Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gordie's Stats for 2015 NY Woodcock Season

NY's woodcock season this year ran for 45 days, from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14. Gordie, I, and frequently a friend or two, hunted 36 of those days. Hunts averaged, I’d estimate, 75 minutes. When I had guests, we worked a little longer; hunting alone on warm and dry early-season trips when birds were scarce, I’d cut Gordie's day short. We have the time and the temperament to prefer a short but daily hunt to, for example, big slogs on the weekend.

I keep woodcock logs for the NY DEC; for the Federal FWS; and for a bunch of (us) crazy old coots who subscribe to Grouse Tales. I’m using data from these three to mention 4 statistics from our 2015 woodcock outings.

1) Gordie averaged just under 3 flushes per hunt. If my 75 minute/hunt estimate is pretty close, that’s a flush every 25 minutes. I tried very hard not to count reflushes, and so Gordie’s total flush count would actually be higher than listed. But I’m pretty sure we moved a new bird about every half hour we hunted.

The best period for multiple flushes ran from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. From the 21st to the 25th, Gordie flushed 4, 5, 4, 6, and 5 birds; successful shooters in this period were Rick J. and Dids. From Oct 30 to Nov. 1, Gordie flushed 4, 5, and 8 birds; successful shooters in this period were Joey K. and I;

2) Almost 50% of the birds Gordie flushed were shot at. This requires some explanation. I count for logging purposes dead birds by *dog*, not by gunner, as I’m a “dog man” first. So the shooting involved here was done not just by me but by my guests as well. I probably shot at fewer than 50% of the flushes I saw, as I don’t like to shoot at birds in very, very thick cover which offer a long, uncomfortable, and possibly fruitless chance for a retrieve. OTOH, my guests, many of whom are relative newbies, take shots such as they can;

3) Only 20% of the birds flushed were killed. This percentage acknowledges that we hunt in very, very thick places, and that newbies are often the gunners. I like to leave my gun at home when I take guests so that they’ll *know*, when a bird goes down, that they’re the successful shooter. But lots of stuck safeties and “oh, is *that* a woodcock?” tend to depress this statistic; and

4) About 40% of the birds shot at were killed (this follows algebraically from #2 and #3 above.) Given all that comes before, killing 40% of birds in tough places, with newbies often taking the shot, ain’t half bad.

All these numbers are fun for math geeks like me to fiddle with. But as the MasterCard commercial avers, to hunt 36 days with my 11 year old dog both alone and with friends new and old in familiar thickets is priceless. What a great year!

PS: The Shot of the Year was made today as the season ended. Gordie flushed a bird from a stand of dogwood and it offered an easy shot as it flew low to the ground down an open lane. Jim S. drew a bead, but then as Gordie came rushing out of the brush after the bird, he safely raised his gun and held fire. Good job there, Buddy.