Woodcock Hunting

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Woodcock Hunting

Postby TXBirdHunter » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:41 pm

Hey fellas,

Any tips for a new woodcock hunter? This will be my first season chasing woodcock in the Pineywoods in East Texas. I usually hunt quail with my GSP but figured I'd go after woodcock this year as well since there is public land not too far from home. Any and all tips and pointers would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby Dkmatt » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:31 pm

I don't know anything about it either, so I'm commenting so I can follow along. I'm in the Tyler area pretty regularly, and am going to give it a try around the holidays.
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby blue04 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:28 pm

Woodcock generally like wet ground. They are worm eaters, so they prefer soft ground they can probe with their beaks. I'd focus on low areas between higher hillsides and creek drainages. It doesn't have to be swampy, but anywhere with hard ground isn't likely to hold large numbers of Woodcock. I've also had luck finding them on islands in creeks and rivers.

Good luck.
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby bhennessy » Sat Dec 09, 2017 7:14 pm

Tough hunting here in Louisiana, but lots of fun. I ran into the LA woodcock biologist at a WMA this past summer and picked his brains. Good advice from Blue in terms of finding soft, wet ground. It also needs to have open areas of forest floor underneath, leaf covered ground (helps them hide) but dense young forest canopy above. He called it "early successional forest". Forest that is too old doesn't give them the cover they need underneath...i.e., think about a hawk or owl being able to fly under the canopy in an old forest hunting because there is less dense underbrush but not being able to in an early successional forest with lots of young trees close together and dense undergrowth, vines, etc.

Here in LA these forests also have lots of vines and undergrowth, but still have open, dead leaf covered forage areas under the cover. Often you can find woodcock droppings and the holes they make probing for worms. Definitely focus on the cover around drainages and low, wet areas as blue mentioned.

I've found them to be very weather dependent on occasion, but not always. Cold weather sometimes pushes them down, and hotter weather seems to keep them up north of us. However, the biologist said there was little scientific evidence for this, just anecdotal observations. I do try to go out as cold fronts pass, or just in front of them.
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby bhennessy » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:29 am

Great video that gives you a sense of woodcock habitat in southern LA.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts_tkCe5i6w
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby madduckdog » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:54 pm

stem count... stem count and stem count.

also get a buddy ... when dog goes on point let him flush .... as you wait in a good (if any neer) place to take a shot.

good luck and watch out you can get hooked ... and if you are doing it right you might need safety glasses
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby JONOV » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:10 pm

I've been trying to find some for awhile, got into my first this last weekend. They weren't in what I would call thick cover, but it was definitely "covered." And of course, soft ground for them to dig.
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby woodboro » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:35 pm

I've hunted them for about 40 years....
They are wonderful birds for the dog , gun , and table.
I don't know your area , but I do know the birds.

If and when in thick , low cover , look for open corners, and alleyways.
These are flight in and flight out escape routes.

Tag elders , yep , young aspen , yep ...
What may be more important is location to flight 'IN' .
Here in the Midwest I look for a creek or river system , and look for a southeastern slope or openings... why because they are coming from the NW. (breezes)

Thick brambles don't work , because why would a bird that relies on looking above , want to be in barb wire for an escape route.
The understory in any location should be sparse , so they can move around ..
So my guess in your area , heat is an issue , no worms South East slops , so I would guess north west openings would be best bet....
a day or 2 after a rain , they could be loaded in areas...
Wish I was there :D
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby bhennessy » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:07 am

Also, a common thread I’ve found with woodcock hunting is that they tend to favor young, wet/soggy daytime cover as woodboro describes, next to open fields. They transit to just inside the cover at daybreak from the fields. Work the edge, inside the cover. I’ve heard of guys letting their flushing dogs work the cover while they take a leisurely stroll on the field side, but my experience is that the birds flush up and/or deeper into the woods.

Not sure how close you are to the Atchafalya basin between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, but the Indian River Bayou Army Corps area was holding some woodcock this season. Sherburne WMA on the other side of the river is supposedly phenomenal, and it’s a huge area but I’ve found it to be very crowded with hunters of all varieties who probability wouldn’t bother to ID my Griffs as dogs, rather than hogs or deer.
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby woodboro » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:01 am

bhennessy wrote:Not sure how close you are to the Atchafalya basin between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, but the Indian River Bayou Army Corps area was holding some woodcock this season. Sherburne WMA on the other side of the river is supposedly phenomenal, and it’s a huge area but I’ve found it to be very crowded with hunters of all varieties who probability wouldn’t bother to ID my Griffs as dogs, rather than hogs or deer.



Don't be afraid of other hunters , orange collar and a bell or beeper , is not going to scare the birds away , and wearing orange and keeping your dog close will keep both of you safe and content hunters. just MO
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Re: Woodcock Hunting

Postby bhennessy » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:06 pm

I dunno woodboro. I don’t want my four legged, bell wearing ugly dog steaming by some guy’s stand, after he’s been in it for 6 hours with no luck and he’s freezing and pissed. In his mind that perfect buck was just scared off by my mutts.

Out looking for the fabled woodcock today and had no luck. Had to settle for passs shooting at some very skittish snipe. Got one good retrieve for my older pup out of it. They flushed repeatedly at 60 yards but at least had the good form to set back down again at 100. Eventually a couple got confused and swung back around towards us for a long shot.
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