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A few days ago, I had the privilege of going outside and cutting some firewood amidst the confinement, all in preparation for the fall. I had been working away for three hours and had taken my gloves off because my hands began to sweat. I would lift a log into position, then cut away. The smell of fresh Cedars was heavenly. A few Mallard ducks flew over head calling out faintly and the geese were feeding peacefully nearby in the water.

The cedar stumps were very large and under one of the last pieces I failed to notice a wild rose branch stuck on the inside. In one vigorous lifting motion with the stump in hand, I stood up and the thorn cut through my hand like razor wire.

There was quite a sting to the cut, but I continued to lift another piece of Cedar. The second stump had a tear in its bark. The open part exposed some resin, which accidentally smeared onto my cut and this instantly stopped the bleeding as well as the pain. Another helpful thing is that just like pine resin, it also reduced the inflammation. Within days it was all healed up. Gotta love nature.


It has been several weeks now, since I first saw Canada geese fly in over the river. They are officially back, actually some of them never really went that far. All I know is that Charlie and Charlotte are back, set up in the creek next to my residence. It has now officially been three years, and just like clock work they work their way up the bank, this time a year to feed on my lawn at seven in the morning and around seven in the evening.

Last fall by the time they were ready to head off, I had accommodated two families for a total of sixteen birds on my lawn. This year, I will keep track of their numbers again.

Depending on the days, if Charlie is feeling courageous enough and is not too bothered by all the others buggars like the local wood duck, Mergansers and Mallards, the mink, beaver, squirrels, groundhog, and finally the deer. He might just hang out for the afternoon and soak up some sun. I can go about my business and even communicate with them by making deep faint honking sounds or just simply talk. I get back the odd a head wave from Charlie showing off his chin strap letting me know he is aware.

There is something magical and very rewarding about sharing our everyday lives with waterfowl and other mammals. Observing and capturing their every detail, in this never ending quest to learn. The deep understanding and connection with them that I have acquired over the years, is the very reason why my mastery of the wetlands has become part of my very fabric.


For the newcomers to this great north american continent, the wilderness was a vast expanse to explore and survive, for the first nations it was their home. I believe that no matter how you interpret the wilderness, it is much greater than us, and our short history will remain an insignificant slice in this phenomenon called time.

There is one thing for sure, if you spend enough time in its core, it will become part of your very fabric and its mysteries will reveal themselves to you. This is of course, if you learn to interpret what the wilderness has to share.

A few weeks, ago I was immersed in the great white spruce cathedrals of this wonderful northern country with my hunting buddy, I had just taken a few steps forward breaking the snow crust surface with my snowshoes. We were pursuing the elusive snowshoe hare, when I suddenly turned to my buddy and said the following “I don’t know why but I can feel a great amount of energy in this area, I know we are being watched.”

My buddy, tells me I was like a hare whisperer, I knew that I could not put into words the very feeling but it was overwhelming. I took four more calculated steps, all the while looking into the dark shadows at the base of every tree, and almost in an instant on my left there was the hare in its famous freeze pose just like the Robert Bateman painting.

In a flash, I swivelled to the left, released the safety, aimed and fired. Once the smoke and snow cleared, my harvest was confirmed. It is difficult for me to share in writing the energy I felt and this almost instinctive hunt.

It is an experience or a slice of time in the wilderness, that transcends all modern logic and technology, it is pure mastery of the woods, which to this day leaves me humbled.


The trailer rolled downward on the concrete ramp into the dark waters below, my bare hands gripping the rope attached to the front of the boat. Following a sharp stop, the haul of the boat slid off the rails and splashed into the waves. The red tail lights were glowing underwater, it was such as neat effect. We were full of excitement, and would be soon heading into the unknown toward the wetlands.

This was going to be one of our last waterfowl outings for the season as in just a few weeks it was coming to its end. I really wanted us to have an amazing hunt and great harvest but I have found that if I do not dip into my knowledge, the weather and just focus on getting a harvest, we could go home without ever firing a shot. I did not want to jinx us. With the boat all loaded up with the kit, we set off to the West down the river.

I was sitting in the front and while I was getting my kit ready seeking a more comfortable position, the water was splattering in my face and I was taking it all in, just like the famous scene with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at the front of the Titanic. The Jon boat, looked amazing with the camouflage skirting and the accessories attached to the frame, we were all setup for success.

There were several hunters out on this particular day, and I set a plan for us to go to one of my sweet spots, well away from the others. For many years, I hunted either land locked on the banks or from my kayak or canoe. In doing so, I learned and remembered all the spots were I harvested and what species of birds and their numbers were and where I had failed, where they came in the land in the mornings and late afternoons, right up to the thirty minutes past sunset.

It felt like I was gambling but deep down in outdoorsman repertoire, I had a good recipe going. We would alternate using the gas powered motor and the trolling motor depending if were approaching known areas where there were birds. There were geese flying in but still too high or they landed in areas where hunting was not allowed, so we pushed our way further West in the direction of the sweet spot.

Almost at the half way mark, we spotted a group of about twenty Mallards dabbling in some tall grass. At first we could not make them out as they looked like weeds near downed trees half submerged. We killed the motor and let the boat coast along with the current, I took out my binoculars and confirmed they were Mallards indeed. The difficult task was getting closer without spooking them. They were still quite a ways out and we had a good distance to cover, we switched to the trolling motor and closed the gap between them and us.

By the time we reached the distance of about two hundred meters, we killed the motor again and used the onboard paddle to keep us going straight and let the current bring us in naturally, we were right near the tall grass coming out of the water which provided great cover for our approach. With the boat now at a complete stop stuck in the mud, I considered climbing out and circling the group through the water, but quickly assessed that this plan would not be successful.

I loaded my three shells and cycled one into the chamber and placed the gun on safety to control my breathing. With my bead sight lined up, I released two shots into the group and when all the excitement settled. I had missed them completely, it was a near impossible miss but I sure did and could not explain it. It was like every pellet when passed each bird and they flew away to the South.

It felt like being kicked in the stomach by a horse, I could not even explain what just had happened or let alone my shot. The only thing, I could do is lick my wounds and pick up my abilities from the water and move on down to the sweet spot. Even my bud was in awe, it was either one of my worst shot or magic, but there is one thing we agreed on, we could not linger on what could have happened or should have done, it was the past. After all, we were heading to the sweet spot and it was going to be a gamble mixed in with my knowledge.

As the boat inched up the river, we kept our eyes locked on the banks and the skies to the North, for those few moments there was no activity. In an instant, I could hear geese calling out in small call bursts as to alert each other of approaching danger. We killed the motor again and I leaped out of the boat into the water about knee deep and began my stalk forward toward the calls. I was just on the other side of the banks and coming in at a North-westerly angle.

I lifted my head to take a peak and then signalled to my friend to secure the boat on the shore and get ready. I loaded three shells into my shotgun and slipped it into safe, I was now kneeling forward trying to keep a low profile behind the dead trees and swamp grass. When I raised my head, the birds had already seen the boat and burst into flight, I could not believe the sheer number of geese, there were well over fifty if not more.

I lined up my bead site and fired into the group and hit a Mallard hen who spun forward and fell back into the water. Some of my shot, went further and struck a goose that was behind the Mallard who also tumbled into the water, but was wounded. Very quickly I had to manoeuvre my way forward and circle around the swamp in order to track down the goose and finally harvest it. Following my shots, the skies filled with Canada’s who were now flying south.

I was hoping for my bud to be in a good position to cut off a few geese but he was unable to get into a good position in time before they flock got out of range. We knew from experience that later in the day the geese would come back to this area, hence the sweet spot. So, we unloaded our kit and setup for the afternoon with our mobile blind which was basically two stakes with a burlap sheet. It did not provide a lot of cover from the cold winds but it was sufficient for our concealment.

With about half a dozen duck and goose decoys setup, we sat and waited for several hours and had stopped to have a snack, unbeknownst to us a female wood duck swam into our decoys and we spotted it right at the last minute and released a shot and harvested our third bird of the day. Following the third harvest, I let out several goose and duck calls and then took breaks in between and for a while things started to quiet down, until about one hour before sunset all of a sudden waves of geese started to circle in and come for landings from all directions.

I hadn’t experienced this type of phenomenon in at least two seasons, the last time this occurred in a blind, we barely had time to reload three shells and release shots off. We were literally running out of shells and had to dig into our pockets quick enough to reload. I have had geese approach in small numbers but not like rain, this was incredible to experience again. One of the biggest challenges for a new waterfowler is not to get too excited and release shots at the geese before they are able to come into the decoy spread.

It is best to stay low in the blind and if you can tilt your head as to look up above you without moving too much. Get ready to select your shots and then point out to your bud your shooting respective zones, so that you do not cross into each others zones. We had determined this very quickly and as soon as the geese were into the spread and well within range, we began releasing shots, by the time the first volley of fire stopped two geese tumbled down and still more geese were coming in. We released another volley of fire and two more geese fell to the waters below. We also managed to harvest an additional male wood duck.

Once the noise and smoke cleared, I jumped into the water with my waders and began retrieving the harvests as sunset was fast approaching and the legal shooting time was coming to an end. Packing up decoys in deep water when the sun is setting is not the safest practice, so I wanted to do this also while we still had some light. Today, like many others were a good lesson, when you experience some misses, don’t get discouraged because if you tap into your knowledge then choose a well known spot where the birds come in, be patient aim straight and you will be rewarded.


Shortly after noon, my friend and I breached the Southern forest making it to the road and then continuing into the rich northern territory of the farm. We were headed deeper into the white wilderness, the sights were simply breathtaking with the majestic evergreens covered with their imperial winter coats.

There was a consistent snow fall with a slight North-Easterly wind. As my bare hands gripped my shotgun keeping the barrel clean of debris, the snow from a nearby tree fell onto my shoulders as I leaned under the ever green canopy and disappeared further into the bowels of this raw Canadian wilderness.

As I turned for a last look at the road, I knew we were not alone, there had been a lone coyote, walking right down the middle and you could see his curious pauses along the trail as there were paw tracks heading right towards the trees, then back stepping into his trail and continuing North.

His presence was a positive sign, as both him and I had successful harvested the famed snowshoe hare in these woods in the past. My friend and I finally found some fresh hare tracks and began our tracking, which lead us to an abandoned barn full of great hiding places for snowshoe hare.

The droppings were harder to find, but we focussed on the leads and on all possible hidden spot a hare could be found. Time seemed to accelerate as we looked into our environment and the tracks, our focus was consumed.

I suggested we work our way to the Western side of the forest because I knew there was a high probability that a hare would be in its freeze pose amongst the low hanging spruce bows.

With my friend on my right, we pushed forward.

I got down on one knee to get a closer look at the ground level and under the spruce. I was looking East and in an instant, as soon as my friend pushed through the pine, moving at an incredible speed the white ghost sprung diagonally in front of me from right to left. I immediately raised my shotgun and pushed it off save, but did not have a clear shot, the hare had already covered lots of ground and zigzagged through the trees and gave me no opportunity for a clean shot.

The pursuit was on, I yelled out to my friend that I spotted one and took off after it, kicking up snow as  fast as I humanly could. I pushed my safety back on, and started pushing through the wintery trees, keeping my eyes locked on the fresh tracks and hare leaping forward, he was a good size hare.

Just like a grouse chase, I was being drawn deeper into the wintery woods and I had maintain my bearings on the road as to avoid getting lost. This chase was classic and reminded me of the opening hunting scene in the movie “Last of the Mohican”.

The flush was on and by the time, I would catch up to the fresh tracks, I could see him ahead of me and in an out of wide trees, I could not get a clean shot off and he was starting to circle back to the road toward my friend.

With no clear shot, I turned back and met up with my friend and we began our push toward the abandoned barn, this triggered another snowshoe hare, who burst in from the east to the west in matrix move worthy of Neo, I swung around and released my shot and by the time the snow burst settled it was a confirmed miss. I saw him fly into the deeper trees. The sound of my shot was not that of a usual shot in the open, the trees muffled it like was confined in a cylinder, like a “Whammffff” sound. Just incredible!

The silence that followed in the cold wintery woods, ended my hunt and I must admit it did sting not to harvest, but this was my reality and I had to accept it for this day was coming to an end. On the drive home, I could see the hare “Neo” flashing in front of me, at speeds of around sixty five kilometres an hour through trees, and that on this day the flush was not going to produce a snowshoe hare harvest.

I can’t wait to hit the wintery woods again soon, to continue my pursuit of this famed white ghost, the snowshoe hare.


It was raining heavily with the winds howling all around me, in an Easterly direction. I had been walking for several minutes now through the wetlands, between the ice sheets and the cattails. As the bottom of my boots crushed the crisp swamp grass, with my every breath and step, I was nearing the edge of the dark forest and the river bank.

I was all alone heading deeper into the fog, brought on by the warming temperatures. As I breached the tree line, I was engulfed by the pure white mist. I stopped for a moment, looked back and then stared at the hidden frozen watering holes in the woods, capturing the absolute.

It was only half past three in the afternoon but it felt much later than this, as the darkness creeps in earlier this time of year. I pushed forward toward the banks and soon was met with the wall of ice about twenty meters in length. Its outer edge was cut and had jagged pieces of ice sticking out, it was rubbing against the central ice sheet located in the middle of the river, and this piece was hundreds of meters long.

Just like the earths tectonic plates, the ice sheets were crushing each other and producing this incredible sound of shattering glass. I had already experienced duck hunting this time of year and knew that I could make it out about my waist in height to retrieve a harvest but that any further would be deadly. I would have to plan all my shots, so that the birds would land in a safe area.

Moments later, I was now well hidden behind some majestic trees, right along the edge of the river, I started calling geese and ducks, followed by many minutes of silence. Finally, my calling and patience paid off, I had a flock of Canada’s fly over but they were too high and out of range. They responded to my calls and I tried my best to imitate their call and attempt to interpret which call would draw them in best. I worked them hard, as I have successfully in the past, but they soon disappeared into the fog.

I had a second faint call in the distance and soon realized that it was a lone goose, floating through the middle of the river amongst the great ice pieces and dark waters. I called and was waiting for a response, I worked on this bird heavily but it was all in vain, the current carried the Canada right down the middle and it did not bite and come back over the ice. It flapped its wings and responded but it too disappeared into the mist toward the East.

Just like the final page in a book closing itself, my season on the river was coming to its end, and the last image I had was that of this Canada goose, calling out faintly and fading away in the white mist amongst the ice sheets of this northern land.

I went home without firing a shot but this is sometimes the reality of the hunt, and as a seasoned waterfowler, I am grateful for my time in our great Canadian wilderness.


This year, the month of September brought in Canada geese but not in large numbers, a few hundred at a time would settle in the center of the fields coming in from their evenings spent on the open waters or distributaries.

I was able to harvest a few birds so far but never hitting my daily bag limit. I believe that one of the explanations is that it is not cold enough yet and the geese were still not moving much. Actually up until last week it has been relatively warm and only since this weekend have the temperatures started to drop and now we are getting scattered light snow falls.

When November came around, the numbers increased and it was quite a sight to see them fly over on my way into work, heading into the fields to feed. Every morning since the temperatures started to drop, I have been living in a series of paintings of flocking geese heading into the fields in all directions, the snow covered cornfields and the awesome purple colours in the sky, just like driving through an Art Barbarian masterpiece.

“Oh November winds, keep the cold weather comin’, for it turns the skies black with Canada’s, oh what a sight! Oh Novembers winds, what a sight indeed line up the beads with the infamous goose. Aim right and tight, oh November winds!”  CSGH 2019

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