The hunt: There are some hunts that simply epitomize the tradition of our shooting sports. Take the pursuit of the elusive woodcock, for example. Long considered a sport of gentlemen, woodcock gunning evokes classic images of fine pointing dogs and tweed-clad hunters smoking expensive pipes. And perhaps nowhere in Canada is more steeped in the tradition of hunting timberdoodles than New Brunswick’s Miramichi Valley.
Here in the heart of woodcock country, the alder thickets and apple orchards provide the perfect setting for this gentlemen’s hunt. Indeed, the region is steeped in hunting and fishing heritage that’s found nowhere else in Canada. Enjoy a day of shooting over a well-tuned English setter, followed by a meal of roast woodcock paired with a fine wine, and you’ll start to appreciate the attraction of hunting this avian speedster.
It’s truly a hunt that must be experienced. Woodcock are like ghosts in the heavy cover, and you need the help of a well-heeled pointer to locate them. And once airborne, these birds dip and dive, challenging even the most skilled wingshooter—so much so that collecting even a brace of woodcock is a feat worthy of celebration. And that glass of fine wine. —T.J. Shwanky
When to go: The season runs from mid-September to the end of November.
Gun and load: A 20-gauge over/under shotgun loaded with #8 or #9 shot does the trick.