Greg Bostater. He knows where to find great fish, as you can see in the pics below.

 

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6 thoughts on “We were there. But where were the birds?

  1. I had the same problem this year at our annual bird camp in Michigan. My setter will be 2 years old this coming January and I’ve been really having trouble getting her on a lot of birds this year. IMO woodcock numbers this year seem like they’re way down, at least in Michigan.

  2. That stinks. Best of luck for the future. I know other folks in New England got into lots of woodcock – before and after I was out there.

    Take care,

    Gregg

  3. That sounds like a tough go Gregg. Just ran into Boz, he mentioned you guys made the best of it. I heard that Maine had a really wet spring, although it is hard to imagine it being that slow up there. The fall flight has been really slow here as well, quite deflating. Lexi looks fantastic, hopefully cross paths at some point.

    Be well,
    Dave

  4. My hunting buddy and I have been having about the same results in North central Vt. We’ll give a few more tries but not too hopeful. Well, hopefully next year we’ll be able to try northern Maine. We will start trying to find areas this year as we have no experience there. Best of luck to you and Lexi.

  5. Dave-

    Good to hear from you. I think the woodcock showed up – right after we left. Oh well.

    Did you do any fishing with Boz?

    Gregg

  6. Dave-

    Northern Maine can be great – lots of place to hunt, and the further up you go the fewer people you’ll see. The only issues are: It’s way up there – so lots of driving. Few places to stay with few amenities – you can stay in a sporting camp, but they get expensive. Lots of country – you could end up spending a lot of time trying to find productive covers.

    Let me know if you’re going to make the trip and I’ll do what I can to hook you up with people who hunt up there.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Gregg

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