Driving birds who don't brood in fields can sometimes be a high-volume shooting day, but it takes a lot of work. The Woodcock, as the name implies, is a small species of game bird found throughout the world in dense, wooded habitats.
Large eyes, and an ability to stay motionless and silent for long periods of time, the Woodcock burrows into wooded underbrush for protection. Although mainly active in the evening, particularly as male birds court or initiate the breeding season with their intricate song and flying performance, woodcock is active during the daytime in search of underground food or berries come autumn.
With their long, flexible bills, woodcock pick worms and small insects from the soft, fresh soil, best found within a young forest with thick underbrush, also known as a successional habitat. 90 percent of their diet is made up of worms so a soft, fertile ground is necessary. If you see one, with their reddish-orange plumage, roosting or hiding within thick underbrush, be prepared to see more. Woodcock need a particular mixture of young forest and open clearings used in mating so their populations are often very particular to specific areas.
With or without a dog it is possible to hunt for Woodcock and their flush may be bold and vigorous or silent and practically motionless, a strange surrender. Whichever the case, woodcock invites a surprising hunt to any bird hunter.