A day in the field

Everyone has to begin any recount of such endeavors by apologizing for going to a preserve to work their dogs.

I say if it gets you out in the field and you get to work your dogs then more power to you. I know I certainly don't spend enough money to keep these places open so I'm actually grateful to those that do.

Last weekend was one of those increasingly rare ones lately where there was more daylight than cloud-cover.  The wind was noticeably brisk and I couldn't help thinking how hard it must have had to push to get that front to finally move through.

Since there is the spring trialing season coming up I needed to get my dogs on birds. We tried our usual haunts for woodcock since the end of deer season, but the weekend prior had raised only one and then we never found it again after the flush and my horribly bobbled shot.

The problem is that the area we had been finding them has been dramatically transformed with the seemingly incessant deluge. It's a hardwood bottom with a nice sized creek that feeds into one of the larger river systems working it's way to the Atlantic. This usually docile creek had overflowed it's banks so much that a full 8" of sand and silt now blankets a good portion of the bottom. A food plot just up from the creek had all it's winter wheat pushed to the side by the waters flow. The only way I could describe it to anyone not there was that it looked as if someone had combed the field like hair. It was like one of the old gents I used to see at church who still used Brylcreem. Luckily the silt and sand didn't inundate the food plot as I think the plants would have suffocated.

Another creek on the property had it's culvert plugged by the sediment and this led to the erosion of our road:

A photo posted by Sparkyflint (@gundogs_and) on

So, with no real birds to be had, a washed out road, and a need to work some rusty dogs it was time to pay a visit to the fine local hunting preserve.