My duck season so far

Todd, it is getting harder and harder to find bobwhites that are wild but there are some places to find em. Belle hasn't smelled california quail or mountain quail yet. I want to get her on them in the next few years.

Temps have finally dropped enough that I can take Belle out after work to run off some energy. She finds at least one bird each afternoon. One evening we found a covey of about 30 birds.


This weekend I was finally able to get out to the WMA I love to chase woodcock, wild quail and woodducks on. Temps were awesome. The deer hunters love bird hunters there so when I pulled up to my first spot to try and saw a deer hunters truck, I slowly began getting ready.

Next thing I know the deer hunters are there and we do the typical hunter pleasantries thing. As I am getting ready to head out, I ask if they had seen any. They said yup, a big one went into that swamp right there. We were thinking of setting up to see if you or the dog would push him out. I offered to push it for them. Their faces just lit up and were like Would you really?!?!

Sure. The quail hangout down there too so may as well check for them. I gave them about five minutes to get in place and then Belle and I set off. The blackberries and wild roses are thick but the quail love that and woodcock will hide in that stuff. Four does heard me and Belle getting closer and boogied on out of there in a rush. Belle flushed about 20 woodducks off the pond but since she doesn't retrieve much and I didn't want to swim, I let them go. I continued my push through the brush while Belle bounced ahead of me looking for more woodducks.

As I am walking, Belle is running the pond edge back towards me when all of a sudden the world next to me explodes. I turn to look and this big brown body is coming at me. FAST! Horns down, body low and fast. I do not think the buck saw me until I moved my gun into position to shoot if he didn't veer off. He was going to run me over. He veered off away from me about ten feet from me! I could have killed him with bird shot. However, it is not legal if I have a dog out while bird hunting.

So the deer continued running and I hollered at the hunter HERE HE COMES! HERE HE COMES!

He shot.

He MISSED!!!!!!


I helped check to see if they could find any blood but not a single drop was found. Ah well.

Belle and I continued on. We managed to flush a woodcock but that was it for the day.


I do enjoy hunting the little pond edges. Never know what you will find. This time it was a little demon deer.


We didn't find any quail but it was great to be out again.

Sunday found us out there earlier. It was supposed to get warm quicker and I planned to hunt an area that didn't have as much water around like the previous day. Belle was rarin to go.


We wandered over hills, through the woods, across a road, down to the back side of a place that often has a woodcock or two. Belle busted a few does. I was walking a tree strewn deer path on the edges of the thicket. As my leg is way up in the air to go over a pinetree that is across the path, a woodcock flushes right from under me! Of course.

By the time my leg was rested on the log and I was balanced, the bird was gone. I never found him again.

Belle and I headed back up over the hills and through the woods looking for quail.


Belle worked hard. She found a covey after a lot of pointing and then repositioning. Finally she pinned them in a thick thick thicket. I was walking in on them and they flushed.

Sadly, they went out the other side. Ah well.

It was getting hot and I was running low on water so we stopped to rest a bit. Let the woods chill out a bit. We were probably close to a mile from the truck.


On the way back to the truck, Belle got birdy again and she slammed on point. These birds have played this game before and didn't let me get close enough. By that point it was mid to upper 70s and I was out of water so we did not try to follow the covey to look for singles.

Belle was worn out though. She was done.


We got home, she had her bath and then we watched the sun go down.


It was a mighty good weekend.

That dog won the lottery when she found you.

You stories are amazing, many folks on here share up some wonderful stuff, the photos, the memories... A real legacy.

I have to live vicariously through them as I am over in Thailand still after spending summer and fall back in Oregon with My mother.

I lost the old red dog this last visit back and really miss his presence and funny ways. The rolling in the grass and snorting especially.

I'd like to get another bird dog, but not while I am bouncing back and forth between coountries... A dog will need me around all the time and I'd feel like it wsn't right to leave for 5-6 months at a stretch.

If and when we get another dog, I'll need to figure out some sort of floating platform for it to be able to do fetches on the river out back. We've got the seawall and then have the tides which swing out up to 15 feet to contend with.... It'd be a lot more fun for the dog to be able to swim for bumpers and stuff when the tide is slacked out back. Other folks that have fishing boats have put in docks that are up on pilings... Maybe we'll need one that I can make a raft style floating platform on.

It is something I have been thinking on.

I am going to try to paddle out to the mangroves today at the mouth of the river a couple of miles away. There are a colony of flying foxes that have started hanging out there during the days to sleep and rest in the treetops that I want to get photos of. We'll see how it goes.

Love all of the stories, you guys and gal, please keep them coming.

Did you ever see the flying foxes? Get any pictures? I'd love to see them if you did.
Well it is funny you mention that... I did,

I even got some video of them too... Here is a link which has a bit of the footage... this one is not edited yet, so there may be some footage of my arm because I had my video camera on a chest mount on my life vest and when i took my DSLR to snap photos, my video cam was blocked by my arm...

sorry about that.

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Well, my duck season ended without a single duck or coot shot this year. Not because I didn't have opportunities but because had I shot them, I would have had to have gone swimming for them. Belle is definitely not a retriever. I didn't get out on one dedicated duck hunt this year either. It was kind of sad but at the same time I was not upset because based on everything I heard from people around here, it really wasn't worth it. My most die hard duck hunting friends here were all travelling far from this area of FL to find ducks (often times out of state). So the time spent chasing quail and woodcock with Belle was well spent. Heck, I shot more doves this year than ever. That's a first for me....more doves than ducks.

Some more pictures from our continuing trips through the woods.

The last weekend of the duck, dove and woodcock season was COLD here. We hit 23 in the morning and had windchills the day before in the teens. For FL that is FRIGID!!!! Belle and I went out though. I was bundled up heavily and Belle was wearing her skid plate and collar. I couldn't keep her out of the water. I am sure she got warm running all over the place in low 30 degree weather and 20 mph winds, at least initially. But we ended the day early because she wouldn't stay out of the water and so started shivering really badly. Goofy dog.

But we saw lots of neat things. She is working towards being a duck and coot pointy dog.


We got into areas that are still kinda thick from the hurricane and they will remain that way until the next burn or they rot into nothingness. There should be woodcock in there though.


During the week we would still run out to the quail lease one or two afternoons a week, when work allowed. She is an awesome quail house pointy dog...such a challenge ya know? But she does love them.



Some evenings she would get a nice long run, others she gets a ten to fifteen minute run before the sun went down. But most nights she manages to find a bird or two. Or thirty.



When we run the quail lease, I seldom take a gun. Mostly because I am technically not supposed to bring a gun to work and going home to grab my gun adds 30 minutes or so to the trip to the lease walk and we would almost always miss the daylight by the time I get there. So it is normally just a nice afternoon walk for me and her.

The weekends though are for heading out with the gun for sure. Most weekends we are finding at least a covey of quail a day, doves, snipe and a potential for woodducks. The woodcock this year was really tough. I only saw two this year. Worst year for woodcock since I started hunting them.



A particularly chilly morning with high winds had us hunting more fields than normal. Many of the trees out there lose limbs easily and I prefer to not be under them when it is really blowing out there. But birds could still be found.


She has interesting points when she suddenly comes upon coots and moorhens and woodducks that don't flush.


We often see fox squirrels out where we hunt, which is always so neat. I wouldn't mind a few fox squirrels hanging around my house.


I have a few weekends left of snipe and quail season out at the WMA, then it will strictly be lease hunting and I'll work on shooting birds more for her out there. But until then, we will be enjoying the time we have out at the WMA.



And I will be hoping that we have a bit more of this.


Wow they're really big! I had no clue there were flying mammals that large. It is hard to tell scale from your picture but the video really put that into perspective. How cool! And that kingfisher is gorgeous. Which species is that do you know?
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I am really not certain the species Dani.

We have several different kinds of Kingfisher birds here. I love to see them but they are really hard to get a good photo of because they are so alert to motion. They don't let you get close for a shot.

We also have these gigantic cranes. Shoot I'm having troubles with the photos.






I saw a photo of the Thai Army walking a paddy road with a couple of these cranes standing on it. The cranes were taller than the soldiers.

Not so common in Thailand in fact sadly on the endangered list due to excessive hunting, the Sarus Crane. To see these birds in the wild you can thank the late King of Thailand who effectively set up a sanctuary on the Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir near Buriram. A Very large bird that can stand at 6ft high


Let me fiddle around with the photo uploader thing some... I'll see if I can share the mega cranes
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Oh yeah. One weekend was spent with pheasants. I had a tower shoot fundraiser to go to and enjoyed myself immensely. However, I was still appalled at the number of birds left behind. I brought home close to 80 birds. I contacted a few neighbors that I know need meat and told them I have pheasant. Do you want any? How much? As much as I can give you eh? Well, I won't clean them for you. No problems with that? I will be home in about an hour or so.

I ended up giving away about 40 birds but still had a little over 40 left to clean. A friend came from Jacksonville to help clean in return for about a dozen pheasants. It was a great time. It didn't take all that long (good thing I have had so much practice over the years cleaning birds from trips out west) with two of us. Great times with a good friend and a delicious meal at the end of the day too.



I have a lot of legs to do something with....maybe some carnitas? Soup? not sure to ideas....
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Love the purty pics, some great shots in there to look through. It sounds like you are trying to convince yourself to get a retriever. :)
Hahahah it isn't really so much convince myself to get another retriever....that is a given. I was partially waiting for Belle to get a little older (thinking fiveish) cuz after my experience with my boys being closer in age and having tobe put down within two months of each other, I figured stack my deck a bit. I know it is no guarantee against that situation cuz cancer and old age can suck and be unpredictable, but it is hopefully less likely for that to happen.

The other part is I keep waffling on puppy or started? I have never had a puppy and in reality don't think that my situation is conducive to a puppy at this time but the sticker shock was initially like WHOOOOAAAA!!!!!! I have no issues doing as I have done with my previous dogs and current dog and adopting them. So if anyone knows of a younger black lab that needs a home, is no more than about 65 lbs, is not gun shy and has no issues living with another dog I would be interested in hearing about it. Or suggestions on where to look to keep an eye out for potential adoptees.

Belle turned four in December so if I am going to go started dog route I really should begin talking to folk about a dog.....

I do miss having a duck dog though :)
This past weekend was a good weekend. Another chilly weekend by most folks' standards. Saturday started with wind chills in the 20s. Sunday was a bit more moderate but neither day got much above 55, if that. However, it was GORGEOUS!!!!!!!

Belle sure didn't appreciate having to wait. She was rarin' to go and just can't understand why it takes me so long to get ready.


With the kind of wind we had Saturday, it's important not to park under any of the trees. Especially big, grand awesome ones like these. They have a tendency to lose parts of themselves.


We headed out on one field that usually has some birds on the down wind side. There are little depressions that the quail like to hide in when it gets windy but we didn't find them. We continued onto a few other fields nearby and still the quail eluded us.


At the end of the field, it gets really thick and heads down into a gorgeous little pond. The property is scattered with ponds like this. There are woodducks on them but at one time they used to be loaded with gadwall, mallards and the occasional black duck. I don't know what has happened but these days hardly any coots even use the ponds anymore. Just the woodducks.


We changed things up and went to a field we had not yet hunted this year. There are often lots of deer around that field and the deer hunters are often clogging it up, but this time we got lucky. It is freshly planted with something that is bright green, but I am not sure what it is. I keep meaning to ask. There are shore birds galore on it, starlings, red winged black birds, snipe and warblers of many kinds. In short, it is bird dog LOSE YOUR MIND HEAVEN. Belle had a great time clearing the field of the trespassers while I got ready to go and refilling her water containers.

The back side of the two fields goes into a nice swampy pond edge. It looks like there should be woodcock in there. I never saw or heard any.


Belle was having a grand time moving through the woods though. I was following a logging trail through it all, enjoying the show she was putting on. The grass is just taller than her in many places so sometimes all I could see was when she bounced up and over things.


Belle began working a section as we headed back into the wind. You could tell she was smelling something good. Her nose would go way up in the air, trying to catch whatever tastiness she smelled. She would point briefly and then work back and forth, point briefly and relocate. She did this over the course of about 500 yards. Until finally she went on a nice hard point.

She was not moving off of this one. There was no tail flagging of uncertainty. They are here says she.


And boy howdy were they. I walked in and kept walking, kicking bushes and grass. Nothing was happening and still she never moved. I kept kicking and walking until all of a sudden I stepped into the middle of them and the world exploded all around me in quail! There were probably 30 birds. I had one bounce off my head as he flushed. I was so startled that I didn't even get a shot off.

However, I watched the direction some of the birds went off in and I followed. We got into an area where I think they had been and Belle seemed to agree, though we never found them.


We stomped all over the place and she was super wiggly but not much else to go on point for. When we finally decided to leave that area, we got back on the logging trail and not much further down there was a thicket. Belle passed it by but I called her back and sent her in. Maybe there was a quail or woodcock in it. Sure enough, not too far in and she goes on point. Lordy is it thick in there though.


But she holds the point quite nicely until I can work my way in.


I start kicking and stomping and kicking and stomping and nothing is happening but she continues to insist that there is a bird in there. I get within two feet of her and try kicking and stomping some more and still nothing. So, I release her with "okay" and she pounces my left foot! The bird was sitting next to my left foot....I had nearly stepped on it and it never moved! Once it was pounced it got up and flew. I kinda thought I hit it but it wasn't a strong hit and it continued to fly a bit around a corner. I never saw where it went down, just which direction it went.

We headed off in that direction and Belle began working like she was smelling something tasty again. This time though she was working the tops of some of the bushes more than anything. Which kind of made me think that I had possibly gotten the bird. Eventually she went on point again so I walk in and do the kick and stomp. After several minutes of nothing and a still solid point, I release her. She remains steady (which she never does if it's a live bird) so I just stop and look around. After a bit of looking, there it is. My quail.


She was my shero!!!!!


We were pretty much back at the truck and Belle was worn out so after another short push through one small thicket near the truck, we headed on home after a great finish to a gorgeous day.

Sunday I had plans to be out at the WMA earlier than the day before and while I was, it was still not as early as I had hoped. But it was just as gorgeous out and less windy.


Belle had a great time running the wire grass again. I keep trying to get shots of her running but I think I need my "real" camera and not my iphone. She does a great job with pointing but the smile on her face as she runs is tough to capture (especially going away like this :) ) and should be captured.


But in short order, she found me a small covey.


And happily I was able to get her a quail.


That was the only covey she found, but we found one covey each day so we are doing better than most weekends we get out there! It was a great weekend to spend roaming the woods.