Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

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Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby TheWanderer » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:05 pm

I have a lab coming and am into waterfowl now that I have been in SE PA for a few years and now in South Jersey for work, however I grew up in north-central PA where the grouse (and some woodcock) are.

Does anybody have much success finding/flushing these birds with a lab? It'd be nice to head home for a weekend now and then when the dog is trained up and maybe get after these birds again.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby jasper » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:18 pm

I personally think hunting grouse with a flusher(lab) is better than with a pointer. The grouse in northern WI don't like to hold and if you have a big running pointer you wont get very many shots. I am sure there are some good pointers out there but this has been my experience. I live in southern WI and we don't have a very good grouse population so I hunt woodcock a lot. To the point where I scout for locations in the spring and summer. As long as you keep your lab close it will do great. I shoot for 15 yards out in the woods. If it is real thick 10. Woodcock seem to hold very tight so make sure and let your dog work an area if he gets birdy otherwise if you keep pushing him ahead you will miss birds. Some dogs will not retrieve woodcock but I do not have that problem. I focused a lot on retriever training with my lab but he just took to upland very naturally. I hunt that now more then ducks.
Here is a pic for you. My lab got up just as many birds as the setter. Normally he puts up more.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby toolmaker » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:24 pm

A Lab can work just fine...BUT he has to work close...he has to come right away, not when he wants..

for grouse and woodcock, you almost dont need the dog fro flushing, but just retrieving...but if the dog works close and comes around when you call him and works slowly you will be fine...

the problem arises when he takes off on a tangent and gets out past 20 yards....you ned him to work the cover in front of you slowly...because you need to staop once in a while hten walk, then stop. when you are stopped you want the dog working away, and when you are moving if he is working back towards you...you are not creating a gap and flushing the bird at the extreme of the dogs range while you twists and bend your way through cover!!..

I had a good hunt this past weekend ( i have a lab), I look for clearings to shoot, and pause there ,watch the dog for a little and get him working back to me, and then I move to the next spot and pause...when you pause you give yourself a better chance to hear the flush...I sit my dog on command sometimes when i got some thick stuff to navigate...once on the other side and I am composed, i left the dog hunt again...labs are great for that....

I also agree if the dog is poorly trained..a wild running pointers makes the hunt a total loss, he is busting birds 50-100 yards up ahead... a flusher should NEVER be that far ahead...
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby Halfquacked » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:13 pm

I had a lab that did fine on my favorite woodcock haunt. She'd put them up perfectly - but she wouldn't pick them up. I never lost a woodcock with her though. She'd run up and slam her nose on it but wouldn't pick it up. At least I always knew where it was..

For grouse she was completely worthless. She just couldn't handle being in trees. Open fields for pheasant, marsh for ducks, river bottom for woodcock - she was fine. Get her in the trees on grouse and she'd lose her mind. More than once she lost sight of me and ran with full afterburners on the way back to the car to wait for me. It was weird. She was a great dog otherwise.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby hhf-pleskac » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:51 pm

I have two labs (one pointer and one flusher) and they do just fine with gouse and woodcock and to echo the previous, keep em close
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby Swampfoot » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:28 am

A lab that wants to hunt will be good for grouse and woodcock. There are a lot of labs that don't have much hunting drive and are gun shy but as long as yours is into hunting he will do well. Any dog with drive can hunt upland birds if trained.

I hunted successfully with a Bernese Mountain Dog (I know that sounds like a crock but it is true). This is a breed that was bred to pull carts, not to hunt. I started him around birds from the time I got him as a puppy. I was raising gamebirds on our property to train him (pheasant, chuckers, bob whites and pidgeon). He had an immediate interest. He even tried to catch an aggressive, hissing domesticated goose that my golden retrievers were scared of - he grabbed it by the wing at 4 months despite all the hissing and snapping. He turned out to be a good pheasant and grouse hunter but he never took any interest in woodcock for some reason. There were days with this dog when I would take him into heavily hunted public land in the afternoon after being told by guys on the way out with their springers and shorthairs that there were no birds left and I would limit out with him. It was unreal.

By the way, I tried doing the same thing raising a golden retriever and the dog never took to hunting. He couldn't get used to the sound of the gun and just had too soft of a personality and would try to walk behind me in thick cover. The breed matters much less than the individual dog. With a lab, odds are good that it will have some hunting drive. Good luck.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby Finprof » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:45 pm

A lab is great on woodcock both for flushing and retrieving. The grouse are so nervous around here that they flush before the dog can get anywhere near them. It woudl be different with the grouse in Canada that will let the dog walk up to them. In either case, if you can see your feet you aren't in the correct type of cover, so the dog helps a lot with retrieving.

I hunted woodcock in South Jersey back about 15 years ago on public land and did really well.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby North » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:30 pm

My old lab did great on grouse and doodles here in Northern Wisconsin... You just need to keep them close. I have a GSP now and while he's a pointing fool and is better at grouse and doodles, my old yellow did a great job for many years!
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby WIDrakeKiller » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:49 am

I have to disagree with Jasper. The grouse in Northern WI are definitenley spooky but pointers are funner to hunt with and I think they are better when hunting in thick areas. Nothing beats walking up to a dog locked up on a bird. Also when hunting in thick areas a flusher can kick up a grouse that u will never see because the cover is so thick. Not saying Jaspers pointer isn't trained well but we run 3 brittneys and they are some of the best hunting dogs in the state and we shoot grouse that are guys don't because their dogs don't know how to work it. A close working flusher would work but wouldn't be as effective as a pointer. With wolves running around u definitely don't want a dog that runs a lot.
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Re: Anyone have much success on grouse or woodcock with a lab

Postby jmitch » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:00 pm

We have always had success with labs on grouse. Yes you will loose some birds in the thick stuff but you will also miss birds with even the best pointers. We run up to 3 labs and we keep all 3 withing 20 yards. Everyone is going to have a preference and I like my lab. I can duck or goose hunt from sept til jan and shoot pheasants, grouse, or most anything in between.
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