Upland Hunting Woodcock in the South
Upland Hunting The American Woodcock aka Timber Rocket
A small elegant migratory game bird who’s plumage is golden in flight and a magnificent camouflage when on the forest floor. Woodcock have long bills that are used for probing in soft soil looking primarily for earth worms. With a diet of insects and worms it’s no wonder they are often flushed from soft, swampy, leaf-littered bottoms. These little birds thrive in young forested habitats. Underbrush with high stem densities for safety is what these birds need for safety from predators. The cover Woodcock hold in can be very tough on a dog and hunter. Stands of young timber, saplings, briars and cane you often can’t even see a dog on point.
The Hunting Dogs
Gun dogs are not needed for upland huntin , but sure do add to the experience. Charles Norris said it best “Without a dog, upland shooting is a poor, drab, lonesome, and generally unsatisfactory business. Much of the joy of shooting is dependent upon the companionship of a favorite dog”. I prefer pointing breeds when it comes to upland hunting.
My Bird Dogs
When guiding Upland hunts , I prefer pointing breeds like my American Brittany and the English Setter. Both my dogs are athletic and strong making them great for busting heavy Woodcock covers. Bud my male Brittany is well seasoned having hunted most upland game birds from the Dakota Prairies to the Mountains for Ruffed Grouse. Bud is a medium range dog in the Woodcock covers and methodically hits birdy objects. He’s a true pleasure to watch work in tight covers. My Setter female (Penny ) is still a puppy and learning the ropes. This is her first hunting season and she’s really showing a lot of promise. Penny has a big motor and can really cover some ground. Her running style is beautiful and is super classy on point.
Upland Hunting Guns
Woodcock covers are no place for your cabinet queen shotgun. Guns can take a good beating navigating through dense forest. Gunning in heavy cover calls for open chokes. Cylinder bore, skeet or improved cylinder out of 20 or 28 gauges. Light game loads in #8’s are what I shoot. I really have enjoyed shooting the RST Shot shells out of my guns, and they do the job on small birds like Woodcock and Quail. If you have a fixed choke gun with tight choke constrictions you may want to look at RST spreader loads. Spreaders typically help open up one choke constriction.
When Woodcock flush theirs no telling what they may do. I’ve seen them take off vertically and then sail into the next county while others flush only to sit back down 30 yards ahead of a dog. These birds flush hard and fast and usually take the path that offers little to no shot. I often tell my clients I want to hear both barrels fired! One to clear the brush and the other to hit the bird!
If you have never had the pleasure of hunting behind a well trained gun dog, you need to add Upland Hunting South Carolina to your bucket list!