Story

Waiting for October and Woodcock Season

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by Frank Jezioro – Director, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

The morning dawned cool and damp with just a whisper of wind. Near perfect scenting conditions for Little Snoopy, our young Elhew Pointer. It seemed as though October would never come when Snoopy went into her kennel last February. While the dogs and I both welcomed a rest in February, it was only a couple of weeks when we began to miss those long walks across the uplands and mountains of West Virginia.

But as always, time began to fly. Chasing the grandchildren around from gym to gym while they wrestled across West Virginia and Pennsylvania, then from diamond to diamond through the baseball season and then from stadium to stadium as football dominated their young lives kept us plenty busy. But in the back of our minds we were watching for those first cool mornings and evenings ushered in as the fall Jetstream began to dip.

Snoopy was shaking with excitement and anticipation of the day’s hunt as I placed her tiny bell around her neck. I couldn’t help but notice that Ol’ Jack Frost had already danced across the higher ridges splashing and dripping vivid shades of red on the maples and sumac. As always, the first frosts of the season would be coming. We were hunting on top of a high plateau in Grant County, where a small mountain brook, lined with alder, wound its way in and out of an old pasture and dumped into an area of cut over timber. There would be both resident and migrant woodcock in this area…

I was engulfed in the colors and smells of fall as I tracked the sound of Snoopy’s bell weaving in and out of the alders along the little creek. Suddenly I realized that the tinkle of her bell had ceased. Quickly I moved forward into the thick alders. After about 15 yards I spotted the little black and white pointer stretched out as tight as a banjo string. It was thick and I had to bend over and work my way toward the dog.

Just as I was able to stand erect a woodcock sprang into the air.

Image courtesy West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

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