I shot more grouse this year than the last couple seasons. If I was in good cover, I found grouse. Woodcock were off for me. Some of that has to do with my favorite coverts of young aspen now getting too old to provide habitat for them. Still, I'm always scouting and I hunted new areas that looked prime. Shot a few birds, but never got into the heavy migration flights.
The other factor influencing by daily bag is my Setter, Max. he is now 11-1/2 and slowing down. Our hunts were typically 1-2 hours, whereas in past year we put on a lot more miles each time out. He did fine. Knows his stuff. But young dogs get old, as do we. I'm not as inclined to hunt hard as I used to either!
I'm headed for deer camp this afternoon. One of my brothers finished a big job and headed up yesterday. He sent picture of a new clearcut they're still logging on. It will be a good woodcock spot @ the year 2030.
In the County land where our family has hunted since the mid-50's, they've managed the Aspen for years. They started clearcutting in the 60's. Where I sit deer hunting is part of a cut made back then. Instead of the large clearcuts they did then, they're making smaller cuts. I'm in a mature Aspen and Balsam Fir stand, surrounded by three 2-3 year old clearcuts. There was a time 3 and 4 dogs ago that I never failed to shoot a grouse in that stand. I don't even bother to hunt it anymore. There's better cover available nearby.
Trees grow and the habitat changes. We need to continually adapt, searching for optimum cover as our favorite stands mature. We named one spot Woodcock Hill 3 dogs ago. The light switch really turned on for my young setter in that spot a few weeks into her first season. They clearcut that stand last year and it's a friggin mess. I don't understand how they allowed the contractor to leave it in such condition. No man or dog can walk through it now with all the debris.
A lot of areas in the U.P. that way. You would think in their bid package, they would state to at least pile up all debris in mounds or piles. Then enforce it. Inspect after, if they don't, can't bid again. Very EASY fix, lol. Too easy for government depts.