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people know about, you might ask? It all started during a quail hunt when we flushed more woodcocks than quail. During the next year, I asked questions and looked at maps trying to figure out where I might find more woodcock. Just like in other areas of the south, quail were hard to find - and not very plentiful. I was hoping that the woodcock would allow me to work my dog on more wild birds - and have more action than I was finding while in search of quail.

The following year, I lucked into a public hunting area that proved to be a gold mine. The birds were migrating through - and I had a blast! With a young, untrained springer blowing through the cover, woodcock were literally popping up like popcorn. The limit in the early 1990ís was five birds per day. I shot a lot of shells, but eventually got my five bird limit. With such success, I gradually turned my attention to woodcock, totally, until the season was over.
Jake retrieving a woodcock.

What makes springers such fine woodcock machines? Their intense desire to hunt, the fearless way that they attack the cover - and how they hunt for and with you, makes springers excellent woodcock hunters. If you have ever seen the horrid places that woodcocks hang out, you would understand how vital the role of a canine companion is when hunting timberdoodles. The cover varies from wild grapevine, green briar patches, blackberry patches, small sapplings in thick groves to tangled vines and thorn patches. Places that make walking hazardous to the hunter. Woodcock cover is typically very dense. Someone once wrote, "If you throw your hat down and it hits the ground, you are not in woodcock cover."
John Quinn and Tim Baker with a couple of closing day
woodcocks, son Kyle in background.

While a hunter will walk the easiest route around some thickets, the spaniel will blast through it, putting to flight any animal that thought it was safely hidden for the day. Due to the way in which the spaniels attack the cover, it is seldom that the dog does not get an ear cut, tongue pricked or thorn scratches on various parts of their body. A well-stocked first aid kit for dog and man is a good thing to have handy during - and after - a woodcock hunt.

The close working spaniel will put more birds into the air than a hunter without a dog, which is the case for most wild bird hunting. However, woodcock seem to hold tight on some days and a thoroughly working dog will not miss very many birds. Even if the scenting conditions are poor, I believe the dogs would at least scare a woodcock into flight due to their close working pattern.

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