Downeast Woodcock Hunt
In last month’s column, I reported on our October grouse hunting trip to Allagash, Maine. After one week in Allagash, Susan and I (and four shorthairs) traveled Southeast to Leen’s Lodge in Grand Lake Stream, Maine. Our mission at Leen’s was to arrive in the middle of the woodcock migration traveling into Maine from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. We weren’t disappointed.
Upon arrival, we heard that many hunters were having 40 to 45 flush days the week before. The previous week had frosty mornings with chilly days. That made for perfect weather for the migration. For our week, however, nights were just chilly and days were very warm. Although the warmer weather slowed the migration, we still had 17-20 flushes per day which kept the dogs very busy. A surprise for us was the number of grouse flushes. Not huge numbers but we consistently had four to five grouse flushes each day.
The bird covers that Leen’s hunts are absolutely classic. Young birch and aspen growth covers line the roads in every direction one turns. Many of them are easy walking also. In addition to the thousands of acres open to public hunting, the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is only a short drive from Grand Lake Stream. The Refuge consists of almost 30,000 acres of varied landscape with rolling hills, ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs and marshes. There is a hardwood forest of aspen, maple, birch and spruce. Portions of this forest are used to study the American woodcock. That means habitat is continuously managed for upland birds such as the woodcock.
Leen’s is a classic Maine sporting camp. They offer several lakeside cabins and provide the American plan for meals. It is a premier destination for landlocked salmon and smallmouth bass fishing. Combining both of those fish, it could very well be the No. One destination in Maine. However, Leen’s reputation as a woodcock destination is also legendary. Upland hunters from throughout the East have for generations come to Leen’s to ensure good bird numbers for their bird dogs.
One of the great assets of Grand Lake Stream are the number of professional guides available. This is most likely the largest concentration of professional guides in the entire state. Many of the guides were raised here and continue to live in Grand Lake Stream. Most have built and use their own Grand Lake Canoes. We had both JR and Brett as guides and their knowledge was as good or better than any guide I’ve had throughout North America.
For the non-hunter or angler, Leen’s offers many outdoor experiences. There are eco-excursions on the beautiful St. Croix River and walks through beautiful countryside on designated hiking trails. Those trails include the Pocumcus Lake Trail, the Little Mayberry Cove trail and the shoreline of West Grand Lake. Also, the Wabassus Mountain trail is a popular climb. Wildlife viewing includes the iconic Maine moose, deer, black bear, beaver and bobcat.
Of course, a traditional October trip for tens of thousands of families is fall foliage time. The colors in the Grand Lake Stream area rival any area in Maine.
No matter what activity you may want to explore in Grand Lake Stream, Leen’s Lodge should be your headquarters. Leen’s has had very few owners throughout its many years of serving sportsmen and vacationing families. Charles Driza, the owner for the past seventeen years, has recently passed on ownership to Scott Weeks. Scott is very excited to own a lodge with such a distinctive past and such a great future. To book your next Maine vacation, call Scott at 207-796-2929. Check out Leen’s at www.leenslodge.com. Book early during prime fishing, hunting and fall foliage seasons.
For further information on the village of Grand Lake Stream, go to www.grandlakestream.org.
Copyright 2018 Paul Fuller
Paul Fuller is a life-long sportsman. He’s been an outdoor writer since 1971. He’s the host and producer of the award winning Bird Dogs Afield TV show (www.birddogsafield.com) and produced the epic video Grouse, Guns & Dogs. Paul shot over his first German shorthaired pointer in 1961. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.