Woodcock Forecast 2016: The Traveling Wingshooter
The business of forecasting woodcock hunting prospects in mid-summer took a turn for the worse this year as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the four Flyways moved regulatory decision-making from the spring to the fall of each year. Consequently, the results of the Singing Ground Survey were not available at press time.
Based on state-level reports, this may be the year to hunt woodcock in New England. In Maine, Sullivan was downright giddy over the numbers of timberdoodles and the conditions during the nesting season: “The woodcock singing ground survey from my perspective was great. The number of males per route was up over the average. Nesting conditions were favorable, too.”
In New York, last fall’s woodcock flush rate was higher than 2014 and similar to the long-term average, according to Schiavone. Overall, Weik anticipates good woodcock production throughout New England due to widespread generally warm and dry weather during the nesting season.
In Pennsylvania, Williams reports that Game Commission singing ground counts of courting woodcock were high on habitat management areas this spring. She expects woodcock hunting will be very good as a result of favorable spring nesting weather and substantial flights of migrant birds.
The forecast is sketchier for Lake States woodcock hunters. Al Stewart notes that the spring was shaping up beautifully for timberdoodles in Michigan until a major snowstorm the third week in April. The woodcock banders reported seeing lots of late broods, so the storm may have caused substantial re-nesting.