We are now into the second half of October and dispersal is in motion. The males have obviously been kicked out as the older boys are drumming in the woods to claim their territory. The days have been slow for the average year and everyone I talk to, from other guides to hunters with many days in the field, all seem to be experiencing the same.
My opinion is that there are three reasons for this. First, the weather has been inconsistent with a lot of rain days. When it’s not raining, it has been hot. We needed the weather of the last week to settle out the shuffle but next week’s warmup isn’t going to help. Second, the pressure continues to get greater every year and that is tough, especially Friday through Monday. This has caused educated birds to run more and take flight farther off. The increase in running woodcock in the last few years is evidence of this pressure. Last, the cycle does, at some level, exist. We should be going down the backside of the cycle as it typically peaks at years ending in 9 or 0. I don’t put everything in the cycle as some do, but feel it’s a mosaic of the above effects and is of some affect.
Next Week’s Outlook
The next week looks brutal for grouse hunting with temps that are unseasonably warm and closer to Summer than late Fall. Be careful out there and have plenty of water on hand if you hit the woods this weekend through the middle of next week. Remember that the temperature is even higher at ground level where your four legged partner is than the ambient air temperature that your latest app tells you.
Look for birds in the dark cover and areas around swamps. With the snow early last week, any woodcock that did migrate should stay around.
Interested in learning more? Click here for grouse habitat information and here for information on hunting and training dogs for grouse. Have questions on grouse and woodcock hunting? Drop me an email and I’m happy to help!