Woodcock hunts begin at around 9:00 AM, the best time being in daylight, with a pointing dog. The Setter and the Pointer have proved themselves invaluable helpers for this hunt. The woodcock is a secretive bird; most commonly encountered in forests, hence its name - woodcock. It likes to hide along the edge of the forest, in gullies, near small rivers, where the soil is soft and in short bushes (briar, blackberry and thorny bushes), but must be close to the forest. During rapid temperature drops, the woodcock can be found in pine forests, where the snow and rime can’t reach the ground.
There it spends the entire day feeding and resting, and manages to survive because the soil doesn’t freeze. Some of the best regions for hunting woodcocks can be found in Bulgaria. These regions maintain the vitally necessary for the bird temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. It’s a well-known fact that one of the biggest woodcock migration routes – via Pontica – passes through Bulgaria, making it one of the best hunting destinations for this bird in the world.
These birds stay for the longest time-period precisely in Bulgaria. Bulgarian hunters don’t have much interest in woodcocks, allowing mostly foreign hunters to indulge in this hunt. The best habitats are near the Black sea, because the snow melts quickly thanks to the maritime climate. The hunting terrains are easily traversable because the soil is soft and lacks rocky areas. Some of the forests are sparse which allows for better visibility of the birds and more trophies.
The hunt for woodcocks is tremendously interesting because it is difficult, involves long treks and strong emotions. The best pointing dog for hunting these birds is the English setter. It has a firm stance, searches the places where the vegetation is thickest, has a good tempo and covers large areas. Unlike the Pointer it searches in a circular fashion and, most of the time, it tries to block the bird’s escape.
The Pointer has a good sense of smell, but searches further and in a straight line, which makes it possible for it to miss some of the birds. There are exceptions; some Pointers are very good in hunting woodcocks. Lately, we have begun to see the German shorthaired pointer in the forest, but the problem is that they track and give chase to furred game.
The best terrains are short-stalked forests, clearings, and sparse beech, oak and coniferous forests as long as there are meadows frequented by livestock nearby. At night, woodcocks find their food in those meadows by burrowing.