Woodcock Spring Training

The Adventures of Dumb & Dumber (AKA Carrot and Mocha)

I love training my dogs on migrating woodcock in the spring almost as much as actual hunting in the fall.  The pressure is off.  There is no obligation or objective to harvest game.  Also, not having to carry a 45″ long 6-pound gun through the thick cover is a pleasant reprieve.

A couple things about this video:

My dogs are average at best.  As a result of lack of resources and resolve on my part, they are not broke to wing and/or shot.  Breaking a dog to wing and shot requires lots of time and lots of flushing birds.  I don’t have access to either so I put up with unpolished dogs.  In one scene, Mocha breaks to wing immediately after a flush and I take the time to bring her back and whoa her.  Most of the time I’m just happy that my dogs can find birds and hold a steady point until I arrive with the gun.   My dogs also don’t back another dog’s point reliably.  This probably irritates some of my hunting buddies although at times Mocha does show some natural tendency to back.

The cover in this spot is very difficult to navigate.  The video does not fully illustrate the full level of nastiness in this cover.  It’s so thick that it is effectively unhuntable in October and November but it becomes navigable in the winter months and I use this cover for spring training exclusively.  Note the use of eye protection.  It took a badly scratched cornea for me to start wearing eye protection in the field.

About Carrot (Dumber)

Carrot is 7 years old and comes from all-age field trial stock.  I use the term “high octane” to describe his hunting style.  Out of the box, Carrot runs hot, fast, and far.  Often times his legs outrun his nose and his brain.  He’s not exactly want I want out of a gun dog but he does have  a super nose, he holds point, and he covers a ton of ground.  The downside of covering a lot of ground is that he burns out quickly and he can be a challenge to hunt over.  After 1.5 hours on the ground, he’s done.  DONE.

 About Mocha (Dumb)

Mocha is a 3-year old female and weighs 25 pounds when her coat is full of mud.  She comes from cover dog stock.  Mocha is a short-range dog and I’m trying to encourage her to reach out farther, but not as far as Carrot.  Out of nowhere, Mocha developed a tendency to range out a short distance and then backtrack to me for reassurance rather than staying out questing for game.  This habit has become both annoying and unproductive and I’m hoping that she will mature out of it as she gets into more birds.  Where Carrot loses his head and gets carried away, Mocha thinks too much.

My Dogs On Woodcock

Some dogs take a while to catch on to scenting woodcock and I’ve seen this to an extent in all of the brittanys I’ve owned.  So far Mocha has been the slowest to catch on.   By age three you’d think that woodcock would be old hat for her by now, but since she was born in February 2012, this is only her second full season on the ground and she’s still learning.  Carrot has more experience and typically will be the first dog to find the birds, however, notice that toward the end of the video, Mocha starts picking up birds that Carrot bypasses.      Woodcock can be surprisingly hard for a dog to scent and point in the spring.   They pass little scent at this  time of year.   This is part of nature’s defense mechanism- a way to protect nesting birds.  A good woodcock dog learns to gear down and slowly cover every square foot of ground in a given cover.  Approach is very critical to getting a spring woodcock pointed.

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