Looking for Woodcock
This spring, I'm hoping to learn how to band woodcock with local expert Tom Goltz. Tom has been banding woodcock around the Wausau area for many years. The first step in the process is finding woodcock who migrate back to the area in spring from southern states like Louisiana, so I loaded up Fergus and Jenkins and drove us out to the county forest.
After a brutally cold February, our March has flip-flopped to unseasonable warm, turning the woods e.e cummings mud-luscious. The scents from the thawing earth intoxicated the dogs after a winter of locked up scents. I didn't need to coax them out of the truck, and they literally hit the ground running.
I didn't know what to expect since the woodcock migratory maps posted by the Ruffed Grouse Society (http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/Migration-Map-History#.VQMKXI7F-AU) weren't showing much northern movement. But you never know, and the dogs clearly wanted to find out if the woodcock had returned.
Five minutes into our walk, Fergus's bell went silent, and I followed Jenkins who found Fergus and dutifully backed his point. As I walked up behind a quivering Fergus, coffee mug in hand, my weapon of choice for the day, a ruffed grouse flushed well ahead of us. It was a noisy blur in the dense popple woods. I was expecting woodcock, but was pleasantly surprised.