Day 4, ME: All Woodies, Shooting Blanks

October 20, 2011 | By | 4 Replies More

Preseason scouting with Google Earth is a lot of fun. But it also can be too much fun when you end up with lots of spots to check out, not all of which are as easy to get to as they appear on Google Earth, maps or even a GPS.

That’s why after a couple of attempts to hunt right-sized beech with a little birch mixed in, but no birds, we ended up doing the below while trying to get to a Google Earth cut:

Yep. It was pretty hairy (the above was just one stretch) and none of us were sure we’d make it through. As Sean said, lesson learned here is when it says ATV trail, don’t go down it! But the bottom line was it took us an hour to go 2 miles, and we weren’t sure we were going to make it.

When we finally got to the Google-Earthed cut, it was once again birch and maple. Grouse? Not happening.

By that time, whenever it was, we were a bit impatient and teed off at ourselves. So we decided to put up some woodcock and do some shooting. Was it that easy? Yes and no.

We found the woodcock – in a mix of alder, birch and a little aspen. They were up on top of a hill, and we heard the bell of a bird dog running on the road below us. Nice sound, but we short of laughed to ourselves because they were hunting road edges and we heard no shots. The birds weren’t down there.

Woody territory (click to see bigger).

Did we shoot? Yes. Many times. But the woodcock, they did not fall out of the sky….

A combination of bad shooting, one safety getting stuck – Sean’s 20ga Citori, a common problem with Citoris which is why Jay stopped using his – and a misfire (WTH?! Jay’s 16ga Rizzini), 15 woodies went airborne and none fell down.

Pathetic! Some of them were anything but tough shots.

At the end of our ground-pounding – we had to pound out a lot of miles to get those birds up – we were absolutely wasted tired. And we should mention we did flush one grouse, but way out in front, not shootable.

With a couple hours left in the day, we decided to check out some potential grouse habitat along the Sandy River – a tip we got from a biologist, some old farms out there. On the way, we stomped a birchy, aldery area, Brendan flushed a woodcock and Jay shot it, putting us on the road to woodcock semi-redemption.

Our second stop along the Sandy (not right along it but in the vicinity), we thought we hit the motherlode. Alders lining old logging roads, birches and aspens on either side (a little old but still good), the occasional old apple tree, plenty of water.

We went in with high expectations which just kept getting higher as the habitat unfolded.

But no birds.

No dang birds!

Eventually Brendan flushed a woodcock and put it down with one shot. A little closer to semi redemption.

Sean and a big woodie.

Then on the way up to what had to be an old farmhouse location with an apple tree, raspberries with a few berries still there, surrounded by ideal cover – the whole thing – Jay flushed a woodcock out of an alder run that Sean banged, bringing us as close to woodcock redemption as we were going to get that day.

But no grouse. Apples, birch, alder, gravel, water, etc., but no grouse.

On the way back to the truck, we decided to hunt the edges of a field we’d seen on the way in but had not hunted. Turned out to be an old apple orchard. And…

…no grouse.

No @&#^$**@ grouse!

Old stone wall in the former apple orchard....

How was that possible? Well, when we drove outta there, we saw some houses. Then some more. Not a ton, but enough. And the fact that that old farm was right off a main road…well, that place was hunted. Hard.

We found all the right stuff – even some classic grouse habitat like that old orchard – and hunted it right, but nothing.

Enough already. We decided to head back north, to areas like the ones we found on day 3. Day 5 was going to be grouse or bust.


Category: 2011-12 reports, Hunt reports, ME, Ruffed Grouse, SBH, Woodcock

Comments (4)

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  1. Ed says:

    We just got home (4 hours ago) from the Jackman area. Did not see the birds we saw last year, but got into a decent amount of grouse on Wednesday. My question – what was the problem with the picture of the ATV trail? I’m trying to make it out, but can’t see it. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      We had to build a “bridge” to get across that low area without bottoming out. Ended up going like 0.002 mph over that whole stretch. Nuts!

  2. Dave Bartle says:

    Ed – heading up to Jackman on Sun – grouse sign comparable to last year and w/c in?

  3. Derrick says:

    Well sorry your luck didn’t pan out, but days of no birds can be a great experience in and of themselves. I too have turned to google earth and found an unknown atv trail just around the corner from my house flushed six birds nabbed four of them last weekend. Perhaps you just need to drive a little further north, I’m in New Brunswick Canada just outside of Fredericton, seems like it’s going to be a good year for ruffies and spruce grouse. Send me an email if your heading this way!

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