How about we all agree on one thing, that is we share the passion of bird dogs on point on a nice October day in pursuit of grouse and or woodcock or any other upland bird. That we enjoy a nice crisp October morning walking behind our dogs. Whether it is a EP, Setter or any of the continental breeds to me it does not matter. What matters most is being able to for a short time to forget about life's pressures, spending time with good friends and the memories we make that last long after the hunt.
My personal favorite bird is Mr. Bob, and usually I have to wait until a bit later in the year, but you are quite right about it being all about following behind the dog while it is doing its thing.
I do try to make up for it with field trialing. Where else can you watch as many as 30 different pointing dogs doing their thing in a single day?
No grouse populations to speak of on the Delmarva...a few in MD, here and there, but not really enough to put pressure on. The woodcock do come through here on their way south, and we do have a few resident birds. I will not shoot woodcock, because I do not care to eat them...but I will take advantage of the flights to get in some absolutely intense training, especially with a young dog. Watching a youngster point bird after bird after bird when it comes in contact with a flight, and literally getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of bird contacts is something that has to be seen to be appreciated.
There are a few spots that hold wild quail down south on the Delmarva, but they are far too valuable for me to kill. I would much rather take the dogs to them for training and cap gun them. You just cannot duplicate the unpredictable things a wild bird will do, and where they hide out at the different times of the day and such... so hunting for and working those wild birds is the only way the dog can really learn what it needs to know.