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"With a young, untrained springer blowing through the cover, woodcock were literally popping up like popcorn."

The camouflage color of the woodcock makes recovering birds a formidable task without a dog. I have been fortunate to have springers that would retrieve woodcocks with very little encouragement. I have heard of dogs that would not pick them up or who would bring them out of the cover for the hunter to see and then spit them out. This action has been interpreted as the woodcocks having a undesirable taste for the dogs. Needless to say, I have been fortunate to not have to deal with this type of behaviour with my dogs.
Jake with three - a limit of woodcocks.

For a couple of years, I was hunting with only one dog, Jake. He has been the easiest dog to hunt with of the three that I have owned. Jake was steady to flush and shot and marked quite well. Retrieving was never a question. He would always work an area hard until he found the bird. Jake is the type of dog that just moves smoothly through the cover and works more ground than you realize - yet always staying in touch with you. With Jake being steady to flush and shot, multiple flushes on a bird were always available should I miss or not get an opportunity for a shot. I hope that last statement does not imply that I rarely miss, which would be far from the truth.

One memorable hunt was with a couple of eleven year old boys. Since Jake was steady to flush, I could quarter him through the cover until he flushed a woodcock. Woodcocks do not typically fly far before setting back down. These short flights allow for accurate marks from you and your dog. After the downed bird was marked, the boys were positioned where they would possibly have a shooting lane - depending on the flight of the bird. After positioning the boys, Jake was released to re-flush the bird. The boys got to shoot approx ten shells each in a couple of hours of hunting that day. Unfortunately, neither of the boys hit a bird - but the joy of watching the boys and Jake was well worth the trip.

There was a very memorable retrieve during a hunt in 1998, on Halloween. I was taking some guys on their first woodcock hunt. Like many of the hunters in the area, they were going out of curiousity because they had hunted "all over the area for years" and never had seen a woodcock. Well, the birds cooperated and provided some exciting shooting for the group. One woodcock had flushed from some briars and I was able to take a safe shot - fortunate to have hit the bird. I could tell that it was a clean kill, but it was a long shot by woodcock standards. As I eased up to

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