Sunday, April 13, 2014

Do You Ever Wonder…?

Do you see him in there among the mango leaves
I wonder about woodcock. Ten thousand years ago, during the last ice age, when they migrated north, did they stop in what is now Maryland? They must have. Further north was a frozen wasteland. But maybe Maryland was much like northern Labrador is today, so possibly they summered and raised their young in Georgia. Perhaps we can convince our government to spend a big chunk of money to figure this out.
And what about the woodcock’s favorite food, the earth worms? I’ve read authorities that stated they weren’t indigenous to North America, but were brought over by the Europeans. If that is true, what did woodcock eat? Just grubs? The woodcock would have followed the Europeans around to uproot up their newly introduced apple trees and such to get at those new “imported” tasty morsels.

And I’ve read other experts that stated the worms were here all along and died when the ice sheet covered over them. One writer even said the worms had returned north at something like eighteen inches a year. I’m not sure how that was measured or if our tax dollars paid for the research. Did someone actually put radio telemetry collars on earth worms? I’m happy the answers they found weren’t in metric.
Ruffed grouse in a mahogany tree?
If we could travel back through time to the last ice age, would it be possible to shoot ruffed grouse in the Florida Keys? It’s fun to imagine, skipping from island to island, the sand sticking to our waxed cotton brush pants. Woodcock probably flew right across the Straits of Florida to winter in Cuba and the Bahamas. I guess there wasn’t any rum then, but it still would have made a spectacular winter vacation, assuming the seasons lasted into January and February.
What I am glad of is that we don’t know all the answers. Can you imagine if we could google everything?

Are those holes in the sand from a woodcock's probing bill or clams...?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Juno Points Her First Quail

The recall house loaded with Quail
Sometimes the best lessons aren’t planned. After work today I took the dogs out for a walk. It had been a week of awful weather, so little time had been spent working the girls. Juno, our seven month old GSP pup, bolted out back past the barn. Her new joy in life has been the quail recall house that I loaded with quail a little over a week ago. The older and wiser wirehairs trotted along with me.
By the time I reached the barn Juno was racing about stacks of new bricks on pallets. I thought there might still be a quail out, but it had been a week of bitter wintery weather since I had released any. Juno squeezed between two pallets of bricks and stuck her nose in a hole left for a forklift. I looked in the other end and, sure enough, there was a quail hiding inside the pile of bricks.
I got Juno off the scent and we walked out back into the fields and woods. Returning, the dogs bolted ahead to the quail house and hunted the area hard.
Chara, our wise old German wirehair who’s turning thirteen in June, shuffled about with her nose to the ground, plowing through leaves beneath stunted white oaks. The two younger dogs were like ping pong balls, all over the place. Chara locked up on point thirty feet from the recall house.
Colby, my five year old wire, noticed and faithfully honored. I could see the quail hunkered down about three yards from Chara’s nose.
Juno ricocheted all over the place, twice passing close, but tuned into her own little world. I so wished she dragged a line so I might control her. The two wires trembled, but didn’t budge. Juno finally bounded toward the older girls and then stopped like a statue right against Chara’s side. Her head was up as she inhaled the bird’s heady scent.
I praised her and stroked her shoulders, and then took two steps toward the quail.
The bird bolted as if shot from a canon, with Juno hot on its tail.