Each spring as the mercury slowly rises a bit more each day I look forward to the return of the woodcock. As the migrate south each fall, they return northward each spring. Their return means a few weeks of dog training on wild birds. Any gun dog owner should use these few weeks to keep their dog sharp and tuned up. Woodcock run very little when pressured making them perfect for training a young pointing dog. They generally spring straight up into the air when flushed, making them ideal for for steadying a spaniel too.
The preferred food of the woodcock is earth worms, and their long flexible bills are built for that mission. This, unfortunately, is what causes me worry this year. In years past, a late season or early spring snow and it's subsequent ground freezing has meant trouble for woodcock. If they can't get to the earth, and it is frozen hard they can't eat. This year's unseasonable warmth throughout the winter months has seemingly fooled the woodcock into thinking it's time to head north again, as I've come across a few out training Ginger. This wouldn't be a problem but for the seasonal storm which once again froze the ground and dropped a bit of snow on us. While the storm was what should have been typical may have had the same effect of a spring storm on the woodcock. Fortunately, the warmer weather has returned, and the earth has thawed. I just hope the week of cold and freezing we had didn't have too much impact on the already suffering woodcock population.
Here's a little video of some preliminary steady to flush training I'm doing with Ginger. There's another you can see, plus other videos on the All Season Outdoors Youtube Channel.