Saturday, April 2, 2016

Spring is Here

Maggie running back after flushing the woodcock.
    A cool wind blew from the east under a blotchy gray sky. Small mountains to the east showed the scars of logging and patches of white lingered near the tops of the highest. The two older wirehairs dashed ahead, familiar with the old logging road, having walked it dozens of times over the years, both hunting and just to be outdoors.                 
    Maggie, our twelve week old pup, stayed closer, walking in the drainage ditch and fascinated by the flowing water as only a puppy can be.
    Up from under her nose tweetered a woodcock, the first one seen this year!
A new beaver pond flooded the road.
    Maggie dashed back to sit by our feet and watch the bird fly away.
    After hoots of laughter and praise for the pup, we carried on. Further down the hill a grouse flushed wild, twisting like a calendar painting through the barren poplar and birch. Life felt pretty good.
    Further on, up in a cutting, Chara, the older wirehair soon to turn fifteen, pointed with Colby backing, but no bird was found, yet was still a delight to see.
    Later, almost back to the truck, Chara shuffled around inside a thicket of alders. Pause, snort and sniff, pause, point, shuffle and sniffle…no style, but with determination, and up went a woodcock. That made two!!!

Lounging at Camp Grouse while listening to the grouse drumming.
    On the way back to Camp Grouse, the sun poked through the clouds and the subject of a beer came up. Later, sitting on the deck, we clicked the necks of two bottles together in a toast to spring, and almost immediately the season’s first drumming from a grouse drifted down the hill.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Waiting For The Woodcock

    Snow lingers in the woods. Pockets of white hide in the shadows of trees and rock-like ice fills the hollows. Beneath blankets of white, north facing slopes still sleep where the air remains icebox cold.
    But the slopes facing the sun are welcoming her warmth. Swollen streams rush down the hills, creating a rumble that seems to be everywhere. Songbirds chirp and flit about, shyly hiding in the softwoods, busy with courting and spring tasks.
    The bare fields have been invaded by cackling geese, cackling about whatever geese cackle about. Soon after dawn, high in the sky, a pair honked their way up the valley, causing even the dogs to stop and listen. Blue skies and warm breezes make promises we hope are true.
    A walk down along the stream finds the ground cement hard in the shadows of the softwoods. Even amongst the sunlit alders it is the same. Undaunted, the dogs make the effort, searching the ground thoroughly. No woodcock or grouse in a covert that often has both.
    Circling back, up the bank where the sun warms the earth, the bare ground is soft. Eager noses search for the scent of returning woodcock. Optimism grows with the heat of the sun, but too soon the cabin comes into view.
    We’ll have to try again tomorrow.