Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wild Turkey and Woodcock

If you made me sign off on a contract that only allowed for the hunting of one thing, I'd make my choice the wild turkey. After all, it's a gamebird you can actually talk to . . . c'mon, that's a slam-dunk decision.

If you asked me my second choice sometime in October, on a day I'm not hunting fall turkeys, it would likely be the woodcock, with a bird dog at my side of course. All this makes no sense to the person who bases value on size, as the former weighs far more, and the latter is lucky to go eight ounces wet. And yeah, I enjoy waterfowl hunting, and ruffed grouse, and many of the other options, especially if gun dogs or birds are involved. And yeah too, I know you can call to quackers and honkers, but don't tell me that's the same as working a spring gobbler or kee-keeing a fall turkey to your setup position.

In the end though there's something special about the here-and-gone quality of the so-called timberdoodle, their strange yet beautiful appearance, the twitter they make on flushing, the pleasant upland places we hunt them in (the "Junkyard Cover" where my Radar once pointed a dozen different birds in less than an hour notwithstanding), and the bird dogs we go afield with like my boy setter in such leaf-whispery October and early November northeastern locations.

I carry a little piece of paper in my wallet every fall listing the woodcock seasons in the states I hunt in road-trip mode. This year, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York all offer Oct. 6-Nov. 4 as inclusive start to finish dates. Only Maine is the exception, running their season from Oct. 1-Oct. 31 (no Sunday hunting). Daily take (3) and possession limits (6 per state) are the same.

Call me crazy, but I often stop one short of the 'doodle limit at a brace of birds, points and twittering flushes ongoing if we're lucky that day. Often we see none, just the chalk splatters left after their departure . . .

And if we're trying to find a turkey flock, I flat out ignore them.


(Woodcock photo/copyright Steve Hickoff)