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OCTOBER, THE “True Beginning “of the Hunting Season

posted Friday, September 28, 2012 at 5:01 PM by Frank Jezioro



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

Waiting for October and Woodcock Season

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. 

OCTOBER, THE “True Beginning “of the Hunting SeasonBut 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. 

A Double Link to the Past

Like many of our hunters, I am somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to bird hunting.  While woodcock aren’t hard to kill and can be tough to hit at times, they are relatively easy birds to bag.  For the past 20-25 years I have done most of my woodcock and grouse hunting with side-by-side doubles in either 20 or 28 gauge. But during the past year I had acquired a nice old L.C. Smith 12 gauge double.  Researching the history of the gun I found that it had been built in the late ‘30s for a grouse hunter from Wheeling.  So this day I carried that old double as sort of a link to the past, a time when things seemed less complicated.  Woodcock are the perfect bird for the young pointing dogs and by choice I rarely shoot more than two.

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.  I heard the twitter of its wings before I saw it.  When it topped the alders and started to straighten out I caught up to it with the old Smith.  The 1 oz. load of 8s caught it, sending the little bird back down through the alder tops.  Quickly, snoopy scooped up the bird and raced back to my side to deliver her prize.  And again, another October was ushered in. 

Rule the Woods

Our archers will be out in force seeking those trophy bucks and bears.  The leaves will be falling and our squirrel hunters with their little dogs will be barking up the tall oaks and hickories.   Unlike our spring gobbler hunters, our fall turkey hunters will be out walking the high ridges listening and searching for “scratching” that tells a story of where the turkeys were and where they are going.  Standing in the wings waiting their turn are the rabbit hunters with their beagles and the raccoon hunters and their hounds.  November will be their month but for now, our October hunters will own the woods. 

West Virginia’s 2012 Woodcock hunting season runs from October 13 through November 26.

For a listing of all of West Virginia’s fall hunting seasons, please visit http://wvdnr.gov/hunting/hunting_regs.shtm

Frank Jezioro
 
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