I was out four different mornings this week and ran three different dogs separately each morning. We covered about a mile and a half each run in local grouse covers. You could barely squeeze through the wet alder flows. I only found one brood of grouse so far of about 6 birds; still with their mama of course. The rest were singles and my flush per hour average was only 1.5 birds. This is typical of my pre-season covers for the past two years since birds can be hard to find in the thick brush and green foliage. Woodcock were spotty too but they were turning up in early aspen which I could barely get through. Still we had some nice points where I got to flush the bird myself and fire the ol’ blank gun for the dog. During training sessions, I always think of that “shot” as the period at the end of the sentence. The search, the point and the steady to flush being the sterling performance on the dogs part and the gunshot being the completion (or perfect ending.) If I was a better shot, come season opener; I’d say the shot, the release and the call ”dead” would be the reward along with a mouth full of feathers for the dog. I bought some quail this week and carried two in my LCS Birdbag to each run. If we came up empty on wild birds, I toss a quail down and bring the dog back around to get a little action before I put him away. I’m always careful though not to let him catch ‘em and I avoid using e-collars around birds unless you went through a serious e-collar conditioning program. Belly collars work best here with only the lowest levels used. Stiff check cords are best kept on a non-broke dog always when training to give you control on point. Just let them drag a 20 foot tangle free stiff cord and you can step on it as you approach the point and sort of walk up the rope as you lead.